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Energy

Why America Needs Public Wind Power

Off the northeast coast of the U.S., a budding offshore wind industry has led some to see the region as the “Saudi Arabia of wind.” As promising as it may have seemed for our fight to mitigate the effects of climate change, a recent spate of problems has laid bare the fallacies inherent in the way America builds renewable energy. It’s time to rethink our approach to the energy transition and to climate change. New York State was in the news this winter after announcing new contract agreements for two major offshore wind developments, Empire Wind and Sunrise Wind.

Clean Energy Investments Must Prioritize Climate-Resilient Housing

Whether it’s a homeowner wanting to install a heat pump, a restaurant looking to invest in solar panels, or a neighborhood organization hoping to add local green energy capacity, cost and ease of financing pose barriers to improving climate resilience for many people businesses, and organizations nationwide. Too often, traditional banks are skeptical of or have not previously supported climate investments. Filling this gap requires intentional policymaking, which the Biden Administration has prioritized through its new Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund (GGRF), a first-of-its-kind $27 billion fund to finance a sustainable climate future for generations to come.

The Oil Crash Is Coming Sooner Than We Think

Oil in the North Sea is expected to be net-energy negative by 2031. This means that in 2031, it’ll cost more energy to extract the fossil fuels than we would gain by using them, rendering extraction unfeasibly expensive. Yet, rather than use our remaining years of access to these fuels to turbo-charge new energy infrastructure, fossil fuels are being extracted and burned for business as usual: quick cash. Around the world, the lights will go off in nations that don’t have back-up renewables. That’s most of them. I interviewed Alister Hamilton, Director of Zero Emissions Scotland.

Vast Majority Of Global CO2 Emissions Tied To Just 57 Entities

Since the Paris Agreement was signed in 2015, a small number of fossil fuel entities — just 57 corporate and state producers — have been responsible for 80 percent of planet-warming carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. And a majority of those actors have only expanded production in the intervening years. That’s according to a new report released today by InfluenceMap detailing its Carbon Majors project, an influential database of fossil fuel production data. The database analyzes the individual carbon emissions of 122 “carbon majors” — publicly owned corporations, nation states, and state-owned entities — that, together, are responsible for more than 70 percent of fossil fuel and cement emissions since the start of the Industrial Revolution.

Food Co-Op Tests New Approach To Equitable Community Solar

A group of energy equity advocates in Boston is launching a community solar cooperative they say could be a scalable model for both reducing carbon emissions and building wealth in disadvantaged communities. The Boston Community Solar Cooperative is in the pre-development stage of an 81 kilowatt solar project on the roof of the Dorchester Food Co-op, in one of the city’s lowest-income neighborhoods. Residents will be able to buy or earn ownership stakes in the project, which will be governed by a board of community stakeholders.

California Must Triple Its Rate Of Carbon Emissions Reductions

California is not on track to meet its greenhouse gas emissions reduction goal for 2030, new data released by nonprofit think tank Next 10 and prepared by consulting firm Beacon Economics reveals. To do so, the state must triple its annual emissions reductions, the 2023 California Green Innovation Index said. “The increase in emissions following the pandemic makes it all the more difficult for California to meet its climate goals on time,” said Next 10 Founder F. Noel Perry, as reported by ESG News. “In fact, we may be further behind than many people realize.

Climate-Science Deniers Are Plotting Against The Clean Energy Transition

Last July, a small group of rabble-rousers boarded a trio of powerboats, banners and bullhorns in hand. They were headed for the massive floating construction site of an offshore wind farm 35 miles from the eastern tip of Long Island, New York. As the boats motored through the swells, the self-styled activists broke into a chorus of pleas for the wind farm construction to cease—chants likely intended less for the still-faraway workers than for the camera there to capture footage. “Hear this message: We’re here to save the whales!” called out a man in a black polo shirt.

California Towns Are Banning New Gas Stations; Big Oil Is Watching

When oil and gas companies attack a climate campaign, activists usually focus on the obvious negative: One of the world’s biggest industries, with its wealth of resources, is trying to quash their efforts to, for instance, ban natural gas in buildings. But in Northern California, where grassroots activists have succeeded in getting towns across Napa and Sonoma counties to prohibit new gas stations, some consider the emerging backlash a sign of validation. The news of Big Oil’s opposition came to Jim Wilson in late January. The longtime climate activist in Napa County found a flyer in his mailbox one day with a picture of a gas nozzle next to an empty wallet, along with the message “Banning gas stations = higher gas prices.”

First Nation Sues Alberta Energy Regulator Over Tailings Pond Spill

A northern Alberta Indigenous community is suing the Alberta Energy Regulator for the effects of an ongoing environmental disaster at an Imperial Oil tar sands mine. Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation (ACFN) Chief Allan Adam served the CEO of the Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) with a statement of claim indicating his community intends to hold the regulator legally responsible for the aftereffects of the Kearl mine disaster that began in 2022. Chief Adam hand delivered the lawsuit to CEO Laurie Pushor during an AER townhall meeting in Fort Chipewyan on Tuesday March 5.

The Communities Trying To Take Over Their Local Electric Utility

Around a dozen communities across the country have launched campaigns to get rid of their investor-owned electric utilities — the for-profit companies that distribute electricity to three-quarters of U.S. households — and replace them with publicly owned ones. Calling their goal “public power,” advocates argue that existing utilities have saddled customers with high rates and frequent outages, while lobbying to delay rooftop solar and other climate policies. Advocates say local ownership of the power grid would lead to lower electric bills, a quicker transition to renewables, and greater accountability to customers.

Solar Nonprofit Shows Patience Brings Results To Lower-Income Residents

One installation at a time, a solar nonprofit that matches socially conscious investors’ cash with lower-income homeowners is spreading the benefits of solar in North Minneapolis. Solstar was formed three years ago by solar entrepreneur Ralph Jacobson following his retirement from IPS Solar, the pioneering Twin Cities’ solar company he founded three decades ago earlier. In his entire career, “I hardly ever had Black customers or Black subcontractors,” Jacobson recalled. Solstar is a collective effort for clean energy leaders in North Minneapolis to address those racial disparities. Jacobson, 71, works his network to persuade wealthy individuals to invest in residential solar installations.

How Solar Ironworkers Zapped Tiers

California’s solar power plants now rival the scale of any in the world. What stands out most is how they were built: under union contracts. Across the U.S., nearly 90 percent of solar workers had no union last year. In California, the situation was different—at least on paper. The vast majority of its solar power plants have been wrenched in place by unionized construction workers. But at first these were union jobs practically in name only, as thousands of unionized solar construction workers toiled on the underside of a two-tier system. Their wages, training, and job security lagged far behind their union siblings. Many questioned if they were members at all.

This Emerging Green Technology Could Decarbonize Buildings

In early 2021, an award-winning design for a ​“thermal energy network” caught the eye of John Murphy. The design was part of a proposal to decarbonize Empire Plaza in Albany, N.Y., and it featured a series of underground water pipes that balanced the heating and cooling systems of adjacent buildings. As the International Representative of the New York State Pipe Trades Association, which represents around 25,000 workers across New York State, Murphy had been searching for an renewable energy solution for his members. In his seven years in the position, he has seen how some of the state’s current approaches to the clean energy transition — namely closing power plants without providing alternate jobs — have often left his members unemployed.

Hydrogen Industry Draws $41 Million In Lobbying From Fossil Fuel Companies

The number of companies and organizations lobbying the federal government on issues related to hydrogen increased nearly tenfold since President Joe Biden took office — from about two dozen at the end of 2020 to more than 200 this year, according to an OpenSecrets analysis of lobbying disclosures. Fossil fuel companies, which have promoted hydrogen as a catch-all solution to climate change, rank among the top spenders and outnumber clients from every industry, including the renewable energy sector, the analysis shows. Thirty-two oil and gas producers reported lobbying on hydrogen, among other issues, and spent a combined $41.3 million on federal lobbying efforts this year, as of Sept. 30.

What Abandoning Fossil Fuels Could Look Like In The Arab World

For the second year in a row, world leaders met in the Arab world to negotiate the future of the planet. As a backdrop to the United Nations climate conference in Dubai, it’s a fitting venue for a planet-wide shift that scientists say needs to happen: The region has extensive deposits of oil and gas, but also immense, untapped potential for renewable energy. Over the past several years, European governments and corporations have made moves to capitalize off this potential, investing in sprawling mega-projects to capture the sun’s energy from the region’s vast deserts and export the electricity north.
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