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Daily Briefing

13.05.2020
Today's climate and energy headlines
DAILY BRIEFING BP must raise game to meet climate pledge, says report
BP must raise game to meet climate pledge, says report

News.

BP must raise game to meet climate pledge, says report

Oil giant BP’s recent climate targets “fall far short” of what is required for the company to achieve net-zero emissions, despite the company’s claims, according to the Times. The conclusion comes from new analysis by the Transition Pathway Initiative (TPI), an investor-led group that investigates how companies are preparing for a low-carbon future. It follows the launch in February by BP’s new chief executive, Bernard Looney, of an ambition to “become a net zero company by 2050 or sooner”. The Times reports that, according to the TPI, BP’s goals “fail to align with the Paris pledges and are far from alignment with 2C or net zero”, prompting accusations of “greenwash” by campaigners. The newspaper notes that Royal Dutch Shell, which has also recently launched a climate strategy, was “the closest to alignment with a 2C scenario”. The BBC also reports on the independent analysis of six large European corporations, noting that none of the companies are yet aligned with the 1.5C goal of the Paris Agreement. BusinessGreen notes that while the TPI “welcomes stronger climate pledges from leading oil firms”, it also warns that the sector is still a long way from delivering adequate plans for net-zero. Reuters has a graphic comparing the climate ambitions of oil majors to accompany its coverage. Bloomberg also has the story. Meanwhile, EurActiv reports that Fatih Birol, executive director of the International Energy Agency, has described the current market crash as a “litmus test” for oil major’s commitment to clean technologies and net-zero targets.

In other news, the Financial Times reports that the US oil major ExxonMobil “is facing its latest shareholder clash” after investor Legal & General said it would oppose the re-election of chief executive and chairman Darren Woods. According to Reuters, the decision was made on the grounds the company “had not done enough to tackle climate change”.

Elsewhere, for the first time, the Norwegian central bank has decided to exclude firms from its $1tn wealth fund for producing too much emissions, according to Reuters. The Financial Times reports Norway’s oil fund has excluded “some of the biggest names in commodities and utilities” including Glencore, Anglo American and RWE after deciding they breached its guidelines on coal use.

Finally, BusinessGreen says banking giant BNP Paribas has announced a “further strengthening” of its coal divestment strategy, while Reuters reports Brazilian mining firm Vale plans to spend $2bn to cut emissions 33% by 2030 (following a previous plan to cut emissions entirely by 2050).

The Times Read Article
US fossil fuel giants set for a coronavirus bailout bonanza

In an “exclusive” story, the Guardian reports that fossil-fuel companies in the US “are set for a potential bonanza” under federal plans for a bond bailout, which will form part of the government’s rescue package to address the coronavirus crisis. Based on a study conducted by NGO the Rainforest Action Network, the coverage states that at least 90 fossil fuel companies and over 150 utilities,“including coal-heavy firms”, stand to gain from the Federal Reserve’s coronavirus bond buyback programme, which is expected to be worth at least $750bn.

Reuters reports that analysts think coal power plant construction will continue in Asia “despite falling electricity demand and environmental concerns” as economic recovery is prioritised by leaders amidst the pandemic. DeSmog has details of a new report by Friends of the Earth “showing how Big Oil is working to make sure the legislative response to the coronavirus crisis is beneficial to the industry”. The group found that at least 11 oil and gas companies and industry trade groups had reported lobbying on tax issues in the first US Covid-19 relief package. According to the Washington Post, two oil-and-gas firms that boosted investors’ portfolios by buying back stock in 2019 have received $15.5m from a programme “designed to rescue small businesses gutted by the coronavirus pandemic”.

Elsewhere in pandemic news, the Guardian reports that Saudi Arabia’s state-owned oil firm and the world’s most profitable company, Saudi Aramco, has posted a 25% dip in profits after the collapse of oil markets triggered by coronavirus lockdowns. Meanwhile, Reuters reports output from Russia’s top oil region is expected to drop by 15% this year following a pact between producer countries to curb supply in a bid to address the on-going crisis which has seen the market flooded with cheap oil. In the US, Reuters says natural gas production will drop in 2020 and 2021 from record highs in 2019 as action to tackle the pandemic cuts economic activity and energy prices.

Meanwhile, in the UK, a Daily Telegraph has “exclusive” details of “increased taxes – and some new ones – on the menu” to counter the £337bn budget deficit expected to result from the coronavirus pandemic. According to the piece, “new ‘green taxes’ are also under discussion among Treasury officials”.

The Guardian Read Article
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to co-chair Biden campaign climate task force

Democratic congresswoman and proponent of the “green new deal” Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez will co-chair a task force for Joe Biden’s campaign on climate change, according to CNN. The news outlet sys the move “adds progressive credentials to the former vice president’s effort to unify the party ahead of the general election”. A spokesperson for Ocasio-Cortez said in a statement that the congresswoman made the decision to join the task force “with members of the climate justice community – and she will be fully accountable to them and the larger advocacy community during this process”.

Green energy firms on track to deliver multi-billion pound wind farms

Green energy companies in the UK are set to deliver multi-billion pound wind farm investments across the north-east of England and Scotland to help drive a clean economic recovery following the coronavirus pandemic, according to the Guardian. Scottish Power, SSE and Equinor have all announced plans to develop wind projects in the region, in a move that Alok Sharma, the secretary of state for business and energy, has described as “a key part of ensuring a green and resilient economic recovery as well as reaching our target of net-zero emissions by 2050”.

In Germany, Reuters reports E.ON chief executive Johannes Teyssen has urged the government to boost funding for green power infrastructure and cap costs for consumers amidst a demand drop resulting from the coronavirus outbreak. Yale 360 has a piece on how renewable energy “could emerge on top” after the pandemic.

The Guardian Read Article
India's carbon emissions drop for the first time in four decades

There is continuing coverage of analysis originally published by Carbon Brief yesterday showing that India has seen a year-on-year drop in emissions for the first time in four decades. CNN notes that “economic slowdown, the growth of the country’s use of renewable energy and the impact of the coronavirus pandemic have all contributed to the fall”. Other outlets covering the story include the India Times, the Hindustan TimesBloomberg, the Independent and CBS News.

Comment.

Net zero is nowhere in sight for UK clean heat policy

A blog post by Jan Rosenow and Samuel Thomas of the Regulatory Assistance Project (RAP) looks at the UK government’s strategy for the future of clean heat policy. Following the announcement of the net-zero goal last year, the pair write that they expected “something bold” to support climate-friendly heating technologies. “We could not have been more disappointed,” they say, following the proposals that came out last week. At the rate suggested by the government, they write that “for every one new low carbon heating system, more than a 120 gas boilers will be installed”. They note that the new policy would only support low-carbon heat in an additional 1.5% of the existing housing stock by 2050, meaning it would take “more than 1,500 years” to install the 19m heat pumps required to meet the net-zero emission goals. They discuss what will be required for an effective plan, placing hope in the “heat and buildings strategy” due later this year, which will lay out immediate actions for cutting buildings’ emissions. “This needs to go far beyond the current proposals for clean heat.”

Jan Rosenow and Samuel Thomas, Green Alliance blog Read Article

Science.

Disruptive and uncertain: Policy makers’ perceptions on UK heat decarbonisation

UK policymakers perceive heat decarbonisation as disruptive to consumers, technological pathways are seen as deeply uncertain and heat decarbonisation appears to offer policy makers little up-side, according to a new study. The UK’s net-zero greenhouse gas emissions target requires the removal of fossil fuel combustion from heating in just three decades. The researchers interviewed 10 “policy network actors”, including a politician, civil servants, a political advisor and an independent government advisor. The authors say: “Perceptions [about decarbonising heating] are bounded by uncertainty, affected by concerns over negative impacts, influenced by external influences and relate to ideas of continuity…even with reduced uncertainty and more flexible governance, the perceptions of disruption to consumers mean that transformative heat policy may remain unpopular for policy makers, potentially putting greenhouse mitigation targets at risk of being missed.”

Energy Policy Read Article

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