By Jessica Corbett
As scientific studies continue to show the necessity of sweeping societal reforms to reduce planet-heating emissions, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer joined with Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee Chair Sherrod Brown on Tuesday to unveil a plan — backed by green groups and union leaders — that would invest $73 billion in electrifying public transit.
"Today, there are approximately 70,000 mass transit buses and 85,000 cutaway vehicles and transit vans in America. Approximately 2% of those buses are zero-emission vehicles," according to a summary document from the senators. "The federal government can and should be in the business of aiding transit agencies in shifting their bus fleets to zero emissions."
The Clean Transit for America Plan from Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Brown (D-Ohio) is intended to not only combat the climate emergency and improve air quality with zero-emission fleets, but also establish a workforce training program that will create well-paying union jobs. Schumer said he intends to ensure it is included in the American Jobs Plan, part of President Joe Biden's recently introduced infrastructure proposal.
"To reduce the carbon in our atmosphere and address the climate crisis, we must transform our transit system," declared the Senate majority leader. "The Clean Transit for America proposal will replace dirty, diesel-spewing buses, create new American jobs, help save the planet, and protect public health, particularly in our country's most vulnerable communities."
Brown asserted that "Americans deserve world-class public transportation that is delivered with modern, zero-emission buses built by American workers," and their plan "is the kind of transformative investment we need in public transit that will put Americans to work, connects people with opportunity, and invests in the communities that have been left on their own by Washington and Wall Street for too long."
Today @SenSherrodBrown and I are introducing our Clean Transit for America plan to replace dirty diesel buses with… https://t.co/hVfD0AgqQw— Chuck Schumer (@Chuck Schumer)1620147821.0
"Transit is the very fabric of our communities: It's what keeps us connected, brings us to and from school and work every day, allows us to buy groceries, receive medical care, and enjoy parks," said Lauren Maunus, advocacy director of the youth-led Sunrise Movement — also a key supporter of the Green New Deal Resolution that calls for a 10-year mobilization ensuring "a fair and just transition for all communities and workers."
"If we're going to beat the climate clock and stop polluting toxic fumes into our neighborhoods, we must swiftly transform every aspect of our current transportation system to reach zero emissions," Maunus said Tuesday, welcoming the plan to electrify the nation's bus fleet as "a key step towards fully transitioning our transit systems, while strengthening services vital to the health of our communities."
Katherine Garcia, acting director of Sierra Club's Clean Transportation for All Campaign, said the plan "means healthier communities and a healthier economy," while Stephanie Gidigbi Jenkins, a director for policy and partnerships at the Natural Resources Defense Council, called the proposal "big and bold" and urged Congress to enact it "as soon as possible."
Advocates at the Environmental Defense Fund, GreenLatinos, the League of Conservation Voters, Moms Clean Air Force, and the Union of Concerned Scientists also applauded the proposal. Several campaigners noted that the plan will, as Garcia put it, "prioritize communities with the worst air quality to address decades of inequitable transportation policy."
The Clean Transit for America plan to shift to 100% electric buses means healthier communities and a healthier econ… https://t.co/niSO91co3H— Sierra Club (@Sierra Club)1620169616.0
"Transitioning to 100% zero-emission buses is an essential infrastructure and environmental justice priority," said Marcela Mulholland, political director at Data for Progress. "By moving our public transit systems to zero-emission fleets, the Clean Transit for America bill sets us on a path toward a world free from climate chaos and a country where there is clean air and quality public transit in every neighborhood."
The proposal was also praised by the president of the American Public Transportation Association as well as organized labor leaders including John Costa of the Amalgamated Transit Union, Lonnie R. Stephenson of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, and John Samuelsen of Transport Workers Union.
"By ensuring that frontline transit workers gain the skills and training necessary to run the public transportation systems of the future, paired with a guarantee that no workers will be displaced by their proposal," said Greg Regan, president of the AFL-CIO's Transportation Trades Department, " Sens. Schumer and Brown send a strong message that, when policy is shaped correctly, workers and the communities they live in can both benefit from technological change."
Reposted with permission from Common Dreams.
Iconic venues around the world have taken advantage of pandemic shutdowns to boost already-existing sustainability efforts and to create new environmental awareness. Their motivation, many observers say, is the planet and how everyone must do their part to create a better world before it is too late.
Dominique Meyer, CEO of the famed opera house Teatro alla Scala in Milan, Italy, noted the important role that opera houses can and should play, especially in mobilizing the younger generation. He told The New York Times, "Everyone observes what La Scala does or doesn't do," he said. "It is a duty to commit oneself — for all theaters."
As such, the "flagship" of Italian culture has worked to reduce its carbon emissions by over 630 tons since 2010, the Times reported. The most recent shift was to LED bulbs and smart lighting, accomplished during the shutdowns. La Scala also plans to install solar panels on its new office tower roof in Dec. 2022 and to digitize operations — saving at least 10 tons of paper annually, the news report said. The house has also selected partner vendors that prioritize recycling, including a water company with its own certified plastic recycling system and a coffee company that uses recycled filters, the Times reported. And costume designers are being asked to work with recyclable fabrics.
La Scala is not alone in targeting sustainability: the Sydney Opera House in Australia is green-certified and has been a "front-runner" in the green and sustainable opera space, the Times reported. Since its launch in 2010, the opera house's ambitious Environmental Sustainability Plan (ESP) has guided many decisions which have resulted in climate and environmental wins, Connect4Climate reported. Some of these have included saving $1 million in electricity through increased energy efficiency, ensuring large festivals are certified carbon-neutral and increasing waste recycling and food recycling, Connect4Climate reported. The World Heritage-listed building already succeeded in becoming carbon-neutral three years ago and even built an artificial reef alongside the venue's sea wall in 2019, the Times reported. Upcoming goals include recycling more construction materials, energy efficiency shifts and increasing their green star rating, the Times reported.
At the launch of the ESP, Sydney Opera House CEO Louise Herron AM said, "The Opera House was conceived with very broad ambitions in mind, as then-NSW Premier JJ Cahill said in 1954 'to help mould a better and more enlightened community,'" and noted that their sustainability efforts were "part of achieving that ambition," reported Connect4Climate.
Then-CEO of Green Building Council Australia Romilly Madew said, "The Sydney Opera House has shown the world that even the most challenging, iconic and historic buildings can be sustainable… If the Opera House can go green, anything can go green," reported Connect4Climate.
The current movement is not the first time that the lines between art and advocacy have blurred during the pandemic. In June 2020, the Barcelona opera house reopened with a concert for 2,292 plants that were then donated to frontline workers.
"Nature advanced to occupy the spaces we snatched from it," Eugenio Ampudio, the conceptual artist behind the unique concert, told Reuters. "Can we extend our empathy? Let's begin with art and music, in a great theatre, by inviting nature in."
Similarly, in March 2021, the Sydney Symphony Orchestra performed a modernized version of Vivaldi's classic ode, "Four Seasons." Called "The [Uncertain] Four Seasons," the remake actually changes based on where it is played to highlight the most pressing changes local ecosystems will face due to climate change. For example, light rains in Vivaldi's original become raging storms in the modern version; birdsong disappears as species will likely go extinct; and silence replaces the music in places like Shanghai where sea level rise threatens continued human presence.
Tim Devine, executive creative director of AKQA, the design firm that masterminded the project, told EcoWatch, "The challenge is not awareness of climate change. We're all aware of the science. The challenge is action. What are we doing? What are our governments and businesses doing?"
For the time being, it seems that opera houses are ready and willing to lead the way towards a more sustainable culture and way of life.
- Barcelona Opera House Reopens With Concert for 2,292 Plants ... ›
- Vivaldi's 'The Four Seasons' Captures the Climate Crisis - EcoWatch ›
- Energy Efficiency as a Climate Solution: A Goal for 2020 - EcoWatch ›
For anyone seeking a natural way to manage stress and anxiety, chronic pain, or inflammation, cannabidiol (CBD) presents an appealing natural alternative to find potential relief. Many in the CBD community claim that full spectrum CBD oils and products offer the most benefits. We'll explain the different types of CBD and offer our picks for the best full spectrum CBD oils.
If you're a newcomer to CBD oil, it is easy to get confused about the different types of CBD available and how they differ. First, you should know that CBD is one of more than 100+ cannabinoids (naturally occurring chemical compounds) found in the cannabis plant. If the word cannabis sets off alarms in your head, it's probably because you're equating it to marijuana. The difference is that marijuana gets you "high" because of the presence of another cannabinoid called tetrahydrocannabinol, also known as THC, which possesses psychoactive properties. This is not CBD.
We'll get into the details later about how (and why) these different cannabinoids affect your body in the ways that they do, but the important thing to remember is that experiences can vary greatly based on the chemical composition of the product you're using.
What is Full Spectrum CBD?
Some of the most popular products on the market today are those that contain full spectrum CBD oil. While the delivery mechanism can be anything from a tincture you take under your tongue with a dropper to gummies you swallow, these are great products that contain more than just CBD.
Full spectrum CBD products incorporate additional parts of the cannabis plant, including other cannabinoids and terpenes, aromatics found in the plant's essential oils that supply the strain with its unique scent. Beyond just CBD, some of the other beneficial cannabinoids that you'll find in full spectrum CBD oil are trace amounts of THC, cannabigerol (CBG), cannabinol (CBN) and cannabichromene (CBC).
Our Top Full Spectrum CBD Products
Each product featured here has been independently selected by the writer. You can learn more about our review methodology here. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.
- Best Overall CBD Oil - Spruce CBD Oil
- Strongest CBD Oil - CBDistillery
- Best CBD Oil for Recovery - Charlotte's Web
- Best CBD Oil for Daytime - Cornbread Hemp
- Best CBD Oil for Sleep - NuLeaf Naturals
- Best Organic CBD Oil - R+R Medicinals
- Best CBD Oil Flavors - FAB CBD
How We Chose These Full Spectrum CBD Oils
In choosing the best full spectrum CBD products, we evaluated each one on six key categories:
- Strength — How much CBD does the oil contain?
- Source — Does the company source their hemp in the USA?
- Flavor — Are the oils flavored, and do they use natural flavoring ingredients?
- Transparency — Can you easily access independent third-party lab results for the oil?
- Value — How much does the full spectrum oil cost?
- Customer Experience — What do customers say about the product?
The 8 Best Full Spectrum CBD Oils
Best Overall: Spruce Full Spectrum CBD Oil
Spruce is a family business that produces American-made, lab-grade CBD products of the highest quality. It offers its full-spectrum CBD oil in multiple strengths. The 750 mg strength provides 25 mg of CBD per serving, and comes in a natural peppermint flavor.
Why buy: We love Spruce CBD because they use organic hemp from North Carolina and Kentucky grown without pesticides. This full spectrum oil is made with organic hemp seed oil and natural flavors, and offers a potent dose of cannabinoids and beneficial plant compounds for a stronger entourage effect.
Strongest CBD Oil: CBDistillery Full Spectrum CBD Oil
CBDistillery is one of the CBD industry's most well-known and reputable brands. And when it comes to full-spectrum CBD oil, this brand delivers on its promise to create high-quality products made from non-GMO industrial hemp. At 83 mg of CBD per serving, their Maximum Strength Relief + Relax formula is the strongest full spectrum CBD oil on our list.
Why buy: We like that CBDistillery full spectrum CBD oils are all third-party lab tested and are created from U.S. Hemp Authority certified hemp grown using natural farming practices. This maximum strength oil is a great option for those who aren't getting the relief they need from lower strength oils.
Best CBD Oil for Recovery: Charlotte's Web Original Formula Full Spectrum CBD Oilcharlottesweb.comOriginal Formula CBD Oil
Made using a small-batch alcohol extraction method, Charlotte's Web Original Formula Full Spectrum CBD oil boasts a complete profile of phytocannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids, and fatty acids. Their 50 mg per serving formula gives you all of the beneficial plant compounds from their Colorado-grown hemp with no artificial ingredients or flavorings.
Why buy: We love Charlotte's Web full spectrum CBD oil because it can provide a high-quality dose of plant compounds and extracts without any additives or dyes. Use this U.S. Hemp Authority certified product to help support your recovery from the gym or exercise.
Best CBD Oil for Daytime: Cornbread Hemp Distilled Full Spectrum CBD Oilcornbreadhemp.com
Cornbread Hemp Distilled Full Spectrum CBD oil is crafted from Kentucky-grown USDA organic hemp and USDA organic MCT oil for a product you can trust. It offers 25 mg or 50 mg of CBD plus naturally-occurring cannabinoids and terpenes without any preservatives or flavorings.
Why buy: We love this full spectrum CBD oil from Cornbread Hemp because it is made from a unique flower-only hemp extract for a cleaner CBD oil with a lighter taste. This product is great for promoting a sense of calm throughout the day.
Best CBD Oil for Sleep: NuLeaf Naturals Full Spectrum CBD Oil
NuLeaf Naturals offers a simple yet powerful full spectrum CBD oil. It contains two ingredients: their full spectrum whole-plant extract from Colorado-grown hemp and an organic virgin hemp seed oil. They use an advanced clean Co2 extraction method that results in a fuller plant extract that's also easier on the environment.
Why buy: This full spectrum CBD oil from NuLeaf Naturals can provide a full range of the beneficial plant compounds that can work together to promote the entourage effect. We recommend this oil for help promoting rest and healthy sleep cycles at night.
Best Organic CBD Oil: R+R Medicinals Full Spectrum CBD Tincturerrmeds.com
R+R Medicinals makes a USDA organic full spectrum CBD oil that offers an extra-strength blend of phytocannabinoids. The 1000 mg size contains 33.33 mg of CBD per serving plus over 4 mg of minor cannabinoids like CBC, CBN, CBG, and THC for powerful relief potential.
Why buy: We like this full spectrum oil from R+R Medicinals because it packs so many beneficial cannabinoids plus organic MCT oil and organic mint flavoring into one bottle. This is a great option for a completely USDA organic CBD supplement.
Best CBD Oil Flavors: FAB CBD Full Spectrum CBD Oils
FAB CBD makes it easy to find the full spectrum CBD oil that's right for you. Their organically-grown full spectrum Colorado hemp extract is available in four different strengths and five different flavors, including Citrus, Mint, Natural, Berry, and Vanilla.
Why buy: We really like the options that FAB offers, from the flavors to the potency. The 300 mg size is a good choice for those new to CBD as it contains just 10 mg of CBD per serving in whichever flavor you choose.
The Research on Full Spectrum CBD Oil
While further study remains to be done, CBD has shown promise in studies for a number of different potential health benefits. Scientific research conducted on mice indicated that CBD and other cannabinoids can be effective in the management of difficult to treat pain.
Other animal and human studies have illustrated potential benefits of full spectrum CBD oil that include:
- Regulation of nausea and vomiting
- Reduction in the severity and frequency of seizures
- Management of neurodegenerative conditions, including Parkinson's disease, epilepsy and multiple sclerosis
The reason why CBD has such a profound effect on the body is due to the endocannabinoid system, or ECS. The ECS works hard to keep your body in a state of balance called homeostasis so that your sleep, mood, appetite and other bodily functions remain stable. It does this by interacting with cannabinoid receptors throughout the body.
One of the most significant advantages to full spectrum CBD oil comes courtesy of something called the entourage effect. This concept reinforces that the whole of the cannabis plant is greater than the sum of its parts—meaning that when multiple cannabinoids work together, the effects of each become supercharged and work synergistically to provide greater benefits.
What's the Difference Between Full Spectrum, Broad Spectrum, and CBD Isolate?
Full spectrum CBD oil won't be for everyone. Some might be put off by the presence of both CBD and THC, while others may not enjoy the oil's earthy and musky flavor profile. The good news is there are several other categories of CBD products to dabble in that might make you feel more comfortable or that you find easier to stomach.
We already talked about how full spectrum CBD is derived from cannabis plants, but we should also mention that it comes from industrial hemp plants. These are cannabis Sativa plants that contain high concentrations of CBD and less than 0.3% THC, a ratio that legalizes the plant's contents on a national level, thanks to the passage of the 2018 United States Farm Bill. As mentioned, these hemp plants contain other cannabinoids and terpenes, making use of the whole plant.
On the complete opposite end of the spectrum, you will find CBD isolate. Products that feature CBD isolate have been heavily purified and distilled to remove any and all terpenes and cannabinoids besides CBD. These THC-free products are great for anyone looking to take advantage of pure CBD's therapeutic properties without worrying about THC.
Broad spectrum CBD oil exists right in the middle of full spectrum and CBD isolate. Similar to CBD isolate, broad spectrum is THC free, but it does include some of the other terpenes and cannabinoids that you might find in full spectrum like CBN and CBG.
When Should I Use Full Spectrum CBD Oil?
There are definitely advantages to full spectrum CBD oil that you just can't get with CBD isolate or even broad spectrum. We generally recommend full spectrum products over other options because these CBD products tend to provide the most benefit and a fuller effect thanks to the complete profile of plant compounds. Full spectrum CBD oils are specifically great for supporting healthy sleep cycles and support managing chronic pain.
The main reason to consider a broad spectrum of CBD isolate product is to avoid ingesting any THC. CBD should never make you feel high, but products that contain even trace amounts of THC could cause a positive drug test. You should always keep that and your personal circumstances in mind as you select your CBD products. Also know when looking for the best CBD oils you can refine your search to select from only organic options.
How to Shop for Full Spectrum CBD Oils
In order to find the best full spectrum CBD product for you, there are a few things to consider. Here is what to remember when shopping for full spectrum CBD.
What to Look For
Concentration: Always make sure you know how much CBD an oil or edible contains, both per container and per individual serving.
Source: We recommend choosing brands that use hemp grown in the U.S. using natural or organic farming methods.
Testing: The most important thing to look for in any CBD product is proof of independent third-party lab testing.
How to Read Labels
These are the key pieces of information you should look for on the label of any full spectrum CBD oil.
- Strength - This is typically shown as milligrams of CBD per 1 mL serving.
- Lab Test Results - Most brands include information, or a QR code, for the lab test results of their CBD.
- Carrier Oil - CBD oil tinctures use carrier oils like MCT oil, olive oil, or hemp seed oil. If you have a food allergy, be sure to check the type of oil used in a product.
- Dosage Guide - Some CBD brands include a dosage guide on the label to help you measure the appropriate amount of CBD per serving.
How to Use
Full spectrum CBD oils can either be taken sublingually, in which you hold the oil under your tongue for 30 seconds or so before swallowing, or can be mixed into food and beverages. Depending on the amount of CBD you need per day, this can be done either once or twice per day. If you are taking a full spectrum CBD oil to help with insomnia or sleep, it's best to take those in the evening, an hour or so before bed. For support in managing stress or anxiety, you may want to take one serving in the morning and another serving in the evening. As with all CBD products, full spectrum CBD typically works best over time as it builds up in your system through consistent use.
Safety & Side Effects
According to the World Health Organization "CBD is generally well tolerated with a good safety profile." Like any dietary or wellness supplement, however, it can cause a few mild side effects in certain people. These can include dry mouth, fatigue, dizziness, nausea, diarrhea, and changes in appetite. One important thing to note is that there can be a drug interaction between CBD and certain prescription medicines, especially blood thinners. If you're currently undergoing a course of medication or take a prescription medication, check with your physician to ensure you can safely add CBD to the mix before beginning.
The best full spectrum CBD oils may allow you to boost your wellness and enjoy natural relief through your own body's endocannabinoid system. Use our guide to make sure that you know what to look for when shopping and which brands to consider in order to get the best possible product for you.
Josh Hall has been professional writer and storyteller for more than 15 years. His work on natural health and cannabis has appeared in Health, Shape, and Remedy Review.
- 2021 Best CBD Oil for Pain: Top Brands & Guide - EcoWatch ›
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- Best CBD for Sleep (Lab-Tested, Person-Tested Oils) - EcoWatch ›
- 2021 Best CBD for Anxiety & Depression: Guide & Top Brands ›
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By Erin Baker and Matthew Lackner
The United States' offshore wind industry is tiny, with just seven wind turbines operating off Rhode Island and Virginia. The few attempts to build large-scale wind farms like Europe's have run into long delays, but that may be about to change.
On May 11, 2021, the U.S. government issued the final federal approval for the Vineyard Wind project, a utility-scale wind farm that has been over a decade in the planning. The wind farm's developers plan to install 62 giant turbines in the Atlantic Ocean about 15 miles off Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts, with enough capacity to power 400,000 homes with clean energy.
The project is the first approved since the Biden administration announced a goal in March to develop 30,000 megawatts of offshore wind capacity this decade and promised to accelerate the federal review process. To put that goal in perspective, the U.S. has just 42 megawatts today. Vineyard Wind expects to add 800 megawatts in 2023.
So, are we finally seeing the launch of a thriving offshore wind industry in North America?
The Conversation /CC-BY-ND. Global Wind Energy Council
Several wind farm developers already hold leases in prime locations off the Eastern Seaboard, suggesting plenty of interest.
As engineering professors leading the Energy Transition Initiative and Wind Energy Center at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, we have been closely watching the industry's challenges and progress. The process could move quickly once permitting and approvals are on track, but there are still obstacles.
Why Offshore Wind Plans Stalled Under Trump
Vineyard Wind had planned to begin construction in 2019, but a ruling by the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management under the Trump administration stalled it. The ruling cast a shadow over other wind farm plans and hopes for an U.S. offshore wind industry.
The agency ruled that the developers needed to address what is called "cumulative impacts" – what the East Coast will look like when there are not one or two, but 20 or 40 large-scale wind farms. That part of the U.S. coast is ideal for wind power because of its wide, shallow shelf and proximity to cities that are looking for renewable electricity to reduce their climate impact.
Developers already hold wind energy leases for several areas off the East Coast. BOEM
Many researchers studying offshore wind, including some of our colleagues, urge planners to take this perspective.
But thinking carefully about a far future with several wind farms does not justify blocking the first utility-scale wind farm now. That first large wind farm will be an opportunity to learn, including about how wind turbines will interact with marine ecosystems. Right now there is almost no data on the impacts of offshore wind on the region's marine wildlife. The knowledge gained will be invaluable in moving forward responsibly.
Is Fast-Tracking Federal Approvals Enough?
Speeding up federal approvals for offshore wind farms is an important first step, but those aren't the only hurdles for offshore wind farm developers.
A large number of state environmental and coastal agencies also must approve offshore wind farm plans, and the communities where cables come ashore have a say.
Many of the Northeastern states, including Massachusetts, have their own offshore wind energy goals, so they're likely to support wind farms. But some wealthy communities and the fishing industry have pushed back on wind power in the past. Vineyard Wind's developers worked with community groups and fishermen from the region and agreed to compensate them for potential revenue losses.
Vineyard Wind's location and cable plan. Vineyard Wind
The federal approval process, even fast-tracked, is also time-consuming. The government conducts reviews and requires site assessment plans, including geological, environmental and hazard surveys. From planning to construction, the entire process can take five to six years or more.
Is the U.S. Ready to Build Offshore Turbines?
Some other big questions revolve around construction.
Under a 1920 law known as the Jones Act, only U.S.-registered vessels operated by U.S. citizens or permanent residents can move cargo between U.S. ports. In December 2020, Congress made clear that this law applies to wind turbine construction, too.
When companies build offshore wind turbines today, they use special vessels for the installation of the most common offshore turbine designs. The U.S. doesn't have any of these vessels yet, and the Jones Act makes it difficult to rely on vessels from Europe to do the job. There is promise, though: The first U.S.-made version of this vessel is being built in Texas right now. That's one – the country will need several to meet the new goal.
Vineyard Wind's plan uses one of the world's largest turbines, GE's Haliade-X, to reduce the number of turbines needed. Each has a capacity of 13 megawatts and blades the length of a football field.
A thriving wind power industry will also need ports for storing and deploying the long turbine blades, plus a trained workforce for construction and turbine maintenance.
A few coastal states have a head start on this. Massachusetts started laying the groundwork early and already has a port terminal in New Bedford to support the construction and deployment of future offshore wind projects. New Jersey recently announced a plan for a new offshore wind port that will start construction in 2022, and Delaware has been considering one.
States are also investing in training. New York state announced a $20 million offshore wind training institute in January 2021 with the goal of training 2,500 workers. The Biden administration envisions 44,000 people employed in offshore wind by 2030, and many more in communities connected to offshore wind power activity.
Costs and Benefits of Offshore Wind
In Europe, where many governments have reduced regulatory risks to the industry, the cost of offshore wind energy has come down much faster than experts expected, to around $50 per megawatt-hour. If the Biden administration's new approach allows U.S. wind farms to achieve costs like this, then offshore wind, with its proximity to large urban centers on the East Coast, will be competitive.
It's also important to recognize other benefits. Every year of delay for a large-scale wind farm costs the U.S. hundreds of millions of dollars in climate benefits. The Biden administration calculates that its new wind power goal would avoid 78 million metric tons of carbon dioxide, roughly equivalent to taking 17 million cars off the road for a year.
Erin Baker is a professor of industrial engineering applied to energy policy at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.
Matthew Lackner is a professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.
Disclosure statement: Erin Baker receives funding from the National Science Foundation and Sloan Foundation. Matthew Lackner receives funding from the U.S. Department of Energy.
Reposted with permission from The Conversation.
- Biden White House Announces Major Boost for Offshore Wind ... ›
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The U.S. electric car manufacturer Tesla suspended its plans to accept Bitcoin as a payment method, CEO Elon Musk announced in a Twitter statement late Wednesday.
Musk, who has become notorious for moving the price of cryptocurrencies via tweets, cited the massive amount of energy required to keep Bitcoin running and its environmental impacts as the reasoning behind Tesla's turnaround.
"We are concerned about rapid increasing use of fossil fuels for Bitcoin mining and transactions, especially coal, which has the worst emissions of any fuel," the statement said.
While cryptocurrency is a "good idea on many levels," it comes at a "great cost to the environment," Musk said.
The price of Bitcoin dropped nearly 13% late Wednesday after Tesla's announcement, according to Coin Metrics. The cryptocurrency website coindesk showed Bitcoin's dollar value dipped to a 24-hour low of just above $46,000, before rebounding slightly to hover around $50,000.
What Relationship Does Tesla Have to Bitcoin?
Tesla sparked a Bitcoin boom in February, after announcing it would invest some $1.5 billion in the cryptocurrency with the intention to allow customers to buy their e-cars with it.
The fair market value of Tesla's Bitcoin by the end of March was $2.48 billion, securities filings showed. Tesla said it was not planning to sell its Bitcoin holdings.
"Tesla will not be selling any Bitcoin and we intend to use it for transactions as soon as mining transitions to more sustainable energy," the statement said.
The company was also looking into other cryptocurrency options without Bitcoin's environmental impacts, it said.
What Is Bitcoin's Impact on the Environment?
Bitcoin is mined by computers solving complex puzzles. As more Bitcoin is mined, the more complex the puzzles become, thus requiring more computational energy.
A 2019 study from researchers at the Technical University of Munich and MIT found that the CO2 emissions for the entire Bitcoin network amounted to up to 22.9 million tons in 2018.
At such a rate, the carbon emissions connected to Bitcoin resemble those of a large city in a rich country or an entire developing country such as Sri Lanka.
Musk has shown enthusiasm to make electric cars, such as those produced by Tesla, mainstream, enticing drivers away from vehicles with combustion engines that contribute to climate change.
Reposted with permission from DW.
By Tatiana Kondratenko
Dressed in a futuristic wetsuit that enables her to stay submerged for hours, diver and scientist Mirai is trying to discover secrets of the deep in the Western Pacific.
Mirai is the animated protagonist in Beyond Blue, an ocean adventure video game set in the near future. Inspired by the BBC Blue Planet II nature documentary, and using some footage from the British broadcaster, the game is designed to make players care about the marine world.
Both Mirai and the deep she is exploring are based on insights from three real-life experts active in the field of marine biology, oceanography and ocean exploration.
Alan Gershenfeld, a co-founder of E-Line Media, the U.S. game publisher and developer behind Beyond Blue, said he wanted to create a strong protagonist who would serve as a role model for players to connect with and look up to.
"The more gamers care about the ocean, the more they want to explore the ocean, avocational or as a career," he told DW. "I believe, that's a key step towards ocean preservation."
According to a UN report, environmental video games like this one might be the next step in raising environmental awareness. Around 2.6 billion people, or one in three across the globe, play video games. And the industry generates annual revenue of over $140 billion (€116 billion) — more than Bollywood, Hollywood and recorded music sales combined.
The report describes the reach, creativity and problem-solving ethos of the gaming industry as an "untapped resource for encouraging engagement in environmental issues."
Environmental Issues in Mainstream Games
While nature has long featured in virtual landscapes, game design is now shifting towards specific environmental issues.
In Bee Simulator, for example, players become bees, buzzing through the microworld of their declining population — the fate of the family lies on the player's wings when people decide to destroy the tree that holds the hive. The survival game Endling, coming out later this year, is told through the eyes of Earth's last remaining mother fox, trying to protect her cubs in a world destroyed by humans.
Likewise Minecraft — which has sold 200 million times in all formats — has a Climate Hope City map that invites players to explore real-world green solutions like vertical farms and an energy generator that can produce different types of green energy.
More recently, Sims, the life simulation game that first emerged in 2000, has released an Eco Lifestyle expansion pack where players can run a clean-water and recycling project or build wind turbines on rooftops to decrease their carbon footprint. True eco-warriors can even go dumpster diving.
Alenda Chang, author of the book "Playing Nature: Ecology in Video Games" says players can learn about the human impact on the environment by witnessing different scenarios of how their actions impact their world.
"Games force us to interact with the system, and they produce feelings," Chang said. "Players do things and can feel guilty because of their choices. Or they can feel the flash of success when things work out in the game."
Gen Z Levels Up the Game
Chang attributes the trend toward more eco-based storylines to both the needs of younger players and the priorities of new designers.
"Young people see climate change as something that informs who they are as individuals," she said. "Organically what's happening is that this new wave of game designers is bringing these interests with them."
The virtual environmental experience can inspire, and appears to have already inspired, players to be more active in their real lives. When the American software development firm Niantic, Inc — which developed and published Pokemon Go — called on players to collect waste on Earth Day in 2019, more than 17,000 people in 41 countries showed up. Together, they picked up more than 145 tons of trash.
@NianticLabs Earth Day Cleanup event at Algés - Portugal by our local #PokemonGO community (10 attendees)… https://t.co/y5VwykHyol— Luís Oliveira (@Luís Oliveira)1555182867.0
And in China, the Alipay payment app introduced Ant Forest in 2016, a mini-game featuring a virtual tree that grows when users earn points by reducing their CO2 emissions. For each virtual tree, Alipay plants a real one; 220 million trees have been planted in arid areas in China in five years.
In 2019, 21 companies, including giants like Sony Interactive, Microsoft and Google, formed Playing For The Planet Alliance — convened by the UN Environment Programme — to unlock the potential of gaming to tackle environmental issues.
"We want to inspire the gaming community to think what role they can play in tackling the climate crisis," said Sam Barratt, chief of the Youth, Education and Advocacy Unit in UNEP's Ecosystems Division and co-founder of the alliance. "We also want to get the industry to hit net-zero emissions as soon as possible."
Gaming's Green Image Problem
Gaming itself generates its own environmental problems, though, whether as e-waste or as contributing to a country's carbon footprint.
It's hard to estimate how much electricity gamers consume since it varies based on how often a gamer plays, what platforms they use and how energy efficient their devices are.
In 2012, for example, the University of California's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory found that gamers with personal computers consumed around 75 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity globally.
In a further study, gamers with a high-end desktop computer and external display were shown to use up to 1250 kilowatt-hour a year.
And when it comes to the world's trash problem, gaming consoles in 2019 contributed to the 4.7 million tons of e-waste generated by Small IT products, including mobile phones and personal contributors, or about 9% of the total e-waste generated worldwide, according to the UN's Global E-waste Monitor.
What Gaming in 4k and Eating Beef Have in Common
Then, there's a question of distribution. While sales of physical copies of games are dropping, another obvious package-free alternative is growing: downloads. However, a 2014 study of Play Station 3 in the UK found it to be a more CO2-intensive practice than the use of Blu-ray Discs (BDs). Downloads only have a lower carbon footprint than BDs for games smaller than 1.3 GB while the average size of modern titles is 20 GB.
But this comes with extra pressure on data centers and network infrastructure. Lancaster University in northern England estimated that if gamers moved to streaming by 2030, carbon emissions could increase by 30%. And that's before taking into account streaming in higher resolutions, such as 4k.
"We already more or less have a connection in our heads that eating meat is bad for the environment. But we don't have the same thinking for a game stream in 4k," Chang said. "This mindset needs to be translated over to gaming, too."
With more advanced graphics and new devices for VR and AR games, the pressure is on for companies with climate ambitions to look at the whole value chain of their products.
Truly green gaming will mean winning on all those fronts.
Reposted with permission from DW.
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By Kelly Trout
For years, we've seen fossil fuel companies and governments justify their fossil fuel expansion plans – from the TransMountain tar sands pipeline expansion to Arctic oil drilling to the Adani coal mine – on the backs of scenarios from the International Energy Agency (IEA).
This was possible because, until today, the world's most influential energy modeling agency had not produced a scenario actually aligned with the full ambition of the Paris Agreement goals. That's true no longer.
Now, after years of pressure from climate advocates, investors, businesses, and diplomats, the IEA has finally released its first ever fully-fledged energy scenario aligned with the urgent goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius (°C). As with past IEA modeling efforts, this new scenario needs some fixes (more on that below), and we're still analyzing all of its implications. But one conclusion in particular stands out to us at Oil Change International (OCI).
In its Summary for Policymakers, in a bolded headline, the IEA finds that, "There is no need for investment in new fossil fuel supply in our net zero pathway."
They add, "Beyond projects already committed as of 2021, there are no new oil and gas fields approved for development in our pathway, and no new coal mines or mine extensions are required."
This is huge. An agency that has consistently boosted new oil and gas development in its flagship annual World Energy Outlook (WEO) is now backing up the global call to stop the expansion of fossil fuel extraction.
The Oil and Gas Industry Has Lost a Powerful Shield
Big Oil and Gas companies and the governments of fossil fuel-producing countries have lost one of their key covers for claiming that developing new oil and gas reserves is fully consistent with their commitments to "net zero" or the Paris Agreement. People around the world who have been demanding that governments, banks, and other financial institutions stop enabling the expansion of oil, gas, and coal extraction can point to the IEA's "authoritative" analysis reaching the same conclusion.
Of course, the IEA is behind the curve. OCI has been analyzing the disconnect between new fossil fuel development and the Paris goals since 2016. We found then that already operating or under construction oil and gas fields and coal mines contain enough fossil fuel reserves to push the world well beyond 1.5 degrees of warming. The implication was as clear then as it is now: The world must stop digging new holes, and focus instead on managing a rapid and equitable wind down of already developed extraction.
With the IEA's fully Paris-aligned scenario now saying the same, companies like Shell and Total can no longer comfortably point to the IEA to defend their plans to expand gas extraction. The UK government, which helped commission this new IEA report, will have a tougher time claiming that its decision to keep the door open to new licenses for offshore exploration and extraction fits with its Paris commitment. In fact, IEA director Dr. Fatih Birol has already today confronted the UK over its continued support for oil, gas, and coal expansion and investment. And major fossil banks like JPMorgan Chase and Citi have a new minimum baseline for "stress testing" their portfolios and the legitimacy of their net zero plans.
A Job Half Done: The IEA Must Put 1.5°C at the Heart of the WEO
The IEA finally embracing a 1.5°C-aligned pathway as "the energy future we all need" is a major milestone. But the IEA must do much more beyond today's report to prove its climate credibility and commitment, particularly given the agency is positioning itself to play an advisory role at COP26.
To guide policies and investments towards a future fully aligned with the Paris goals, the IEA must go beyond developing a 1.5°C-aligned scenario and position it at the heart of the WEO. It is the WEO that decision makers look to year after year to guide trillions in public and private capital, and which the IEA itself calls the "gold standard of energy analysis."
Dr. Birol made a welcome announcement last week, committing that this new 1.5°C-aligned scenario will be "integral" to WEO 2021 and future WEOs. But we don't know yet what that will mean in practice.
In WEO 2019, the IEA dismissed a 1.5°C-aligned energy transformation as "very difficult and very expensive" and spent only seven of 600 plus pages discussing it. WEO 2020 included a short 1.5°C-aligned energy "case" to 2030, the building block of today's report. However, that case was rarely mentioned outside of the chapter devoted to it. The summaries of other chapters still primarily focused on the Stated Energy Policies Scenario (STEPS), a pathway towards catastrophic levels of global warming.
The scenario that the IEA positions as the central scenario in the WEO commonly becomes what governments and investors use as their default for energy decision making, guiding trillions of dollars of investment. The IEA must seize this moment to transform its flagship WEO report, putting a 1.5°C scenario at the center, and focusing each headline, chapter, and graph on the implications of it.
Risky Modeling Choices Must Be Fixed
The IEA also needs to revisit and fix risky and bad choices within its modeling between now and WEO 2021. Below we provide an overview of ways in which the IEA must improve its scenario to drive the world towards the bold and just energy solutions we need, based on initial analysis from OCI and partner groups.
Underestimating wind and solar. While the IEA closing the door on new fossil fuel extraction is a welcome shift, the IEA's new "Net Zero Energy" roadmap continues to underestimate the growth potential and cost declines of solar and wind power, a chronic problem at the IEA. Kingsmill Bond, an energy transition expert at Carbon Tracker Initiative, has noted that the IEA's scenario forecasts rapid solar capacity growth until 2030 (22 percent per year). But that growth drops to 8 percent per year to 2040 and 3 percent per year to 2050. The latest scenario by the Energy Transitions Commission shows solar power providing twice as much energy in 2050 compared to the IEA's new scenario (27-35 terawatts vs 14.5 terawatts).
As a consequence of underselling wind and solar, the IEA makes room for dirty, riskier alternatives to meet energy demand.
Gambling on CCS. The IEA assumes that carbon capture and storage (CCS) projects will wipe out 1.6 billion tonnes (Gt) of CO2 pollution as soon as 2030. The IEA admits that CCS projects only have capacity to sequester 0.04 Gt of emissions at present. Most of that capacity is currently devoted to pumping more oil out of the ground. Relying on CCS to grow almost 4,000 percent over the next nine years is wildly optimistic given the technology's poor track record and failure to take off to date. It's also an irresponsible gamble. The IEA's own report acknowledges that, with greater investment in already proven renewable energy technologies, it wouldn't be necessary to expand fossil fuel-based CCS. This alternative "Low CCUS Case" mentioned in the report should be the base assumption.
Clinging to fossil gas. By gambling on a massive scale-up of CCS taking away some of its emissions, the IEA's 1.5°C scenario also makes room for dangerous levels of fossil gas reliance this decade. In the IEA's model, gas does not peak until 2025 and declines by only 6 percent below 2020 levels by 2030. By contrast, the 2020 Production Gap Report, released by the United Nations Environment Programme and a consortium of global research organisations, shows gas declining by a median of 3 percent per year between now and 2030 in 1.5°C-consistent pathways. Moreover, even if the carbon emissions from burning fossil gas to produce electricity or hydrogen are effectively captured, that will not remove the health and pollution impacts communities face where the gas is being extracted.
Projecting dangerous growth in bioenergy. Fossil fuel production and use should be replaced with truly clean energy solutions. Bioenergy does not fit that bill. Yet, the IEA's scenario relies on a 65 percent increase in bioenergy from 2020 to 2050, increasing the total land area devoted to bioenergy production by 25% to 410 million hectares in 2050, an area the size of India and Pakistan combined. Growth in bioenergy production is already linked to land grabs and human rights violations, food insecurity, and loss of biodiversity. As Hannah Mowat, campaigns coordinator with Fern, puts it, "Instead of burning trees for energy, we should focus on cutting fossil fuel use, maximising energy efficiency and increasing renewables such as solar, wind, heat pumps and geothermal."
Higher Ambition Matters
All in all, today's 1.5°C report release is a major step forward for the IEA. Its first effort to model a 1.5-aligned energy future makes a clear case that this transformation is critical and achievable, requires deep emissions cuts by 2030 and a "huge decline" in fossil fuels, and, if done in a just and inclusive way, would improve people's well-being and livelihoods all over the world.
At the same time, we can't grade the IEA only against its past performance. The ultimate measure is whether the agency drives forward solutions that are bold enough to stem the climate crisis and protect the communities on its frontlines, not the polluters responsible for causing it. In this regard, the IEA has more homework to complete.
But now that the head of the IEA is proclaiming that, "The world does not need any new investments in oil, coal or gas," it will be a whole lot harder for governments, oil and gas companies, banks, and insurers to justify their own support for continued expansion. And that is undoubtedly a huge win for the climate.
Reposted with permission from Oil Change International.
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By Rich Collett-White and Rachel Sherrington
Fossil fuel companies could face legal challenges over their misleading advertising, after a DeSmog investigation uncovered the extent of their "greenwashing."
Environmental lawyers ClientEarth have put companies on notice with the publication of the Greenwashing Files. The analyses, which use DeSmog's research, show how adverts of major fossil fuel companies and energy producers continue to overemphasize their green credentials, giving the public a misleading impression of their businesses.
DeSmog analyzed the advertising output of Aramco, Chevron, Drax, Equinor, ExxonMobil, Ineos, RWE, Shell and Total, and compared this with the reality of the companies' current and future business activities.
ClientEarth submitted a complaint against BP's advertising in 2019, before the company decided to withdraw its "Possibilities Everywhere" campaign. The lawyers say other fossil fuel companies could face similar challenges if they mislead the public through their advertising. The group is calling for tobacco-style advertising bans and health warnings to counter fossil fuel companies' "deceptive" marketing.
DeSmog's investigation found messaging that touts companies' climate pledges without being transparent about their large emissions contributions is widespread across advertising campaigns and social media promotions.
The adverts regularly highlight the companies' preferred solutions to climate change — from carbon capture and storage, to experimental algae biofuels, and investment in renewable energy sources — without being open about the small percentage of overall investment allocated to these technologies, nor their various limitations.
The Greenwashing Files lay bare the contrast between the public image these adverts create, and the reality of the fossil fuel companies' activities.
All companies featured in this article were contacted for comment.
ExxonMobil – 'Powering Progress'
"We're working on ways to provide energy while addressing the risks of climate change, producing clean-burning natural gas to reduce emissions from power plants, capturing CO2 before it reaches the atmosphere, and exploring unexpected energy sources like biofuels made from algae," a reassuring voice tells us in Exxon's "Powering Progress" advert – one of several released in recent years that present the US oil giant as a leader in green technologies.
But while the ad shows Exxon scientists hard at work developing "algae farms" and technology designed to suck carbon dioxide from the air, its business activities tell a different story.
Exxon is increasingly an outlier among fossil fuel companies and other major emitters, having refused to set an absolute emissions reduction target, opting instead for gradual "carbon intensity" reductions which still allow for overall emissions to increase. It has no plans to cut oil and gas production, which energy analysts say is urgently needed to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement.
While Exxon remains responsible for a significant portion of global emissions – with documents in 2019 revealing a total annual output roughly equivalent to that of Canada – its spending on clean energies has been a tiny fraction of its investments, with just 0.2 percent of its investment in new projects going to low carbon sources between 2010 and 2018.
And while "Powering Progress" and other ads put Exxon's investments in algae biofuels at the fore, it has spent just $300 million on the technology in a decade, compared with yearly capital investment of around $20 billion. Experts doubt whether the technology will ever be commercially viable or usable at scale.
RWE – 'We are the new RWE'
A video by German energy giant RWE takes the viewer through landmark inventions that have spurred on human civilisation since the industrial revolution – the light bulb, the radio, mass transport – before arriving at the present day. "Every time has its energy," the ad tells us, adding that "times are changing. Society is changing. Companies are changing, and we are changing too."
The images cut to wind turbines, and the forces of nature that are powering what we are told is today's "renewable age." The company positions itself at the heart of this transition, telling the viewer it is "focusing on renewable energies and storage, for a sustainable world," and that it is providing "clean, reliable and affordable" energy as part of its transition to "the new RWE."
The campaign accompanies pledges to become "carbon neutral" by 2040 and oversee a significant expansion into wind and solar energy.
But the growth of RWE's low-carbon activities has not been matched by an exit from fossil fuels. RWE remains the largest emitter in Europe, according to a recent study by Greenpeace, and its three major lignite coal-fired power stations all feature in the EU's top five highest-emitting plants. Under current plans, it will continue to generate coal-fired electricity until the end of 2038, almost a decade after the deadline recommended for OECD countries by climate experts, at the same time as expanding its already significant fossil gas business.
Despite its claims to focus on clean energy, 80 percent of the company's energy still comes from non-renewable sources, mostly highly-polluting brown coal, hard coal and gas. The company also counts controversial and carbon-intensive biomass amongst its "renewable" energy sources despite warnings from scientists over its use.
Drax – 'Beyond Coal'
Drax, another energy company that now relies heavily on biomass and operates the UK's largest power station in North Yorkshire, has worked hard to bolster its green credentials in recent years, positioning itself as an ally in the fight against climate change.
Last year, it released an advert celebrating the company's shift away from coal-fired energy production, which it completed in March. Set to an uplifting soundtrack, the video calls the move a "major step towards Drax's ambition to become carbon negative by 2030," while touting a new "Zero Carbon Skills Taskforce" to ensure the surrounding area "isn't defined by its past, but by its future."
A 2020 year-in-review video meanwhile describes Drax as "among Europe's lowest carbon intensity power generators," producing "77 percent renewable electricity."
But the company's claims about the climate-friendliness of biomass, which has now taken over from coal as the principal source of energy at its power station thanks to generous government subsidies, have been widely disputed. Burning wood pellets has been found to be more carbon-intensive than fossil fuels in most circumstances, while experts doubt that trees planted in their place can re-absorb the carbon dioxide emitted, on a meaningful timescale.
Carbon capture and storage – another key plank of Drax's low-carbon strategy – remains uneconomical at scale, with the company's own use of the technology still in the pilot phase.
In response to questions from DeSmog, Drax said emissions from biomass energy are "already accounted for in the land-use sector and therefore considered carbon neutral at the point of combustion," in line with "established global best practice" set out by the UN IPCC.
It also said biomass should be considered renewable "because the forests we source from are growing and storing more carbon" and pointed to its plans for a bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) unit by 2027, "creating tens of thousands of jobs" and "permanently removing millions of tonnes of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere each year."
Aramco – 'The Moment is Now'
The Saudi Arabian state-owned oil and gas giant, Aramco, became the most valuable listed company in history when it floated on the stock market at the end of 2019. But the fossil fuel behemoth is at pains to assure viewers it is concerned about more than just its bottom line.
In an advert titled "The Moment is Now," an Aramco employee tells a lecture theatre full of colleagues that "as we open up to the world, we know more than ever before that we must continue towards a sustainable future."
"We value the natural resources we discover but never forget it is our human energy that drives us to create a better world," she says to the audience, who reward her presentation with a standing ovation.
Elsewhere, the company insists it is driven by a "commitment to preserving the environment because protecting our planet is one of our most important values."
That's despite the company being the world's largest corporate greenhouse gas emitter, responsible for an estimated four percent of all global emissions since 1965.
Aramco's oil and gas reserves total more than those of ExxonMobil, Chevron, Shell, BP and Total combined, while the company refuses to disclose its full emissions. Its majority shareholder, the Saudi Arabian government, has been at the forefront of efforts to stall international action on climate change for decades. At the last UN climate talks in Madrid, over a third of Saudi Arabia's representatives were associated with the oil and gas industry, many with Aramco.
Equinor – 'This is what changed us.'
Previously trading under the name Statoil, the Norwegian state-owned oil and gas company Equinor rebranded in 2018, with the hope of highlighting its transformation into a "broad energy company" and its growing low-carbon energy division.
Equinor explained its reasons for the name change in an advert called "Equinor. This is what changed us." Scenes of raging storms and melting ice caps are displayed while the narrator says: "Some changes are so profound that they transcend everything. Changes that require us to find a new balance."
In a more recent ad, the company insists that "emissions must come down and it must happen fast."
Equinor is certainly taking steps to increase its investments in low-carbon technologies, with plans to up its renewable energy capacity to 4-6 gigawatts by 2026, and has set a "net zero" emissions target for 2050.
But this shift is largely in addition to, rather than in place of, its core oil and gas business. The company is still exploring for more oil and gas reserves and does not intend to start reducing its fossil fuel production before 2030. Last year, it opened the largest oil field in Western Europe and is heavily involved in ventures in the Arctic.
Equinor promotes natural gas as the "perfect fuel to balance renewable energy" and was given a warning two years ago by the UK's Advertising Standards Authority for claiming the fuel was a "low-carbon" energy source.
Another technology the company touts is carbon capture and storage (CCS), but all of the projects it is involved in currently amount to less than three percent of its overall emissions.
ClientEarth lawyer Johnny White said the collection of adverts showed the fossil fuel companies were involved in a "great deception."
"We need to reduce reliance on fossil fuels. But instead of leading a low-carbon transition, these companies are putting out advertising which distracts the public and launders their image," he said.
"These adverts are misrepresenting the true nature of companies' businesses, of their contribution to climate change, and of their transition plans," he added, saying that "we cannot underestimate the real world impact this advertising has on the pace of change."
You can find the full set of adverts and analyses here.
Additional research by Michaela Herrmann. Edited by Mat Hope.
Disclaimer: ClientEarth lawyer Sophie Marjanac sits on the board of DeSmog UK Ltd.
Reposted with permission from DeSmog.
By Tara Lohan
The Biden administration greenlighted a major new solar development in May. The Crimson Solar Project will stretch across 2,500 acres of public lands in the desert of Southern California and provide enough electricity to power 85,000 homes.
The 350-megawatt photovoltaic facility takes the country another step toward meeting the administration's stated goal of slashing greenhouse gas emissions in half in the next 10 years. A White House statement in April proclaimed that when it comes to tackling climate change, "The United States is not waiting, the costs of delay are too great, and our nation is resolved to act now."
Already Biden's team has approved the first utility-scale offshore wind project in the Atlantic and taken a big step in the more complicated effort to develop wind energy in the Pacific Ocean's deeper waters.
Expect the pace of new renewable energy projects — including utility-scale solar like Crimson — to continue to accelerate. That's a good thing — except when this urgency collides with the glacially slow pace of life in desert ecosystems that haven't experienced much previous construction, roads or other development. There, researchers say, we may need to proceed with more caution and more information.
"In the desert, you're really talking about going into an undeveloped ecosystem," says Steven Grodsky, assistant unit leader of the USGS New York Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit and a professor at Cornell University. "And anytime you have a major disturbance in an ecosystem that has a generally low frequency of natural disturbance, you might shake things up a bit."
Grodsky and colleagues have spent years researching how solar projects could affect soil, plants and animals in the Mojave and Sonoran deserts. Some of that research has been published, more is forthcoming, and much, much more is still needed to better understand how the region's ecosystems will fare.
"All of those [greenhouse gas reduction] goals entail really aggressive buildouts of renewable energy, which is a great thing in the sense that we can supplant and displace fossil fuels," he says. "But that also gives us an opportunity to be able to guide the sustainable development of these renewables."
And to do that, we'll need to better understand how solar developments may affect various plants and animals.
Long-lived and slow-moving, the desert tortoise is perhaps the poster child for the pace of life in the desert — and an example of the threats that disturbances can cause.
Road-building, urban development, livestock grazing and off-road vehicles have devastated the tortoises, which spend a large chunk of their 80-year lifespan in burrows. The combination of threats has led to the Mojave Desert tortoise (Gopherus agassizii) being listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act.
A Mojave Desert tortoise. USFWS
Now more solar development, and the bulldozers and fences that come with it, have added another threat. And it's one that will be felt by more than just tortoises. The area is also home to burrowing owls, kit foxes, desert iguanas, kangaroo rats, and hundreds of rare plant species.
Grodsky is currently conducting a study on federal land run by the Bureau of Land Management in the Riverside East Solar Energy Zone, an area designated for large-scale solar development about 250 miles east of Los Angeles in the Sonoran Desert. "We are working to get a better understanding of how the solar facilities might affect animal movement and their use of corridors," he says. "So things like desert kit foxes, coyotes, bobcats, badgers."
He and colleagues have already been studying the interactions between pollinators and plants, including queen butterflies (Danaus gilippus) and Mojave milkweed (Asclepias nyctaginifolia), in other areas with solar developments.
"What we found so far is that solar development is likely affecting soils, which is in turn affecting where and how Mojave milkweed can grow, which is affecting butterfly species that lay eggs on, and have caterpillars that eat, Mojave milkweed," he explains.
A lot of the research is ongoing, and findings are preliminary, but one thing is clear already: Disturbing desert soils is a big deal.
"If you disrupt soils and then remove vegetation, that can have effects on ecosystems," he says. "The more intensive the disturbance of desert soils and plants, you're really opening up an opportunity for invasive species colonization." So solar developments could stamp out native plants and also cause invasive ones to proliferate.
How the sites are prepared for development can make a difference in the ecological impacts. Some sites are bulldozed. That's the worst-case scenario for all native plants.
Other times plants are mowed, which can be less disruptive. But it really depends on what's growing.
Cacti and Mojave yucca (Yucca schidigera) respond poorly to both those scenarios. "In our study, we found seven years after site preparation they hadn't recovered," says Grodsky. Creosote bushes (Larrea tridentata), however, appear to grow back after they're mowed, but it takes a while. Again, desert life is slow.
Site preparation isn't the only factor that can affect soil and plants. A study led by Karen Tanner of the University of California, Santa Cruz examined how the shade and runoff from solar panels affect common and rare plant species. The seven-year investigation found that in good rainfall years the shade suppressed plant growth for the rare Barstow woolly sunflower (Eriophyllum mohavense). In contrast, additional runoff from the panels increased the population of the common Wallace's woolly daisy (E. wallacei), which was unaffected by the shade.
"There's a need to reconcile rare species conservation and green energy goals, and our work highlights some pitfalls that can hinder effective management of rare plant populations in the desert southwest," the researchers concluded.
It's possible that tweaking some of the way solar facilities are constructed and managed could aid more plants and animals. Preliminary research suggests that leaving some habitat patches within solar projects could have positive conservation benefits.
"I think that there could be alterations to the design of desert solar facilities, the spacing between individual arrays, and the creation of habitat passes within solar fields at varying sizes," says Grodsky. "If we are going to put solar facilities in these ecosystems, let's try to make sure they have the least impact on soil, plants and animals."
At a solar facility built in Nye County, Nevada in 2017, fences around the property's perimeter were built with openings in places to allow desert tortoises and other species to pass through and access the habitat within the development. Panels were also placed 18 inches higher off the ground than the industry standard to better help vegetation return.
An opening in a perimeter fence that allows wildlife to access habitat inside the solar facility. USFWS
"Research and monitoring studies are underway to investigate the ability of native plants to persist under solar panels and how well the project area functions as habitat for wildlife," according to the Fish and Wildlife Service.
Other projects are experimenting with combining pollinator-friendly plants and solar projects to create more ecological benefits.
Location, Location, Location
Of course there's another option for reducing the harm to desert ecosystems from solar development — don't build there in the first place.
A 2107 study led by Madison Hoffacker of the University of California, Davis focused on other options in California, including using the built environment — such as solar panels on existing rooftops, arrays on salt-affected lands that can no longer be used for farming, and "floatovoltaics" on the surface water of reservoirs.
The researchers found more than 3,200 square miles of available surfaces in just California's Central Valley that would be good for solar development and not in conflict with agricultural uses or protected conservation areas.
"There's this competition for finite land resources between all these competing land uses, including renewable energy development, agriculture, conservation and urbanization," says Grodsky. But finding ways to co-locate projects for multiple benefits or using marginal lands could help reduce the need to dig up more of the undisturbed desert.
Inevitably, though, more solar projects will be built in the desert, and it will be important to understand where they'll have the least impact and how to best manage them with desert species in mind, he says.
"Now's the time for researchers in the ecological community to do our part, to conduct the research and to ensure that the development is as informed as possible about the ecological effects," he says.
That will take buy-in from developers, incentives, policy and much more funding.
There's also a disparity when it comes to timing. Life and science move slowly in the desert, but progress does not.
"Renewable energy development is growing faster and faster," he says. "But scientists need to go and collect field data for at least a couple of years to get anything worthwhile, and then you have to analyze it and write it up. So you're talking about four years, and within those four years you could have another 20 large-scale solar facilities built."
Trying to ensure research and information keeps pace with development will remain a challenge. But more and more companies are realizing that building projects sustainably is better in the long run, he says. That may be because of better PR, lower mitigation costs down the road or environmental ethics.
"But I do think that in the end, the most sustainable solar energy development will end up being a win for everyone," he says. "Industry, the general public and natural resource managers will all benefit."
Tara Lohan is deputy editor of The Revelator and has worked for more than a decade as a digital editor and environmental journalist focused on the intersections of energy, water and climate. Her work has been published by The Nation, American Prospect, High Country News, Grist, Pacific Standard and others. She is the editor of two books on the global water crisis.
Reposted with permission from The Revelator.
By Tara Lohan
A key part of the United States' clean energy transition has started to take shape, but you may need to squint to see it. About 2,000 wind turbines could be built far offshore, in federal waters off the Atlantic Coast, in the next 10 years. And more are expected.
East Coast states from Maine to North Carolina are working to procure nearly 30 gigawatts of offshore wind by 2035 — a huge leap from the five turbines currently generating 30 megawatts in Rhode Island waters. If a regulatory backlog of projects awaiting approval from the Interior Department's Bureau of Ocean Energy Management is finally unstuck — as experts hope will happen this year — the buildout of offshore wind will arrive during a crucial decade for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Spinning turbine blades on the watery horizon may be a welcome sight in the fight against climate change, but they still come with potential threats to marine wildlife. Many environmental groups believe the challenges aren't insurmountable if scientific study can help inform regulatory action and if we can learn — and adapt our practices — as we go.
"We believe that offshore wind can absolutely be developed in an environmentally responsible manner," says Francine Kershaw, a staff scientist at the Natural Resources Defense Council. "But that has to be incorporated throughout the whole process — from site assessment through development, construction and operations."
Threats to Birds
One of the gravest threats facing birds is climate change, according to Audubon, which found that rising temperatures threaten nearly two-thirds of North America's bird species. That's why the impending development of offshore wind is a good thing, says Shilo Felton, a field manager in the organization's Clean Energy Initiative, but it also comes with dangers to birds that need to be better studied and mitigated.
The most obvious risk comes from birds colliding with spinning turbine blades. But offshore wind developments can also displace birds from foraging or roost sites, as well as migratory pathways.
Along the Atlantic Coast four imperiled species are of top concern to conservationists: the endangered piping plover, red knot, roseate tern and black-capped petrel, which is being considered for listing under the Endangered Species Act.
"Those four species are of utmost importance to make sure that we understand the impacts," says Felton. "But beyond that there are many species that are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act that could potentially see more impacts from offshore wind."
Northern gannets, for example, are at risk not just for collision but habitat displacement.
A northern gannet flying along Cape May, N.J. Ann Marie Morrison / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
"There's some evidence that they just won't use areas where turbines are, but that also excludes them from key foraging areas," says Felton. Researchers are still studying what this may mean for the birds. But a study published in December 2020 conducted at Bass Rock, Scotland — home to the world's largest northern gannet colony — found that wind developments could reduce their growth rate, though not enough to cause a population decline.
Other birds, such as great cormorants and European shags, are attracted to wind developments and use the infrastructure to rest while opening up new foraging areas farther from shore.
"There's plenty of potential for a bird to use a wind farm and still to avoid the turbines themselves," says Felton.
Birds like pelicans, however, are less versatile in their movements and are at particular risk of collision because of their flight pattern, she says.
But how disruptive or dangerous offshore turbines will be along the East Coast isn't yet known.
Federal and state agencies, along with nongovernmental organizations, says Felton, have done good research to try to better understand those potential impacts. "But these are all theoretical, because we don't have a lot of offshore wind yet in the United States."
Threats to Ocean Life
Birds aren't the only wildlife of concern. More development in ocean waters could affect a litany of marine species, some of which are already facing other pressures from overfishing, pollution, habitat destruction and climate change.
Scientists have found that marine mammals like whales and dolphins could be disturbed by the jarring sounds of construction, especially if pile driving is used to hammer the steel turbine platform into the seafloor.
The noises, though short-lived, could impede communication between animals, divert them from migration routes or cause them to seek less suitable areas for feeding or breeding. Research from Europe found that harbor porpoises, seals and dolphins may avoid development areas during construction. In most, but not all cases, the animals were believed to have returned to the area following construction.
The biggest concern for conservation groups in the United States is the critically endangered North American right whale. There are fewer than 400 remaining, and the species' habitat overlaps with a number of planned wind development areas along the East Coast.
"Offshore wind is in no way the cause of the challenges the whales face, but it's going to be another pressure point," says John Rogers, senior energy analyst for the Union of Concerned Scientists.
Researchers aren't sure how right whales will respond to the noise from pile driving.
"But we are concerned, based on what we know about how whales react to other noise sources, that they may avoid [wind development] areas," says Kershaw.
And if that displacement causes them to miss out on important food resources, it could be dangerous for a species already on the brink.
There are a few other potential threats, too.
Ships associated with the development — more plentiful during construction — also pose a danger. In the past few years cargo ships, fishing boats and other vessels have caused half of all deaths of North Atlantic right whales.
A juvenile right whale breaches against the backdrop of a ship near the St. Johns River entrance. Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission / NOAA Research Permit #775-1600-10
And after construction, the noise from the spinning turbines will be present in the water at low decibels. "We don't quite know how the great whales will react to those sounds," says Jeremy Firestone, the director of the Center for Research in Wind at the University of Delaware.
Other marine mammals may also perceive the noise, but at low decibels it's unlikely to be an impediment, research has found.
And it's possible that wind development could help some ocean life. Turbine foundations can attract fish and invertebrates for whom hard substrates create habitat complexity — known as the "reef effect," according to researchers from the University of Rhode Island's Discovery of Sound in the Sea program. Exclusion of commercial fishing nearby may also help shelter fish and protect marine mammals from entanglements in fishing gear.
Ensuring Safe Development
Despite the potential dangers, researchers have gathered a few best practices to help diminish and possibly eliminate some risks.
When it comes to ship strikes, the easiest thing is to slow boats down, mandating a speed of 10 knots in wind development areas, and using visual and acoustic monitoring for whales.
Adjusting operations to reduce boat trips between the shore and the wind development will also help. A new series of service operating vessels can allow maintenance staff to spent multiple days onsite, says Kershaw, cutting down on boat traffic.
For construction noise concerns, developers can avoid pile driving during times of the year when whales are present. And, depending on the marine environment, developers could use "quiet foundations" that don't require pile driving. These include gravity-based or suction caisson platforms.
Floating turbines are also used in deep water, where they're effectively anchored in place — although that poses its own potential danger. "We have concerns that marine debris could potentially become entangled around the mooring cables of the floating arrays and pose a secondarily entanglement risk to some species," says Felton, who thinks more research should be conducted before those become operational in U.S. waters — a process that's already underway in Maine, where a demonstration project is being built.
If loud noises are unavoidable during construction, noise-reducing technologies such as bubble curtains can help dampen the sound. And scheduling adjacent projects to conduct similar work at the same time could limit the duration of disturbances.
The foundation installation of the off shore wind farm Sandbank using a bubble curtain. Vattenfall / Ulrich Wirrwa / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
Once turbines become operational, reducing the amount of light on wind platforms or using flashing lights could help deter some seabirds, NRDC researchers reported. And scientists are exploring using ultrasonic noises and ultraviolet lighting to keep bats away. "Feathering," or shutting down the turbine blades during key migration times, could also help prevent fatalities.
"We need to make sure that offshore wind is the best steward it can be of the marine ecosystem, because we want and expect it to be a significant part of the clean energy picture in some parts of the country," says Rogers. "We also have to recognize that we're going to learn by doing, and that some of these things we're going to figure out best once we have more turbines in the water."
That's why environmental groups say it's important to establish baseline information on species before projects begin, and then require developers to conduct monitoring during construction and for years after projects are operational.
Employing an "adaptive management framework" will ensure that developers can adjust their management practices as they go when new information becomes available, and that those best practices are incorporated into the requirements for future projects.
Putting Research Into Action
Advancing these conversations at the federal level during the Trump administration, though, has been slow going.
"We didn't really have any productive discussions with the administration in the last four years," says Kershaw.
And when it comes to birds, Felton says the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management's recently completed "draft cumulative environmental impact statement" covering offshore wind developments had a lot of good environmental research, but little focus on birds.
"Part of that comes from the current administration's interpretation of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act," she says.
President Trump has been hostile to both wind energy and birds, and finished gutting the Migratory Bird Treaty Act in his administration's the final days, removing penalties for companies whose operations kill migratory birds.
There's hope that the Biden administration will take a different approach. But where the federal government has been lacking lately, Kershaw says, they've seen states step up.
New York, for example, has established an Environmental Technical Working Group composed of stakeholders to advise on environmentally responsible development of offshore wind.
The group is led by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, but it isn't limited to the Empire State. It's regional in focus and includes representatives from wind developers with leases between Massachusetts and North Carolina; state agencies from Massachusetts to Virginia; federal agencies; and science-based environmental NGOs.
New York's latest solicitation for clean energy projects includes up to 2,500 megawatts of offshore wind and requires developers to contribute at least $10,000 per megawatt for regional monitoring of fisheries and other wildlife.
Environmental groups have also worked directly with developers, including an agreement with Vineyard Wind — an 800-megawatt project off the Massachusetts coast that could be the first utility-scale wind development in federal waters — to help protect North Atlantic right whales.
The agreement includes no pile driving from Jan. 1 to April 30, ceasing activities at other times when whales are visually or acoustically identified in the area, speed restrictions on vessels, and the use of noise reduction technology, such as a bubble curtain during pile driving.
"The developers signed the agreement with us, and then they incorporated, most, if not all of those measures into the federal permitting documents," says Kershaw. "The developers really did a lot of bottom up work to make sure that they were being very protective of right whales."
Environmental groups are in talks with other developers on agreements too, but Felton wants to see best practices being mandated at the federal level.
"It's the sort of a role that should be being played by the federal government, and without that it makes the permitting and regulation process less stable and less transparent," she says." And that in turn slows down the build out of projects, which is also bad for birds because it doesn't help us address and mitigate for climate change."
Kershaw agrees there's a lot more work to be done, especially at the federal level, but thinks we're moving in the right direction.
"I think the work that's been done so far in the United States has really laid the groundwork for advancing this in the right way and in a way that's protective of species and the environment," she says. "At the same time, it's important that offshore wind does advance quickly. We really need it to help us combat the worst effects of climate change."
Tara Lohan is deputy editor of The Revelator and has worked for more than a decade as a digital editor and environmental journalist focused on the intersections of energy, water and climate. Her work has been published by The Nation, American Prospect, High Country News, Grist, Pacific Standard and others. She is the editor of two books on the global water crisis.
Reposted with permission from The Revelator.
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By Tara Lohan
How much of U.S. energy demand could be met by renewable sources?
According to a new report from the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, the answer is an easy 100%.
The report looked at how much renewable energy potential each state had within its own borders and found that almost every state could deliver all its electricity needs from instate renewable sources.
And that's just a start: The report found that there's so much potential for renewable energy sourcing, some states could produce 10 times the electricity they need. Cost remains an issue, as does connecting all of this capacity to the grid, but prices have dropped significantly, and efficiency continues to improve. Clean energy is not only affordable but could be a big boost to the economy. Locally sourced renewables create jobs, reduce pollution, and make communities more climate resilient.
So where are the opportunities? Rooftop solar, the study found, could supply six states with at least half of their electricity needs. But wind had the greatest potential. For 35 states, onshore wind alone could supply 100% of their energy demand, and offshore wind could do the same in 21 states. (The numbers overlap a bit.)
The study follows a similar report conducted a decade ago and shows that the clean energy field has made substantial progress in that time.
The Revelator spoke with Maria McCoy, a research associate at the Institute and report co-author, about what's changed and how to turn all the potential into reality.
What's changed in the 10 years since you last looked at the potential for instate renewable energy?
There's definitely been technology improvements in all the energy sources, but especially solar. Obviously there's the same amount of sun, but the solar panels themselves have a higher percentage of solar photovoltaic efficiency. Most states, on average, had 16% more solar potential this time around than they did a decade ago.
And for the other technologies, it's a matter of either more space being available or the technologies themselves improving. Wind turbines now can generate a lot more energy with the same amount of wind.
Where do you see the most potential?
There's been a lot of development in offshore wind and I think it's on the cusp of really becoming a big player in the clean energy field. But regulations, including at the federal level, have blocked it from happening at scale in the United States. Whereas in Europe there's already some incredibly efficient offshore wind farms that are generating a lot of electricity. Those companies are just starting to move into the U.S. market.
But it's onshore wind that has the biggest potential. Our research found that some states could generate over 1,000% of their energy with onshore wind if they really took advantage of it.
Your report didn't consider the potential of large-scale solar. Why?
We looked at the potential of rooftop solar rather than large-scale solar because as an energy democracy organization, we're really focused on distributed and community-owned energy. But it's also because pretty much every state has enough capacity to completely be powered by large-scale solar. It just then becomes an issue of land-usage debates and other challenges.
Your research shows there's a ton of potential for renewables across the country. How do we realize that potential?
Graphic: ILSR, Energy Self-Reliant States 2020
Continued support for renewable energy is a big one. There are a lot of credits that are phasing out and without renewing those, it will make it a little bit tougher for the market.
We were looking at just the technical ability to produce the energy and not necessarily the cost effectiveness, but we did recognize in the report that the costs have come down. The cost of solar PV, for example, has dropped 70%. So this is not really a pie-in-the-sky goal. It's definitely gotten a lot more feasible and many cities are already doing it or planning to in the near future.
I think the will is there and people want renewable energy, it's just a matter of fighting the status quo. A lot of these utilities have been using the same business model for decades and they're not really keeping up with where things are going and where the community wants things to go.
They're holding on to their fossil fuel infrastructure and their business model that profits off building more fossil gas plants when solar plus storage is already a cheaper energy source for customers. And wind is very cheap. If utility regulators and state and national policy could hold these utilities accountable to serving the public, which is their job as regulated monopolies, we could finally get to see some of this potential becoming a reality.
Having the ability to generate energy locally and store it and use it locally will create jobs and provide a lot of resilience to the grid and communities. And with climate change, I think that's becoming more and more important.
Was there anything that surprised you about your findings?
We definitely expected things to be better but I don't know if we expected them to be this much better in 10 years. Seeing all this potential and these ridiculously high percentages — I mean, being able to generate greater than 1,000% of the electricity we need with renewables in some states is just a sign of how abundant clean energy is.
And it's kind of sad, I guess, that some states aren't even able to get to 25% or 50% clean energy goals in their renewable portfolio standards. I would hope that the train starts rolling a little faster.
And I hope our research can inspire others who think maybe their state doesn't have a lot of renewable energy capacity in their area to realize that they do, and it could provide for all that they need and more.
Tara Lohan is deputy editor of The Revelator and has worked for more than a decade as a digital editor and environmental journalist focused on the intersections of energy, water and climate. Her work has been published by The Nation, American Prospect, High Country News, Grist, Pacific Standard and others. She is the editor of two books on the global water crisis.
Reposted with permission from The Revelator.
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One of the silver linings of the coronavirus pandemic was the record drop in greenhouse gas emissions following national lockdowns. But that drop is set to all but reverse as economies begin to recover, the International Energy Agency (IEA) warned Tuesday.
Overall energy demand is expected to rise 4.6 percent this year compared to 2020 and 0.5 percent compared to 2019, according to the IEA's Global Energy Review 2021. Demand for fossil fuels is expected to jump to such an extent that emissions will rise by nearly five percent in 2021. This will reverse 80 percent of the emissions decline reported in 2020, to end emissions just 1.2 percent below 2019 emissions levels. Because the lockdown saw the biggest drop in energy demand since World War II, the projected increase in carbon dioxide emissions will still be the second-highest on record, BBC News pointed out.
"This is a dire warning that the economic recovery from the COVID crisis is currently anything but sustainable for our climate," IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol said in a statement reported by AFP.
Birol said much of that increase was being driven by the resurgence of coal use. In fact, coal demand is expected to increase by 60 percent more than all forms of renewable energy, according to the report. Overall coal demand is expected to increase by 4.5 percent in 2021. More than 80 percent of that growth is in Asia, and more than 50 percent is in China. While coal use is expected to increase in the U.S. and Europe as well, it will remain far below pre-pandemic levels. Still, global coal use is expected to rise to nearly its 2014 peak, BBC News reported.
Natural gas demand is also expected to rise by 3.2 percent in 2021, to put it more than one percent above 2019 levels, according to the report.
There are, however, two bright spots in the report from a climate perspective. The first is that oil demand, while up 6.2 percent from 2020, is still expected to remain around 3 percent below 2019 levels. This is because oil use for ground transportation is not expected to recover until the end of 2021, and oil use for air travel is expected to remain at 20 percent below 2019 levels by December of 2021.
"A full return to pre-crisis oil demand levels would have pushed up CO2 emissions a further 1.5%, putting them well above 2019 levels," the report authors wrote.
The second bright spot is that renewable energy demand is set to rise in all sectors in 2021. In power, where its rise is the greatest, it is set to increase by more than eight percent. This is "the largest year-on-year growth on record in absolute terms," the report authors wrote.
Renewable energy will provide 30 percent of electricity overall, BBC News reported, which is the highest percentage since the industrial revolution. The problem is that the increase in renewables is running parallel to an increase in fossil fuels in some places. China, for example, is also expected to account for almost half of the rise in renewable electricity.
"As we have seen at the country-level in the past 15 years, the countries that succeed to cut their emissions are those where renewable energy replaces fossil energy," energy expert and University of East Anglia professor Corinne Le Quéré told BBC News. "What seems to be happening now is that we have a massive deployment of renewable energy, which is good for tackling climate change, but this is occurring alongside massive investments in coal and gas. Stimulus spending post-Covid-19 worldwide is still largely funding activities that lock us into high CO2 emissions for decades."
To address this issue, Birol called on the world leaders gathering for U.S. President Joe Biden's climate summit Thursday and Friday to pledge additional action before November's UN Climate Change Conference, according to AFP.
"Unless governments around the world move rapidly to start cutting emissions, we are likely to face an even worse situation in 2022," said Birol.
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Provisions in the CARES Act passed last March, gave 77 fossil fuel companies $8.2 billion in tax breaks, and their laid off workers a $1,200 stimulus check. Using SEC data, the report shows Marathon Petroleum, the biggest single beneficiary, got more than $2 billion before laying off almost 2,000 workers — about 9% of its workforce at a rate of around $1 million per laid off worker.
Five companies went bankrupt after receiving $308.7 million in tax bailouts and laid off a total of 5,683 workers. "I'm not surprised that these companies took advantage of these tax benefits, but I'm horrified by the layoffs after they got this money," said Chris Kuveke, a researcher at BailoutWatch, told The Guardian. "Last year's stimulus was about keeping the economy going, but these companies didn't use these resources to retain their workers. These are companies that are polluting the environment, increasing the deadliness of the pandemic and letting go of their workers."
As reported by BailoutWatch:
As Washington debates ending tax subsidies for fossil fuels, part of President Joe Biden's $2 trillion infrastructure proposal, fossil fuel companies are quietly reporting their employee headcounts and final tax bills for 2020. The data underscore the hypocrisy of claims that fossil fuels are a necessary engine of employment and succeed on an equal playing field in the free market.
The bailouts are the tip of a much bigger iceberg: Fossil fuels have long benefited from a trove of tax-code provisions. In the century since they emerged, the coal, oil, and gas industries' strength has reflected not market efficiencies, as defenders claim, but government largesse that far exceeds what has so far been extended to the clean energy sector.
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