Weekend reads - Smart Energy Decisions

Energy Storage, GHG Emissions, Regulation  -  January 23, 2021

Weekend reads: French energy company Total ditches Big Oil; Honolulu's path to carbon neutrality

It's the weekend! Kick back and catch up with these must-read articles from around the web.

France’s Total quits powerful US oil lobby over climate policy (Financial Times) French energy company Total has become the first oil major to end its membership of the American Petroleum Institute, Big Oil’s powerful Washington lobby group, citing its stance on climate change and support for politicians who opposed the Paris agreement. The move exposes a growing rift between US and European oil supermajors on climate policy, and comes just days before Joe Biden enters the White House with a pledge to rejoin the Paris climate pact, clamp down on oil industry pollution, and launch a clean-energy supply revolution. Total also cited the API’s opposition to electric vehicle subsidies and its support last year for the Trump administration’s rollbacks of regulations to limit emissions of methane, a potent greenhouse gas.

Buttigieg’s Climate Promises: What Could He Actually Do? (The New York Times) Pete Buttigieg, President Biden’s choice to lead the Department of Transportation, vowed to make climate change a top priority during his Senate confirmation hearing on Thursday. But that raises a question: How much can a transportation secretary realistically do to reduce emissions from America’s vast fleet of cars, trucks and airplanes — all of which the agency oversees, to varying degrees? Transportation now accounts for one-third of the nation’s greenhouse gases each year. And the sector has been stubbornly difficult to clean up, as the vast majority of Americans remains deeply dependent on gasoline-fueled vehicles to get around each day. The federal agency has a number of powerful policy levers that could be used to try to change that.

Honolulu's resilience officer outlines path to carbon neutrality (Utility Dive) Last month, the City and County of Honolulu rolled out its first Climate Action Plan (CAP) — just one example of the "grunt work" cities have done to achieve the goals of the Paris agreement in the absence of federal leadership over the last four years, said Honolulu's Chief Resilience Officer​. The aggressive plan, which is open for public comment before being finalized, includes nine climate strategies with 46 specific climate actions to occur over the next five years, all to reduce local greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) 44% by 2025. The roadmap also intends to put Honolulu on a path to carbon neutrality by 2045. Created in partnership with the University of Hawaii, the CAP was informed by input from specialists, agencies, business and nonprofit leaders, and even a citizen-engagement game aptly titled "The Climate Game."

Most Democrats and Republicans think the government should make climate change a priority (Vox) A new study has found widespread support for climate-friendly energy policies among registered Republicans and Democrats. The study, conducted by Yale University and George Mason University’s climate change communication programs, surveyed nearly 1,000 registered voters from across the political spectrum — Republicans, Democrats, and independents — in December. The survey found 53 percent of registered voters think global warming should be a high or very high priority for the president and Congress while 66 percent feel the same about developing clean energy sources. There was also broad support from both Democrats and Republicans for eight energy policies that would help address climate change. The two most popular policies were providing tax rebates for the purchase of solar panels or energy-efficient vehicles and funding research for renewable energy, with 82 percent approval among all voters.

Legislation aims to reduce barriers for energy storage projects (Virginia Mercury) In 2020, lawmakers seeking to speed the development of renewables and wean Virginia off fossil fuels made a host of changes to state law that aimed to smooth local approvals of large-scale solar farms. This year, they’re wielding the same tools to encourage the growth of energy storage. “This is really a logical next step,” said Del. Rodney Willett, D-Henrico, a patron of one of the measures. “Battery storage is a key element in the broader clean energy picture.” A rapidly evolving technology, storage — a label that encompasses not only batteries but also more traditional approaches like reservoir-based pumped storage — is seen as the linchpin of a renewable energy grid.

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