By David Callaway, Callaway Climate Insights
With oil prices above $100 a barrel and coal prices back above $100 a ton for the first time since the financial crisis 13 years ago, governments around the world are ripping up their energy plans to meet demand and lower costs. In the next few days, the UK will become the first to announce a comprehensive new energy plan.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to go big on nuclear, with several new plant installations, as well as offshore wind in the North Sea, and solar. He will at the same time commit to more oil and gas usage, though he will likely stop short of opening the country to fracking, a constant controversy in the UK. And against fierce opposition, he will back down on onshore wind plans, missing the opportunity to take better advantage of his country’s prevailing national resource.
The energy plan, already delayed twice over cabinet disagreements on cost, reflects what the British call a “dogs breakfast” of conflicting initiatives that appear to show momentum but instead offer only more inertia on really combating the impact of global warming. Offshore wind and more nuclear plants are time-consuming, expensive investments. The UK energy crisis is now.
One major initiative, pitched by the opposition Labour Party, is to go big on energy efficiency, that is the process of improving how we use existing energy in our buildings. Jonathan Maxwell, founder and CEO of Sustainable Development Capital LLP in London, which invests in energy efficiency products worldwide, said the UK plan needs to have that component, if only to improve energy costs immediately.
“This long-anticipated energy strategy must focus not just on how we produce energy, but also how we use it,” Maxwell said. “Most of the public will be shocked to learn that we waste two-thirds of the world’s energy.”
The European Union and the U.S., caught in their own political energy storms, will look closely at the Johnson plan. While it seems strong on long-term renewable benefits, and may keep the heat on next winter, keeping the UK on track to net zero emissions is sadly not among them.
More insights below . . . .
Tuesday’s subscriber insights: Electric vehicles for rent
. . . . Rental car giant Hertz just made a smart move — signing a deal with start-up Polestar for 65,000 EVs and following an order late last year for 100,000 Teslas. For the car companies, it’s a great opportunity for potential customers to test drive their vehicles. For Hertz, it helps burnish its green credentials — and also lower maintenance costs. Read more here. . . .
. . . . Switzerland’s Climeworks said it has raised $650 million in what Bloomberg called the largest fundraising round yet for a carbon removal company. The raise indicates that investors continue to pile into new climate mitigation technologies despite the challenges of Russia and the volatile markets. . . .
. . . . Mais non! Climate change — with wild swings between sizzling heat and intense cold — is hitting the wine industry, particularly in France, which is the world’s second-biggest wine producer and biggest exporter. They are even lighting candles under the vines to keep them warm. Read more here. . . .
. . . . Did you think that American wind farms are going to come online more speedily? You may want to rethink that after reading about a solar panel magnate’s lawsuits to stop two New England wind projects. One of his arguments: that they pose a threat to his personal enjoyment of migratory birds that frequent his Martha’s Vineyard property. Read more here. . . .
. . . . Three pieces of automobile news point to the future. First, Toyota, which has been tentative in embracing EVs, gains big market share with its hybrids. Second, Tesla sales jump enormously, despite supply chain problems and, last, the White House reverses Trump mileage standards. What does it all mean? Read more here. . . .
. . . . Shares in Chargpoint (CHPT) got a boost this week when the company announced it has secured $300 million in new financing to build out its national electric vehicle fueling network. . . .
. . . . And finally, congrats to my longtime best pal and journalist extraordinaire Larry Kramer for winning this year’s Distinguished Achievement Award from the Society for Advancing Business Editing and Writing (SABEW). An awards ceremony is set for May 13 in New York City. . . .
Editor’s picks: Earth’s ‘black box,’ USPS doubles its EV order
Watch the video: An “indestructible” black box is being designed to hold the world accountable for the Earth’s future, by recording humanity’s handling of the climate change crisis. The “Earth’s Black Box” will be a self-powered data storage device to be built in the remote west coast of Tasmania and was first conceptualized by a creative agency in Australia.
Postal Service ups its EV order
The U.S. Postal Service is more than doubling its order of battery-electric delivery vehicles — to 10,019 from the 5,000 it previously announced. Despite urging from the Biden Administration and members of Congress, the USPS has been resistant to increasing the EVs in its delivery fleet. Postal officials originally said the service would order 50,000 new delivery vehicles, of which only 10% would be EVs. Now, The Verge reports, the USPS says that increasing the number of EVs “makes good sense from an operational and financial perspective.” According to the report, If the agency follows through on the full 165,000 vehicle purchase as allowed under the contract with Oshkosh, it would still need to acquire 6,500 additional EVs in order to meet the 10% threshold.
Lotus plans electric SUV, eyes autonomous driving
Lotus Cars Limited, the storied British carmaker currently owned by Chinese multinational Geely, has unveiled a battery-electric “hyper” SUV called the Eletre — the first of a trio of EVs Lotus plans to launch over the next four years. TechCrunch reports the vehicle’s technology, which will include four lidar sensors, provides clues about future plans for Lotus. Notably, according to the report, Lotus has “future-proofed” the Eletre “with sensors and other hardware that can be activated via over-the-air software updates to improve or add features to its advanced driver assistance system,” signaling the company’s interest in autonomous driving.
Data driven: The path to success — and survival
. . . . Between 2010 and 2019, average annual global greenhouse gas emissions were at their highest levels in human history, but the rate of growth has slowed, according to the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report. “Without immediate and deep emissions reductions across all sectors, limiting global warming to 1.5°C. is beyond reach. However, there is increasing evidence of climate action,” scientists said. Since 2010, there have been sustained decreases of up to 85% in the costs of solar and wind energy, and batteries. An increasing range of policies and laws have enhanced energy efficiency, reduced rates of deforestation and accelerated the deployment of renewable energy. “Having the right policies, infrastructure and technology in place to enable changes to our lifestyles and behavior can result in a 40-70% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. This offers significant untapped potential,” said IPCC Working Group III co-chair Priyadarshi Shukla. “The evidence also shows that these lifestyle changes can improve our health and wellbeing.”. . .