Economy

Energy crises in UK, China spur climate backlash as Biden plan hits 11th hour

By David Callaway, Callaway Climate Insights

Wrenching energy shortages in the UK and China this month are causing a backlash against international climate efforts at precisely the wrong time for President Joe Biden, as his goal of passing a massive infrastructure spending bill is hanging by a thread in Washington D.C.

At stake is the Clean Electricity Performance Program (CEPP), which is a centerpiece of the legislation and is designed to push utilities to transition to renewable energy from fossil fuels faster. In the absence of reliable information about coal prices and natural gas supply in both the UK and China, anti-climate forces are seizing on public anger by saying new climate regulations are to blame for blackouts and long lines at petrol stations.

While Biden and the Democrats will likely find a way to push through a reduced form of the infrastructure reconciliation package, in time for the UN’s COP26 global climate summit next month, it is sure to leave all sides angry and demoralized. Failure to push through anything at this point would seriously threaten the Biden Administration’s entire agenda as a catalyst for change after the Trump years.

Like it or not, the international climate debate has shifted from one of arguing over the existence of climate change to arguing over whether our efforts to mitigate it ultimately will destroy global economies and markets. Before the climate can itself.

More insights below. . . .

EU Notebook: Brussels to issue battle plan for energy price spikes, gas shortages

. . . . A top EU official said this week that the European Union would soon issue guidelines, including tax changes and consumer subsidies, to member governments to help them through what is expected to be a long winter of energy shortages and soaring prices. Already, gas lines in the UK are turning violent, and the continent is facing similar strife. The outlook for energy businesses may be even worse . . . .

In Mexico’s incredible shrinking stock market, is ESG to blame?

. . . . Mexico’s stock market is shrinking, and some are blaming ESG. Amid a dearth of IPOs and the delisting of many major companies due to lack of retail investor cash and high regulatory costs, the added bureaucracy of establishing sound environmental, legal and governance practices is proving a convenient scapegoat for those who want to blame climate advocates. . . .

Thursday’s subscriber insights: The Asian coal challenge; plus how’s your roof this summer?

. . . . When it comes right down to it, climate change will not be tempered unless Asia cleans up its act. Asia Research & Engagement (ARE) has established a beachhead in Singapore to bring together a group of six investors with a combined $4 trillion of assets under management, including Fidelity International, to make it happen. Money talks, but stepping up engagement with big Asian companies like banks and energy producers can only go so far on carbon and coal. Read more here. . . .

. . . . Tesla has huge capitalization. VW says it will be the EV No. 1. Ford just invested $11.4 billion in battery and EV plants. And there’s much more. Are we going to a shakeout like the tech crunch of the late ’90s? There are opposing views. Read more here. . . .

. . . . Ford has one coming soon. So does GM. Electric vans, that is. But they have been beaten to the punch by Indiana startup Electric Last Mile Solutions, where the vehicles are now rolling off the line. There are also other vans coming from other startups, such as Arrival Ltd. and Canoo Inc. Why the van craze? Read more here. . . .

. . . . Building materials. New technologies. Insurance costs. Prices for everything related to buying a home are set to go up because of climate change. Here are some of the factors to figure on, and profits to be made, from the coming surge. Read more here. . . .

Editor’s picks: Battery storage pairs with solar; Kentucky’s first carbon-neutral distillery

Most planned U.S. battery storage additions to be paired with solar

Of the 14.5 gigawatts (GW) of battery storage power capacity planned to come online in the U.S. from 2021 to 2024, 9.4 GW (63%) will be co-located with a solar photovoltaic (PV) power plant, based on data published in the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s Annual Electric Generator Report. The EIA says another 1.3 GW of battery storage will be co-located at sites with wind turbines or fossil fuel-fired generators, such as natural gas-fired plants. The remaining 4.0 GW of planned battery storage will be located at standalone sites. Historically, most U.S. battery systems have been located at standalone sites. Of the 1.5 GW of operating battery storage capacity in the United States at the end of 2020, 71% was standalone, and 29% was located onsite with other power generators.

Diageo completes carbon neutral distillery

Diageo (DEO), owner of Johnnie Walker Scotch whisky, has opened its first carbon neutral whiskey distillery in Kentucky, one of the largest of its kind in North America. The new 72,000-square-foot facility is in Lebanon, Ky. It will operate using 100% renewable energy, the company says. The site is expected to produce up to 10 million proof gallons per year without using fossil fuels for production, The Spirits Business reportsPerry Jones, president of North America supply for Diageo, said: “Two years ago, we set a vision and commitment to build our first carbon neutral distillery in North America.” Diageo, which also owns Guinness and Bailey’s, aims for net-zero carbon emissions from all direct operations by 2030.

Words to live by . . . .

“Here we are with these sentinels to our history. You’ve got trees that quite literally date back to over 3,300 years ago. You can’t rebuild a giant sequoia … and that’s why we’re here with a deep sense of urgency.” — California Gov. Gavin Newsom, referring to current wildfires threatening Sequoia National Park.

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