Morning Consult Energy: IEA Says Fossil Fuel Use Likely to Peak in Mid-2020s


Essential energy industry news & intel to start your day.
October 13, 2021
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Offshore Drilling: Banning New Operations a Divisive Proposal

Early this month, damage to an underwater pipeline leading to an offshore drilling platform off the coast of Huntington Beach, Calif., caused it to spring a leak, dumping thousands of gallons of oil. As the cleanup continues — and lawmakers wrangle over how and if to mitigate future damage — Morning Consult and Politico asked voters how they feel about banning new and existing offshore drilling, both nationwide and in California specifically. 


The results? In short, voters are largely split on the question of banning new drilling nationwide, though walking back existing offshore drilling elicits more decisive opposition. For details, see more here: Voters Are Split on Whether to Ban New Offshore Drilling Nationwide.


Top Stories

  • The International Energy Agency’s World Energy Outlook found that fossil fuel use will likely peak in the mid-2020s, a trend that reflects a speedier adoption of clean technologies than had been estimated, but is still not happening fast enough to avert dangerous impacts of climate change, the agency said. The IEA said countries should triple their renewable energy investments to roughly $4 trillion per year, with much of that spending directed to developing countries, in order to manage a transition that limits global warming with the urgency required. (The New York Times)
  • Executives from six major oil and gas companies and trade associations are expected to testify at the requested House Oversight and Reform Committee hearing later this month, which will delve into what lawmakers describe as a campaign of “climate disinformation.” Big Oil representatives have never come before the committee previously, but in this case Environment Subcommittee Chair Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) had threatened subpoenas if they do not show up, a tactic that appears to have worked. (The Washington Post)
  • The Federal Emergency Management Agency has issued a request for information on potential changes to the country’s standards for buildings in areas prone to flooding, potentially the scene for their first significant update since 1976. New requirements could potentially up the ante on conditions that communities must meet in order to receive federal flood insurance. (The Hill)
  • The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries lowered its expectations for global oil demand, finding that it will grow by 5.82 million barrels per day in 2021, down from its earlier estimate of 5.96 million bpd. Its initial forecast of 4.2 million bpd in 2022 growth has remained unchanged. (Reuters)

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What Else You Need to Know


Global energy crisis: how key countries are responding

Jennifer Rankin et al., The Guardian

Global energy markets are facing the perfect storm. Demand for energy shot up after China and other major economies began to recover from the pandemic. In Europe, a cold winter depleted gas reserves, while a long spell of still days reduced wind power supply to the grid. Meanwhile, CO2 prices have hit record levels. Russia, one of Europe’s biggest suppliers, had declined to increase supplies on the short-term spot market, although the Kremlin recently said it was starting to help out.


Green group pressures Sinema to spell out climate agenda

Rachel Frazin, The Hill

A climate advocacy group is calling on Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) to spell out exactly what she thinks of Democrats’ climate proposals for their major spending bill. 


Biden appoints Debra Shore to lead EPA Midwestern office

John Flesher, The Associated Press

President Joe Biden on Tuesday appointed Debra Shore, a wastewater treatment official in Chicago, to direct the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Midwestern office.


EPA Failed to Correct Industry Misinformation About Deathly Air Pollution at Public Meetings

Sharon Lerner, The Intercept

“We need people more than we need ethylene oxide,” responded one outraged resident. “Stop making it, stop putting it out there.”


StanChart Says It’s ‘Not Practical’ to Halt Fossil Finance

Francine Lacqua and Alastair Marsh, Bloomberg 

Bill Winters, the chief executive officer of Standard Chartered Plc, says it’s unreasonable to expect banks to stop financing the fossil-fuel industry, in part because to do so would undermine transition efforts, particularly in the emerging markets.

Climate Change and Emissions

White House launches “climate services” push, revamps federal climate website

Andrew Freedman, Axios

The Biden administration on Tuesday revamped its main climate science website,, and launched a push into developing new tools that can provide people with information about the climate risks they face.


‘We’re being dragged along’: Extreme weather puts governors to the test

Ry Rivard and Katherine Landergan, Politico

A stunned Gov. Phil Murphy examined the wreckage from a tornado that had plowed through a small New Jersey suburb. Pieces of homes littered the area, along with toppled trees, smashed windows, a toddler’s shoe.


COP26 Host Britain Ramps Up Calls for Climate Plans

Max Colchester and Mike Cherney, The Wall Street Journal

The U.K. called on countries including India and China to update their plans to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions, ratcheting up pressure on a handful of states as preparations for a United Nations climate summit in Glasgow accelerate.


NASA Is Preparing for the Ravages of Climate Change

Ramin Skibba, Wired

The agency knows it needs to adapt to climate-driven events that will increasingly threaten coastal launch sites and other key space infrastructure.


COP26 President Says G-20 Summit Is ‘Make or Break’ for Climate

Jess Shankleman, Bloomberg

COP26 President Alok Sharma told Group of 20 leaders they must act to curb coal consumption at a summit in Rome this month to keep alive the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.


Google Will Show Its Cloud Customers Their Carbon Footprint

Nico Grant, Bloomberg

Google’s cloud-computing division unveiled tools to help clients monitor and reduce their environmental impact, part of the company’s broader push to fight climate change. 


Business aviation industry commits to net-zero carbon emissions by 2050

Allison Lampert, Reuters

The National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) and other industry groups on Tuesday committed to “net zero” carbon emissions by 2050, as the sector’s flagship private jet show kicked off in Las Vegas.


Greta Thunberg Is “Open” to Meeting Biden at the UN Climate Summit

Mark Hertsgaard, The Nation

In the lead-up to COP26, the Swedish activist talked about Biden’s climate plan, the media’s responsibility, and what gives her hope.


Climate summit chief sets up fight over Paris Agreement’s goal

Karl Mathiesen, Politico EU

Returning to the place where the Paris Agreement was born, the U.K. minister who currently has custody over the climate accord on Tuesday set up a battle over its core aim that will play out during next month’s COP26 climate talks.

Renewables and Storage

Collectives seek to lower cost of renewable energy, offer choice at local level

Sharon Udasin, The Hill

Nonprofit public agencies that grant communities collective control over their power sources are broadening access to lower the cost of renewable energy in the few states where they are authorized to operate.


What Comes After GE’s 129 Years of Greenhouse Gas

Ryan Beene, Bloomberg

Can a company synonymous with the industrial past bring its polluting customers into the greener future?

Oil, Gas and Alternative Fuels

Oil Prices Have Topped $80. But Don’t Expect a Spending Bonanza from Shale Drillers

Collin Eaton, The Wall Street Journal

Shale companies are on track to spend a little more money pumping oil next year, but most aren’t opening up the spigots, even as prices top $80 a barrel.


Big Energy Companies’ New Pitch: ‘Carbon-Neutral’ Oil and Gas

Dieter Holger, The Wall Street Journal

Bundling barrels with promises to capture carbon can make companies’ emissions figures look better, but critics say the practice could undermine the case for burning less fossil fuel.


Investor Shift From Fossil Fuels Leaves Surging Market to Smaller Players

Gregory Zuckerman, The Wall Street Journal

This should be a great time for energy investors. Few of them are still around to enjoy it.


Methane Plume Above New Mexico Gas Wells Spotted From Space

Josh Saul and Gerson Freitas Jr., Bloomberg

A large cloud of planet-warming methane was detected in the natural gas-rich San Juan Basin in New Mexico by geoanalytics company Kayrros SAS. 


Private Equity Funds, Sensing Profit in Tumult, Are Propping Up Oil

Hiroko Tabuchi, The New York Times

These secretive investment companies have pumped billions of dollars into fossil fuel projects, buying up offshore platforms, building new pipelines and extending lifelines to coal power plants.


Shell Sued by Texas Energy Retailer for Nixing Deal During Storm

Alex Wolf, Bloomberg Law

Shell Energy North America US LP allegedly owes $124.3 million to bankrupt Texas energy retailer Entrust Energy Inc. for breaching a contract ahead of February’s winter storm in order to take advantage of a power price surge and sell electricity to other customers at higher rates.


GM to Recover $1.9 Billion in Bolt-Recall Costs in Deal With LG

Mike Colias, The Wall Street Journal

General Motors Co. said it would recover from supplier LG Electronics Inc. nearly all of the $2 billion cost of recalling Chevrolet Bolt electric models for the risk of battery fires.


Tensions rise as US seeks answers from Tesla over no recall

Tom Krisher, The Associated Press

U.S. safety investigators want to know why Tesla didn’t file recall documents when it updated Autopilot software to better identify parked emergency vehicles, escalating a simmering clash between the automaker and regulators.


Why newer cars aren’t always better for the climate

Sarah DeWeerdt, Anthropocene

Waiting longer to buy a new car and keeping existing cars on the road longer overall could substantially cut greenhouse gas emissions.


Lucid Says Air Sedan Will Be First Car in U.S. to Use Lidar

Edward Ludlow, Bloomberg

Lucid Group Inc. said its debut battery-electric vehicle will be the first production car in the U.S. to include a purpose-built laser sensor, or lidar, enabling a broad range of advanced driver-assistance features.

Electricity, Utilities and Infrastructure

Flooding could shut down one-quarter of America’s critical infrastructure
Jena Brooker, Grist

Flooding is already the most expensive natural disaster in the United States, costing the country more than $1 trillion in damages since 1980. And it’s only getting worse due to climate change.

Environment, Land and Resources

A recipe for fighting climate change and feeding the world

Sarah Kaplan, The Washington Post

Scientists hope this new kind of perennial grain offers a taste of what environmentally friendly farming could look like.


VW, Conservation Fund transfer land for Cherokee Forest

The Associated Press

Volkswagen of America and The Conservation Fund have completed their effort to transfer land to be included in the Cherokee National Forest, they said.


China’s plan to build more coal-fired plants deals blow to UK’s Cop26 ambitions

Rob Davies, The Guardian

China plans to build more coal-fired power plants and has hinted that it will rethink its timetable to slash emissions, in a significant blow to the UK’s ambitions for securing a global agreement on phasing out coal at the Cop26 climate summit in Glasgow.


U.S. Coal Use Is Rebounding Under Biden Like It Never Did With Trump

Will Wade, Bloomberg

U.S. utilities are on track to burn 23% more coal this year as the global energy crisis lifts demand for fossil fuels.


WVa regulators OK continued operation of 3 power plants

The Associated Press

Utility regulators have approved a request by two American Electric Power subsidiaries to keep three West Virginia power plants operational until at least 2040.

Opinions, Editorials and Perspectives

$100 Billion. That’s What It Will Take to Phase Out Carbon Emissions.

Larry Fink, The New York Times

As the leaders of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund meet this week, they have a chance to reimagine how the world can use finance to reduce the risks from climate change.


This climate change contrarian gives us an important reminder about science in general

Mitch Daniels, The Washington Post

Cliches, however shopworn, can retain their usefulness provided they continue to describe their object with some accuracy. One cliche that has lost almost all value is “speaking truth to power.” These days, it almost invariably is attached not to an act of genuine courage but to its opposite, the spouting of some politically favored bromide. 


When Will We Have the Last Oil Spill? 

Bill McKibben, The New Yorker

The latest incident comes as the fossil-fuel industry heads into a terminal decline.

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