When you fiddle with spreadsheet cells or engineering models all day in pursuit of clean energy, the sound of stasis can clang in your ears. So after local and national politicians blamed wind turbines for a power outage that interrupted water supplies and left people freezing for days across the state, we decided to document who really pays when legacy asset owners refuse to update their energy plans. Our reporter took breaks from checking on her family in Austin to round up stories about real people's real chills and real hunger.
Equinor Strategy Summit, Norway, 2019 – Executives of Equinor (formerly known as Statoil) were holed up in a room drinking hot chocolate after a day of skiing. Strategy staff members presented them with a list of unidentified companies (“Company 1,” “Company 2,” “Company 3”) along with historical and projected returns. One had 10% return ambitions; another roughly the same, etc. The executives were asked: Which companies do you think these are? Shell? Ørsted? Exxon? What happened next remains a mystery; but, according to Michael Wheeler, Equinor’s Principal of Corporate Strategy, who told the tale at a conference last year, the...
What if excess carbon in the atmosphere could be converted to more useful forms? That’s the ultimate goal of carbon conversion companies such as Opus 12, a startup in Berkeley, California. Making stuff out of carbon dioxide could be a trillion-dollar industry by 2030, and it creates an economic incentive to start removing carbon from the atmosphere sooner rather than later, which is a critical piece of most scenarios for limiting global warming to 2 degrees Celsius.
The policies explored in this series, taken together and adopted at national scale, would allow the United States to do its part in limiting global warming to 1.5°C. Can it be done? The final installment of “Look to the States” concludes with an outlook and some tools — drawing once more from state-level successes — for putting a decarbonization plan into practice.
To support decarbonization efforts, we will have to overhaul our transportation system. Over the course of the past century, we used fossil fuels to revolutionize the way we move from place to place — creating unprecedented mobility, but substantially contributing to climate change. About 30% of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions come from transportation. But we can look to key states for a glimpse of what climate leadership on transit looks like.