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Climate

AM Briefing: BYD vs. Tesla

On quarterly EV sales, 2024 weather, and a darker shade of red

AM Briefing: BYD vs. Tesla
Heatmap Illustration/Getty Images

Current conditions: States in the Northeast are bracing for a major winter storm • Two months’ worth of rain fell in just three days in eastern Australia • Major floods brought parts of Saudi Arabia to a standstill.

THE TOP FIVE

1. Fewer cars eligible for 2024 EV tax credit

The number of electric vehicle models that are eligible for the government’s $7,500 tax credit has been more or less cut in half after new battery sourcing rules came into effect on January 1. Thirteen models now qualify, including the Tesla Model Y, the Chevy Bolt EV, and the Ford F-150 Lightning. Under the new rules, cars that use battery components made by Chinese manufacturers are disqualified, a move meant to wean the U.S. market off the Chinese supply chain. And the restrictions will become even tighter in 2025, targeting raw materials like lithium. U.S. automakers are working to expand their domestic manufacturing capabilities but this won’t happen overnight. In the meantime, propsective EV owners could consider leasing rather than buying, which will let you “skirt much of the red tape,” notesHeatmap’s Andrew Moseman.

2. BYD closes in on Tesla’s global EV lead

Tesla is expected to release its fourth quarter sales figures today and the big question is whether it will hold onto its position as the world’s top-selling EV maker. Yesterday Chinese automaker BYD announced it had sold 526,409 fully electric vehicles in the final three months of the year; analysts forecast Tesla’s sales to come in at around 483,200. BYD has been closing in on Tesla for a while, and if it takes the top spot, “it will be both a symbolic turning point for the EV market and further confirmation of China’s growing clout in the global automotive industry,” explainsBloomberg Green. Both BYD and Tesla are facing increasing competition from legacy automakers racing to catch up to their leads.

3. 2024 expected to bring more record-breaking weather

While 2023 was the hottest year ever recorded, experts predict 2024 will bring more extreme weather driven by a combination of man-made global warming and the El Niño weather pattern. The United Kingdom’s Met Office says the average global temperature for 2024 is forecast to be between 1.34 degrees and 1.58 degrees Celsius above the pre-industrial average. “We expect two new global temperature record-breaking years in succession, and, for the first time, we are forecasting a reasonable chance of a year temporarily exceeding 1.5 °C,” says the Met Office’s Dr. Nick Dunstone.

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  • 4. ‘Warming stripes’ updated for 2023

    One of the researchers behind the iconic “warming stripes” – a visual representation of annual global temperatures over time – has updated the graphics to include 2023. Climate scientist Ed Hawkins says last year was so warm, he may need to update his color palette:

    X/ed_hawkins

    5. U.S. property catastrophe reinsurance rates jump 50%

    A rise in extreme weather and natural disasters in the U.S. is prompting a big hike in so-called reinsurance rates, which is likely to trickle down to propery insurance costs. As Reutersexplains, “reinsurers provide insurance for insurers and the prices they agree at the beginning of each year set the trend for the cost of insurance for the next 12 months.” On January 1, U.S. property catastrophe reinsurance rates jumped by as much as 50% for policies that previously experienced natural disasters, according to broker Gallagher Re. The U.S. experienced at least 25 climate-related weather disasters with losses exceeding $1 billion last year, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The annual average between 1980 and 2022 is about 8 events.

    THE KICKER

    “Solar is quietly eating the world. This is what an energy transition looks like.” –Eric Wesoff at Canary, on reasons to be optimistic about the energy transition


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    Jessica  Hullinger profile image

    Jessica Hullinger

    Jessica Hullinger is a freelance writer and editor who likes to think deeply about climate science and sustainability. She previously served as Global Deputy Editor for The Week, and her writing has been featured in publications including Fast Company, Popular Science, and Fortune. Jessica is originally from Indiana but lives in London.

    Technology

    AM Briefing: TerraPower Breaks Ground

    On Bill Gates’ advanced nuclear reactor, solar geoengineering, and FEMA

    TerraPower Just Broke Ground on Its Next-Gen Nuclear Project
    Heatmap Illustration/Getty Images

    Current conditions: Heavy rains in China are boosting the country’s hydropower output • Late-season frost advisories are in place for parts of Michigan • It will be 80 degrees Fahrenheit and cloudy today near the Port of Baltimore, which has officially reopened after 11 weeks of closure.

    THE TOP FIVE

    1. Bill Gates’ TerraPower breaks ground on next-gen nuclear project

    TerraPower, the energy company founded by Bill Gates, broke ground yesterday on a next-generation nuclear power plant in Wyoming that will use an advanced nuclear reactor. As Heatmap’s Emily Pontecorvo and Matthew Zeitlin explained, these reactors are smaller and promise to be cheaper to build than America’s existing light-water nuclear reactor fleet. The design “would be a landmark for the American nuclear industry” because it calls for cooling with liquid sodium instead of the standard water-cooling of American nuclear plants. “This technique promises eventual lower construction costs because it requires less pressure than water (meaning less need for expensive safety systems) and can also store heat, turning the reactor into both a generator and an energy storage system.” TerraPower is still waiting for its construction permit to be approved by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and TheAssociated Press reported the work that began yesterday is just to get the site ready for speedy construction if the permit goes through.

    Keep reading...Show less
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    Donald Trump snapping a wind turbine.
    Heatmap Illustration/Getty Images

    Clean energy developers and the bankers who fund them are all pretty confident that a change in power in Washington, should one occur next year, won’t mean the end of the Inflation Reduction Act or the buildout of renewables across the country — except, that is, when it comes to offshore wind. Trump has special contempt for wind energy in all its forms — to him, all wind turbines are bird murderers, but offshore turbines are especially deadly, adding both whales and property values to their list of victims. He has said he will issue an executive order on day one of his second turn as president to “make sure that that ends.”

    While the scope and legal enforceability of any potential executive order remain unclear, the wind industry, environmental activists, and analysts have all found plenty of other reasons to be worried.

    Keep reading...Show less
    Donald Trump and Jaws.
    Heatmap Illustration/Getty Images

    Former President Trump wants to know: Would you rather be electrocuted or eaten by a shark?

    On Sunday, during a rally in Las Vegas, the Republican nominee floated the question for what is at least the second time this campaign season (an odd choice, perhaps, given that Nevada is hardly shark territory, and therefore his supporters there are unlikely to have given the question much thought).

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