To continue reading

Create a free account or sign in to unlock more free articles.

By continuing, you agree to the Terms of Service and acknowledge our Privacy Policy

Climate

AM Briefing: Peak Coal?

On global coal demand, Everest Base Camp, and a compelling climate graphic

AM Briefing: Peak Coal?
Heatmap Illustration/Getty Images

Current conditions: A major storm will batter the U.S. Eastern Seaboard this weekend • Moscow is buried under record snowfall • It's 50 degrees Fahrenheit and cloudy in Paris, which was recently named the world's top city destination.

THE TOP FIVE

1. IEA: Coal demand remains high, but could peak soon

Global demand for coal remains at a record high, but is expected to start declining in 2026, according to the International Energy Agency’s (IEA) “Coal 2023” report. Most advanced economies are ditching this dirtiest of fossil fuels: Coal consumption fell by about 20% in the United States and the European Union this year. But the same cannot be said for China, India, and Southeast Asia, where coal demand is growing. But a turning point could arrive soon, the report says. Global coal demand is expected to fall by 2.3% by 2026 compared with 2023 levels. A lot depends on China, which accounts for 54% of global coal consumption.

IEA

Relatedly, this week Australia announced its last remaining coal plant will retire by 2038. As renewables take over, “expect more such announcements around the world,” saysBloomberg Green’s Akshat Rathi.

2. White House tells federal employees to use EVs and rail travel

The Biden administration wants federal employees to use low- or zero-emission transportation when traveling for work. In a directive released yesterday, the White House said workers should travel by train for trips shorter than 250 miles, and especially in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic, where rail travel is most accessible. If traveling by car is necessary, workers should opt for an EV. Employees should consider combining trips, taking public transportation, and avoid using their own private vehicles for work. Or better yet, they should avoid traveling at all. “In every case, the trip not taken is the least expensive and most sustainable,” the directive says. The federal government spent $1.66 billion on flights and $4.2 million on rail trips last year, Reutersreports. The White House says travel accounts for 1.8% of federal greenhouse gas emissions.

3. Al-Jaber says Adnoc will keep investing in oil and gas

Sultan Al-Jaber, who served as president of COP28, tellsThe Guardian that his company Adnoc will continue to invest in oil and gas production so long as the demand is there. Adnoc is the United Arab Emirates’ national oil and gas company, and Al-Jaber is its CEO. He was applauded this week after delegates at COP28 agreed to “transition away” from fossil fuels, but faced criticism earlier this month for saying there is “no science” showing that ending fossil fuel usage will limit global warming. He has said in the past that he believes fossil fuels will inevitably be phased out, but has qualified that by saying “we need to be real, serious and pragmatic about it.”

Get Heatmap AM in your inbox every weekday morning:

* indicates required
  • 4. Glacial melting may force Everest Base Camp to relocate

    The glacier beneath Everest Base Camp is melting due to rising temperatures in the Himalayas, putting climbers at risk and forcing Nepal’s government to consider moving the camp, The Wall Street Journalreports. Everest tourism contributed $2.4 billion to Nepal’s economy last year, which is 6.1% of its GDP, and Base Camp is an essential gateway to the mountain. But ice at the camp is disappearing due to a combination of global warming and human activity. Moving the camp farther down the mountain is an option, but it would “make the climb to the top more dangerous than it already is,” the Journal explains. More people died on Mount Everest this year than ever before. A report released in June found that climate change could cause Himalayan glaciers to lose 80% of their volume this century.

    5. Earth’s rising temperature, expertly illustrated

    The European Space Agency’s (ESA) Climate Office recently announced its favorite “Little Pictures of Climate” for 2023. The competition highlights creators who use satellite-derived climate data tell visual stories about the changing planet. Here is one particularly compelling submission:

    A runner-up in the ESA's Little Pictures of Climate 2023 competitionESA

    THE KICKER

    The length of pipeline that would be needed to create a U.S. carbon capture network would be enough to circle Earth four times.

    Yellow

    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. Read More

    Read More

    To continue reading

    Create a free account or sign in to unlock more free articles.

    By continuing, you agree to the Terms of Service and acknowledge our Privacy Policy

    Sparks

    Trump Thinks EV Charging Will Cost $3 Trillion — Which Is Incorrect

    Nor will charging infrastructure ”bankrupt” the U.S.

    Electric car charging.
    Heatmap Illustration/Getty Images

    Shortly after being fined $350 million (more than $450 million, including interest) over fraudulent business practices and then booed at Sneaker Con, former President Donald Trump traveled to Waterford, Michigan, where he said some incorrect things about electric vehicles.

    Even by Trump’s recent standards, Saturday’s Waterford rally was a bit kooky. During his nearly hour-and-a-half-long speech, the former president claimed that his opponents are calling him a whale (“I don’t know if they meant a whale from the standpoint of being a little heavy, or a whale because I got a lot of money”) and, improbably, claimed not to have known what the word “indictment” meant.

    Keep reading...Show less
    Blue
    Workers looking at wires.
    Heatmap Illustration/Getty Images

    Ask any climate wonk what’s holding back clean energy in the U.S. and you’re likely to get the same answer — not enough power lines. But what if the problem isn’t the number of power lines, but rather the outdated metal wires they’re made of?

    Restringing transmission lines with more advanced wires, a process known as “reconductoring,” has the potential to double the amount of electricity our existing transmission system can handle, for less than half the price of building new lines. That’s the main finding of a recently published working paper from researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, and Gridlab, an energy consulting firm.

    Keep reading...Show less
    Blue
    Electric Vehicles

    The Family-Sized Hole in the Electric Car Market

    Who will make the suburb-dominating, soccer-practice EV of the future?

    A family and an EV.
    Heatmap Illustration/Getty Images, Hyundai

    The exemplar of the American “family car” is an ever-changing thing. Mid-century land yachts gave way to wood-paneled Griswold family station wagons. The SUV craze of the 1990s established vehicles like the forest green Eddie Bauer Ford Explorer I grew up in as the de facto kid-haulers, especially for parents who wouldn’t be caught dead in a minivan. Today’s suburb-dominating soccer-practice crossovers are their spiritual descendants.

    Now, though, the question of which car is right for a family has a new wrinkle: Should we get an electric vehicle? Unfortunately, the answer for most people who survey the auto landscape appears to be, “not yet,” a fact that has contributed to the current feeling of EV limbo.

    Keep reading...Show less
    Green
    HMN Banner
    Get today’s top climate story delivered right to your inbox.

    Sign up for our free Heatmap Daily newsletter.