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 MoreRead More
Tesla's Mysterious 'Redwood' EV
On the latest Tesla rumors, global electricity demand, and intrepid penguins
Current conditions: Sydney, Australia, is under a severe heatwave warning • Flood watches are in effect for 17 U.S. states • The air quality is dangerously low in Ayodhya, India, where half a million people have flocked to a new Hindu temple.
THE TOP FIVE
1. Report: Tesla wants to build new mass-market EV in 2025
Tesla will release its Q4 and 2023 financial results this evening. Analysts are expecting a year-on-year rise in revenue but a drop in profits. Shareholders will be hoping for reassurances about CEO Elon Musk’s demands for greater voting control. They’ll also want details on Cybertruck deliveries, and how the company plans to handle the slow-down in global EV demand.
And there will no doubt be questions about new reports that Tesla plans to start production in 2025 of an affordable mass-market, compact crossover EV codenamed “ Redwood.”
2. IEA foresees ‘decoupling’ of electricity and emissions
The International Energy Agency (IEA) released its annual electricity report this morning, and the outlook is pretty rosy. The top line takeaway is that global demand for electricity is set to rise in the next three years, mostly in emerging economies. BUT! Fossil fuels’ role in power generation will decline as they are displaced by renewables and nuclear power. Here are some other key predictions:
- Roughly half the world’s electricity will be generated by low-emissions sources by 2026, up from about 40% in 2023.
- Renewables will account for more than a third of electricity generation by 2025, more than coal.
- Nuclear power generation will reach record highs next year.
- Electricity demand is growing most in China and India, but remains stagnant in Africa.
- Global electricity emissions will begin their decline this year. Any subsequent rise would likely be temporary.
One fascinating quote from the report: “The share of fossil fuels in global generation is forecast to decline from 61% in 2023 to 54% in 2026, falling below 60% for the first time in IEA records dating back to 1971.”
IEA Electricity 2024 report
3. Study casts doubt on clean cookstove carbon offsets
A new study raises questions about the integrity of yet another type of carbon offset, reports Heatmap’s Emily Pontecorvo. Researchers from the University of California, Berkeley, investigated clean cookstove projects, in which companies distribute stoves that require less or cleaner types of fuel to people who cannot afford them and sell carbon credits based on the resulting emission reductions. These projects have generated, on average, nine times more carbon credits than they should have based on their climate benefits, the researchers found. “This kind of credit inflation obscures climate progress,” Pontecorvo explains, “as the individuals and businesses who buy these credits do so to justify their own emissions under the belief that they are funding climate action elsewhere.” The new study, published in the peer-reviewed journal Nature Sustainability, finds that the methods developers are using to measure the amount of carbon these projects avoid are deeply flawed. “This is an incredibly important project type, and it’s so incredibly important that it can't be based on a house of cards,” Annelise Gill-Wiehl, a PhD student at Berkeley and the lead author of the study, told Heatmap.
4. Doomsday Clock remains at 90 seconds to midnight
The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists announced yesterday that the “Doomsday Clock” remains in the same position it held last year: ninety seconds to midnight. The clock, which was created back in 1947, “warns the public about how close we are to destroying our world with dangerous technologies of our own making.” The biggest existential risks to humanity are expanding nuclear arsenals and growing global tensions, especially in Ukraine; misuse of biological technologies; artificial intelligence; and climate change. “Current efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions are grossly insufficient to avoid dangerous human and economic impacts from climate change, which disproportionately affect the poorest people in the world,” the group said. Ninety seconds is the closest to midnight the Doomsday Clock has ever been.
Get Heatmap AM directly in your inbox every morning:
5. New emperor penguin colonies discovered
Emperor penguins are “on the move” as climate change threatens the sea ice on which their populations depend. Using satellite imagery, Dr. Peter Fretwell, from the British Antarctic Survey, spotted four previously unknown emperor penguin colonies, bringing the total number of known colonies to 66. Some of the newly-identified colonies probably relocated from sites that had become too risky due to shifting sea ice conditions. Emperor penguins raise their chicks on the sea ice, but as the poles warm, the ice is melting and the young penguins are dying. Experts predict the species could be extinct by the end of the century. "It just shows this is a species that has to be dynamic," Fretwell told the BBC. "When we do get future ice losses, emperors can and will move. It's in their nature." But he added that “the losses we are seeing through climate change probably outweigh any population gain we get by finding new colonies.”
Produce grown in urban farms and gardens may actually have a larger carbon footprint than food grown in conventional agriculture settings.