Theme news

Latest news: ESG in power 

Credit: Bert van Dijk/Getty images.

Powered by

11 April 2024

Germany massively underestimates its coal mining emissions

A new study from the think tank Ember suggests that Germany is massively underestimating its emissions from coal mining. According to the think tank, there is a large discrepancy between the amount of coal that Germany is known to mine and its reported emissions from coal mining, relative to the rest of Europe.   

For example, while Germany mined 131 million tonnes (t) of lignite coal from surface mines in 2022 – representing 44% of the EU’s total lignite coal production in 2022 – it only reported active coal mine methane (CMM) emissions of 1,390t, which accounts for just 1% of the EU’s total reported active surface CMM emissions in 2021.  

Ember notes that methane is the second most important greenhouse gas contributor to climate change, while coal is the largest source of methane in the energy sector in the EU. 

Germany has committed to the Global Methane Pledge, under which signatories commit to collectively reduce methane emissions by at least 30% below 2020 levels by 2030. 

As a result of analysing methane measurements from Polish lignite, Ember finds that Germany’s CMM emissions could be up to 184-times higher than what it currently reports. If this is the case, Ember notes, it would more than double Germany’s 2021 methane emissions from the entire energy sector, representing a 14% increase in national methane emissions.  

9 April 2024

G20 spends three-times as much on fossil fuels as clean power

On average between 2020 and 2022, G20 countries channelled more than three-times as much public finance towards fossil fuels compared with clean energy, finds new analysis from environmental campaign groups Oil Change International (OCI) and Friends of the Earth US.  

The G20’s flagrant bias towards fossil fuels compared with clean power underscores the immense scale of the challenge they face in honouring the COP28 commitment to “transition away” from fossil fuels. 

The OCI and Friends’ of the Earth’s analysis shows that G20 countries provided a yearly average of $44bn to fossil fuels via Export Credit Agencies (ECAs) and Development Finance Institutions (DFIs), compared with just $14bn on clean energy. 

The briefing reveals ECAs as the worst international public finance actors, accounting for 65% of all known fossil fuel activity between 2020 and 2022. G20 countries were responsible for providing an annual average of $32bn in bilateral funding via ECAs in this period, compared with a yearly average of $12bn via DFIs. 

Canada was the single-biggest provider of fossil fuel finance in this period, having spent $11bn (C$14.91bn) in public finance on oil and gas compared with just over a billion on clean energy. Japan and Korea followed closely in Canada's footsteps, channelling an annual average of $11bn in public finance towards fossil fuels, compared with $2bn and $0.8bn, respectively, towards clean energy.  

5 April 2024

Top ten companies responsible for 40% of historic emissions 

Just ten single entities, including oil majors Shell and ExxonMobil, are responsible for 40% of historic fossil fuel CO₂ emissions, a new analysis reveals.  

These top ten corporate and state-owned entities, which include state-run Saudi Aramco and British oil major BP, are responsible for producing approximately 700 gigatonnes of CO₂ (GtCO₂) since the start of the Industrial Revolution, according to an update to the Carbon Majors database hosted by non-profit InfluenceMap. This figure excludes fugitive emissions from methane. 

Total historic CO₂ emissions amount to roughly 1,700GtCO₂, according to data from the Global Carbon Project. 

The database includes 1,421GtCO₂ equivalent of cumulative historical emissions from 1854 through 2022, looking at 122 industrial producers. The emissions attributable to these producers make up almost three quarters (72%) of global fossil fuel and cement emissions since 1751. 

More than 70% of these cumulative global CO₂ emissions can be attributed to just 78 corporate and state producing entities, InfluenceMap finds, while just 57 oil, gas, coal and cement producers can be directly linked to 80% of global fossil CO₂ released since the 2016 Paris climate agreement was signed. 

InfluenceMap categorises entities into three types: investor-owned companies, state-owned companies and nation-states.  

Historically, emissions attributable to the three groups have been almost evenly split, with 31% of emissions coming from investor-owned companies like Chevron, ExxonMobil and BP (the three largest contributors respectively); 33% linked to state-owned companies (led by Saudi Aramco, Gazprom and the National Iranian Oil Company); and nation-states accounting for the remaining 36% of emissions.  

The top two national entities in terms of emissions are China – specifically its coal production – and the former Soviet Union.  

2 April 2024

Europe sets clean electricity record in early 2024 

Clean energy sources accounted for 60% of Europe’s electricity in the first two months of this year, marking a record high, according to the climate think tank Ember. 

The figure represents a 12% rise in clean power generation from the same period in 2023, with European clean energy generation totalling 516.5 terawatt-hours (TWh) in January and February 2024.  

Fossil fuel generation in Europe has seen a sharp decline since February 2023, with fossil fuels dropping from contributing 46.53% of European power generation to 39.31% in the same time frame this year; 160.66TWh of electricity came from fossil fuels in February 2024, while 248.08TWh came from clean energy generation.  

Much of this change can be attributed to the growth of wind power in 2023, which marked the year wind power overtook gas production for the first time in Europe. Wind farms produced 137.5TWh of electricity across January and February 2024 – a new record and a 14% increase from the same period in 2023.  

Nuclear power generation in the first two months of 2024 was notably higher than the corresponding period of 2023. Total nuclear power output in January–February 2023 was 165.8TWh, compared with 172.5TWh in January–February 2024. However, despite the increased output, the percentage of nuclear in Europe’s electricity mix remained fairly consistent, hovering at approximately 19.5% in both comparable time periods.  

2 April 2024

US awards $6bn to industrial decarbonisation and electrification

A new arm of the US DOE on Monday announced a $6bn federal funding package for the decarbonisation of 33 industrial projects across 20 states. 

The funding, which will go through the DOE’s Office of Clean Energy Demonstrations, is being implemented under President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) as part of the government’s national net-zero plans – $5.47bn of the total funds will come from the IRA. 

According to a statement from the DOE, the $6bn will go towards decarbonising energy-intensive industries, reducing industrial greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, supporting union jobs, revitalising industrial communities and strengthening the nation’s manufacturing competitiveness. 

The 33 projects set to receive funding will be in the “highest emitting” industries where decarbonisation technologies will have the biggest impact, including steel, paper, concrete and glass making. 

Of those selected, seven are in the chemicals and refining sector; six in cement and concrete; six in iron and steel; five in aluminium and metals; three in food and beverage; three in the glassmaking industry; two in process heating; and one in the pulp and paper sector. 

Electrification of industrial processes will play a key part in their decarbonisation. In steelmaking, traditional coal-fired furnaces will be replaced with electric arc furnaces, which have the potential to be wholly powered by renewable electricity. Ironmaking facilities will see the introduction of hydrogen-based technology.