Category: decarbonization

The Road to Decarbonization: How Asphalt is Affecting the Planet



The following content is sponsored by Northstar Clean Technologies

The Road to Decarbonization: How Asphalt is Affecting the Planet

Asphalt, also known as bitumen, has various applications in the modern economy, with annual demand reaching 110 million tons globally.

Until the 20th century, natural asphalt made from decomposed plants accounted for the majority of asphalt production. Today, most asphalt is refined from crude oil.

This graphic, sponsored by Northstar Clean Technologies, shows how new technologies to reuse and recycle asphalt can help protect the environment.

The Impact of Climate Change

Pollution from vehicles is expected to decline as electric vehicles replace internal combustion engines.

But pollution from asphalt could actually increase in the next decades because of rising temperatures in some parts of the Earth. When subjected to extreme temperatures, asphalt releases harmful greenhouse gases (GHG) into the atmosphere.

Emissions from Road Construction (Source)CO2 equivalent (%)
Asphalt28%
Concrete18%
Excavators and Haulers16%
Trucks13%
Crushing Plant10%
Galvanized Steel6%
Reinforced Steel6%
Plastic Piping2%
Geotextile1%

Asphalt paved surfaces and roofs make up approximately 45% and 20% of surfaces in U.S. cities, respectively. Furthermore, 75% of single-family detached homes in Canada and the U.S. have asphalt shingles on their roofs.

Reducing the Environmental Impact of Asphalt

Similar to roads, asphalt shingles have oil as the primary component, which is especially harmful to the environment.

Shingles do not decompose or biodegrade. The U.S. alone generates ∼12 million tons of asphalt shingles tear-off waste and (Read more...)

Financing a Net-Zero Future with Carbon Credit Streaming



The following content is sponsored by Carbon Streaming Corporation.

Financing a Net-Zero Future with Carbon Credit Streaming

Financing a Net-Zero Future with Carbon Credit Streaming

The world is advancing towards a net-zero carbon future, but achieving it will require a larger role for carbon credits.

A carbon credit is a tradeable certificate that represents one metric ton of carbon dioxide (CO2) or the CO2 equivalent (CO2e) of another greenhouse gas (GHG) that is prevented from entering the atmosphere or is removed from the atmosphere. Organizations purchase and use these certificates to offset their emissions that are difficult to reduce or control.

This infographic sponsored by Carbon Streaming Corporation explains how the company is funding the fight against climate change by bringing the streaming model—traditionally used in mining and energy—to the growing market for carbon credits.

The Rising Need for Climate Action

Global GHG emissions have risen alongside the expansion of industries and economies.

Since the Industrial Revolution, atmospheric concentrations of CO2 have increased at a rate at least 10 times faster than at any other time during the last 800,000 years. Consequently, global surface temperatures have risen, bringing the world closer to the devastating effects of climate change.

According to the latest United Nations Emissions Gap Report, limiting global temperature rise to 1.5°C requires a 50% reduction in GHG emissions by 2030 relative to current levels. While attaining this goal seems difficult, carbon credits can help get us closer to it.

What are Carbon Credits, and How Can They Help?

Carbon (Read more...)

Road to Decarbonization: The United States Electricity Mix



The following content is sponsored by the National Public Utilities Council

Road to Decarbonization: The United States Electricity Mix

The U.S. response to climate change and decarbonization is ramping up, and putting a focus on the country’s electricity mix.

As pressure has increased for near-term and immediate action after the UN’s latest IPCC report on climate change, major economies are starting to make bolder pledges. For the United States, that includes a carbon pollution-free utilities sector by 2035.

But with 50 states and even more territories—each with different energy sources readily available and utilized—some parts of the U.S. are a lot closer to carbon-free electricity than others.

How does each state’s electricity mix compare? This infographic from the National Public Utilities Council highlights the energy sources used for electricity in U.S. states during 2020, using data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

The U.S. Electricity Generation Mix By State

How does the United States generate electricity currently?

Over the course of 2020, the U.S. generated 4,009 TWh of electricity, with the majority coming from fossil fuels. Natural gas (40.3%) was the biggest source of electricity for the country, accounting for more than nuclear (19.7%) and coal (17.3%) combined.

Including nuclear energy, non-fossil fuels made up 41.9% of U.S. electricity generation in 2020. The biggest sources of renewable electricity in the U.S. were wind (8.4%) and hydro (7.3%).

But on a state-by-state breakdown, we can see just how different the electricity mix is across the country (rounded to (Read more...)

Road to Decarbonization: U.S. Coal Plant Closures



The following content is sponsored by the National Public Utilities Council

Road to Decarbonization: U.S. Coal Plant Closures

As the push to decarbonize starts to kick into gear in the U.S., how do coal plant closures factor into the equation?

With a target of net-zero emissions by 2050, the U.S. is examining all aspects of its economy to see where action is needed. In the automotive industry, for example, the Biden administration is aiming for half of new vehicles to be electric by 2030, following in the footsteps of automakers that have made similar commitments.

But in the power sector that supplies electricity for much of the country, fossil fuels continue to be large emission sources. Coal, which accounted for just 19% of electricity generated in the U.S. in 2020, created 54% of the power sector’s emissions.

That’s leading to U.S. utilities feeling the pressure to retire coal plants and look for alternatives. This infographic from the National Public Utilities Council visualizes the coal plant closures that have been announced, and how much power will be affected as a result.

Where Are U.S. Coal Plant Closures Happening?

Accurately tracking coal plant closures currently means turning to non-profits and parsing through company reports. To assemble this list, we leveraged the Global Energy Monitor and Carbon Brief and cross-referenced against company sustainability reports and news releases.

The result? 80 coal plants with a total capacity of 98.3 GW publicly scheduled for full retirement over the next three decades.

Plant (Read more...)

Tracked: The U.S. Utilities ESG Report Card



The following content is sponsored by the National Public Utilities Council

Tracked: The U.S. Utilities ESG Report Card

As emissions reductions and sustainable practices become more important for electrical utilities, environmental, social, and governance (ESG) reporting is coming under increased scrutiny.

Once seen as optional by most companies, ESG reports and sustainability plans have become commonplace in the power industry. In addition to reporting what’s needed by regulatory state laws, many utilities utilize reporting frameworks like the Edison Electric Institute’s (EEI) ESG Initiative or the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) Standards.

But inconsistent regulations, mixed definitions, and perceived importance levels have led some utilities to report significantly more environmental metrics than others.

How do U.S. utilities’ ESG reports stack up? This infographic from the National Public Utilities Council tracks the ESG metrics reported by 50 different U.S. based investor-owned utilities (IOUs).

What’s Consistent Across ESG Reports

To complete the assessment of U.S. utilities, ESG reports, sustainability plans, and company websites were examined. A metric was considered tracked if it had concrete numbers provided, so vague wording or non-detailed projections weren’t included.

Of the 50 IOU parent companies analyzed, 46 have headquarters in the U.S. while four are foreign-owned, but all are regulated by the states in which they operate.

For a few of the most agreed-upon and regulated measures, U.S. utilities tracked them almost across the board. These included direct scope 1 emissions from generated electricity, the utility’s current fuel mix, and water and waste treatment.

Another commonly reported (Read more...)

Race to Net Zero: Carbon Neutral Goals by Country



The following content is sponsored by the National Public Utility Council

Race to Net Zero: Carbon Neutral Goals by Country

The time to talk about net zero goals is running out, and the time to put them into action is well underway.

At the U.S. Climate Summit in April 2021, U.S. President Biden pressured countries to either speed up carbon neutral pledges, or commit to them in the first place.

It’s a follow-up to the Paris Agreement, which keeps signatories committed to reaching carbon neutrality in emissions in the second half of the 21st century. But 2050–2100 is a wide timeframe, and climate change is becoming both increasingly present and more dire.

So when are countries committed to reaching net zero carbon emissions, and how serious is their pledge? This infographic from the National Public Utility Council highlights the world’s carbon neutral pledges.

The Timeline of Carbon Neutral Targets by Country

The first question is how quickly countries are trying to get to net zero.

137 countries have committed to carbon neutrality, as tracked by the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit and confirmed by pledges to the Carbon Neutrality Coalition and recent policy statements by governments.

But the earlier the pledge, the better, and most of the commitments are centered around 2050.

CountryTarget Year
BhutanAchieved
SurinameAchieved
Uruguay2030
Finland2035
Austria2040
Iceland2040
Germany2045
Sweden2045
Afghanistan2050
Andorra2050
Angola2050
Antigua and Barbuda2050
Argentina2050
Armenia2050
Bahamas2050
Bangladesh (Read more...)

Decarbonization Targets for the Largest U.S. Utilities



The following content is sponsored by the National Public Utility Council

Decarbonization Targets for the Largest U.S. Utilities

The U.S. recently rejoined the Paris Climate Agreement and decarbonization is back on the minds of government officials and companies alike.

Though every sector plays a major role on the path to net zero carbon emissions, none are as impactful as the energy sector. In 2016, almost three-quarters of global GHG emissions came from energy consumption. With organizations looking to either curb energy consumption or transition to cleaner forms of energy, the pressure is on utilities to decarbonize and offer green alternatives.

How are U.S. utilities responding?

This infographic from the National Public Utility Council highlights the decarbonization targets of the largest investor-owned and public U.S. utilities.

U.S. Utility Decarbonization Targets Through 2035

The American energy sector has many players, but the largest utilities account for the bulk of production.

For each state, we looked at the largest investor-owned and public electric utilities by retail sales as tracked by the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Decarbonization targets were taken from each utility’s stated goals or sustainability report.

After narrowing down from 3,328 different entities and subsidiaries, the final list of 60 utilities accounted for 60% of U.S. energy sales in 2019 at just under 1.93 trillion MWh (megawatt hours).

Many companies on the list have multiple goals spread across different timeframes, but they can be grouped into a few distinct categories:

  • Reducing carbon dioxide (CO2) or greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions: (Read more...)

Decarbonization 101: What Carbon Emissions Are Part Of Your Footprint?



The following content is sponsored by the National Public Utility Council

What Carbon Emissions Are Part Of Your Footprint?

With many countries and companies formalizing commitments to meeting the Paris Agreement carbon emissions reduction goals, the pressure to decarbonize is on.

A common commitment from organizations is a “net-zero” pledge to both reduce and balance carbon emissions with carbon offsets. Germany, France and the UK have already signed net-zero emissions laws targeting 2050, and the U.S. and Canada recently committed to synchronize efforts towards the same net-zero goal by 2050.

As organizations face mounting pressure from governments and consumers to decarbonize, they need to define the carbon emissions that make up their carbon footprints in order to measure and minimize them.

This infographic from the National Public Utility Council highlights the three scopes of carbon emissions that make up a company’s carbon footprint.

The 3 Scopes of Carbon Emissions To Know

The most commonly used breakdown of a company’s carbon emissions are the three scopes defined by the Greenhouse Gas Protocol, a partnership between the World Resources Institute and Business Council for Sustainable Development.

The GHG Protocol separates carbon emissions into three buckets: emissions caused directly by the company, emissions caused by the company’s consumption of electricity, and emissions caused by activities in a company’s value chain.

Scope 1: Direct emissions

These emissions are direct GHG emissions that occur from sources owned or controlled by the company, and are generally the easiest to track and change. Scope (Read more...)

Capturing the Renewable Energy Shift



The following content is sponsored by eToro

eToro Renewable Energy Shift Full

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Capturing The Renewable Energy Shift

As the impacts of climate change and the importance of decarbonization have started to become clear, it’s hard to ignore the ongoing shift towards embracing renewables.

Today, the renewables energy market has already become the energy industry’s biggest driver of growth, and both governments and businesses have been pressed to solidify their commitments to green energy.

This infographic from eToro highlights the many developments propelling the shift towards renewable energy, and shines a spotlight on what investors should expect in the market.

Renewable Energy’s Growing Market Presence

Investments in clean energy have been growing both quickly and consistently.

Before 2010, annual global investment in clean energy climbed from just tens of billions to $177 billion in 2009. But in the following decade, annual investment in renewables regularly surpassed $200 billion, reaching $303.5 billion in 2020.

Early spending in the field was led by the EU, but recently China and the U.S. have become the world’s largest spenders in clean energy.

As interest in renewables has grown, so has the sector’s impact on capital markets. Of the 174 announced M&A deals in the U.S. power and utilities industry slated for 2021, 83% involve renewables.

Combined with increasing pressure from shareholders of public companies (and especially energy producers) for climate-related resolutions, 2021 is expected to be the first time renewable energy surpasses oil & gas as the energy industry’s largest area of spending.

At the same time, governments (Read more...)