Steve August 5, 2020
  • Fossil-fuel giant BP cuts oil and gas production and invests billions in EVs and green energy.
  • The Tennessee Valley Authority is on track to reduce emissions by 70% below 2005 levels by 2030.
  • UK architects say: Renovate, don’t demolish, old buildings.
  • Arcadia Power is committed to making clean energy work for the planet and your bank account — all without changing your utility company. Sign up to receive your $20 Amazon Gift Card.

BP and renewables

In February, Electrek reported that fossil-fuel giant BP announced that it will become a net zero company by 2050 or sooner. One objective it said it would pursue is to “increase the proportion of investment into non-oil and gas businesses over time.”

BP also said it would restructure, and in June, CEO Bernard Looney announced it would cut 15% of its workforce, or 10,000 jobs. Electrek reported that the decision was due to the coronavirus impact on the economy, and Looney’s plan to shift the fossil-fuel company to green energy.

After a huge second-quarter loss of $16.8 billion and dividend cut of 50% to 5.25 cents, BP announced that it will cut oil and gas production by at least 1 million barrels a day by 2030, a 40% reduction on 2019 levels, and invest up to $5 billion a year into green energy. CNN reports:

BP’s plan to pivot away from oil after a century of exploration will involve major investments into bioenergy, hydrogen and carbon capture and storage. It is also targeting 70,000 electric vehicle charging points, up from 7,500 at present. At the same time, BP will reduce its oil and gas refining portfolio and aims to raise $25 billion by selling assets over the next five years.

Looney said the move toward green energy is in the long-term interest of its stakeholders. Mel Evans, senior climate campaigner for Greenpeace UK, said:

BP has woken up to the immediate need to cut carbon emissions this decade. Slashing oil and gas production and investing in renewable energy is what Shell and the rest of the oil industry needs to do for the world to stand a chance of meeting our global climate targets. BP must go further, and needs to account for or ditch its share in Russian oil company, Rosneft. But this is a necessary and encouraging start.

TVA emissions cut

In its first corporate sustainability report, the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) says it’s on track to reduce emissions by 70% below 2005 levels by 2030. It shut down its last operating unit at its Paradise Fossil Plant in western Kentucky in February, as Electrek reported.

The federally owned utility was created during President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal in 1933 to bring power and economic development to one of the areas of the US hit hardest by the Great Depression.

TVA has already cut its carbon output by 60% in the past 15 years and is planning on adding more solar. It has boosted power generation from nuclear, hydro, and solar facilities and is replacing coal-fired plants with combined-cycle natural gas generators.

TVA now gets more than 40% of its power from its seven operating nuclear reactors in Tennessee and Alabama and about 10% of its power from its 29 power-producing dams on the Tennessee River and its tributaries.

But the TVA has run into trouble this week: Tweety McTreason fired two members of its board of directors, including its chair, on the pretense that it’s hiring low-cost foreign labor. The TVA responded that all of its employees are US citizens.

Almost all federal jobs on US soil require applicants to be US citizens unless the skill set can only be matched by a foreign citizen.

Renovate, don’t demolish

An Architects’ Journal campaign backed by 14 Stirling Prize winners is calling for incentives to renovate older buildings rather than demolish them. That’s because the construction of new buildings creates a lot of carbon emissions.

The campaign calls for the government to change the tax rules that make it cheaper to demolish and rebuild than refurbish an existing building. Value-added tax on refurbishment is 20%, while it’s zero on new builds.

According to the BBC:

The Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) estimates that 35% of the lifecycle carbon from a typical office development is emitted before the building is even opened. It says the figure for residential premises is 51%.

Architects’ Journal managing editor Will Hurst said:

It’s crazy that the government actually incentivizes practices that create more carbon emissions. Also, if you avoid demolition you make carbon savings right now, which we really need.

In the past the government argued that the EU would forbid zero VAT on renovation — but they can’t use that excuse now.

The Commons Environmental Audit Committee will review the Architects’ Journal campaign and report back on its findings.

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