When it comes to reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S., the private sector is playing a bigger role than ever before, and that goes for some energy providers, too. Among them is Xcel Energy, the first major U.S. utility to pledge to go entirely carbon-free.
In this edition of Columbia Energy Exchange, host Bill Loveless sits down with Ben Fowke, the chairman, President and CEO of Xcel Energy, which in December announced a bold commitment to provide 100% carbon-free electricity to its customers by 2050. Not only that, but Xcel also set a goal of cutting the company’s carbon emissions by 80% by 2030, compared to 2005 levels.
Since then, other utilities have also unveiled major carbon-cutting initiatives. Among them Idaho Power and Public Service Company of New Mexico, with goals of 100% carbon-free electricity by 2045 and 2040, respectively.
Ben doesn’t pretend that achieving Xcel Energy’s goals will be easy and he tells Bill why. Nevertheless, he’s confident that the Minneapolis-based company, with 3.6 million customers in Colorado, Michigan, Minnesota, Texas and four other states, is off to a good start.
Bill caught up with Ben while he was in Washington to testify on energy storage before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. They talked about his company’s ambitious carbon agenda, including its growing reliance on renewable energy and its movement away from coal for electric generation.
They also discussed the role that natural gas and nuclear energy will play in Xcel’s resource plans and the challenges of finding the technologies necessary to make carbon-free electricity a reality for Xcel and other utilities.
Not surprisingly, the Green New Deal came up in their talk as did proposals for a carbon tax and other options for policymakers to consider in addressing climate change.
For the past 68 years, BP has published its Annual Statistical Review of World Energy, an impressive collection of global energy data that offers a retrospective view of what has happened in the world of energy production, consumption, trade, and related issues.
This week, host Jason Bordoff is joined by Spencer Dale, BP’s Chief Economist. He is responsible for advising BP’s board and executive team, and manages BP’s global economics team, providing economic input into the firm’s commercial decisions.
Jason and Spencer discuss trends, key findings and insights from this year’s report, including the fact that as global energy consumption grew rapidly in 2018, carbon emissions rose at their highest rate in seven years. Jason and Spencer discuss the mismatch between growing calls to act on climate change, growing energy demand, and increasing global carbon emissions. They discuss the unique double-firsts in the U.S. last year, recording the single largest-ever annual increases by any country in both oil and gas production. They discuss how an unusually large number of hot and cold days in the U.S., China and Russia drove strong growth in energy consumption in 2018, and the importance of decarbonizing the power sector to meet our global climate goals. They also discussed BP’s role in fighting climate change.
What are the legal pathways to reducing carbon emissions? On this episode of Columbia Energy Exchange, host Jason Bordoff is joined by Michael Gerrard, Founder and Director of the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law at Columbia University. Michael Gerrard is a professor of environmental law, climate change law, and energy regulation, and a member and former Chair of the Faculty of the Earth Institute at Columbia. He is the author and editor of more than a dozen books, two of which were named Best Law Book of the Year by the Association of American Publishers. His latest effort, “Legal Pathways to Decarbonization in the United States,” is an extensive policy encyclopedia that presents a menu of recommendations for policymakers, the legal community, and students to enable and accelerate decarbonization in the U.S.
In a wide-ranging conversation, they discuss the playbook of legal options available to cut emissions and tackle the challenge of climate change - from fuel-switching to carbon capture, carbon pricing and identifying emission reduction pathways in trade and tax policy, they dissect policy recommendations for moving the U.S. toward a 2-degree pathway in order to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement on climate change.