Renewable financing gets boost; Iraq regains Baiji; Senate blocks Keystone XL [Recharge]

Industrialized nations make good on a pledge to finance sustainable development. Iraqi troops reportedly retake the Baiji refinery. The US Senate votes down the Keystone XL pipeline. Catch up on global energy with Recharge.

Juan Karita/AP/File
A technician walks through solar panels at the government-run Fotovoltaica Solar Plant in Cobija, in the Amazon area of northern Bolivia.

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GCF: Industrialized nations are making good on a pledge to finance sustainable development across the industrializing world. With new commitments from Japan, Canada, and the US this week, the Green Climate Fund is just shy of its $10 billion fundraising goal for this year. That commitment, combined with strong new European climate targets and a US-China emissions deal, make the road to next year's Paris talks look less onerous.

BaijiReports of Iraqi troops retaking the Baiji refinery from Islamic State control doesn't directly impact global fuel flows, but it is doubly good news for Iraqis and broader regional stability. Iraqi control of the refinery means IS loses a potential source of financing while northern Iraq regains a critical source of transportation fuel and electricity for Baghdad and elsewhere. It could prove a decisive turn in broader efforts to reverse the terrorist group's advance.

59-41The US Senate narrowly blocked a bill to approve Keystone XL, but the pipeline's outsize role in the US energy conversation is far from over. Once Republicans take control of the Senate in January, they'll likely pass a bill immediately to score an early political victory. President Obama might veto it, but it looks increasingly likely that he will use it as a bargaining chip for other energy goals.

In the pipeline


Drill deeper

What It Would Really Take to Reverse Climate Change [IEEE Spectrum]
In 2011, Google shuttered its "moonshot" renewable energy program, deflating hopes the sprawling tech giant might play a core role in developing new renewable technologies. In this thoughtful, nuanced essay, two of the project's lead engineers reflect on what they learned about decarbonizing our energy supply and the technological hurdles that remain.

Oil Dispute Takes a Page From Congo’s Bloody Past
[The New York Times]
The dispute over drilling in Virunga National Park underscores an age-old tension between economics and the environment, amplified by sub-Saharan Africa's widespread energy poverty and its iconic landscapes and wildlilfe. It also threatens to replay the brutal exploitation of Congo's rubber, ivory, copper, and other minerals.

Tech, Not Oil Prices, Spurred $35 Billion Halliburton Merger
[U.S. News & World Report]
“These negotiations have been going on for a year if not longer. The timing’s irrelevant," Fred Beach, assistant director at the University of Texas-Austin's Energy Institute, tells U.S. News. "Instead of two overseas offices, you’ve now got one; instead of two logistics pipelines, you’ve got one.... It makes them a much stronger international company.”

Energy sources

  • The White House: "We are supporting Ukrainian efforts to enhance its own energy production, including through technical assistance to help restructure Ukraine’s national oil and gas company, Naftogaz, and through the introduction of new technologies to boost outputs from existing and new conventional gas fields in Ukraine. "
  • EPA: "Today EPA is announcing that it will not be finalizing 2014 applicable percentage standards under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program before the end of 2014. In light of this delay in issuing the 2014 RFS standards, the compliance demonstration deadline for the 2013 RFS standards will take place in 2015."
  • UNEP: "The best estimate is that global carbon neutrality is reached between 2055 and 2070 in order to have a likely chance of staying within the 2 degree C limit."

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