Energy News WIR: Netflix Net-Zero Target | Wyoming Coal War

Energy news week in review: Netflix sets net-zero target, Wyoming battles for coal, and more

An entertainment giant has made the decision that it will achieve net-zero emissions by the end of next year, which will involve major changes in the way it currently produces its much-loved films and TV shows. Meanwhile, the state of Wyoming has reaffirmed its commitment to the coal industry, and France is pushing for greater acceptance of nuclear energy as a green energy source. 

Netflix Aims For Net-Zero Emissions by 2022 

Netflix has announced plans to achieve net-zero emissions in its business operations by the end of 2022, hoping to eliminate a carbon footprint that is more than 1 million metric tons annually.  

The company said it will achieve this target through a variety of means.  

Fifty percent of Netflix’s emissions currently come from film and TV production, which includes their own and third-party projects belonging to the Netflix brand. To reduce emissions from this source, the firm will switch to using local crews rather than flying a crew into a location, will make use of electric vehicles, and will use LED lighting on sets.   

A report produced several years ago showed the U.S. film and TV industry generated as much as 15 million metric tons of CO2 annually. Film productions typically involve moving hundreds of crew members to various locations across the world, as well as using electricity and machinery.   

Another strategy Netflix intends to use for emissions reduction involves investing in projects that either prevent carbon from entering the atmosphere or remove the carbon present. Such projects include the Kasigau Corridor REDD+ Project, which is working to protect Kenya’s forests.  

The emissions generated by the company’s more than 200 million subscribers as they stream shows on their devices are not included in Netflix’s estimate of its carbon footprint since internet service providers and device manufacturers are expected to account for those in their own carbon tallies.  

Since the company leases more than 90% of its office and stage space, it will also encourage vendors offering these facilities to switch to renewables on their properties. It will likewise install solar panels at its head offices.  

Netflix plans on reporting on its efforts using the guidelines set for the media and entertainment industry by the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board. 

An expert advisory group that included Christiana Figueres, who played a leading role in the Paris Agreement, offered guidance to Netflix on sustainability and environmental issues. 

Alberta Awards CA$408 Million Grant to Petrochemical Project 

The Alberta government in Canada has just granted CA$408 million to Inter Pipeline Ltd. to support its construction of a petrochemical complex.  

The Inter Pipeline’s Heartland Petrochemical Complex received the grant under Alberta’s Petrochemicals Incentive Program (APIP). That program seeks to turn Alberta into a top global producer of petrochemicals and awards grants to large projects that create permanent jobs in Alberta. A main criteria for the grant is that the project’s facility must use natural gas or petrochemical intermediaries, such as ethylene and propylene.  

The APIP is also part of Alberta’s natural gas strategy for making Alberta “a global supplier of clean, responsibly sourced natural gas and related products, including hydrogen, petrochemicals, and recycled plastics.”  

The Heartland project received the grant as it is expected to employ 16,000 during its construction phase and will create 300 permanent jobs. The government’s grant is 10% of the total cost of construction for the CA$4 billion project and will be paid out over three years once the facility is up and running.   

The main product of the facility will be polypropylene derived from propane, with an expected output of 525,000 tons a year. Polypropylene is used for manufacturing synthetic products for vehicles, sports hardware, and medical devices.  

Inter Pipeline also claims the Heartland project will generate far less greenhouse gas emissions than comparable facilities because of its modern design. 

India Says It Will Continue Responsible Use of Coal 

India Responsible Use of Coal | Dowtown city photosource

India has pushed back against demands that it increase its ambition with regard to greenhouse gas emissions, stating that it will continue to use coal to meet its developmental needs.  

In its emissions inventory report to the U.N., the country said it wanted to use its fair share of the global carbon budget, of which it had used only a small portion. The report said India needed coal and would use it responsibly, pointing out that its per capita use of coal was well-below that of many developed countries.  

At the same time, the country is giving coal-fired power plants more time to reduce their emissions. An initial 2017 deadline for those plants to install devices that would reduce sulfur dioxide was pushed back to 2022. On April 1, 2021, the environment ministry moved the date back again, giving plants located in less affected areas up until 2025 to install the devices.  

The country’s utilities have lobbied against the regulations for emissions reductions, saying the cost of compliance is too high.   

The air in India’s cities is among the world’s most polluted, and power companies account for 80% of the country’s industrial emissions of sulfur and nitrous oxides. 

Wyoming Set to Pass Law to Protect Coal 

Wyoming has passed two bills that would make it more difficult to close coal or natural-gas-powered plants. If those bills become law, state regulators will be required to obtain proof of the need to retire the plants and must take into consideration the impact such a closure would have on the reliability of the state’s energy supply 

The state’s governor said the bills would boost efforts to implement carbon capture and sequestration. 

Wyoming depends heavily on its coal industry and is the country’s leading supplier of coal, accounting for about 40% of the nation’s total supply. It has seen a drop in revenues as more states turn to natural gas and renewable energy for their electricity supply. 

To stem the loss in revenue, Wyoming had earlier passed a bill setting up a $1.2 million legal fund for engaging in lawsuits against other states that move away from using coal for electricity. The bill passed the House 53-7, as representatives urged an aggressive stance against the nationwide movement away from coal. 

However, a group of landowners in Wyoming have stated their opposition to the bills designed to protect coal plants. They fear the bills will incur costs and risks to customers. 

France Maintains Reliance on Nuclear Energy 

President Emmanuel Macron said that nuclear power remains central to France’s power supply. 

While promising to reduce France’s reliance on nuclear energy from 75% to 50%, Macron is pushing for studies into the establishment of new reactors to be completed within the coming months. 

At the same time, he has joined with Eastern European leaders advocating for nuclear energy to be listed as a “sustainable” activity under the EU’s green taxonomy. Such a listing would make nuclear energy eligible for investments with lower tax rates under EU regulations. The list of sustainable activities in the green taxonomy identifies activities that will contribute to achieving the bloc’s goal of carbon neutrality by 2050. 

France’s current set of nuclear plants are nearing their lifetime limits, and the country will face major challenges in ensuring power reliability without new nuclear plants, especially during winter. 

World Bank Financing to Focus on Climate Change 

India Responsible Use of Coal | Dowtown city photosource

The World Bank has just announced that it will progressively align its financing objectives with the 2015 Paris Agreement. It said by July of 2022, 85% of its International Finance Corp. and Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency operations will be aligned, and by July 2025, 100% would be. 

Over the next five years, 35% of the bank’s financing would have climate co-benefits, and 50% would support adaptation and resilience. In making loans, the institution will also place greater emphasis on emissions reduction, adaptation, and resilience. And it would seek to support transformative projects in the areas of food, energy, and transport while supporting efforts to transition away from coal. 

This move is understandable since the United States is the World Bank’s biggest shareholder, and President Joe Biden has committed the United States to upholding the Paris Agreement. 

U.S., UAE Cooperate on Decarbonizing the Middle East 

The U.S. and the United Arab Emirates have agreed to work together on decarbonizing the economies of the Middle East, following a Middle East and North Africa (MENA) climate dialogue. 

Efforts will focus primarily on investments in such areas as renewable energy, hydrogen, industrial decarbonization, and carbon capture. 

Several other MENA countries joined the U.S. and the UAE in stating that they would work to accelerate climate action. Among the countries making the commitment were Bahrain, Qatar, Iraq, Sudan, and Egypt. 

Opinion writer: Jewel Fraser

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