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Big Green is under attack | Podcast

As clean energy scales up, criticism grows

More money will be invested this year in the solar industry than in oil production.  

So said Faith Birol, executive director of the International Energy Agency, last week. Amy Harder, executive editor of Cipher, attended the Cleanpower 2023 event in New Orleans and experienced at first-hand what it means for the Big Green energy industry to be rivalling the scale of Big Oil. The event has been dubbed the ‘Coachella of clean energy’ and as Amy recounts walking the half-mile long hall, full of clean energy businesses looking to capitalise on the booming industry, that comparison certainly seems appropriate.  

Amy Myers Jaffe, director of NYU’s Center for Global Affairs, is also on the show this week. She says that what was once seen as a huge divide between the high-carbon and low-carbon energy industries is now being bridged. But she argues there is still an important role for governments in supporting the growth of newer energy technologies that would otherwise find it too difficult to break into markets dominated by old energy incumbents. 

After discussing how the emergence of the Big Green industry relates to US permitting reforms that could affect all energy infrastructure projects, the gang then turn their attention to the G7. The recent summit in Hiroshima included some important discussions of the climate and energy, with world leaders repeating their commitments to accelerating the phase-out of fossil fuels, but also acknowledging the case for increased gas production to replace Russian supplies. 

Finally, whatever happened to alternative protein? Impossible Foods, Beyond Meat and some of the other companies in the sector have been cutting jobs. Beyond Meat’s share price, which peaked at about $235 in the summer of 2019, is about $10 this week. Impossible Foods has been talking about an IPO, but now says it is not going to happen this year. It’s clear that if you can cut the emissions from food production, and from beef in particular, the climate benefits could be huge. Should changing diets play a bigger role in climate strategy? 

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