INSTITUTE INDEX: Southern utilities fiddle with inadequate emissions cuts as Earth burns

A protester at the 2016 Moral March on Raleigh, North Carolina, calls out Duke Energy for blocking the transition to renewables. (Photo by Susan Melkisethian via Flickr.)

According to the new assessment from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change — which found that global climate change is intensifying, driven by human activity, and causing extreme weather — number of years since there was as much carbon in Earth's atmosphere: 2 million

Degrees Celsius by which Earth's temperature has risen since the late 19th century due to human activity, with some future warming locked in due to greenhouse gas levels already in the atmosphere: 1.1

To limit Earth's temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius and avoid warming's worst impacts, year by which the report says human society must transition to net zero greenhouse emissions: 2050

Percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions that come from the electricity sector: 25

Among the top carbon-emitting U.S electric utilities, tied ranking of Charlotte, North Carolina-based Duke Energy and Atlanta-based Southern Company, which owns Alabama Power, Georgia Power, and Mississippi Power: 1

Percent of Southern Company's electricity now generated by burning fossil fuels, including coal and gas: 68

Percent of Duke Energy's current electric generation that comes from burning fossil fuels: 75

Average annual percent by which Southern Company plans to reduce its carbon emissions through 2030: 0.79

Average annual percent by which Duke Energy aims to cut carbon emissions over the same period: 1.61

In comparison, average annual percent reduction that Minneapolis-based Xcel Energy — the first major utility to commit to being carbon-free by 2050 — is trying to achieve over that same period: 5.91

Under Duke Energy's current plans, percent of its generating capacity that will come from fossil gas in 2050: 23

Megawatts of new gas capacity Duke Energy said last year it's planning to build in the Carolinas alone: 9,534

Factor by which the global warming potential of methane — the main component of fossil gas — exceeds that of carbon over a 20-year period: 80

Number of previous IPCC reports that, as this one does, explicitly said methane reductions are important for achieving Paris Climate Agreement targets: 0

Dates on which the North Carolina Utilities Commission will hold a two-day technical session to take a closer look at Duke Energy's latest 15-year Integrated Resource Plan, for which the Center for Biological Diversity and NC WARN climate justice group have called for full evidentiary hearings: 9/30/2021 and 10/1/2021

Date on which South Carolina regulators took the unprecedented step of rejecting Duke's plan over many of the same issues raised by environmental advocates in North Carolina: 6/29/2021

Year in which Southern Company subsidiary Alabama Power successfully limited who can take part in proceedings over whether that utility should be allowed to build expensive new fossil gas plants in the state: 2020

Rank of last month among the hottest ever recorded globally: 1

(Click on figure to go to source.)