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Russia’s Deputy Prime Minster Alexander Novak (L) and Saudi Arabia’s Energy Minister Abdulaziz bin Salman Al Saud attend a session as part of the 24th St Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF 2021) at the ExpoForum Convention and Exhibition Center.
Donat Sorokin | TASS | Getty Images

LONDON — Two of the world’s largest oil-producing countries plan to defy the International Energy Agency’s recommendations and continue investing in oil and gas, rejecting calls to drastically scale back the use of fossil fuels despite a deepening climate crisis.

It comes at a time when policymakers are under immense pressure to deliver on promises made as part of the Paris Agreement, a landmark accord widely recognized as critically important to avoid the most devastating impacts of climate change.

Almost 200 countries, including Russia and Saudi Arabia, ratified the Paris climate accord in 2015, agreeing to pursue efforts to limit the planet’s temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. The agreement requires net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

Remarkably, the world’s leading energy advisor delivered its starkest warning yet on global fossil fuel use last month, saying the exploitation and development of new oil and gas fields must stop this year if the world wants to reach net-zero emissions by the middle of the century.

Speaking at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum on Thursday, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak said the IEA had ostensibly arrived at its findings “by using reverse calculations” on how to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.

The IEA was not immediately available to return a request for comment. To be sure, the top global watchdog says halting developments in oil, gas and coal is fundamental to reaching the internationally agreed goal of net-zero emissions.

“In my view this a simplistic approach. It is also unrealistic,” Novak told CNBC’s Hadley Gamble, according to a translation.

“There is no doubt we need to move in the green energy and towards the green agenda as there is demand for it in society but we need to be clear what resources this can be done with, who is going to pay for it, what technologies and opportunities we have available to us, including in order to resolve outstanding problems that still await their solutions,” he added.

A Surgutneftegas worker near pumpjacks in Surgut Region of the Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Area – Yugra, in the West Siberian petroleum basin.
Alexei Andronov | TASS via Getty Images

His comments come shortly after Saudi Arabia’s Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman joked about the IEA’s report at an online news conference earlier this week.

“It is a sequel of the La La Land movie. Why should I take it seriously?” Abdulaziz said, according to Reuters.

His reaction to the report came shortly after OPEC and non-OPEC partners — an energy alliance sometimes referred to as OPEC+ — agreed to gradually ease production cuts in the coming months amid a rebound in oil prices.

Saudi Arabia is “producing oil and gas at low cost and producing renewables. I urge the world to accept this as a reality: that we’re going to be winners of all of these activities,” he added.

Speaking to CNBC Thursday, Russia’s Novak said Saudi Arabia’s Abdulaziz had once again reaffirmed Riyadh’s commitment to invest in oil at a SPIEF panel earlier that day.

Novak said it was Moscow’s intention to do the same.

“I can assure you that the Russian Federation, its plans, its strategy [is to] continue to invest in both oil and gas and in coal. But we also invest in renewables as well, in hydrogen, in electric cars and electric charging stations, so we see the coming decade as using a mix of renewables and fossils fuels,” Novak said.

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Tesla Model 3 prototype spotted ahead of rumored design refresh

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Tesla Model 3 prototype spotted ahead of rumored design refresh

A new Tesla Model 3 prototype with camouflage has been spotted in California ahead of a rumored refresh coming next year.

Over the last week, there have been rumors that Tesla is working on a Model 3 refresh that would come during the second half of 2023.

The project is reportedly codenamed ‘Highland’.

For a few years now, Tesla has been integrating its large casting technology into Model Y with single large casting parts replacing dozens of parts in the electric SUV.

This new technology has enabled Tesla to greatly improve manufacturing efficiency with Model Y compared to Model 3. CEO Elon Musk said that Tesla will bring the same technology to Model 3 eventually, but he couldn’t exactly say when.

The problem is that such an update to the Model 3 would temporarily slow down production and Tesla couldn’t afford that while it was still ramping up Model Y production.

However, Model Y production is now starting to exceed Model 3 production and it could be good timing for Tesla to update the Model 3 and use a design refresh to introduce the large from and rear casting.

Now a new Model 3 prototype has been spotted in Santa Cruz, California by Twitter user omg_Tesla/Rivian:

The Model 3 is equipped with manufacturer plates, which would indicate that it is owned by Tesla, and combined with the heavy camouflage in the front and back of the vehicle, it likely points to the automaker testing an updated version of the electric sedan.

However, not much can be discerned from the pictures thanks to the camouflage, which even covers large parts of the headlights.

Nonetheless, some commenters on Twitter did notice what could potentially be a camera embedded in the corner of the front right headlight:

It’s barely visible and therefore unconfirmed, but it would make sense to place a camera around that spot since Tesla’s current self-driving sensor suite has a blind spot around the bumper and it could also help with the creeping forward to see traffic before taking a turn in Full Self-Driving – something FSD Beta has issues with right now.

Tesla has always said that it would keep improving its Autopilot and Full Self-Driving hardware, but current owners who bought vehicles with the promise that self-driving will be enabled through software updates are concerned that Tesla might find that it would need a new sensor suite to achieve the promise.

What do you think about this Tesla Model 3 prototype? Is the camouflage hiding a Model 3 design refresh? A new Autopilot sensor suite? Let us know what you think in the comment section below.

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OPEC+ agrees to stick to its existing policy of reducing oil production ahead of Russia sanctions

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OPEC+ agrees to stick to its existing policy of reducing oil production ahead of Russia sanctions

Led by Saudi Arabia and Russia, OPEC+ agreed in early October to reduce production by 2 million barrels per day from November.

Vladimir Simicek | Afp | Getty Images

An influential alliance of oil producers on Sunday agreed to stay the course on output policy ahead of a pending ban from the European Union on Russian crude.

OPEC and non-OPEC producers, a group of 23 oil-producing nations known as OPEC+, decided to stick to its existing policy of reducing oil production by 2 million barrels per day, or about 2% of world demand, from November until the end of 2023.

Energy analysts had expected OPEC+ to consider fresh price-supporting production cuts ahead of a possible double blow to Russia’s oil revenues.

The European Union is poised to ban all imports of Russian seaborne crude from Monday, while the U.S. and other members of the G-7 will impose a price cap on the oil Russia sells to countries around the world.

The Kremlin has previously warned that any attempt to impose a price cap on Russian oil will cause more harm than good.

Oil prices have fallen to below $90 a barrel from more than $120 in early June ahead of potentially disruptive sanctions on Russian oil, weakening crude demand in China and mounting fears of a recession.

Led by Saudi Arabia and Russia, OPEC+ agreed in early October to reduce production by 2 million barrels per day from November. It came despite calls from the U.S. for the group to pump more to lower fuel prices and help the global economy.

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What’s the status of California’s upcoming $10M electric bike rebate program?

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What's the status of California's upcoming M electric bike rebate program?

California allocated $10 million for a rebate program to help make electric bikes more affordable. But hang on there; it’s not active quite yet.

The move is part of a years-long effort to help reduce the price of expensive electric bicycles for state residents. The ultimate goal is to make it easier for commuters to switch from car transportation to e-bike transportation.

It makes sense when you consider the long list of benefits. From cleaner air to reduced traffic and improved health/fitness, electric bikes solve many of the problems plaguing California (and the rest of the country).

But the path towards a statewide incentive program to reduce e-bike prices hasn’t been quick or easy.

specialized globe haul st e-bike

California has earmarked over $1 billion this year as incentives for electric cars and charging infrastructure, according to Streetsblog. That’s in addition to the billions already put into electric car incentives.

Back in 2019 electric bikes finally got the attention they deserved from lawmakers when California’s S.B. 400 was passed, which included a section that permitted electric bikes to be included in future clean air vehicle incentive programs.

That paved the way for the possibility of statewide e-bike rebate programs, but it didn’t actually create any.

Last year California got one step closer to that goal when it included a $10M allocation in the state budget for an e-bike rebate program. As Assemblymember Boerner Horvath said at the time:

“Making e-bikes more affordable is one of the most effective ways to get Californians out of their cars and reduce emissions. I’m thrilled that the full funding I requested for purchase incentives, education, and training is included in the budget we approved. This program represents a priority shift in the right direction and, once implemented, will help folks from all backgrounds choose a healthier, happier way to get around.”

That was another huge step in the right direction, but it hasn’t yet resulted in an active program.

That’s expected to begin in early 2023, with a number of key guidelines for California’s first statewide e-bike voucher program already laid out.

According to the California Bicycle Association, the program will create a $750 voucher for a standard electric bicycle and a $1,500 voucher for a cargo electric bicycle. There will be additional incentives for anyone whose income is under 225% of the federal poverty level (FPL) or who lives in disadvantaged communities.

But in order to qualify for the voucher, participants’ household income must be below 400% of the FPL, which amounts to $51,000 for a single person and $106,000 for a family of four at current figures.

The program will include Class 1 electric bikes (pedal assist up to 20 mph or 32 km/h) and Class 2 electric bikes (pedal assist and/or throttle up to 20 mph or 32 km/h), but will NOT include Class 3 e-bikes (pedal assist up to 28 mph).

Qualifying bikes must also either be purchased at a local bike shop in California, or online from a company that has “a business location in California”.

The move could see California align with other states that have created or already implemented electric bicycle incentives. Vermont became the first state in the US to offer a statewide e-bike rebate program. Oregon is also working on creating an e-bike incentive program that could soon become law, as New York attempts to do the same.

Many cities such as Denver, Colorado have also implemented their own local programs, though the funding is usually much smaller than statewide programs.

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