Tag Archives: climate change

#UK’s new #energy and #environment #ministers opposed #green energy

Matthew Hancock called for cuts to wind power subsidies while Liz Truss claimed renewable power was damaging the economy.

Britain's new minister for energy, business and enterprise, Matthew Hancock, at 10 Downing Street.Britain’s new minister for energy, business and enterprise, Matthew Hancock, at 10 Downing Street. Photograph: Suzanne Plunkett/Reuters

The new set of Conservative environment and energy ministers announced on Tuesday bring a track record of opposing renewable energy, having fought against wind and solar farms, enthusiastically backed fracking and argued that green subsidies damage the economy.

New energy minister, Matthew Hancock, signed a letter to David Cameron in 2012 demanding that subsidies for onshore windfarms were slashed. “I support renewable energy but we need to do it in a way that gives the most value for money and that does not destroy our natural environment,” he said at the time.

Hancock, who takes over from Michael Fallon, also opposed new turbines in his Suffolk constituency, arguing: “The visual and other impact of the proposed turbines is completely unacceptable in this attractive rural corner of Suffolk.”

New environment secretary and former Shell employee, Liz Truss, dismissed clean renewable energy as “extremely expensive” and said it was damaging the economy during an appearance on BBC Question Time last October.

“We do need to look at the green taxes because at the moment they are incentivising particular forms of energy that are extremely expensive,” she said. “I would like to see the rolling back of green taxes because it is wrong that we are implementing green taxes faster than other countries. We may be potentially exporting jobs out of the country as our energy is so expensive.”

In 2009, as deputy director of the free-market thinktank Reform, Truss said energy infrastructure in Britain was being damaged by politicians’ obsession with green technology: “Vast amounts of taxpayers’ money are being spent subsidising uneconomic activity,” she said. Research from the London School of Economics recently concluded that green policies were not harming economic growth. Continue reading

Wind and other renewables generated a fifth of Britain’s electricity in early 2014

New windfarms, strong winds and a good winter for hydropower plants sent renewable energy generation surging to 19.4% of all electricity from January to March.

Wind and other renewables generated a fifth of Britain's electricity in early 2014A ship passes the windfarm just off the beach at Crosby, Merseyside. Photograph: Peter Byrne/PA

One fifth of all electricity was generated in Britain by windfarms or other green technologies in the first three months of the year, according to new statistics released by the Department of Energy and Climate change (DECC).

New windfarms coming online, strong winds and a good winter for hydropower plants sent renewable energy generation surging to 19.4% of all electricity from January to March 2014, up from about 12% for the same period last year. The power produced was enough for about 15m homes during the quarter. It was hailed as a breakthrough by the wind industry, which alone provided 12% of the overall power produced, and a rebuff to critics who have said that renewables would never account for such a large proportion of the energy mix.

However, the DECC data could stoke a new price row with energy suppliers because it shows gas prices to domestic customers rising in the first quarter with prices to businesses in decline at the same time.

The cost of gas to householders, including VAT, rose by 4.8% in real terms between the first quarter of 2013 and the same period of this year, while average gas prices to business customers, including the climate change levy, were 5.2% lower.  Continue reading

Greenpeace UK: Drilling the South Downs: a national park at risk from fracking

Drilling the South Downs

This morning the Not For Shale fracking roadshow rolled into Midhurst at the heart of the glorious South Downs. This is the frontline of a local and national battle for the future of our communities, landscapes and climate.

Sleepy Midhurst is home to the South Downs National Park Authority (SDNPA), the UK’s newest National Park. The South Downs has a momentous decision to make: it must decide whether it is prepared to fire the starting pistol for the race to frack the UK.

At the top of its inbox sits an application from Celtique Energie, who plan to drill and subsequently frack for shale oil and gas at Fernhurst in West Sussex. Local people in Fernhurst have come together to exercise their right to deny permission to drill under their homes, surrounding the drill site with a Wrongmove  legal blockade to prevent fracking.

The fracking industry is terrified that such blockades will fatally damage their plans to frack half the country. They have lobbied the government ferociously to pull out yet another frack-fix  and remove this problem.

This has resulted in new government plans to disconnect you from your home and landscape, tearing up your rights  and handing them over to the frackers who will be able to drill and frack under your home without your permission. Our own mercurial frackers Frack & Go recently made use of this scandalous scheme by paying David Cameron a visitContinue reading

World’s energy systems vulnerable to climate impacts, report warns

Power plants and electricity distribution networks are particularly vulnerable to droughts and floods.Power plants and electricity distribution networks are particularly vulnerable to droughts and floods. Photograph: Stephen Hird/Reuters

Rising sea levels, extremes of weather and an increase in the frequency of droughts and floods will all play havoc with the world’s energy systems as climate change takes hold, a new report has found.

Energy companies are more often cited as part of the problem of climate change, generating the lion’s share of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, amounting to around 40% of the total. But they will also suffer as global warming picks up pace, as generators – from nuclear reactors to coal-fired power plants – feel the brunt of the weather changes.

Many large plants are particularly at risk from droughts, because they need water to cool their facilities, and floods, because they lack protection from sudden storms. Electricity distribution networks are also likely to be affected.

The vulnerability of energy systems to natural shocks was shown starkly when the Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan had to be closed down following the 2011 tsunami, which prompted governments around the world to review their nuclear policies.

The World Energy Council (WEC), which compiled the study along with Cambridge University and the European Climate Foundation, urged generators to examine their vulnerability to climate change, saying that with suitable adaptations – such as protecting power plants from water shortages and building resilience into power networks – the worst of the problems could be avoided.  Continue reading

Paul Roderick Gregory - Forbes

Five compelling reasons for the US to offer lethal military assistance to Ukraine

A soldier from the US Pennsylvania National Guard (L) speaks to a Lithuanian soldier as they take part in a field training exercise during the first phase Saber Strike 2014, at the Rukla military base, Lithuania, on June 14.LITHUANIA, Rukla – A soldier from the US Pennsylvania National Guard (L) speaks to a Lithuanian soldier as they take part in a field training exercise during the first phase Saber Strike 2014, at the Rukla military base, Lithuania, on June 14, 2014. Saber Strike, a NATO exercise that will span multiple locations in Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia, involves approximately 4,700 personnel from 10 countries. The Western military alliance launched on June 9, 2014 one of its largest military manoeuvres in the ex-Soviet Baltic states since tensions with Moscow spiked over its annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea peninsula. AFP PHOTO / PETRAS MALUKAS © AFP

With Washington’s attention diverted, as radical ISIS forces march towards Baghdad, it is no coincidence that Russia chose to send tanks, missiles, and armored personnel carriers across its border into east Ukraine. Forget Putin’s assurances that he had nothing to do with this. Movements of heavy weaponry in border areas require authorization from the highest levels in Putin’s notorious power vertical.

The June 12 passage of Russian tanks, missiles, and armored personnel carriers across the border (confirmed by U.S. sources) was so blatant that even the timid NATO officially labeled it as “a grave escalation” by Russia.

Russian tanks entering Ukraine.Russian tanks entering Ukraine.

U.S. presidents must be able to deal with more than one emergency at a time. Whereas the Middle East has become a boiling cauldron that defies solution, Russia’s subversion of Ukraine can be dealt with effectively at low cost: The United States and Europe can simply give Ukraine the military means to defend itself and its territorial integrity. No “boots on the ground” are required, just a few billion dollars worth of real weapons. Thereafter, Ukraine will do the heavy lifting itself. Russia must pay its mercenaries. Young Ukrainians are fighting and dying for a cause.

So far, President Obama has denied Ukraine meaningful military assistance for reasons I find difficult to fathom. After months of stalling, Barack Obama announced on June 4 in Warsaw a $5 million (not billion) package of non-lethal military aid to Ukraine to supplement his earlier grant of military box lunches. The five million will buy fewer than 600 top-of-the-line night goggles at today’s prices. Better nothing than such an insulting token amount.

In contrast, analysts from Forbes.ua have placed a $250 million price tag on the two-month Donbass separatist operation paid by its shadowy Russian “sponsors.” The fifteen thousand $300-per-day mercenaries streaming across the border with their lethal weaponry account for most of this cost.

Russia has outspent the United States of America fifty times over on military assistance in the Ukrainian theater and by an infinite amount in terms of lethal assistance (a positive number divided by zero equals infinity).

Whenever the topic of Ukrainian military assistance is broached, European and American opponents immediately revert to “boots on the ground.” Ukraine is requesting training, advice and military equipment, not a “third world war” as naysayers hysterically prophesy. USA Today summarized Obama’s response to Ukraine’s pleas with its headline: “U.S. reaffirms: No weapons will go to Ukraine.”

To President Obama and the U.S. Congress: There are compelling reasons why the United States and NATO should supply embattled Ukraine with military equipment. My reasons are:

First. Ukraine is fighting the United States’ and Europe’s battle against a wealthy petro state, whose rogue leader, Vladimir Putin, has broken international treaties and norms, and must be reined in before he expands his horizons. Ukraine has fought this battle so far on its own paltry resources with little assistance from a civilized world too timid to confront a bully state. As a Der Spiegel panel concluded, “Ukraine is fighting our battle,” and we “need to step up.”

In military engagements in Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan, the United States has provided military assistance to local allies unwilling to defend themselves (as the current rout of the Iraqi army shows). Ukraine, with its increasing loss of life and spilled blood, is fighting on its own behalf, as the United States and Europe spur it on with vague promises of sanctions and expressions of concern delivered safely from the sidelines.  Continue reading