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#Fracking: #Ineos to invest £640m in UK #shale gas exploration


Ineos has made no secret of its interest in shale gasIneos has made no secret of its interest in shale gas

Chemicals giant Ineos has announced plans to invest up to £640m in shale gas exploration in the UK.

The company plans to use the gas as a raw material for its chemicals plants, including Grangemouth in Stirlingshire.

Grangemouth is currently running at a loss, but Ineos believes shale gas will transform the economics of the plant.

Shale gas extraction is promoted as an important potential energy source, but has sparked opposition from environmental groups.

Exploration rights

Shale gas is extracted through a technique known as fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, in which water and chemicals are pumped into shale rock at high pressure.

Numerous anti-fracking groups have formed and protests have been staged at several sites over fears of earthquakes, water pollution and environmental damage.

shale gas extraction

Ineos is currently building Europe’s largest shale gas import facility to feed its petrochemicals plant at Grangemouth – but it wants to produce home-grown shale gas as well.

In recent months it has been buying up rights to explore across hundreds of square miles of the Midland Valley around the Stirlingshire site.

Ineos is also thought to have applied for further licences as part of the government’s ongoing onshore licensing round.

Safety ‘skills’

The company outlined plans on Thursday to invest hundreds of millions pounds in UK exploration.

“I believe shale gas could revolutionise UK manufacturing and I know Ineos has the resources to make it happen, the skills to extract the gas safely and the vision to realise that everyone must share in the rewards,” said Ineos boss Jim Ratcliffe.

The firm added that “substantial further investment would follow if the company moved to development and production”.

BBC industry correspondent John Moylan said the move will be seen as a significant vote of confidence in the sector, and will position Ineos as one of the major players in the emerging industry.

But, he added, it will also put Ineos in the sights of protesters who believe shale gas and fracking are dangerous and harmful to the environment.

A spokesman for Greenpeace UK characterised Ineos’ investment as “giant speculative bets on unproven and risky resources”.

“It seems that Ineos have based their business plan on breathless PR brochures rather than scientific reports,” he added.

Shale license areasShale gas sites in UK.

‘Transparent bribe’

Earlier this year, Ineos announced plans to hand over up to £2.5bn of shale gas revenues to communities close to its wells.

The company has bought the licence for shale gas exploration and development across a 329sq km area around its Grangemouth power plant.

It will give away 6% of revenues to local homeowners and landowners.

However, Friends of the Earth Scotland criticised the move as “a transparent attempt to bribe communities”.

The British Geological Survey has estimated there are “modest” shale gas and oil resources in the area.

Fracking is used extensively in the US where it has revolutionised the energy industry.

The Scottish government has called for devolved powers on fracking after the UK government decided to press ahead with plans to let companies drill at depths of 300m below private land without consent.


Analysis: John Moylan, BBC Industries Correspondent

This sounds like a huge investment by Ineos.

But any firm wanting to bring shale gas from the exploration stage through to full production will have to spend hundreds of millions of pounds.

An industry report earlier this year suggested that a single shale gas production site with 10 wells might cost as much as £350m. So firms intending to have multiple gas production sites will have to spend eye-watering sums.

But the timing of this announcement is key. The government is currently assessing applications made by operators for new onshore licences to explore for shale gas.

Firms have to demonstrate that they have the cash and know-how to exploit a license area. If this has been a competitive license round – and there’s a suggestion that this is the case – then firms like Ineos will have to lobby hard to ensure they get the areas that they want.

There could be more announcements like this from other industry players in the weeks and months ahead.


Related Stories


BBC News.

Naomi Klein: UK fracking trespass law flouts democratic rights #Fracking #TrespassLaw


Recent changes to the law, enabling companies to frack beneath landowners’ properties without their permission, have fuelled resistance to fracking in Britain, says author and activist.

Naomi Klein speaking to Owen Jones about her most recent book This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs the Climate at a Guardian Live event.Naomi Klein speaking to Owen Jones about her most recent book This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs the Climate at a Guardian Live event. Photograph: Guardian talks

Adam Vaughan reporting,

Ministers’ rewriting of the law to allow fracking to happen beneath people’s homes without their permission flouts basic democratic rights, according to Naomi Klein.

The author and activist said that the UK government’s changes to trespass laws, to speed up the ability for shale gas companies to frack beneath landowners’ property, was energising resistance to fracking in Britain.

“What is animating the anti-fracking movement? Yes, it’s water. It’s also a defence of democracy. The fact the government is colluding with energy companies to force the right to frack underneath people’s homes without their permission flies in the face of the most common-sense definition of democracy and self-definition,” she told an audience at a Guardian event in London on Monday.

A consultation over the summer on the trespass law found that 99% of the 40,000 people who responded objected to the changes. But government officials said they would go ahead with the law change, as “no issues have been identified that would mean that our overall policy approach is not the best available solution.”

Naomi Klein discusses her most provocative book yet, This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs the Climate.

Klein, whose new book addresses how capitalism is holding back efforts to tackle climate change quickly enough, said that shale gas and oil companies were being met by a global movement whose growth was incredible.

“The movement against fracking has been heroic. We are starting to see the kind of resistance where people have those stakes you’re talking about,” she told the event’s chair, Guardian columnist Owen Jones. “People get involved in fighting fracking not because of climate change but because they’re worried about their water. Water is what unites so many of these movements, whether it’s against tar sands, pipelines or fracking, coal mining, it’s water and love of place.”

Klein highlighted the series of climate marches around the world in September, which saw more than a reported 400,000 people out in New York and tens of thousands in cities including London, Paris and Melbourne, as a cause for hope. “I was tremendously gratified by what just happened in New York.”

She said it was not just the scale of the march in New York that had impressed her but the diversity, made up of local communities who had been hit by superstorm Sandy, indigenous people fighting tar sands developments, anti-fracking campaigners and what she described as the first time the Labor movement was out in force, calling for job creation in response to climate change.

“To me, it was not just the size of it, this march had a quality to it that I’d never seen at a mass environmental demonstration,” she said, adding to applause: “I think we need to be very clear about this – the only way you can win against forces with a huge amount to lose is to build a movement of people, many more people, with a huge amount to gain.”

The author also argued that rallying around action on climate change would be one of the most powerful ways to tackle austerity, by creating a case for investment in low carbon infrastructure from public money and taking energy ownership away from the ‘Big Six’ energy companies who she said had failed the UK. “This is our chance to liberate ourselves from the brutalising logic of austerity,” she said.

“Climate is the big tent we’ve been waiting for, and why wouldn’t it be, the atmosphere is the biggest tent of all, we’re all under it and we need to start acting like it.”


The Guardian.

#Fracking trespass law changes move forward despite huge public opposition #TrespassLaw


Ministers reject 40,000 objections to allow fracking below homes without owners’ permission.

by Damian Carrington.
Prime minister David Cameron during a guided tour of the IGas shale drilling plant near Gainsborough, Lincolnshire.Prime minister David Cameron during a guided tour of the IGas shale drilling plant near Gainsborough, Lincolnshire. Photograph: Lindsey Parnaby/PA

Fracking will take place below Britons’ homes without their permission after ministers rejected 40,000 objections to controversial changes  to trespass laws.

The UK government argued that the current ability for people to block shale gas development under their property would lead to significant delays and that the legal process by which companies can force fracking plans through was costly, time-consuming and disproportionate.

There were a total of 40,647 responses to a consultation on the move to give oil and gas companies underground access without needing to seek landowners’ permission, with 99% opposing the legal changes. Setting aside the 28,821 responses submitted via two NGO campaigns, 92% of the remaining responses objected to the proposals.

The government response to the consultation, published online on the eve of the parliamentary vote on military strikes against Islamic militants in Iraq, concluded: “Having carefully considered the consultation responses, we believe that the proposed policy remains the right approach to underground access and that no issues have been identified that would mean that our overall policy approach is not the best available solution.”

New laws will now be passed giving automatic access for gas and oil development below 300m and a notification and compensation scheme will be run by the industry on a voluntary basis.


Should fracking trespass laws be changed?

Responses to the question ‘should the government legislate to provide underground access to gas, oil and geothermal developers below 300 metres?’
UK Ministers rejected 40,000 objections photo Ministersrejected40000objections.jpg

“It is essential that we make the most of home-sourced energy and start exploring the natural energy supplies beneath our feet. As the cleanest fossil fuel shale gas provides a bridge to a much greener future,” said a statement from the Department of Energy and Climate Change. “By removing barriers to deep underground drilling access, we are speeding up oil and gas and deep geothermal energy exploration. ”

The Conservative energy minister, Matt Hancock, said: “These new rules will help Britain to explore the great potential of our national shale gas and geothermal resources, as we work towards a greener future – and open up thousands of new jobs in doing so.”

“This is an important day for the future of energy supply in the UK,” said Ken Cronin, chief executive of the industry’s trade body, UK Onshore Oil and Gas  (UKOOG). “Landowners on the surface will not notice this underground activity [usually a mile deep] and it will have no impact on their day-to-day lives.”

But Green Party MP Caroline Lucas said: “This sham consultation exposes the government’s disregard for the growing public concern about the major environmental and health risks of fracking. The decision to deny people the right to say no to fracking under their own homes is outrageous. It shows that ministers are putting the greed of oil and gas companies above the public interest in tackling climate change.”

Simon Clydesdale, from Greenpeace, said: “The roar of opposition to this arrogant policy is deafening, yet ministers are determined to blithely ignore what the overwhelming majority of the British public thinks and wants. There will be a hefty political price to pay for this massive sell-out to the narrow interests of the shale lobby.”

Friends of the Earth’s Jane Thomas said: “This government seems hell-bent on fracking irrespective of widespread opposition. You’d think with a general election approaching politicians would listen to public opinion and get behind the popular energy solutions of cutting waste and backing renewables.”

The changes to the trespass laws were also criticised by Scotland’s energy minister Fergus Ewing: “UK government proposals to remove the right of Scottish householders to object to drilling under their homes, without so much as debate in the Scottish parliament, flies in the face of Scotland’s cautious, considered and evidence based approach on this issue. It is also fundamentally an issue affecting land ownership rights.”

In January, another controversial pro-fracking legal change was passed in the face of overwhelming public opposition. The change, which ditched the requirement to notify homes individually of future shale gas operations, was criticised by a Lords committee as having been rushed through without proper parliamentary scrutiny.

Fracking companies will still need to obtain regulatory permissions, such as planning and environmental permits.

Earlier in September, the planning committee of the South Downs National Park Authority voted unanimously to reject an application by Celtique Energie to undertake exploratory drilling as a precursor to fracking at Fernhurst in West Sussex.


Environment | The Guardian.

Leonardo DiCaprio at the UN: ‘Climate change is not hysteria – it’s a fact’ #ClimateChange


‘The time to answer the greatest challenge of our existence on this planet is now. You can make history or be vilified by it’

Leonardo DiCaprio.
Leonardo DiCaprio speaks at the opening of the UN climate summit in New York on Tuesday.Leonardo DiCaprio speaks at the opening of the UN climate summit in New York on Tuesday. Photograph: Don Emmert/AFP/Getty Images

Thank you, Mr Secretary General, your excellencies, ladies and gentleman, and distinguished guests. I’m honored to be here today, I stand before you not as an expert but as a concerned citizen, one of the 400,000 people who marched in the streets of New York on Sunday, and the billions of others around the world who want to solve our climate crisis.

As an actor I pretend for a living. I play fictitious characters often solving fictitious problems.

I believe humankind has looked at climate change in that same way: as if it were a fiction, happening to someone else’s planet, as if pretending that climate change wasn’t real would somehow make it go away.

But I think we know better than that. Every week, we’re seeing new and undeniable climate events, evidence that accelerated climate change is here now. We know that droughts are intensifying, our oceans are warming and acidifying, with methane plumes rising up from beneath the ocean floor. We are seeing extreme weather events, increased temperatures, and the West Antarctic and Greenland ice-sheets melting at unprecedented rates, decades ahead of scientific projections.

None of this is rhetoric, and none of it is hysteria. It is fact. The scientific community knows it, Industry and governments know it, even the United States military knows it. The chief of the US navy’s Pacific command, admiral Samuel Locklear, recently said that climate change is our single greatest security threat.

My Friends, this body – perhaps more than any other gathering in human history – now faces that difficult task. You can make history … or be vilified by it.

To be clear, this is not about just telling people to change their light bulbs or to buy a hybrid car. This disaster has grown BEYOND the choices that individuals make. This is now about our industries, and governments around the world taking decisive, large-scale action.

I am not a scientist, but I don’t need to be. Because the world’s scientific community has spoken, and they have given us our prognosis, if we do not act together, we will surely perish.

Now is our moment for action.

We need to put a pricetag on carbon emissions, and eliminate government subsidies for coal, gas, and oil companies. We need to end the free ride that industrial polluters have been given in the name of a free-market economy, they don’t deserve our tax dollars, they deserve our scrutiny. For the economy itself will die if our ecosystems collapse.

The good news is that renewable energy is not only achievable but good economic policy. New research shows that by 2050 clean, renewable energy could supply 100% of the world’s energy needs using existing technologies, and it would create millions of jobs.

This is not a partisan debate; it is a human one. Clean air and water, and a livable climate are inalienable human rights. And solving this crisis is not a question of politics. It is our moral obligation – if, admittedly, a daunting one.

We only get one planet. Humankind must become accountable on a massive scale for the wanton destruction of our collective home. Protecting our future on this planet depends on the conscious evolution of our species.

This is the most urgent of times, and the most urgent of messages.

Honoured delegates, leaders of the world, I pretend for a living. But you do not. The people made their voices heard on Sunday around the world and the momentum will not stop. And now it’s YOUR turn, the time to answer the greatest challenge of our existence on this planet … is now.

I beg you to face it with courage. And honesty. Thank you.


The Guardian.

We’re f***ed: scientist on #danger from #ocean #methane plumes


By Megan Darby
The scientists took measurements from icebreaker ship Oden. (Pic: Stockholm University/Stella Papadopoulou)The scientists took measurements from icebreaker ship Oden. (Pic: Stockholm University/Stella Papadopoulou)

When researchers from Stockholm University found plumes of methane rising from the seabed, the chief scientist’s response was mild.

“This was somewhat of a surprise,” Örjan Gustafsson wrote in his blog .

When glaciologist and blogger Jason Box saw their findings, he put it rather more strongly: “That’s damn scary.”

The subject of Box’s concern was methane released from the ocean. Methane is a potent greenhouse gas, with around 20 times the warming effect of carbon dioxide.

What is more, the scientists suspect climate change could make such methane releases more likely, in a feedback loop.

Box, who has been studying the Greenland ice sheet’s sensitivity to weather and climate for 20 years, was already losing sleep about occasional spikes in methane levels in the area. He called these outlying results “dragon’s breath”.

While there was growing evidence of high methane levels  over the Arctic Ocean, this Swedish study was the first to record methane bubbles rising to the surface.

Gustafsson and his team were exploring the Laptev Sea, on the edge of the Arctic.

From icebreaker ship Oden, they used sonar and chemical analysis to measure methane in the water.

They found plumes of the gas rising from depths of between 150m and 500m. Levels of dissolved methane in the water were between 10 and 50 times background levels.

Gustafsson said the gas may be released from methane hydrates collapsing on the sea bed.

“While there has been much speculation about the vulnerability of regular marine hydrates along the continental slopes of the Arctic rim, very few actual observations of methane releases due to collapsing marine hydrates on the Arctic slope have been made,” he blogged.

A “tongue” of warmer water from the Atlantic could be behind the breakdown of methane hydrates. There is some evidence that part of the ocean is getting warmer.

Box said the findings showed the importance of reducing man-made carbon emissions.

“Fossil fuel burning is the trigger mechanism poking the climate dragon,” he wrote. “The cautionary principle makes clear we have to keep this dragon in the ground.”

RTCC.

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