Soaring energy bills are set to push the cost of living to a six-month high in figures due this week. Campaigners warn that the six million households currently in fuel povery – defined as spending more than 10 per cent of income on energy – is set to grow to 9.1 million households as prices increase. The Office for Budget Responsibility has meanwhile pencilled in more pain for households next year with further above-inflation rises on gas and electricity bills built into its forecasts.
Independent 16th Dec 2012 more »
Protesters march against nuclear power ahead of Japan’s first national election since the Fukushima disaster.
Reuters 15th Dec 2012 more »
With energy policy turning into one of the focal points of Sunday’s Lower House election, more than 1,000 people opposed to atomic power staged a march in Tokyo on the eve of the poll to demand a nuclear-free society.
Japan Times 16th Dec 2012 more »
A German doctor and member of a Nobel Peace Prize-winning physicians’ group has criticized a World Health Organization report on the Fukushima nuclear catastrophe for underestimating its impact on human health. In a research paper, Alex Rosen said the WHO report, published in May this year on estimated radiation doses received by residents near the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, was compiled mainly by officials related to the International Atomic Energy Agency, which promotes the use of atomic energy for peaceful purposes. Rosen, a member of International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, called for an independent assessment based on solid scientific methodology that would examine the health impacts from radioactive fallout released after the Fukushima No. 1 complex suffered three core meltdowns in March 2011. The WHO report put the maximum whole-body radiation dose per person in the first four months of the crisis at 50 millisieverts, even in two municipalities very close to the plant, the town of Namie and the village of Iitate. It also estimated that no area experienced doses in excess of 100 millisieverts. The risk of developing cancer is believed to substantially increase if the annual dose exceeds 100 millisieverts. Rosen noted that the WHO’s estimate on the amount of radioactive fallout emitted from the plant’s destroyed reactors was significantly lower than projections provided by research institutes in many other countries. The WHO report also failed to take into account the radiation exposure of people living within 20 km of the No. 1 plant and who were evacuated in the first few days of the calamity, after the area was designated a no-go zone, Rosen said, pointing to the possibility that these residents may have received high doses before or during their evacuation.
Japan Times 16th Dec 2012 more »
With exploratory drilling about to restart, clear differences are apparent between the Tory chancellor and the Lib Dem energy secretary over Britain’s shale gas reserves. Many energy experts with no political axe to grind argue that there are key differences that make it impossible for Britain to repeat the American shale revolution. So while George Osborne, a green-energy sceptic, has made clear his support for shale and a wider “dash for gas”, his coalition partner Davey has been more circumspect. Davey has also commissioned a study into the possible impacts of shale gas extraction on the UK’s future greenhouse gas emissions: “This will consider the available evidence on the lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions from shale gas exploitation, and the need for further research.” Critics say this will be too little, too late. Organisations such as the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research argue the circle cannot be squared: “Emissions from a fully developed UK shale gas industry would likely be very substantial in their own right. If the UK government is to respect its obligations under both the Copenhagen accord and low-carbon transition plan, shale gas offers no meaningful potential as even a transition fuel.”
Observer 16th Dec 2012 more »