The National Trust has invested tens of millions of pounds in oil, gas and mining firms – despite the conservation charity pledging to cut down its own use of fossil fuels and warning about the impact of climate change. An investigation by the Guardian has found that the trust – which aims to “nurse the environment back to health’ – has more than £30m of investments in oil, gas and mining companies, including BP and Shell, held indirectly via a portfolio fund. The trust has vowed to decrease its own use of fossil fuels across its estates in England, Wales and Northern Ireland in response to climate change, aiming to generate 50% of its energy from renewable sources by 2020. Hilary McGrady, the director-general of the trust, which has more than five millio n members and 61,000 volunteers, has previously said: “We are playing our part by ensuring we reduce our dependency on fossil fuels and at every property we are constantly looking at ways to seek out energy efficiencies.” A 2015 report by the trust warned: “It is abundantly clear to us from across the breadth of places we look after that the impacts of climate change are already increasing, and are a worrying threat to the fragile and venerable places of natural and historic importance that we care for.”
Guardian 19th Nov 2018 read more »
Nick Butler: A shale revolution in the UK was proclaimed six years ago by David Cameron, then prime minister, who said Britain should be at the heart of the global industry initiated by developments in the US. In Davos two years later, he said shale gas could produce a new industrial revolution in Britain and bring down energy costs. The conventional wisdom at the time held that energy was scarce and prices were doomed to rise inexorably. With North Sea production of gas declining, the country was believed to be vulnerable to a squeeze on supplies driven by either politics or a surge in demand caused by harsh weather conditions. Since then, the companies that would like to start producing have been hampered by disputes over planning consents for drilling and have only been able to proceed after central government took powers to override local objections earlier this year. Cuadrilla finally began drilling in Fylde, Lancashire, last month only to be halted repeatedly after a series of small earth tremors. Under the terms of the planning consents, drilling must stop for at least 18 hours after each tremor. Thousands of such small tremors occur naturally around the country every year, most of which go unnoticed. The company says these tremors are within operating expectations. If I were a shareholder in Cuadrilla or any of the other companies hoping to drill in areas believed to hold shale gas such as Yorkshire or around Balcombe in Surrey, I would be starting to think the game was not worth the candle. This would not be because of environmental concerns. I believe fracking can be managed safely with no damage to water supplies or the wider environment, and that the companies know how to work to high standards. The judgment of the Royal Society and the Royal Academy of Engineering, which has produced an authoritative independent study of the technology involved, concluded that shale gas development involving fracking could be “managed effectively in the UK as long as operational best practices are implemented and enforced through regulation”. The reason for scepticism is not environmental but economic. Since 2013, gas prices have fallen sharply. German import prices – the standard European benchmark – are half their 2013 level. There is no shortage of gas supplies in Europe or across the world.
FT 19th Nov 2018 read more »