Britain has broken its record for the longest continuous period without generating electricity from coal. National Grid said that the coal-free period lasted more than 90 hours before coming to an end on Monday afternoon. It is the longest period since the industrial revolution and breaks the previous record set in April 2018 of 76 hours and 10 minutes. The government plans to phase out Britain’s last coal power plants by 2025 to cut greenhouse gases.
BBC 22nd April 2019 read more »
Big Oil’s bid to go green has never been more literal. In the coming years, major oil companies are expected to invest billions of dollars planting forests, rolling out grasslands and establishing natural wetlands. Italian oil giant Eni will create millions of hectares of forests across Africa, Royal Dutch Shell is eying Europe and BP is investing in forests across the US and China. The drive is more than what critics of these companies might call philanthropic “greenwashing”. Together, the world’s most polluting businesses and environmentalists agree: restoring the world’s natural environments will help absorb the carbon dioxide already contributing to climate change – and can make good business sense, too.
Telegraph 22nd April 2019 read more »
Last week it emerged that Ineos, the energy company, had privately warned regulators that it may abandon plans to frack in the UK unless the restrictions on earth tremors are relaxed. The only major project in England, a Cuadrilla site near Blackpool in Lancashire, is failing because of regulations that require work to cease for 18 hours every time the seismic activity triggered exceeds 0.5. To offer some context: when, in October, a tremor of 1.1 was recorded Claire Perry, the energy minister, described it as “the equivalent on the surface of a bag of flour falling on the floor”. And yet fears of the bag of flour mean that Caudrilla has managed to complete the hydraulic fracture of just two of the 41 sections of the well. In the US, the Richter scale limit is 4.0 – although admittedly sites are often further from urban areas. But the UK’s limits are also lower than those for coal mining and quarrying. Seismologists are sympathetic to the industry’s calls for a review of the rules. As one official observed, the Blackpool site is “the canary in the coal mine” for the industry. If it is stymied, few others will take up the challenge. In part, this is down to priorities. Britain’s pro-business forces are focused on Brexit. One senior Tory noted: “It’s one of those things we have to get back to after Brexit, but no one’s in a hurry.” It is also clear that eyes have turned to other, less troublesome energy sources, especially offshore wind. Ministers no longer talk up the benefits of fracking in the way that David Cameron’s government did. The economic and employment expectations have been scaled back; UK demand for natural gas is down year-on-year; energy prices are not alarming politicians; and the arguments about security of supply have lost some of their salience for the moment. Even so, gas is likely to remain a big component of Britain’s energy mix for some time. The UK is now a net importer of gas and could, within 15 years, be buying in more than 70 per cent of its supply. But ministers argue that the public concern over fracking means voters expect them to keep faith with the strong controls. The upshot is that they endure opprobrium without the UK enjoying the benefits.
FT 22nd April 2019 read more »
The oil and gas industry is facing unprecedented pressure to prove its business model is compatible with the goals of the Paris climate agreement. BP has just bowed to investor pressure and backed a resolution to disclose how its future plans align with these goals at its upcoming annual shareholder meeting. The US Securities and Exchange Commission recently saved ExxonMobil from a shareholder vote on introducing emissions targets. While agreement may be slowly building that oil and gas companies’ plans need to square with the Paris goals – it is not clear what that means in practice. A new report from Global Witness sheds important light on this. Our analysis finds that all of the $4.9tn the sector is forecast to spend on exploration and extraction from new fields over the next decade is incompatible with the Paris goals. In Paris, governments agreed to aim for global warming to stay below 1.5C. In October last year, the world’s leading authority on climate science, the IPCC, produced its landmark report showing that limiting warming to 1.5C would avoid the worst impacts of climate change and that achieving that goal was still possible. Its assessment is based on climate scenarios, built using advanced computer programs that model complex physical changes to the earth’s climate systems and societal shifts. They show a range of pathways of how the whole global economy could transform over the 21st century while limiting warming to 1.5C.
FT 23rd April 2019 read more »
Business Green 23rd April 2019 read more »
We strongly oppose the efforts by President Trump and various business lobbies to subsidize nuclear power, and also coal, on the pretext that the market does not already reward its grid reliability. However, if the top priority is to save the planet and reduce carbon emissions, then Trump’s plan, at least with respect to nuclear, is the best possible thing he or anyone else could do. Nuclear technology is advancing quickly. If global warming is the big problem, then there would be no excuse for the U.S. not to adopt it on a grand scale. The best plan, in the long run, will be to follow in the footsteps of France, whose near-zero net carbon footprint today was made possible by its early adoption of nuclear. With coming generations of safer and perhaps even foolproof reactors in the works, this plan will keep looking better until nuclear fusion becomes technologically feasible at long last. In the meantime, cheap, natural gas, made available by fracking, has already made the U.S. the world leader in carbon emissions reduction. By allowing gas to displace coal as the leading fuel for domestic power generation, fracking has already done more to reduce emissions than the combined activity of all the environmental activists in human history. Renewables such as wind and solar, which still play only a minor role in generation, cannot operate without the flexible backup that gas provides for those times when the wind stops and the sun sets or goes behind a cloud.
Washington Examiner 22nd April 2019 read more »