Archive for June, 2012
Harvard University: “Oil production capacity is surging in the United States and several other countries at such a fast pace that global oil output capacity is likely to grow by nearly 20 percent by 2020, which could prompt a plunge or even a collapse in oil prices, according to a new study by a researcher at the Harvard Kennedy School.” (more…)
Guardian: “Greenpeace International Executive Director Kumi Naidoo called the summit a failure of epic proportions. “We didn’t get the Future We Want in Rio, because we do not have the leaders we need. The leaders of the most powerful countries supported business as usual, shamefully putting private profit before people and the planet.” …The main outcome of the conference is a plan to set sustainable development goals (SDGs), which Brazil described as the “crown jewels” of the conference. But the gems have not yet been chosen, let alone cut, polished and set. Negotiators at Rio were unable to agree on themes, which will now be left to an “open working group” of 30 nations to decide upon by September 2013. Two years later, they will be blended with Millennium Development Goals.”
Greenpeace, WWF and Oxfam criticise world leaders for shirking responsibilities and say civil society must act in their place. Guardian: “World leaders at the Rio+20 Earth summit in Brazil delivered a “new definition of hypocrisy” for standing in the way of progress and failing so far to challenge the text of the draft outcome document, NGO leaders said on Thursday. Daniel Mittler, political director of Greenpeace, said: “The epic failure of Rio+20 was a reminder [that] short-term corporate profit rules over the interests of people.” He said the outcome of the conference was “nothing short of disastrous”, as governments came offering no money or commitments to action. “They say they can’t put money on the table because of the economic crisis, but they spend money on greedy banks and on saving those who caused the crisis. They spend $1 trillion a year on subsidies for fossil fuels and then tell us they don’t have any money to give to sustainable development.”
Business Green: “It’s pathetic,” said Jim Leape, the head of the WWF. “If this text proposed by Brazil is accepted, then the last year of negotiations has been a colossal waste of time. If you saw this document without knowing what it was supposed to be, you might think Rio+20 was convened as a seminar.” Part of the problem is the lack of global political commitment. Barack Obama, David Cameron and Angela Merkel, and dozens of other leaders have snubbed the talks. Until last week, the Brazilian hosts were predicting 118 heads of state and government would attend. They now say the number is more likely to be “around 100.” The absence of so many key figures has dismayed the architects of global sustainability governance. “It’s not good and it doesn’t look good,” said Gro Harlem Bruntland, who drew up the recommendations that led to the first Rio Earth Summit in 1992.”
Kornelis Blok et al, a Dutch team from the University of Utrecht and Ecofys, in Nature: “a new approach — which we call ‘wedging the gap’ — consisting of 21 coherent major initiatives that together would trigger greenhouse-gas emission reductions of around 10 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (Gt CO2e) by 2020. ….A coalition of progressive governments and producers could remove barriers by introducing good grid access and net metering rules, paving the way to add another 1,600 GW by 2020 (growth consistent with recent years). Impact in 2020: up to 1.4 Gt CO2e.”
“The North American Investor Network on Climate Risk (“INCR”), the European Institutional Investors Group on Climate Change (“IIGCC”) and the Australia/New Zealand Investor Group on Climate Change (“IGCC”) [together managing >$20 trillion] have today issued a joint statement calling on companies and governments to take effective action to minimize methane emissions from rapidly growing unconventional oil and gas production made possible by hydraulic fracturing.” (more…)
Guardian: “Increased use of coal and heavy use of other fossil fuels such as oil and gas led to a 3% increase in world carbon emissions from energy in 2011. Coal has carved itself a 30% share of the global energy market – its highest level in over 40 years – undermining attempts by governments to reduce their carbon emissions, new figures show. China and India both increased their use of carbon-heavy coal by over 9% but Europe, where political consensus against global warming is strongest, also saw a 4% increase, according to the BP Statistical Review of World Energy. … The BP figures also show nuclear power use dropping by 4% – its lowest on record – while renewable energy used in power generation grew by 18%.”
Global oil consumption grew by less than 1% to reach 88m barrels a day in 2011 notwithstanding the Brent crude price averaging $111 a barrel, an increase of 40% on 2010, the BP Statistical Review of World Energy shows. Guardian: Annual production of oil increased by 1.1m b/d due to output reaching record levels in Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Qatar while demand was strongest in China – up 5.5%. ….The statistics show UK oil production falling 17% and gas output down 21% while global oil reserves are still large enough to serve current demand for 54 years, according to BP. Global proven oil reserves totalled 1,653bn barrels at the end of 2011, up 8% on the previous year, due to new discoveries and high oil prices which have made tar sands and marginal fields more economic to exploit. Addressing continual concern that the world is close to “peak oil” when demand cannot match supply, BP chief executive, Bob Dudley, said: “The world is not structurally short of hydrocarbon resources – as our data on proved reserves confirms year after year but long lead times and various forms of access constraints in some regions continue to create challenges for the ability of supply to meet demand growth at reasonable prices”.”
The Times: “Families will be forced to pay higher energy bills to fund subsidies to the French for a radical overhaul of the power market, the boss of one of the country’s largest energy companies has warned. Ian Marchant, the chief executive of SSE, said that subsidies demanded by the French state-owned EDF Energy to build new nuclear reactors in Britain would saddle consumers with higher bills for years to come. … “If the EMR [energy market reform] is passed in its current form, it’s a piece of legislation the UK will live to regret,” he said in the most outspoken attack on the Government’s faltering energy policy by an industry executive to date. Mr Marchant said that the reforms were geared towards “making nuclear fit in” and would make investing in renewables such as wind farms more expensive. He argues that Britain does not need to build any new reactors because gas prices are cheaper, electricity demand has fallen and reactors originally due to close over the next decade will have their lifetimes extended by about seven years. “EMR is fixing a problem we do not have,” he said.”
Twelve years of experience distilled: my conclusion, in a 17 minute You-tube film, is that the system is suicidally dysfunctional, that it needs root-to-branch reform, that another crash is probably inevitable, but that renaissance can lie beyond.
Guardian: “UN’s vision for one deal to save the Earth is in peril as countries bicker over phrasing of clauses and key terms in the draft text.” A big area of disagreed is “new and additional sources of finance” for the LDCs.
Guardian: “M&S has become the first major UK retailer to become fully ‘carbon neutral’, the company said on Thursday, five years after launching its sustainability project, ‘Plan A’. But despite the company’s progress in meeting many of the targets in its programme, its management admit disappointment at its failure to meet some of the more ambitious challenges, such as tripling sales of organic food and drink. The 2012 How We Do Business Report, published on Thursday, sets out in detail the progress of the 180 commitments set out to ensure sustainable policies are at the heart of every aspect of its business, including its complex international supply chain.”
Spain’s prime minister Mariano Rajoy warns that the country is in a situation of “extreme difficulty”, and urges Europe to prove that the euro is “irreversible” by agreeing a banking union and embracing eurozone bonds.
FT: “The US oil industry is mounting its biggest-ever campaign to influence the November presidential election, as it seeks to capitalise on the transformation of America’s energy landscape by shale gas and oil. The American Petroleum Institute’s “Vote 4 Energy” campaign is designed to win support for candidates who back its agenda of increased access and limited regulation for oil and gas companies.” The issue could be pivotal in key states like Ohio, where fracking is soon to begin, with Republicans making Barack Obama’s alleged stifling of the energy industry a centrepiece.
Guardian: “Renewable energy is promising to overtake rural tourism as a secondary income for the agricultural sector, with 200 megawatts of power – enough for 40,000 households – installed, according to joint research by the National Farmers’ Union (NFU) and NatWest bank. / They found that one in six farmers will have solar photovoltaic (PV) systems in place by the middle of this year and one in five will be producing clean electricity by this date. If this trend continues, as much as 15% of all UK electricity from renewable sources come from the land by the end of this decade, they believe.”
Guardian: “The government has been trying to water down key environmental regulations in Brussels despite trumpeting its commitment to green issues at home, leaked documents show. The papers, seen by the Guardian, reveal British officials repeatedly trying to prevent the adoption of European Union rules on energy efficiency, curtailing the proposals and making them voluntary rather than mandatory in many cases. In addition, the UK has tried repeatedly to ensure that the EU does not adopt a new target for renewable energy generation. They are significant because they indicate that Ed Davey, the energy secretary since February, has given his blessing to lobbying begun under his predecessor Chris Huhne. These government efforts have the backing of the UK’s big six energy firms, according to other documents obtained under freedom of information rules.”
FT: “Beijing has indicated that it will lift its year-long moratorium on new nuclear projects in a move that will breathe life into an industry plagued by uncertainty since the disaster at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi reactor last year. … a major step towards the full resumption of its nuclear building programme, which accounts for 40 per cent of global reactors under construction today. …. The country is targeting 60GW of nuclear capacity in 2020, according to comments by Chinese officials, which would put China’s reactor fleet on par with that of France.”