A Chronicle of The Carbon War

A chronological log of events in global energy, climate change and related issues. Key events from this chronicle are distilled in the serialised front-line eye-witness account, The Winning of the Carbon War

Methane leaks far exceed estimates, US oil < $30, Islamic leaders join Pope in calling for carbon-fuel phaseout, solar cheaper than gas in Colorado, UK opens 1,000 sq miles to frackers: Week 33, 2015

Islamic leaders

21.8.15.
US oil price slides below $30 for first time since financial crisis. Brent falls to $45. The US rig count rises 2%. The industry remains what analysts label “resilient”.
SunEdison beats gas in Colorado. For the first time, PPC receives bids for utility-scale solar PV resources that are cost-effective head to head with natural-gas fired generation.... read more...


Largest ever US wildfire rages, coal protestors say “here and no further”, Glencore’s investors say “stop digging”, oil glut pumps on, solar stocks suffer, Shell ready to drill in the Arctic: Week 32, 2015

Lignite civil disobedience

“Glencore’s investors want it to stop digging.” Shares down two-thirds since May 2011 float, debt mountain at $48bn.
15.8.15.
Firefighters struggle to contain largest ever US wildfire. Spanning more than a quarter of a billion acres, the Idaho fire has been fed by drought.
1,500 people put their bodies on line to stop the diggers... read more...


Global glacier retreat accelerates, value of oil companies down >$1 trillion, Obama backs off shale gas in climate plan, UK now prepared to over-ride councils and push through fracking: Week 31, 2015

Screenshot 2015-08-13 21.31.56

“Our country needs shale gas, so let’s go get it.” So writes Amber Rudd. “A responsible, long-term energy policy demands a willingness to take decisions today for the good of tomorrow.”
Energy industry attacks £24.5bn Hinkley Point. “We will look back and think that nuclear was a expensive mistake,” RWE npower CEO says. An HSBC report rips into... read more...


Global warming now >1˚C, Obama hikes power-sector carbon cuts, World Bank rejects coal industry notion that coal can cure poverty, US offshore wind puts its first steel in the water: Week 30, 2015

US offshore wind - first

2.8.15.
Obama imposes most far-reaching carbon restrictions on power sector yet. 32% power sector cuts by 2030, encouraging bypass of gas, favouring renewables. Legal pushback expected.
1.8.15.
“With coal going begging, it’s time to stop digging.” So writes Michael West in the SMH. The two big projects of Chinese... read more...


Paris climate deal takes shape, France sets example with sweeping energy bill, oil drill ships burn cash parked at sea, UK government reneges on commitments to renewables investors: Week 29, 2015

Screenshot 2015-07-30 18.35.54

Oil groups shelve $200bn in new projects as second oil-price slump hits. Wood Mackenzie reports 46 big oil and gas projects deferred. Only a handful of major projects fully approved.
US companies pledge financial and political support for UN climate deal. 13 announce new low carbon investments, and 1.6GW of new renewables to be brought online.
Hillary... read more...


Ocean warming now unstoppable for centuries, wildfire risk soaring, Church of England votes for divestment, Shell hopes to drill in Arctic without safety kit: Week 28, 2015

Screenshot 2015-07-24 09.54.12

18.7.15.
Chinese-built electric bus will begin service in London in autumn. Designed and built by BYD, the initial group of five will utilise high-efficiency batteries.
17.7.15.
France seeks short, concise, but long-lasting legal core for Paris climate change deal. One is being prepared for climate ministers attending prep talks in Paris 19-21-June.... read more...


UK ends zero carbon homes and slaps retrospective cuts on renewables, UK shale-bonanza advocate “steps down”, Pope says unbridled capitalism fuels climate change: Week 27, 2015

Zero-Carbon-House

Gas overtakes coal in US electricity generation for the first time in April. Gas is now 31%, coal 30%. There were 593 coal-fired plants in 2009, down to 518 by 2013 (303 GW).
Australian government extends renewable energy investment ban to solar. A directive already bans the Clean Energy Finance Corporation from investing in wind.
German “vindictiveness”... read more...


Episcopal Church votes to divest, Prince Charles divests, crucial UK fracking licence rejected, Renault may leave Formula 1 for Formula E, climate negotiations moving at “snails pace”: Week 26, 2015

Formula-e racing

List of more than 1,076 chemicals used during fracking process remains unknown. UCS says the recent EPA study was “a literature review.”
US solar and wind industries appeal for tax breaks to compete with gas. The current tax breaks expire in 2017, leading BNEF to forecast reduced investment.
3.7.15.
Planned new coal plants mean >... read more...


Medics say climate change threatens 50 years of advances, Dutch court forces climate action on government, American Petroleum Institute launches regulation rollback campaign: Week 25, 2015

SunnyMoney light & kids

Dalai Lama supports Popes message on climate change – at Glastonbury. Long-term fans describe his appearance as the highlight of all festivals attended.
Formula E the “right way to go” says head of world motorsport. Former Ferrari chief Jean Todt tells RTCC he’s behind new electric series, as fans turn out in thousands for London finale.
US... read more...


Pope calls for rich to pay their debts on climate, US bishops agree with him, US Republican candidates disagree with him, US shale industry faces mass bankruptcy in face of debt mountain: Week 24, 2015

Pope Francis St Peter's Square

19.6.15.
“The Shale Industry Could Be Swallowed By Its Own Debt”: Bloomberg. “The debt that fueled the U.S. shale boom now threatens to be its undoing.” Debt $235 bn Q1, up as revenue fell.
UK public split on fracking. Tories & UKIP pro, Labour, LibDems & Nats mostly against. March poll: 24% in favour of extracting shale gas, 26% against... read more...


The full Chronicle >>

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Download schedule

Latest download 3 August (Chapters 1-24, spanning May 2013 to end July 2015)
3rd September to 3rd January: monthly instalments. Last scene will be the last night of the Paris climate summit in December.

Scenes from The Winning of the Carbon War:

London School of Economics, March 1st, 2015

“Another video offers a particularly inane defence of fossil fuels. It depicts an oil barrel as a young woman, complete with pink hair ribbon, lipstick and red high-heeled red shoes, who has a boyfriend who has made the mistake of dumping her. She finds a spendid new boyfriend. The ill-advised one freezes in the dark, absent the oil barrel in his life. Is this seriously the best they can do?”
Watch youth riposte on YouTube


City of London, December 1st 2014

Many minds wired to the right love to hear this kind of thing. And find ways to believe it.
Many minds wired to the right love to hear this kind of thing. And find ways to believe it.

“Our PR agency decrees that I need some coaching in “how to talk to the Right”. I protest, but not too strenuously. One Spectator issue ran a cover headline exhorting readers to “Relax: Global Warming Is All A Myth”. I need coaching in how not to have a heart attack, if I am to be faced with stuff like that.”


Soho, London, October 30th, 2014

Richard Berman, fossil-fuel lobbyist, advocates "endless war" with opponents.
Richard Berman, fossil-fuel lobbyist, advocates "endless war" with opponents.

“Someone in a roomful of oil and gas industry executives has developed a conscience and leaked a tape of a presentation by a top incumbency lobbyist. In it, he tells his audience that they should regard themselves as being in a state of ‘endless war’ with environmentalists and others who oppose fracking and advocate clean-energy deployment. They cannot ‘win pretty’, he says, they will have to ‘win dirty’.”


Park Lane Intercontinental, London, October 29th, 2014

Tony Hayward & Bob Dudley: similar pasts to me, somewhat different views of the future
Tony Hayward & Bob Dudley: similar pasts to me, somewhat different views of the future

“BP’s retreat from renewables has been so dismal to watch. After the high hopes of the Browne years came a shameless retrenchment to carbon under Tony Hayward’s leadership, notwithstanding hardening scientific evidence on climate change. Now, under Bob Dudley – who once headed BP’s solar unit – BP is on a dedicated mission to emulate ExxonMobil’s worst.”


Parliament Square, London, October 24th and 25th, 2014

Young people anguished about the future can protest. So long as they keep off the grass.
Young people anguished about the future can protest. So long as they keep off the grass.

“Modern capitalism is broken. I say this as a nominally successful capitalist. My experience has shown me that the system is suicidally dysfuntional. It is on course to destroy both itself, and more importantly the viable civilisation people of my generation have a moral duty to handover to our children and grandchildren. ….But it can be changed. It can be fixed.”


Moscow, October 14th, 2014

A gas pipeline carries Russian gas through Ukraine - for the time being
A gas pipeline carries Russian gas through Ukraine - for the time being

“’Let us be frank, in a comradely and hopefully constructive way’, I say with a smile. ‘Most of Europe is desperate to escape having to pay so much for Russian oil and gas exports, or even having to buy any Russian oil and gas’.”


New York, 21-26 September 21st – 26th, 2014

The NYPD find a novel way to deflate the carbon bubble on Wall Street
The NYPD find a novel way to deflate the carbon bubble on Wall Street

“I am often tempted to write ‘life, stranger than art’, in the pages of this chronicle. I can only get away with that cliché maybe once. Let it be here. The NYPD has found a way to deflate the carbon bubble. I mean the one twenty feet across, carried by protestors above their heads as they poured into Wall Street. The police popped it on one of the horns of the Merrill Lynch bull.”


Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, September 18th, 2014

Riyadh at night. By day, no solar panel-plus-storage to be seen. Yet.
Riyadh at night. By day, no solar panel-plus-storage to be seen. Yet.

“I arrive at night, and am driven from the airport into a city lit up like a fireworks display. Six million people live here. They are burning oil in power plants to provide electricity with few constraints on waste. It is akin to shovelling their national income into a furnace, at an accelerating rate every day.”


Somewhere in London, September 15th, 2014

An EV charged by leftover solar from a fully solar-powered home in cloudy Britain
An EV charged by leftover solar from a fully solar-powered home in cloudy Britain

“The world’s largest private bank predicts that by 2020 it will be possible to have a solar roof, an electric vehicle and a domestic battery bank, powering everything you need in a home, with mouth-watering economics. That energy-trio purchase will be able to pay for itself within six to eight years, while giving a 7% pre-tax annual return on investment. Such household economics, UBS concludes, will change the face of the energy industry.”