In so doing they have set off a fresh round of calls for curbs on the controversial technique.
Why is a Keynesian solution so difficult to sell when it is clear that austerity is worsening the economic downturn?
Jonathan Freedland in the Guardian: The seemingly counter-intuitive argument must be better framed. “A quick look at the record of British debt going back to 1830 shows that, by historical standards, our current indebtedness is no more than a modest uptick compared with, say, the late 1940s, when debt was five times as great as it is now – and yet it was precisely then, when the country really was drowning in red ink, that Keynes was advocating a fiscal stimulus.”
With three days to go, it is unclear that any o the three big issues can be resolved: whether the “green climate fund” is permitted to go ahead; the future of the Kyoto treaty, which is in grave doubt; and whether there can be a new global legally binding treaty on the climate in future, or a weaker compromise. Guardian: “The IEA warns that the number of fossil fuel power stations and other energy hungry infrastructure that we build in the next three to five years may determine the whole future of the planet – because building such infrastructure, which will be around for decades to come, will “lock in” a world of high emissions.”
Ann Pettifor in the Guardian: “So European politicians want to shoot the messengers. Sure, ratings agencies haven’t always been reliable, decent or honest. And sure, like eurozone politicians, Standard & Poor’s is just following events, not shaping them.”
Guardian: “The government’s hopes of rebuilding the economy with a “march of the makers” risks being derailed by energy companies that are demanding huge upfront payments to power new factories. Soaring energy prices, which are already hitting homeowners, are also forcing manufacturers to shut down plants or relocate their factories to other countries. The British Ceramic Confederation said some members have been asked to pay deposits of up to £200,000 – the equivalent of four months’ worth of power – before energy firms are willing to take them on as customers.”
Guardian: “The Big Six energy companies have walked into a political storm over executive pay amid revelations that their bosses are earning up to £4m a year as an increasing number of their customers are being pushed into fuel poverty.”
The Guardian reveals that at least 50 employees of companies including the Big 6 have been placed within government to work on energy issues in the past four years: free of charge and working within the departments for secondments of up to two years. “There have also been 195 meetings between ministers from the Department of Energy and Climate Change (Decc) and the energy industry between the 2010 general election and March 2011, according to a Guardian analysis of declared meetings with Decc.” Caroline Lucas: “Companies such as the big six energy firms do not lend their staff to government for nothing – they expect a certain degree of influence, insider knowledge and preferential treatment in return. … None of the staff on secondment in Decc work for renewable energy companies. … Secondments also work in reverse, with civil servants going to work in the energy industry, such as a two-year secondment to Shell and another to Horizon Nuclear Power, a joint venture of E.ON and RWE npower that aims to build nuclear power stations in the UK.”
This at one of Chevron’s 11 production wells in an important offshore field where the company suffered an oil leak last month. A safety audit last week of the Frade offshore oil platform found that the company did not report the presence of hydrogen sulphide in crude at the facility.
This as ministers fly in for the second of the two weeks. There are conditions, but Chris Huhne says this creates space for a positive outcome to the summit, where the footdraggers – led as ever by the US – hope only for voluntary measures, and a deferred outcome until 2020.
They claim intentional destruction of test results and computer analysis least it be used in evidence against them. This in a court filing ahead of February’s trial to sort out claim and counter claim.
In an extended interview in India, I talk about the similarities between the credit crunch and the peak oil issue, and the power of renewables and why clean-energy industries are being held back.
Badly-redacted documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act show that DECC passed sensitive documents on government policy to the Nuclear Industries Association. They also passed Greenpeace’s court documents (from the case against HMG) to the lobby group. in which EDF features prominently among 260 member companies.
So says the FT’s Lex column: “the appeal, and likely returns, of climate change investing are fading fast.”
Will Hutton in the Observer: “The last time Britain endured such an extended period of depression and falling living standards – the 1870s and 1880s – saw the mushrooming of the co-operative movement and the emergence of the Labour party as the more moderate expressions of anger that wanted to challenge the very basis of capitalism. Be sure that British civil society will not accept its grim fate as if nothing is happening. There will be organised and angry responses – and rightly. We are about to experience economic, social and political tectonic plates on the move.”
Guardian: “The construction of new renewable energy generation capacity has fallen dramatically, as the big six energy suppliers pursue a “dash for gas” policy that could put the UK’s climate change targets out of reach and leave households with higher bills.” Wind projects are down by half on last year. Less than a GW of wind has been approved and 30 GW of gas is at planning stage.
As the Telegraph puts it: “The first of the new plants will not be built until 2019 because of extra safety checks following Japan’s atomic disaster. Ministers originally hoped to get the first nuclear power station built by 2017, before revising this to 2018. Now there has been a further slippage, after an updated timetable showed the first station in Somerset is not expected until nearer the end of the decade.”
New analysis for the Guardian by Manchester University shows a progressive widening between wholesale and retail prices.
Japanfocus.org: “Last year, according to figures from Bloomberg New Energy Finance (link), investment in new generation capacity from renewable energy sources (excluding hydro) totaled USD 187 billion, outpacing the USD 157 billion new investment in natural gas, oil, and coal-fired generating capacity.
….The FIT cost the Germans EURO 3.2 billion in 2008, but the German Federal Ministry for the Environment calculates that the FIT saved Germany EURO 7.8 billion in fossil and nuclear fuels and the public health and other external costs from carbon emissions, air and water pollution, and the like by EURO 9.2 billion. …. it has worked far above expectations in Germany for the past 10 years. Germany set a 2010 target of 12.5 percent share of renewable energy in electric generation in 2000. They surpassed that goal in late 2007 with 15.1 percent share. …. since the German’s have launched their FIT program, approximately 35 to 40 counties have followed suit and implemented their own.
…. Japan introduced a FIT in November of 2009… This FIT is encouraging a rapidly expanding volume of renewables investment inside Japan from co-ops and farmers, households and local communities through to such heavyweights as Softbank, NTT, and Marubeni as well as overseas giants including Germany’s Siemens and China’s number 2 PV producer JA Solar. …. The real risk in Japan is that prices will be set too low so that little deployment is encouraged. This would blunt the incentives of the world’s third-largest economy to lead the energy transition, at the same time driving down its own power costs and externalities as well as those for billions elsewhere, especially in Asia and Africa. This risk is due to the nuclear village having managed to get its people named to the committee that is to set prices. As Japan’s Institute for Sustainable Energy Policies (ISEP) warns in a November 24 press release, these individuals include Shindo Kosei, Executive VP of Nippon Steel and head of Keidanren’s Global Environment Division. ….This ongoing fight over structuring the FIT is part of the larger fight between renewables and nuclear as the pillar of Japan’s power economy, a fight the November 18 New York Times understands to be a “contest over the future of Japan itself”.”
Mervyn King: “The crisis in the euro area is one of solvency not liquidity. And the interconnectedness of major banks means the banking systems and economies around the world are all affected. Only the governments directly involved can find a way out of this crisis.” The Financial Policy Committee urges banks to continue building up their capital stock and urges them to limit bonuses and dividend payouts rather than cutting back on lending to businesses and households.
In the wake of the sacking of the british Embassy in Tehran, and oil embargo is under discussion in Europe. The FT reports that “diplomats said one of the key questions for European countries in the weeks ahead would be whether Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states could be persuaded to boost oil production to mitigate the effects.”
Enron was a high risk hedge fund disguised as a diversified energy company and some 500 companies had been approved by regulators to trade energy at the time it blew up 10 years ago. It took down Mirant, NRG, NEG and Calpine with it. Now, says Julian Dumoulin-Smith, director of equity research in the Electric Utilities & IPPs Group at UBS Securities, there is a growing queue of groups interested in trades beyond physical assets: Constellation Energy, Mercuria, Arcadia Petroleum, Glencore, RWE, EON, EDF. As one commentator says, its almost come full circle.