Top 4 stories
1) Four dead in Pemex oil platform fire – firm reports ‘no major spill’
There has been another blowout on an oil platform in the Gulf of Mexico, this one owned by Mexico’s state-run oil company Pemex. At least four people have died and 45 injured, many news outlets report.
Emergency services have evacuated around 300 workers from the blaze, and at least eight fire boats attempted to put out the flames.
Pemex said there was no evidence of a major spill, the New York Times reported, adding that the explosion raised questions, once again, about the company’s safety record following a history of blasts.
Meanwhile, in the markets, the oil price has just fallen for its third quarter in a row – though expert analysts diverge on what will happen next, WSJ reported and it made this graph to show the differences in predictions.
On Wednesday Brent was trading around $55 a barrel and WTI was around $47 a barrel.
In the US there is debate over whether it may be reaching limits to the amount of oil that can be stored, the glut is so severe – NPR suggest storage limits may be close, while Forbes argues this is a myth and the storage system is more flexible than many realise.
2) UK gales deliver renewables generation spike – especially in Scotland
Business Green reports that gale force winds on Tuesday (31 March) delivered a record boost for UK renewables, with just over 209 gigawatt hours (GWh) was generated by wind farms across Britain – equal to 23% of the UK’s electricity needs.
Wind turbines supplied enough power for 210% of Scottish homes, the figures from Renewables UK showed.
Numbers crunched by WWF and covered by The National show that Scotland’s wind energy output has jumped by 16% since this time last year.
In related news, Aberbeen-based Ecosse Subsea Systems has said oil and gas business has slowed following the fall in the price of crude but work in the renewables sector has been compensating, according to the Herald Scotland.
And a YouGov poll showed about 79% of Scots says the next UK government should adopt policies that back the continued development of renewable energy.
3) Guardian to divest its fund from £20m fossil fuel investments
Guardian Media Group is to divest its £800m fund from fossil fuels amid its ‘Keep it in the Ground campaign’, asking the Wellcome Trust and Gates Foundation to do the same, the paper reports.
It says it will sell all of its investments in fossil fuel companies, which add up to around £20 million according to the FT’s coverage.
The Ecologist reports that the divestment will be staggered based on climate impacts, with coal investments the first to be gotten rid of – possibly leaving the door open to gas (including fracking) investments for a while longer, it argues.
4) Franzen’s climate change polemic backlash
The award-winning novelist Jonathan Franzen has argued in The New Yorker that the natural world should be ‘protected’ from renewable energy schemes because he cares “more about birds in the present than about people in the future” – questioning the priority of climate change over conservation, as the Guardian points out.
In response, The Guardian’s Karl Mathiesen scrutinises whether climate change campaigning is killing birds – and highlights “All the evidence suggests that climate change will be very harmful to birds”.
Climate Progress also writes a critique of Franzen’s piece, arguing climate change has not made it harder for people to care about conservation.
In other news
The Independent reports energy minister Matthew Hancock hired a private jet to fly himself back to London after signing a deal with the Mexican president in Aberdeen to help combat climate change.
A new study shows Australia’s coal industry is driving increases in air pollution – which kills more Australians than car accidents, the Sydney Morning Herald reports.
According to data from the General Administration of Customs, China coal imports were down 9.1% over last month and down 33% year on year as a result of quality inspections at Chinese ports.
Reuters interrogates why Obama is approving Arctic drilling again – despite his climate policies.
Viscount Ridley, a prominent climate change sceptic, is to dig two giant open-cast mines on his national park family estate in Northumberland that will produce an estimated £20m of coal – increasing criticism that his championing of fossil fuels is tainted by self-interest – the Indy writes.
Oceans might take thousands of years to recover from climate change, a new study suggests.