1) UK: Energy bills, Hinkley challenge, and Osborne’s Budget
The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) will today say the British public are paying energy companies around £50 a year more than they have to, reports The Telegraph.
The investigation, which will criticise firms for ‘exploiting’ disengaged companies to the tune of £1.2 billion a year, will recommend cutting household energy bills, and provide a list of 20 potential remedies, including a new ‘safeguard regulated tariff’ with the CMA or Ofgem establishing a maximum price level for default tariffs.
Meanwhile the long-awaited Austrian legal challenge over the subsidies offered to the UK’s Hinkley nuclear station has been officially filed, writes the BBC.
And then we come to the Budget. Chancellor George Osborne is expected to announce a review of the Levy Control Framework clean energy subsidy, with Tory ministers believing the fund has already used up its £7.6 billion budget.
This move has come under fire from the renewable energy industry, with RenewableUK saying it could undermine investor security, especially following on from the government scrapping onshore wind subsidies, and jeopardise billions of pounds, reports Business Green.
And in an op-ed for the Financial Times, Paul Johnson from the Institute of Fiscal Studies says the complicated climate change legislation system in the UK should be untangled, and a carbon tax used as the primary mechanism to drive down greenhouse gas emissions.
2) UN: No ‘Plan B’ to Paris deal, clean economic growth ‘in sight’, and insufficient climate pledges,
In an interview with the Guardian, Michael Canete, the European commissioner for climate and energy, outlined the importance of a deal at the Paris COP.
He said there “is no Plan B – nothing to follow. This is not just ongoing UN discussions. Paris is final.” Fiona Harvey also offered this dispiriting tidbit: most heads of government will not even be attending the December climate conference.
As for the climate commitments made, they’re not enough. According to a report from the New Climate Economy, covered by the Guardian, up to 96% of the additional carbon cuts needed to stave off dangerous climate change can be found.
Energy efficiency is the most profitable climate solution, the report claims, but the onus largely falls on cities to clean up transport, insulate homes and improve waste management, according to Reuters.
Meanwhile, the FT reports that China’s UN climate pledge could prompt a push in hydropower, with dams likely built in a large number of the country remaining water-ways. “By the end of the 13th five-year-plan, the rivers in southwest China will be basically gone,” said the NGO Rivers.
And finally, the UN has agreed that climate change is a matter of human rights, with the council adopting a new resolution saying as much, reports RTCC.
3) Fracking: Unburnable natural gas, refracking, and renewable subsidies
Liquefied natural gas (LNG) reserves worth around $283 billion must stay underground if catastrophic climate change is to be avoided, according to Carbon Tracker by way of Bloomberg.
Due to current oversupply, new projects that count of a price of $10 per million British thermal units will not be needed – and this mainly refers to unconventional projects like shale.
Another Bloomberg piece says ‘refracking is the new fracking’, explaining that firms are pumping old, low out-put wells full of sand and water to get a bit more crude thereby stretching out their lifespan.
And finally, the FT writes that US renewables are requesting new subsidies to compete with post-price crisis gas, with some tax credits having recently expired and many more due to end in 2017 – which will kill green energy investment, according to BNEF.
In other news
Oil: In its worst trading day since February, the oil price dropped 8% as the global economic situation – from Greece to Iran to China – is riddled with uncertainty,reports the FT.
Wind: Scotland’s wind energy output has more than doubled in the last year, last month providing enough to power every home in the country on six separate days,reports Business Green.
Solar: Japan is building solar energy plants on abandoned golf courses, reports Quartz.