Polar pioneer shell rig
© Gary Braasch/ Alaska Wilderness League

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Shell to begin drilling in Arctic

Shell will begin drilling in the Arctic today, three years after the oil company’s last trip to the region ended in near disaster.

After spending £7billion without producing a single drop of oil, facing down protesters and lobbying hard for the support of American politicians, Shell sent a message on Tuesday to the US Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement to let them know they were ready to go.

A spokesperson for the company told the world’s press that the safety vessel, the Fennica, was in the Chucki Sea and that the company was now looking to gain the necessary permit to “drill deeper”.

Shell’s Arctic plans have been shrouded in controversy for some time. Concerns have been repeatedly raised about the company’s capacity to deal with a spill in the region, and a safety audit, ordered by the Obama administration before drilling can take place has so far failed to allay fears.

Pat Pourchot, a former official at the US department of interior, who closely examined Shell’s Arctic plans, told the Guardian any “clean up will be extremely modest”.

Elsewhere, Lord Browne, the former boss of BP, has warned that plans to drill in the Arctic are “extremely risky”, owing to the region’s weather.

For its part, Shell insists that it would be able to handle any safety concerns, with Ann Pickard, the company’s executive vice president for the Arctic, telling the Financial Times:  “This is not rocket science; we can do this”.

Convinced that oil will play a key role in the global economy for years to come, Shell is determined to keep drilling.

Australia emissions target hit coal, but miss the mark

Coal will be hit hard by new emissions targets proposed by the Australian government, despite the country’s Prime Minister making a point of cheerleading the industry for years.

The Guardian report that coal will be hit with a 14% cut in the value of production in 2030, with Abbott’s government proposing cuts in emissions of between 26-28%  on 2005 levels ahead of this year’s UN climate conference.

As Buzzfeed points out, the Abbot government’s target is less ambitious than what is being proposed by other developed nations.

The aim also contradicts the advice of Australia’s own Climate Change Authority; which suggested emissions cuts of between 45-60% on 2005 levels.

Yesterday, the Australian coal sector was hit by the news that a second major bank, Standard Chartered, was pulling out of a new multi-billion dollar coal project in the country, citing reputational risk.

Nevertheless, Reuters report that the sector remains in rude health, with coal exports forecast to rise this year.

Canadian government spent millions on tar sands advocacy

The Conservative Canadian government spent millions advocating for the controversial Alberta tar sands.

The Guardian reports that Stephen Harper’s administration invested $30million in public relations and international “outreach activities” to counter the damaging stories about the environmental impact of the energy project.

According to the newspaper, some $22m was spent on public relations in Europe and Asia.

Scientific studies have in the past shown that burning oil extracted from tar sands could have a disastrous impact on the environment.

Harper faces an election in October, with polls predicting a minority Conservative government as the most likely outcome.

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