The government agency responsible for testing pollution levels in new cars has received more than £80 million from the auto industry in the last decade – according to a new Greenpeace investigation.
Also – in yet another case of the revolving doors between industry and government – key staff, including the agency’s chief executive, previously held senior roles at vehicle manufacturers.
The Telegraph, which also ran the story, pointed out the Vehicle Certification Agency – whose chief will appear on Monday before a Commons committee looking at the Volkswagen scandal – has reported a year-on-year rise in profits, receiving almost £13 million in 2014/15 alone.
We’ll be covering the lead up to Poland’s election later this month. In the country, which has a powerful coal union and is heavily reliant on the fossil fuel, coal is a huge election issue. In our first story in the series, we report that the two leading parties in Poland debate its role in Europe on the climate issue.
Also, the Guardian reported the Polish shale industry is collapsing as the number of licenses nearly halves.
Dieselgate continued: scandal grows into something of epic proportions
More and more stories are surfacing about the diesel car emissions rigging scandal – which is turning out to have epic proportions – both in terms of the geographical scale of the problem and the different companies that may be involved in cheating emissions tests.
In Europe, it transpires 3.6 million vehicles – about half the models involved in the scandal on the continent – need costly, major repairs. The head of the European Investment Bank has said it may recall loans to VW given to develop low emissions cars.
In the US, the lawsuits are already starting to pile in. Texas on Friday added two suits – over deceptive sales practices and clean air rules violations – to a roster of over 250 lawsuits filed against the manufacturer in the US.
In China, VW has recalled almost 2,000 affected vehicles to correct their emissions, while the Chinese quality watchdog says it is highly concerned about the issue and the environment ministry has said it will launch an investigation.
Meanwhile, it’s not just Volkswagen in the hot seat. Mercedes-Benz, Honda, Mazda and Mitsubishi’s cars have also been shown to emit significantly more NOx pollution on the road than in regulatory tests.
Added to all this, as if a defeat device wasn’t enough, it has been reported that VW may have a second device to skirt emissions.
UK solar and offshore wind: renewables policies under fire
Last week two UK solar firms went into administration in response to government slashes in support for the still-burgeoning technology, and the news is still going strong, with stark warnings about not only the state of the solar sector, but the offshore wind sector as well.
This is tricky, because offshore wind is about the only renewable technology the government isn’t targeting with huge cuts to subsidies, and energy and climate secretary Amber Rudd has openly supported it.
The head of the Solar Trade association said that there are 27,000 jobs at risk, on top of the 1,000 that were lost last week. He said: “People are assuming this is a closing-down sale”. Meanwhile, the biggest UK offshore wind developer, Dong Energy, said the policy uncertainty around offshore also spells risk for the industry and jobs.
This came as SunEdison, the parent company of one of the solar firms that went into administration in the UK last week announced a new 22% efficient solar panel, and Dong inaugurated a 280 GW offshore wind farm off the coast of Germany.
The renewables bonfire, as it has been called, plus major job losses, have prompted criticism from former climate change minister Greg Barker, who said the solar cuts will be ‘catastrophic’ for industry. The Observer called the cuts short sighted and irresponsible in a leader.
In other news
Africa renewables: Africa’s largest windfarm set to connect remote Kenya to the grid
EU gas: Shell and Exxon’s €5bn problem – gas drilling that sets off earthquakes and wrecks homes
Coal deaths: Two dead, eight trapped after blast in coal mine in eastern China; in US,coal baron Don Blankenship is standing trial after 29 people died in his mine.
Gas buyout: Ineos agrees to buy DEA’s North Sea gas fields
Energy savings: GE launches $1bn energy efficiency venture