UK: subsidy cuts threaten £127m in community energy; China visit & nuclear deals loom
The UK government subsidy cuts will cost £127m in community energy investments, a report from Community Energy England has shown. Village halls, schools, health centres, sports clubs, a community-owned wind farm in Morecambe Bay and even a hydro-powered fire department will be hit by the 87% cut in incentives for community renewables.
Energy minister Andrea Leadsom faces MPs questions over the cuts which have also led to four solar companies going into liquidation – with the loss of more than 1000 jobs – in the past weeks. And there are more to come, as the government seems determined to pull the plug on renewables. The UN’s chief environmental scientist, Professor Jacqueline McGlade, has warned that the cuts, coupled with tax breaks for oil and gas companies, send a “perverse signal” to the world ahead of the Paris climate summit next month.
This news comes just as Chinese President Xi Jinping arrives in the UK for a four-day visit. On Wednesday it will be announced that China will own a third of Somerset’s Hinkley Point nuclear plant, with two other Chinese-owned plants to be built at Sizewell in Suffolk and Bradwell in Essex – triggering warnings from conservation charities concerned about the latter’s impact on the Blackwater estuary.
Industry observers believe Chinese cash for Hinkley is conditional on a Chinese-built plant in Essex. But errors by China General Nuclear Corp in the building of a plant in Shenzen raises serious questions about the rigour of the firms and the country’s oversight regime.
US: Obama gets corporate support for climate deal
Big American companies such as Coca Cola and Wal-Mart have signed on to the US government’s American Business Act on Climate Pledge – which now has a total of 81 signatories.
Obama name-checked WalMart Stores Inc for installing solar capacity, Intel, which has invested in energy and water conservation programs, and Google, Apple and Costco for their purchases of renewable energy, among others.
Utilities are not so happy with all the changes in power generation, however, and so have levied double-digit percentage increases in fees for distribution and maintenance, angering consumers. And the fracking business isn’t faring so well either, with Halliburton cutting another 2000 jobs – taking the total to 18000 or 21% of their workforce – due to the oil market slump.
And Donald Trump has “done an Inhofe” by declaring that because its getting colder, global warming isn’t real.
Climate change talks: 2C out of reach with current pledges; South Africa likens draft deal to “apartheid”
So despite every country submitting a detailed pledge on how they’re going to reduce emissions, all those pledges don’t add up to what’s needed to keep the world within the 2C “safe” level of warming.
And speaking on behalf of a grouping of more than 130 developing nations (which includes China), South Africa’s delegate Nozipho Joyce Mxakato-Diseko said the draft deal was “like apartheid”. The views of the poor are ignored as the draft favours rich nations, she said, who should do more to cut emissions and provide aid and clean energy technology.
Conflicting reports from India suggest that perhaps the country’s clean energy investments are slowing the march of coal – but because coal remains cheapest, it actually trumps solar.
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