Storm Frank Causes More Flooding In The North of England And Scotland

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Climate: UK hit by extreme floods as govt comes under fire for cuts

Storms Desmond, Eva and Frank have over the last several weeks wreaked havoc on parts of northern England and Scotland.

The government has so far promised £40m to boost Yorkshire flood defences, and £50m to support local response to the floods, but that’s a fraction of the cost of the damage done, according to the BBC.

PwC says Desmond alone caused £500m worth of damage in Cumbria, and documents leaked to The Observer reveal that floods and storms cost annually around £1.1bn.

The government has come under sustained criticism for cuts made to funding for flood protections, down 10% from 2010 to 2014, according to this Guardian article.At Energydesk, we’ve produced two flood-related analyses.In one we revealed the extent to which the government is planning to build homes in high risk flood zones.In the other we cross referenced flood risk zones with the latest round of fracking licenses offered.

But it’s not all doom and gloom. As Geoffrey Lean describes in The Independent, the small Yorkshire town of Pickering has devised a clever way of managing the region’s record rainfall.

And neither are the Tories the only ones getting slammed for cuts made to flood defences. The SNP plans to slash the budget of its environmental protection agency by 6% next year, reports The Guardian.

This comes as Scotland faces a raft of new flood and storm warnings.

Meanwhile extreme flooding has also hit the American heartland, with the National Guard called in to help handle a climate crisis that is thought to have caused 24 deaths in Missouri and Illinois, reports NBC.

The severity of this year’s winter weather has been largely attributed to the strongest El Nino cycle on record, and there are concerns about the humanitarian impacts it could have in 2016.

Oil: Price crisis expected to persist despite Saudi-Iran conflict

Yesterday Quartz said to look out for a surge in the global oil price as the tension between Saudi Arabia and Iran escalates over the execution of a Shia cleric.

Well this morning, not long after the Saudi embassy in Tehran was attacked by protesters and the Saudi leadership decided to cut all diplomatic ties with Iran, the oil price did in fact rise.

For a second, that is. The price of Brent Crude is crumbling yet again.

And that’s because the basic market conditions haven’t changed, and the conflict isn’t yet concrete enough to throw it off course.

Just the other week Goldman Sachs said oil could go as low as $20 or $15 a barrel this year, reports Bloomberg.

The Telegraph’s Jeremy Warner says Saudi Arabia doesn’t want the price to recover, that it’s resolved to killing US shale with low, low prices.

And according to Ed Crooks at the FT, US shale is in for a tough year. Frackers failed to make much (if any money) in 2015 and that problem doesn’t look like it’s going away anytime soon.

On the other side of things, because of the lifting of the oil export ban late last year, US shale is now officially contributing to the global glut, reports WSJ.

With Russian output at record levels, and Iran outlining its plan to export oil this year, the price looks set to sink further.

Bob Dudley, CEO of BP, sees it bottoming out at $30 in the first half of this year, but whatever happens international oil giants like his are going to slash spending, sell assets and fire staff, according to Reuters.

Coal: China pollution crackdown goes into overdrive

Over the past couple of weeks, China has taken several actions to reduce its coal-fired pollution problem.

It will not approve any new coal mines until 2019, reports

Beijing is phasing out coal heating stoves, reports Xinhua.

And the government is investigating coal and chemical companies for pollution abuses,reports Reuters.

Something else to keep your eye on in China: potentially another market spasm.

A 7% fall today triggered a trading freeze like the ones during last summer’s financial crisis.

Renewables: Investors flock to India as UK wind sets up for key year

The falling price of solar in India is kickstarting a green boom, according to the FT, as foreign investors see an opportunity to get in as Modi attempts to meet his ambitious renewables targets.

The Sydney Morning Herald says the success of solar in India may smother the need for coal imports.

Meanwhile in the UK, wind giant Dong is planning to invest £6bn in UK offshore turbines by 2020 after being convinced the government will not cut its support as it has done with onshore wind and solar, reports The Guardian.

And Business Green explains why 2016 will be such a busy construction year for the UK’s wind sector.

Here’s some fun: Google is launching a new service to help estimate the costs and benefits of solar panels on your property, reports the NYT.

In other news

Europe: In an Energydesk op-ed, Dave Jones from Sandbag says the low gas price could accelerate the death of coal.

UK: Energy companies report record profits after failing to pass on savings to customers, reports The Mirror.

Ireland: Shell has begun drilling in the offshore gasfield of Corrib, reports The Telegraph.

US: Remember that massive gas leak in California? Well it’s still happening, and will take months of repair, reports Quartz.