North Sea oil rigs

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1) Budget: Sea oil and gas bailout

Of course yesterday’s budget was the big UK energy news story – and as expected the North Sea oil and gas industry was given a massive lifeline in the form of tax breaks and allowances.

We covered this on Energydesk - and some other energy-related things we learnt about the budget in our article: Five energy things we learned from George Osborne’s 2015 Budget.

The tax breaks and allowances add up to around £1.3bn a year to help the industry, flagging in the face of the low oil price (Brent crude rebounded to almost $56 yesterday) – just about everyone reported.

Though the move was welcomed by the industry, experts warned the outlook remained tough in the face of low oil and gas prices, The Independent reported. There are still job security fears in the industry, the Guardian and local media cover.

The Guardian’s Terry Macalister calls the concessions to the industry a gamble on that the chancellor hopes will yield more tax income in the future, and another piece in the same paper highlights that tax receipts from North Sea oil are set to plunge to their lowest level in 40 years as a result of the move.

2) Budget: other energy-related news
Osbourne announced £60m funding for an energy research project based in the Midlands, the BBC and others report.

The Energy Research Accelerator – meant to speed up the commercialisation of energy research – is a collaboration between the Universities of Birmingham, Nottingham, Warwick, Loughborough, Leicester and Aston.

However, Sheffield manufacturers gave only a lukewarm response to bring forward a compensation package for high energy users – such as steelworks – announced in the Budget.

And the UK Green Building Council has criticised the lack of measures to encourage energy efficiency in his 2015 Budget announcement.

Also read: Five energy things we learned from George Osborne’s 2015 Budget on Energydesk.

3) ‘Decoupling’ of CO2 emissions and economic growth in China – and globally

Quartz describes how China grew its economy last year without any extra coal. “Some have seen this as evidence that China’s investment in green energy has made tangible progress toward decoupling the link between economic growth and greenhouse gas emissions,” it writes.

China burning less coal will have contributed significantly to the lower global carbon emissions reported in 2014 by, it continues.

The New Scientist’s Fred Pearce echoes this, writing an analysis titled ‘Coal bust may be behind stall in carbon emissions’ – linking the slowdown in coal plants being built worldwide to the shock carbon intensity reduction reported by the IEA last week.

Meanwhile, Scientific American reports on China’s coal boomtowns faded glory, as air pollution controls have come into force.

US officials including Todd Stern have travelled to Beijing to discuss climate and environmental co-operation with China as part of ongoing talks.

4) UN treaty: Seven goals agreed for disaster risk mitigation amid climate change

The UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction has borne fruit, as the forum adopted seven goals to mitigate disaster risks over a 15 year period. It was the first time a framework has been set about mitigating the risks of disasters amid the increasing threat posed by climate change, Japan Times reported.

The talks between 186 countries didn’t collapse under the weight of climate politics, as was feared – RTCC reported.

Carbon Brief asks (and answers): “Why is a disaster risk reduction treaty important for climate change?” Sophie Yeo explains that it’s not all about this year’s Paris COP – these UN talks in Sendai and the UN’s setting new Sustainable Development Goals in September are also important.

In other news

After spending more than five years and billions of dollars trying to re-create the US shale boom overseas, some of the world’s biggest oil companies – Chevon, Exxon and Shell – are starting to give up, the WSJ reports.

The FT’s Ed Crooks writes on the transformational US energy ideas that seem ‘too crazy’ for private sector money while The Washington Post explains 5 sneaky ways to harness clean energy.

A South Africa pension fund in is investing $1.8 bn in two solar projects, The Africa Report writes.

The EU and Turkey have signed a joint energy co-operation document, Platts reports.

Solar power in urban areas of California could supply five times the electricity the state currently needs according to a new study covered by Clean Technica – as the California Energy Commission announced $21 million in grants for renewable energy innovation and efficiency initiatives.

European heads of state are set to “agree in principle” on increasing transparency in the exchange of information on energy contracts, Euractiv reports.

Florida’s climate change gag order claims its first victim, writes DeSmog.