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UK government’s close ties with BP revealed

The cosy relationship between BP and the UK government has been laid bare by the Guardian this morning.

Documents obtained by the newspaper under the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act show the lengths the oil giant was prepared to go to influence former secretary of state for energy and climate change, Chris Huhne.

In January 2011, just as BP was signing an historic deal with Russia to explore oil field in the Arctic, they pressed the former Liberal Democrat MP to give them the “blessing” of the UK government. After a tense meeting, Huhne obliged with government officials pushing climate change concerns to one side to instead emphasise Russia’s contribution to “fuelling Europe” when discussing the deal.

A couple of days before the Russia deal representatives from the Department for Energy and Climate Change (Decc) assured BP that the department would look to find “an operational solution” to allow the company to reopen a major North Sea gas field, it owned jointly with Iran, despite EU sanctions against the regime.

The Guardian notes that these revelations raise questions about stated government commitments to reducing carbon emissions.

Climate change a grave threat to national security, says Obama

Climate change poses a serious threat to US national security and partly explains the rise of Boko Haram and the outbreak of war in Syria, President Barack Obama has said.

President Obama argued that extreme weather events had played a role in the emergence of extremist groups in the Muslim world.

Speaking to graduates at US Coast Guard Academy in Connecticut, Obama offered this explanation for current global events:

“I understand climate change did not cause the conflicts we see around the world, yet what we also know is that severe drought helped to create the instability in Nigeria that was exploited by the terrorist group Boko Haram.

“It’s now believed that drought and crop failures and high food prices helped fuel the early unrest in Syria, which descended into civil war in the heart of the Middle East.”

The President, who has ramped up his rhetoric on climate change as he enters the tail end of his time in office, accused climate change deniers of a “dereliction of duty”.

In March, the President pledged to reduce US carbon emissions by 28% by 2020.

But the Obama administration has been criticised in recent weeks for its controversial decision to allow energy companies to drill for oil in the Arctic.

In Europe, no country for coal men

Fossil fuels are on their way out in Europe, according to the chief executive of one of the world’s biggest energy companies.

Speaking to the Financial Times, Gérard Mestrallet, chief executive of Engie, said that with EU member states focusing on renewables, emerging markets in China and India offered the best hope for future growth for fossil generated power.

Mestrallet said his own company had made a clear choice to invest in renewables, rather than thermal generated power.

“We are adapting to the market,” he said. “We continue to build big power plants in emerging countries: Brazil, Chile, Peru, the Middle East and Asia.”

The future for fossil fuels look similarly bleak in the UK, as one of the country’s largest coal-fired power stations announced it will close next year.

Ferrybridge C facility in West Yorkshire will close in March after falling victim to the government’s mission to ease the UKs reliance on coal for energy production.

Paul Smith, managing director of generation at SSE, said the company was not prepared to absorbed more than £100m in losses it would cost to keep the plant open for the next five years.

In other news

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Bush acknowledges climate change, but says human role is ‘convoluted’

BP settles oil spill claims with Halliburton and Transocean over Gulf of Mexico disaster