El Hierro, Canary Islands
El Hierro, Canary Islands

On Energydesk this weekend

One piece of news and two lively pieces of comment:

India announces UN climate pledge – 35% cut by 2030
The Indian government has said it will cut the country’s carbon intensity by up to 35% from 2005 levels by 2030 – we have the details on what the NYT calls a big boost for the upcoming climate summit. 

India was one of dozens of countries to file it’s climate commitments by the deadline and Bloomberg has a helpful roundup of where all the G20 countries now stand. 

Comment: Has Poland become a victim of it’s coal industry? 
Bob Burton looks at Poland’s coal crisis and the impact it is having on upcoming elections which come on the eve of crucial climate change talks in Paris.

Comment: Can the oil industry lead the way on international development and climate change?
Over the course of 2015 the oil industry – led by Shell – has sought to position itself as both the provider of “the path to prosperity” for the millions of people living in poverty and as the voice of “realism” and “practicality” in the debate on how to avert catastrophic climate change – but how real is this commitment?

Top stories

Oil chaos: Oil prices rise as middle east conflict casts shadow

The price of oil rose over the weekend after the number of drilling rigs in the US (mostly for shale) fell further and Russia said it would talk to other oil producers about pushing up prices.

The slight rise comes as commentators such as Nick Butler warn of an increasingly open conflict between Saudi Arabia and Iran with the potential to cause a dramatic spike in the cost of oil either that or as Andrew Critchlow warns in The Telegraph the Saudi’s could find the cost of funding all these proxy conflicts (in Syria and Yemen) driven up by Russia’s involvement means keeping the price of oil low is no longer tenable. Who the hell knows really but it’s looking messy.

Nuclear: Plants in denial over hacking 

More sub-prime news for the large-scale nuclear industry. After The Guardian suggested last week that the UK’s Hinkley Point plant be abandoned the FT and BBC report that Nuclear power plants around the world are harbouring a “culture of denial” about the risks of cyber hacking, with many failing to protect themselves against digital attacks, a review of the industry has warned.

Renewables: Elon musk in solar price crash, Canary Islands may include “greenest island in the world”, Guardian launches positive climate campaign

Various places are claiming that Elon Musk’s solar city has found a way to make solar panels more than 20% more efficient producing power for 55 cents a Watt. We’ll see but this could be pretty big news. More efficient solar panels are the sort of thing that could change the world.

The BBC reports that the smallest and most isolated of the Canary Islands, El Hierro, has a way of combining hydro and wind power that may allow it, one day, to get all its energy from renewable sources. This is indeed interesting – though we’re not convinced that this makes it the greenest place in the world, given as, y’know, places like Germany & much of Scandinavia have the same general aim – but anyway.

These are the sorts of story you’ll be seeing more of in The Guardian which – following from our Energy Futures special (ok probably not) – has launched part 2 of it’s climate campaign called “a story of hope”. The story comes with a visionary picture of something that looks very like a fracking rig but which the caption informs us is solar.

Coal pains: Miners hit in US, Indonesia coal worries

US investigative outfit Pro-Publica reports on how bankrupt US coal companies are stealing workers health insurance money whilst over on the other side of the plane theJakarta Globe wonders if Indonesia’s coal bet was really such a bright idea after all.

In other news

UK: Osborne poaches Labour peer to look at rail, energy infrastructure

Interesting read: Energy consultant lambasts bank of England governor over fossil fuel comments