1) UK energy policy: Renewables cuts slammed by UN chief environment scientist
In a scathing attack, Professor Jaquie McGlade, the UN’s chief environment scientist said the UK government is ‘perversely’ moving away from renewables by cutting support for them, while the 150 nations were making pledges to shift towards the technologies.
She said that coupled with tax breaks for oil and gas this sent out a concerning signal for the Paris climate talks in December, and it was disappointing the UK appeared to have abandoned its leadership on climate change.
The UK government told the BBC it will meet its targets on carbon emissions in the most cost-effective way – though a recent study by BNEF found onshore wind, one of the technologies having its support curtailed, is now cheaper than gas.
A government spokesman said it was “absolutely committed to getting a global deal in Paris”.
The UK solar industry is also furious and criticising the government for its harsh 87% proposed cuts to feed in tariffs – while a fourth solar power company closes in two weeks – this one backed by the billionaire inventor Elon Musk.
The industry also launched an “emergency” £1 solar rescue plan, which it says would add just £1 to consumer bills by 2019, on top of the £9 a year that subsidies for the clean technology currently cost bill payers.
Last week energy and climate secretary Amber Rudd insisted the cuts were because of the financial mismanagement of her predecessor – and denied hostility to the green sector.
But a report by Good Energy has shown that renewables are bringing down the wholesale cost of electricity, reducing the impact of clean power subsidies on consumer bills. This is backed by separate research from the University of Sheffield, which has not yet been published, but which suggests that the costs of onshore and offshore wind power are being offset by the savings.
In related news, No 10 is weighing in over fears of an energy crunch, with David Cameron and George Osborne due to meet with Rudd this week. It’s poor policy making and dire fossil fuel economics that is causing the tight power supply margins – not renewables – as we explained last week. (Also it’s demand side measures and interconnection that could get us out of it.)
2) US Arctic oil: New lease sales won’t go ahead – nor will extensions
Obama blocked the prospects for more drilling in the US Arctic, the Guardian’s Suzanne Goldenberg writes.
The Interior Department has cancelled lease auctions for sites in the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas to be held in 2016 and 2017. It has also refused lease extensions asked for by Shell and other companies. The leases currently held will expire in 2020.
Sally Jewell, the interior secretary, said it was because of the poor economics of oil and harsh conditions faced by Shell in its Arctic forays.
Arctic drilling became problematic for Obama’s reputation on climate change progress, especially when Hillary Clinton openly opposed it.
3) Oil & climate: Oil firms say they will help on climate change
Meanwhile, ten oil firms made an announcement on Friday that they would tackle climate change by promoting gas over coal and wanted to play a bigger role in renewable energy. They committed to ending gas flaring – a practice that has been criticised by human rights groups for decades.
They also said they would invest in CCS, something that has not been happening yet at large scale in the sector. For instance, Shell’s CEO previously stated that it wasn’t investing more in CCS because their shareholders would be unhappy with the low returns.
The companies – which account for a fifth of the world’s oil production – included BG Group, BP, Eni, Pemex, Reliance Industries, Repsol, Saudi Aramco, Shell, Statoil and Total.
US oil majors Chevron and Exxon snubbed the group by refusing to sign up to its plans – which appear even weaker than the proposals of the EU oil giants earlier this year.
4) Oil price: Slippage on China economy news
The oil price has dipped today on the news of China’s Q3 GDP falling.
In the UK, low crude prices could mean a “perfect storm” for North Sea Oil producers, which could mean masses of job cuts. But if UK oil and gas firms tighten up working capital they can exploit a £20bn reservoir says PwC.
In other news
Climate science: Abrupt climate change can occur below 2°C warming rise
UK community energy: M&S unveils winners of £400,000 community energy fun