Greater Gabbard offshore wind farm (RWE)
Greater Gabbard offshore wind farm (RWE/Alan O'Neill)

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Oil: Shell to fire thousands of employees, Total fined by UK government, Conoco pulls out of Russia

Royal Dutch Shell plans to slash £5bn in costs, cut even more than that in investment and lay off more than 10,000 employees over the next two years if its merger with BG Group goes ahead, reports The Telegraph.

Shareholders will vote on the £35bn deal on January 27 and 28.

According to Reuters, the energy giant said the deal would work even if global oil prices hover around the low $60s a barrel. They are, however, currently in the mid $30s.

The Guardian’s business desk seems to think Shell got ripped off: ‘By any conventional yardstick, Shell is overpaying massively for BG’.

Elsewhere in the oil world, French firm Total has been fined more than £1m by the UK government for failing that caused a large gas leak on a platform in the North Sea, reports The BBC.

It’s the largest fine ever handed down by the Health and Safety Executive.

And ConocoPhillips is officially out of Russia, having sold out of its polar partnership with Rosneft, reports the FT.

Its exit, after 25 years in the country, suggests how difficult it is for international companies to maneuver Russian industry and politics.

Finally onto the price itself: Brent crude was down yesterday, WTI was up. For a brief and rare moment, US oil prices rose above the internationally traded Brent, reports Reuters.

Market activity, however, is expected to slow down at the tail end of the year, according to the New York Times.

Renewables: Massive growth in UK, new stats from China

DECC’s latest data dump has shown just how high renewables penetration has reached in 2015.

In Q3, renewables produced more than 23% the country’s power, more than coal and nuclear, reports Business Green.

The figure represents a 6% increase from this time last year, and is driven by huge growth in solar (+73%) and offshore wind (+52%).

The star performer, however, is Scotland, where green energy projects are now the largest generators of electricity, reports the BBC.

Half of Scotland’s power demand came from renewables, and the windy northern country exported 23% of what it produced.

Over in China, there’s some fresh info to sink our teeth into as well.

According to Reuters, non-fossil fuels accounted for 12% of its primary energy mix this year, more than meeting the country’s 11.4% target.

And Climate Home reports that countries are being urged to revisit their UN climate pledges by 2017.

US: Republicans support climate action post-Paris

An astonishing Reuters/Ipsos poll has found that 58% of Republicans would support US action to stop global warming following the Paris climate deal.

Meanwhile the only Republican presidential candidate in the race who accepts climate science, Sen Lindsey Graham, has dropped out, reports Think Progress.

The Wall Street Journal writes about how the coal downturn is cratering the economies of states Wyoming and West Virginia.

And Bloomberg has a long read of sorts of about a secret 2009 climate pact between Exxon and Sierra Club.

In other news

Fracking: High levels of the toxic chemical selenium have been found in the north of England earmarked for shale gas exploration, reports The Herald.

Coal: Australia’s recently approved Abbott Point coal port may face a legal challenge over an incomplete environmental impact statement, reports The Guardian.

2015: Here’s Carbon Brief’s year in review (in numbers).