Wednesday, March 29, 2017 - 00:15 • Mat Hope and Ky...
Brexit spelled out in Scrabble letters

It’s very hard to know exactly how much Brexit will cost the UK — it depends on what kind of trade deal and exemptions the government manages to negotiate with the EU.

But when it comes to energy and the environment a few estimates have emerged since the referendum with numbers attached, and all of them are pretty big.

If these estimates are added up, it appears that since 2000 the UK has received around £40 billion from the European Union in funding and loans which have been put towards various energy projects, smart meters, and scientific research. The UK has also received an annual £52 million towards the world’s largest nuclear fusion project.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017 - 06:21 • Mat Hope
A figurine of a journalist
A figurine of a journalist

Efforts by the science editor of the climate denying think tank, the Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF) to promote individuals' freedom to make “factually inaccurate” statements on important scientific issues in the media were ignored by MPs in a new report out today.

The House of Commons' Science and Technology committee today concluded its inquiry into science communication, including reasons for public mistrust in scientific reporting. In written evidence to the inquiry, the GWPF's David Whitehouse said, “Some argue that free speech does not extend to misleading the public by making factually inaccurate statements. But it does”. 

But despite Whitehouse's best attempts — including not declaring his role with the GWPF in his submission — the committee's report takes a strong stance in support of accurate science journalism and recommends that the government ensure “a robust redress mechanism is provided for when science is misreported”.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017 - 02:42 • Guest
Heatwave
Heatwave

Deadly heat stress is projected to affect hundreds of millions more people each year under relatively little additional climate warming. The Paris Agreement commits the international community to limit global warming to no more than 2℃ above pre-industrial (late 19th century) air temperatures, with an aspirational target of 1.5℃. In our latest research, which looked at the impact of global temperature rises on megacities, we found that even if 1.5℃ is achieved, large increases in the frequency of deadly heat are expected. The Conversation

By 2050 about 350 million more people living in megacities could be exposed to deadly heat each year.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017 - 09:24 • Mat Hope
Protest signs on the gate at AGL's fracking site on Fairbairns Lane, Gloucester
Protest signs on the gate at AGL's fracking site on Fairbairns Lane, Gloucester

A secretive fracking conference sponsored by Dow and Halliburton and featuring speakers from a range of publically-funded government agencies is taking place somewhere in Birmingham tomorrow.

The UK Onshore Oil and Gas: Policy, Planning and Future Developments conference aims to encourage delegates to pursue fossil fuel extraction in the UK.

The conference is “designed to give help, guidance and support to the public sector to ensure delegates attending have the right and most accurate information on onshore oil and gas and environmental planning”, according to its website. It will also explore ways “to minimise environmental impacts, such as the treatment of waste water from drilling operations, noise pollution and traffic management, to local communicates [sic]”, the website says.

The organisers, the ironically named Open Forum Events, told DeSmog UK press passes for the event are “limited” with only a few chosen national and trade journalists being allowed into the conference.

Its location is being kept secret due to “the sensitivity of the subject”. This is “company policy”, the organisers told DeSmog UK.

Friday, March 24, 2017 - 07:57 • Kyla Mandel
House of Lords
House of Lords

Questions about how the UK will set new environmental standards and effectively enforce these rules once the country leaves the European Union were raised this week by Lords on all sides of the House.

The House of Lords debated on Thursday 23 March the EU Select Committee report on Brexit and climate change. The Committee found there was little confidence in the UK government’s ability to hold itself to account without an independent domestic enforcement mechanism being set up.

The Committee was told that “there was a risk of legislation becoming ‘zombie legislation’,” said Baroness Sheehan of the Liberal Democrats, by “either [being] no longer enforced or no longer updated to the latest scientific understanding.”

Thursday, March 23, 2017 - 05:08 • Mat Hope
Offshore oil rigs in a row
Offshore oil rigs in a row

Oil giants Shell, Statoil and BP have been awarded exploration licenses for new areas of the North Sea, just weeks after declaring their commitment to tackling climate change.

The UK Oil and Gas Authority (OGA) awarded 25 licenses as part of its 29th licensing round. The 29th round was the first to focus on under-explored ‘frontier’ areas around Rockall Basin, the mid-North Sea and around East Shetland. 

Statoil received six licences to explore around East Shetland. Five licences were awarded in partnership with BP, and one in partnership with ExxonMobil.

Shell was also awarded two licences, partnering with BP for one.

Thursday, March 23, 2017 - 00:00 • Kyla Mandel
BBC London office
BBC London office

Many of the MPs who signed the letter issued this week criticising the BBC’s Brexit coverage as biased to the Remain campaign are part of a small but influential network of hardline Euro-climate sceptics.

An analysis of the 70 signatories of the complaint letter urging the BBC to “accept new facts” on Brexit shows 12 are part of the 55 Tufton Street climate denier network. A further six MPs have consistently voted against climate measures in Parliament.

This includes Conservatives Owen Paterson and Steve Baker along with Labour’s Graham Stringer and UKIP’s Douglas Carswell. These four are linked to the Tufton Street network through either their membership to the Vote Leave campaign or association with Lord Lawson’s climate denying Global Warming Policy Foundation.

Of these 18 individuals, 10 were also among 15 MPs that issued the anti-fifth carbon budget letter released last May which argued setting “radical” climate targets wouldn’t reduce Europe’s emissions because others in the EU would just do less.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017 - 09:51 • James Wilt
Oilsands trucks
Oilsands trucks

The last few months have been marked by some massive shifts in the oilsands.

In December, there was the $830 million Statoil sale to Athabasca Oil, followed in January and February by the writing down of billions of barrels of reserves by Imperial Oil, ConocoPhillips and ExxonMobil.

On March 9, Shell sold a majority of its oilsands assets to Canadian Natural Resources Limited (CNRL) in a huge $7.25 billion sale, while Marathon Oil split its Canadian subsidiary between Shell and CNRL for a total of $2.5 billion.

The question is: why are all of these companies selling their oilsands assets? While some celebrate the moves as successes for the climate movement, others blame the Alberta NDP for the exodus of internationals.

Tweet: Experts say #oilsands sell-off has more to do w/ a broader shift that’s made oilsands uneconomical http://bit.ly/2nK3zyQ #ableg #cdnpoliBut experts say the reality has more to do with a broader economic shift that’s made oilsands uneconomical — for the time being at least.

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