Shell and Exxon’s Brent Oilfield Decommission Shows How Industry Hits Communities and Environment to the Very End

A diagram of the Brent oil field infrastructure

The North Sea oil and gas industry is the gift that keeps on giving when it comes to emitting dangerous greenhouse gases.

Shell and Exxon are packing up and moving out of the famous Brent oil and gas field in the North Sea. As a final hurrah, almost 800,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide will be emitted as four platforms are dismantled and parts are either left to erode in the ocean or moved onshore and recycled.

That’s equal to about five percent of the UK's North Sea industry’s annual emissions — from the start to very end, the Brent oil field continues to contribute to climate change.

But emitting hundreds of thousands of tonnes of dangerous greenhouse gases including carbon dioxide, nitrous dioxide and sulfur dioxide into the atmosphere is not the only environmental danger that comes with plugging and abandoning the wells.

Peer Repeatedly Asks Why Government Believes in Global Warming, Always Gets Same Answer: Because, Science

A globe painted with a smiley face at COP22 in Marrakech

It’s not just a broken record, it’s a broken record that has been glued back together and put on an increasingly wonky turntable.

DeSmog UK previously revealed how climate science denying Lord Donoughue had been wasting ministers' time and taxpayers’ money by spamming the government with 25 questions over 15 months about obscure climate models.

And he’s at it again.

Over the past five months he has asked Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) ministers four times why they are confident saying the climate is warming. In each case, he’s been pointed back to the mass of scientific research that shows it is.

Donoughue’s questions are not a surprise. He sits on the board of trustees of former chancellor Nigel Lawson’s climate science denying think tank, the Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF).

UK Government Could Delay Publication of Emissions Reduction Plan, Again

Climate minister Nick Hurd speaking to the BEIS committee in Parliament

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) appears to have pushed back the release date for a key document outlining its climate plans. Again.

BEIS initially promised the Emissions Reduction Plan would be delivered by the ‘end of 2016’. The BEIS minister for climate change, Nick Hurd, later revised that to the end of the first quarter of 2017.

Minister: Brexit and Trump Add 'Complexity' to Climate Plans But Won't Weaken UK's Commitment

UK climate minister Nick Hurd speaking to the BEIS select committee

The UK’s decision to leave the EU and the spectre of Donald Trump’s presidency will not stop the government delivering its emissions reduction plans, climate minister Nick Hurd today told MPs.

Speaking to the House of Commons Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy select committee, he said the current political climate meant ministers would have to make many difficult policy decisions. But he maintained that the UK’s climate goals, entrenched in the Climate Change Act, remained unchanged.

Brexit is a complication in the sense that we’ve got issues to think through”, he said. These include whether the UK continues to negotiate as part of a European bloc in future negotiations, whether it continues with the EU’s struggling emissions trading scheme, and how the UK participates in a unified European energy market.

Documents Show How Government Climate Department Helped Oil and Gas Seismic Testing Permits Process

North sea oil rig

The recently culled Department of Energy and Climate Change was actively helping the Oil and Gas Authority (OGA) to achieve its seismic testing aims to increase oil extraction, according to new documents uncovered by DeSmog UK.

The cache of documents obtained through a freedom of information request reveal DECC – which has now been absorbed into the new Department Of Business, Energy and Industrial strategy – was actively involved in getting permits approved in time for seismic testing for oil and gas off the coast of Scotland and northeast England last autumn.

Seismic testing, which involves shooting air from an array of guns under water, is a way of surveying the geology of land under the sea and a precursor to oil exploration.

Exclusive: Councils Across England Have Slashed Climate Change Staff After Funding Cuts, Analysis Reveals

England local flood

Local governments across England have drastically cut climate change staff, calling into question their ability to prepare for the effects of global warming, and to deliver progress and reporting for the UK’s ambitious new carbon budget, analysis by DeSmog UK has revealed.

Data from Freedom of Information (FOI) requests regarding the number of dedicated staff working solely on climate change in 38 councils – representing over ten percent of principal councils in England – shows more than half have cut climate and sustainability positions since 2011.

Some, including cities such as Southampton and Nottingham, no longer have any staff working directly on climate issues.

Councils are struggling to to comply with current obligations, DeSmog UK's investigation shows, while others have scrapped or radically scaled-back climate programs.

We clearly lost people alongside budget cuts [in 2011 and 2015], you see councils everywhere panicking, climate change simply isn’t a priority for them anymore,” one climate officer employed by a Unitary Authority in the northern England told DeSmog UK.

Newly Appointed Government Special Advisers Linked to Brexit Climate Denier Network

Theresa May arrives at Number 10

The names of those who have been appointed as special advisers in Prime Minister Theresa May’s new cabinet have been steadily trickling out these past few weeks.

Among these newly announced special advisors, or SpAds, are Nick Timothy – the man credited with the demise of the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) – and Rob Oxley of Vote Leave and the Taxpayers’ Alliance.

Meanwhile several others have previously worked on campaigns for Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson’s London mayoral candidacy, and many more of them formed part of Vote Leave’s core campaign staff.

Predicted Increase in Fracking Permits Has Little to do with Brexit, Experts say. But Watch Out For Weaker Regulations

Fracking drilling rig

In the wake of the EU referendum, there emerged a slew of articles discussing how Brexit might give rise to a ‘fracking free for all’.

And as we reported last week, the cabinet reshuffle prompted by Brexit has left us with a more right-wing, anti-regulation and likely pro-gas government. 

But the act itself of leaving the EU will have little bearing on the number of permits for shale gas testing granted by the government, experts have said.

In fact, the number of permits granted will increase simply because the government is pro-fracking, explained David Powell of the New Economics Foundation. He said: “This is a government that wants to frack. It is not any more popular than it ever was.

Subscribe to BEIS