Friday, March 24, 2017 - 07:57 • Kyla Mandel
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‘zombie legislation’,” said Baroness Sheehan of the Liberal Democrats, by “either [being] no longer enforced or no longer updated to the latest scientific understanding.”

Wednesday, December 21, 2016 - 04:17 • Mat Hope
Houses of Parliament
Houses of Parliament

Energy minister and fracking fan Baroness Neville-Rolfe has been shuffled out of her job at the department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS). She will be replaced by Lord David Prior.

Neville-Rolfe was last seen attending the climate denying Global Warming Policy Foundation’s annual lecture. The lecture was delivered by coal baron Matt Ridley, with scientists subsequently criticising its misleading and uncscientific content. 

Prior has spent most of his time in recent years working on health issues, and joins BEIS from his position at the Department of Health.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016 - 00:00 • Kyla Mandel
Statoil's oil sands operations
Statoil's oil sands operations

Norwegian oil major Statoil will be pulling out of its Canadian oilsands project after nearly a decade with an expected loss of at least USD$500 million.

In yet another sign that Canada’s oilsands – one of the most polluting fossil fuel projects on the planet – is becoming increasingly costly, Lars Christian Bacher, Statoil’s executive vice-president for international development and production, said in a statement: “This transaction corresponds with Statoil’s strategy of portfolio optimisation to enhance financial flexibility and focus capital on core activities globally.”

The 14 December announcement comes just weeks after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau approved the controversial Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline and the Enbridge Line 3 pipeline in a move to facilitate growth in the oilsands and create jobs.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016 - 00:00 • Mat Hope
HSBC headquarters in London
HSBC headquarters in London

Europe’s most fossil-fuelled country, Poland, has just announced a new scheme to finance ‘green’ projects. But analysts are concerned it could be used to bolster the coal industry.

Poland became the first country to implement a state-backed green bonds scheme, on 12 December.

The UK’s largest bank, HSBC, along with JP Morgan and PKO BH guaranteed around £600 million of loans under the scheme.

Poland does not have its own climate targets but is included in the EU’s promises under the Paris Agreement, which it hasn’t ratified because it wants special exemptions for its coal industry.

While investors may have bought the green bonds in good faith, Poland’s poor track record on climate change means financial analysts have some concerns about the ‘greenness’ of the scheme.

Monday, December 19, 2016 - 03:10 • Mat Hope
Grant Shapps MP
Grant Shapps MP

A new report from a group chaired by Tory MP Grant Shapps today claimed that the lights could go out next Christmas due to the UK’s commitment to phasing out coal. The analysis has received widespread media coverage, but has been quickly discredited.

The claims are found in a report from the British Infrastructure Group.

It says that the UK’s capacity margin – the amount of spare power it always has on hand in case there is a spike in demand or drop in supply – could be down to as little as one percent, due to “interventionist policies”.

Shapps was this morning quoted as saying, “it is clear that a perfect coincidence of numerous policies designed to reduce Britain’s carbon dioxide emissions has had the unintended effect of hollowing out the reliability of the electricity generating sector”.

This is simply not true, according to Sussex University Professor Jim Watson, who is director of the UK Energy Research Centre (UKERC).

Thursday, December 15, 2016 - 04:33 • Mat Hope
Computers and gadgets at a conference
Computers and gadgets at a conference

The climate is changing. And so are the ways the media tries to cover it.

In a world of fake news, ‘post-truth’ and lies, new media organisations are critical to communicating an issue that should be everyone’s concern.

“Many television producers see climate change as too niche or for fanatics. It's too remote, it's too boring, it's too consistently depressing, it's too alarming”, said James Painter, author of a new book from Oxford University's Reuters Institute on climate change reporting, at its launch in central London last night.

That creates a space for new media organisations – online outlets like Buzzfeed, Vice News, the Huffington Post and more, including DeSmog – with fresh ideas and identities to step in.

These new players are really doing a good job of trying to find new ways to cover it,” Painter said.

Monday, December 12, 2016 - 00:01 • Garth Lenz
Oil tanker at Milford Haven
Oil tanker at Milford Haven

Robin Crump, a now retired wildlife biologist and former director of Pembrokeshire’s Orielton Field Centre, had a front row seat to one of the world’s worst oil spills.

Twenty years ago, on 15 February, 1996, the Sea Empress oil tanker ran aground on mid-channel rocks in Pembrokeshire Coast National Park in Wales.

Thursday, December 8, 2016 - 00:00 • Mat Hope
Kinder Morgan HQ
Kinder Morgan HQ

UK financial giants HSBC, Barclays, and Aviva all have significant financial stakes in the company behind a controversial tar sands oil pipeline approved by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau last week, new analysis reveals.

Financial data seen by DeSmog UK shows HSBC holds almost $118 million (£93.7m) worth of shares in Kinder Morgan, which owns the recently approved Trans Mountain pipeline.

Barclays’ shares are worth around $48 million (£38m), and Aviva holds $27 million (£21.4m) worth of stock.

Tar sands pipelines are bad news for indigenous communities and the climate, but they can be big business for investors based thousands of miles away from the environmental destruction they bring.