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Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Climate clips from CCNet

CCNet –  25 April 2012
The Climate Policy Network

Shale Cars

The New Transport Revolution?

There are more than 13 million natural gas vehicles on the road worldwide. Now companies and researchers are working on infrastructure and technologies to help bring the US's growing stock of natural gas to fuel tanks, including those of long-haul vehicles.  --David Biello, Scientific American, 23 April 2012

From the UK to Argentina, from South Africa to Mexico, countries are waking up to the potential value of domestic shale gas reserves. Suddenly, a new wave of gas producers looks set to emerge that could threaten the old oligopoly. Instead of importing natural gas, the US is beginning to export it. The geopolitical fallout will stretch out over decades. “The world will never be the same again,says Prof Stern. --Guy Chazan, Financial Times, 23 April 2012

There are an estimated 1.1 million taxis in China, 50% of which are already using natural gas engines. However, in the midst of China’s 112 million vehicles it doesn’t look like such a big splash. Whilst neither energy source has huge traction at the moment, natural gas seems to be the clear frontrunner in the race to convert the most vehicles. --Greener Ideal, 25 April 2012

Worldwide, the International Association for Natural Gas Vehicles (IANGV) puts the number of natural gas vehicles (NGVs) over 12.6 million. And globally, there are more than 18,000 natural gas fueling stations. In Asia, the average annual growth rate of NGVs has been 42 percent over the last 10 years. IANGV believes the global NGV fleet will increase at least 10-fold by 2020 – topping 50 million. --Investment U, 15 July 2012

China's leaders are finding it's a lot tougher to create a world-beating electric car industry than they hoped. In 2009, they announced bold plans to cash in on demand for clean vehicles by making China a global power in electric car manufacturing. They pledged billions of dollars for research and called for annual sales of 500,000 cars by 2015. Today, Beijing is scaling back its ambitions, chastened by technological hurdles and lack of buyer interest. Developers have yet to achieve breakthroughs and will be lucky to sell 2,000 cars this year, mostly taxis. The government has hedged its bets by broadening the industry's official goals to include cleaner gasoline engines. --Joe McDonald, Business Week, 24 April 2012

Transportation may be the key frontier natural gas will have to conquer if it is going to dramatically change America's energy future. Traditionally, changing people's driving habits – convincing them of the virtues of alternative-fuel vehicles – is not an easy task. Just look at how many electric vehicles are on the road today, after years of promised "revolutions." Yet natural gas vehicles are catching on, particularly in the one area where alternative-fuel experimentation usually starts -- trucks and commercial fleets. Last year, almost 40 percent of the trash-hauling trucks and 25 percent of the transit buses purchased in the US were fueled by natural gas. --Alexandra Marks, The Christian Science Monitor, 23 April 2012

There is little danger that the technique used to produce shale gas, which is known as hydraulic fracturing, could contaminate ground water provided wells are sufficiently deep, according to a research report published by the U.K.'s Durham University Wednesday.This conclusion is the second piece of good news in a week for the U.K.'s nascent shale gas industry, which has struggled to overcome public fears about its environmental safety. --James Herron, The Wall Street Journal, 25 April 2012

1) Shale Cars: The New Transport Revolution? - Scientific American, 23 April 2012

2) Would converting vehicles from oil to natural gas solve US energy woes? - The Christian Science Monitor, 23 April 2012

3) Will Natural Gas Overtake the Biofuel Car? - Greener Ideal, 25 April 2012

4) China's dream of electric car leadership elusive - Business Week, 24 April 2012

5) Shale Gas Shakes Geo-Political Foundations - Financial Times, 23 April 2012

6) UK Study Shows Little Danger Of Shale Gas Water Contamination - The Wall Street Journal, 25 April 2012

Thursday, 19 April 2012


CCNet –  19 March 2012
The Climate Policy Network

Europe’s Cold War Over Shale
Green Campaigners Accuse Polish MEP Of-Anti-Russian Bias
The environmental group Food & Water Europe has accused the Polish author of a European Parliament report on shale gas extraction of resorting to "Cold War" rhetoric against Russia to support the industry's development. In a statement released on Monday, Food & Water Europe blasted the draft report by MEP BogusÅ‚aw Sonik (European People's Party) on the environmental impacts of shale gas and shale oil extraction activities. Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Europe, also accuses the report's author of anti-Russian bias. --EurActiv, 18 April 2012

The biggest risk for
Russia is not the US shale gas but the potential of the development of similar reserves in neighbouring Bulgaria, Romania, Poland and Ukraine. Natural gas is one of the key economic engines of Russia. Could the boom in shale gas challenge the leadership of Russia in gas? Until now, Moscow and Gazprom have seemingly been nonchalant about the threat. But as the impact of the boom in US natural gas production becomes clear, depressing prices to levels not seen in 10 years and increasing the prospect of the country becoming an exporter, the Kremlin is beginning to pay attention. --Javier Blas, Financial Times, 19 April 2012

The dynamic rise of shale gas has raised alarm bells in the highest reaches of the Kremlin. Why? Because Gazprom’s European customers, tired of being ripped off by Gazprom, are avidly exploring the possibilities of undertaking fracking to develop their own sources of the “blue gold,” and nowhere is interest higher than in the Russian Federation’s neighbors Ukraine, Poland, Romania, Bulgaria and China. Gazprom’s exports to
Europe are already falling because of increased competition. Moscow’s National Research University Higher School of Economics Center for evaluation of commodity assets director Valery Kryukov noted that while Gazprom previously supplied 37 percent of Europe’s natural gas needs, that had slipped to 25 percent and concluded, “Russia risks losing its main source of income - the export of natural gas.” --John Daly,Oil Price, 13 April 2012
American sources have told British counterparts of hopes that their nation's energy security headaches could be transformed by fracking shale formations to release American oil and gas. If all goes well, America could find itself much less dependent on the Middle East and troublesome allies in the Arab world, is the message from Washington. The nightmare scenario for some British government insiders is the reverse. Namely, Britain discovers promising reserves, but then is hobbled by irrational European environmental rules and as a result finds itself stuck in the only rich-world economic block that is still dependent on the Middle East for energy. –Bagehot, The Economist, 17 April 2012

The British government will allow shale-gas exploration to resume in northern
England. This could be the harbinger of some very good news for consumers in the U.K. and throughout Europe. Britain and Europe could be on the brink of a shale revolution—or at least an end to chronic undersupply—if its governments don't stand in the way. On that point, the U.K. isn't the only good-news story. Poland, which is keen to throw off the yoke of dependence on Russian fuel, continues to press forward with shale-gas exploration. Efforts from Greens in the European Parliament to ban or restrict fracking throughout the European Union have gone nowhere. --Editorial, The Wall Street Journal, 19 April 2012

The battle over the development of
France’s unconventional hydrocarbon resources is set to reignite with the publication of a report in favour of research activities in hydraulic fracturing to investigate shale oil and gas resource potential. The release of the report, eight months after France implemented a ban on the extraction of hydrocarbon resources by hydraulic fracturing, comes at a time when the energy mix and energy pricing is playing a heighted role in the French Presidential elections. Speaking to RTL, the Socialist Candidate for President indicated a policy shift from the party's previous unequivocal opposition to shale oil and shale gas development. Francois Hollande commented: "You should never rule out anything, especially if research shows that one can obtain this gas without harming nature." --Natural Gas Europe, 1 April 2012

The case of shale gas development cannot be considered closed in
Bulgaria, according to Energy and Economy Minister Delyan Dobrev. In a Friday interview for the morning broadcast of the Bulgarian National Television (BNT), Dobrev announced that a parliamentary committee would be set up this week to review the shale gas moratorium. The Energy Minister explained that the ban on hydraulic fracturing could be revoked if the ad hoc committee declared the technology harmless. "If it turns out that shale gas is not harmful to the environment and the environmental impact assessment (EIA) comes out positive, then we should really take advantage of it," Dobrev stated. --Sofia News, Agency 2 April 2012

A UK study into hydraulic fracturing offers New Zealand "some reassurance" the process causes only very small, normal-range earthquakes, a GNS scientist says. Head of Petroleum Geoscience at GNS Science, Rosemary Quinn, told TV
ONE's Breakfast the study conducted on the use of fracking in the English town of Blackpool last year found it caused only "very small earthquakes" up to 2.3 magnitude. "We get about 150,000 earthquakes in New Zealand every year that are magnitude 2.3 and above, so that's about 50 a day and most people just don't feel them. That level of seismicity in New Zealand is normal." --TV New Zealand, 18 April 2012

The Independent newspaper wants all shale gas exploration halted, to save the planet. “A new age of shale gas holds the risk that the decarbonisation of the UK energy system, essential if we are to meet our demanding climate change targets, will be pushed back and back,” the paper declares in an editorial. “Mass use of shale gas would make these targets unattainable.” But two recent economic studies prove the opposite. The
UK and Europe could meet their own carbon dioxide reduction targets by replacing dirty coal with cleaner gas and nuclear energy capacity. --Andrew Orlowski, The Register, 19 April 2012

1) EU Shale War: Green Campaigners Accuse Polish MEP Of-Anti-Russian Bias - EurActiv, 18 April 2012

2) Russia Faces Challenge To Gas Supremacy - Financial Times, 19 April 2012

3) Russia Rattled By Rising Importance Of Shale Gas - Oil Price, 13 April 2012

4) After The Elections, France May Join Shale Rush: Socialists In Policy Shift - Natural Gas Europe, 1 April 2012

5) Bulgaria To Review, May Revoke Shale Moratorium - Sofia News, Agency 2 April 2012

6) EU Deadlocked Over Failing Carbon Market - Financial Times, 18 April 2012

BBC Pension Fund, Big Climate Investors Concerned About Green Misinvestment - BusinessGreen, 18 April 2012

Monday, 16 April 2012

Climate Clips from CCnet & Benny Peiser

Britain’s Anti-Green Rollback Accelerating

‘Chris Huhne’s Zealous Ambition Is Being Reined Back’

Ministers are preparing to veto major new wind farms in the British countryside and cut back their subsidies, according to senior Whitehall sources. The decision to pull back from onshore wind farms comes after more than 100 backbench Conservative MPs mounted a rebellion against turbines blighting rural areas. Senior Conservatives have seen an opportunity to re-think policy since Chris Huhne, the former Liberal Democrat Energy Secretary, resigned to fight charges of perverting the course of justice in a speeding case. “Chris Huhne’s zealous ambition is being reined back,” one top Whitehall source said. “There’s already enough being built and developed." --Rowena Mason, The Daily Telegraph, 16 April 2012

Ministers are to scrap plans for a ‘conservatory tax’ following a massive Tory backlash. A senior Government source told the Mail that the proposals are ‘dead in the water’. This latest abrupt U-turn comes only a week after we revealed the move which would force homeowners to fork out hundreds of pounds extra on measures to improve energy efficiency when they build an extension or fit a boiler. Although the Liberal Democrat-inspired plans are still out for consultation, the source said: ‘We are absolutely not going to have a conservatory tax. It is an attack on aspiration and we want nothing to do with it. It will be blocked.’ --Jason Groves,Daily Mail, 16 April 2012

A powerful group of Conservative ministers has launched an attempt to torpedo the coalition’s flagship “green” home improvement scheme in a move which will spark a major new rift with the Liberal Democrats. Leading Tories inside and outside the cabinet believe the £14 billion “Green Deal” – due to start in six months’ time – must be ditched because it risks leaving key “squeezed middle” voters out of pocket by several thousands of pounds. A senior Tory source told The Sunday Telegraph last night: “The Green Deal was Chris Huhne’s baby. He has gone now and this is the right time to kill it off. Forcing people to pay thousands of pounds extra for unwanted home insulation is the last thing hard-pressed families need at the moment. It’s madness.” --Patrick Hennessy, The Sunday Telegraph, 15 April 2012

The recent setbacks reflect deep confusion over the main governing party's direction on green policy. Chancellor George Osborne has repeatedly taken the side against green subsidies. MPs and Lords are under near-constant lobbying [the Guardian's phrase for CCNet] from Lord Lawson's climate sceptic group, the Global Warming Policy Foundation. One prominent Tory MP said: "As someone who's convinced by the science, and wants to tackle climate change, I'm finding myself an endangered species within my own party." --Fiona Harvey, The Guardian, 16 April 2012

It did not take long. Last month, Matt Ridley argued in a Spectator cover story that the wind farm agenda is in effect dead, having collapsed under the weight of its own contradictions. The only question is when our ministers would realise. In an interview with the Sunday Times, climate change minister Greg Barker admits that his department has adopted an ‘unbalanced’ approach to wind farms and will now look at other options.  To Ridley, this was – at root – an intellectual error. An example of how the establishment, and entire government machine, can sponsor something that makes no economic or environmental sense – but no one dares point this out, because the cause is seen as noble. --Fraser Nelson, The Spectator, 15 April 2012

To an almost audible sigh of relief from householders across the land, the Government has now promised to scrap its hare-brained scheme to impose a spurious environmental ‘tax’ on home improvements. The proposal was to force anyone building an extension or conservatory, or installing new windows or a boiler, to spend a small fortune putting in extra insulation. It was all part of the Coalition’s largely bogus Green agenda which also involves covering large swathes of the countryside with pointless wind farms, risking an energy crisis by dithering over building a new generation of nuclear power stations, and trying to tax air travel to death. But while the U-turn marks a welcome outbreak of common sense, why on earth was the tax ever contemplated? --Editorial, Daily Mail, 16 April 2012

Emperor penguins, whose long treks across Antarctic ice to mate have been immortalised by Hollywood, are heading towards extinction, scientists say. Based on predictions of sea ice extent from climate change models, the penguins are likely to see their numbers plummet by 95% by 2100. That level of decline could wreak havoc on the delicate Antarctic food chain. The research is published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. --BBC News, 26 January 2009

Nearly twice as many emperor penguins inhabit Antarctica as was thought. UK, US and Australian scientists used satellite technology to trace and count the iconic birds, finding them to number almost 600,000. The extent of sea ice in the Antarctic has been relatively stable in recent years (unlike in the Arctic), although this picture hides some fairly large regional variations. --Jonathan Amos, BBC News, 13 April 2012

Many know Benny Peiser only as the pesky director of the Global Warming Policy Foundation who routinely embarrasses man-made climate change diehards with his weekly compilation of green policy flops -- washouts such as Solon, Q-Cells, Solar Millennium and Solarhybrid. These are all once-thriving German solar energy firms that recently filed for bankruptcy, like America's Solyndra. The irreverent Peiser email report usually consists of a half-dozen or so stinging mainstream news clips with links, chosen partly because they include a "Benny" -- a ready-made, slap-in-the-face headline -- such as the London Daily Telegraph's "Climate scientists are losing the public debate on global warming." But every now and then, a wickedly droll "Double Benny" headline will unexpectedly pop up. --Ron Arnold, The Washington Examiner, 13 April 2012

1) Anti-Green Rollback: Ministers Preparing To Veto Windfarms - The Daily Telegraph, 16 April 2012

2) U-Turn: Government To Scrap Green Tax On Home Extensions - Daily Mail, 16 April 2012

3) Top Tories Try To Torpedo Green Deal - The Sunday Telegraph, 15 April 2012

4) UK Energy Minister Vows: ‘No More Wind Farms’ (On Land) - The Sunday Times, 15 April 2012

5) Fraser Nelson: Downfall - The Spectator, 15 April 2012

6) London Debate Tomorrow: EU Climate Policy – Priority or Backseat? - European Centre for Energy and Resource Security

Thursday, 5 April 2012

Polar bears 'larger population than ever.'

CCNet – 5 April 2012
The Climate Policy Network

Healthy Polar Bear Count Confounds Doomsayers

The debate about climate change and its impact on polar bears has intensified with the release of a survey that shows the bear population in a key part of northern Canada is far larger than many scientists thought, and might be growing. The number of bears along the western shore of Hudson Bay, believed to be among the most threatened bear subpopulations, stands at 1,013 and could be even higher, according to the results of an aerial survey released Wednesday by the Government of Nunavut. The study shows that “the bear population is not in crisis as people believed,” said Drikus Gissing, Nunavut’s director of wildlife management. “There is no doom and gloom.” He said the media in southern Canada has led people to believe polar bears are endangered. “They are not.” He added that there are about 25,000 polar bears across Canada’s Arctic. “That’s likely the highest [population level] there has ever been.” --Paul Waldie, The Globe and Mail, 5 April 2012

A recent aerial survey of Western Hudson Bay polar bears shows the population has increased slightly to about 1,000 animals, according to the Government of Nunavut. A 2006 study hypothesized that if the climate continued to warm, the polar bear population would decline. "If I could convey one message here, it's that polar bears are not endangered,” Drikus Gissing, director of wildlife with the Government of Nunavut, said. “And this confirms it. They are not endangered. There are concerns about the effects of global warming, but they are not endangered." --Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, 5 April 2012