The UK’s reliance on gas imports leaves us open to unpredictable prices | Michael Bradshaw

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2021/10/14 - 4:40am

This autumn’s struggles with soaring gas prices shows ministers the market alone can’t deliver both security and affordability

Each autumn, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and the energy regulator Ofgem present a statutory security of supply report to parliament. Last December, the department concluded that the “gas system has delivered securely to date and is expected to continue to function well”. As has become BEIS’s mantra, the report noted that the UK benefits from “a diverse range of supply sources and sufficient delivery capacity to more than meet demand”, which is right when it comes to physical security of supply. Around half the gas we consume comes from the North Sea and we get the rest directly via pipeline from Norway – via two interconnectors from continental Europe – and as liquefied natural gas (LNG) from the global market.

It is the case that the UK has enough pipes and terminals to deliver all the gas that we may need and more. However, the National Grid’s recent gas winter outlook 2021-22 makes clear the cause of the current crisis, explaining that: “the underlying market arrangements in the UK are predicated on the basis that the market will provide and that the market will balance itself”. This speaks to “price security”, the price UK consumers need to pay in order to attract sufficient gas to meet national demand.

Michael Bradshaw is professor of global energy at Warwick Business School and a co-director at the UK Energy Research Centre

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Categories: Environment

English councils issue only 19 fines for wood smoke despite 18,000 complaints

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2021/10/14 - 4:08am

Mums for Lungs writes to health secretary calling for toxic wood-burning stoves to be banned by 2027

Only seven councils in England have issued fines for toxic wood smoke, a total of 19 penalties in the past six years, despite more than 18,000 complaints.

The campaign group Mums for Lungs, which gathered the data, has written to the health secretary calling for wood stoves to be phased out by 2027 because of the deceptively high levels of air pollution they emit.

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Categories: Environment

Big tobacco got caught in a lie by Congress. Now it’s the oil industry’s turn | Mark Hertsgaard

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2021/10/14 - 3:00am

The CEOs of Exxon, BP, Shell and Chevron face a Capitol Hill hearing on their climate crisis lies – will it mirror the downfall of big tobacco?

Two weeks from today, Darren Woods will face a potential doomsday moment before the US Congress.

As the CEO of ExxonMobil, Woods was paid $15.6m last year to run the richest, most powerful private oil company in history. But his earnings and influence will be on the line when he appears before the House Committee on Oversight and Reform on 28 October. His testimony could mark the beginning of the end of big oil escaping legal and financial responsibility for the climate crisis.

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Categories: Environment

The climate disaster is here – this is what the future looks like

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2021/10/14 - 2:00am

Earth is already becoming unlivable. Will governments act to stop this disaster from getting worse?

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Categories: Environment

Forget net zero – let’s have a ‘fossil freedom day’ | Mark Lynas

Guardian Environment News - Thu, 2021/10/14 - 1:00am

Imagine if we knew that sometime in 2047 we would definitively move on from the industrial revolution

The important thing about any agenda isn’t so much what’s on it, but what is missing. And so it is with the 21st UN climate change conference (Cop26), in Glasgow. There are some crucial issues up for discussion and negotiation: the $100bn finance promise, the 1.5C target and how to raise global mitigation ambition to meet it. But I have a proposal for something that is still firmly off the agenda, even though it would arguably do more than anything else to address the climate emergency.

The problem with Cops – and I’ve been to a few – is that activity tends to substitute for action. The atmosphere is frenetic: people rush to and fro, from meeting to meeting, negotiation to negotiation, clutching bundles of paper, phones, laptops, and (if they are lucky) a hastily grabbed, limp sandwich. Some negotiators trundle everywhere with wheeled suitcases, stuffed with printed materials from every previous Cop – so they never have to miss an opportunity to refer directly to the Bali declaration or the Berlin mandate.

Mark Lynas is a freelance writer working full-time on climate change

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Categories: Environment

More than 1,000 firefighters battle blaze spreading along California coast

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2021/10/13 - 6:34pm

Alisal fire has burned more than 15,000 acres in the Santa Ynez mountains and threatened more than 100 ranches and rural homes

A wildfire raging through southern California coastal mountains threatened ranches and rural homes and kept a major highway shut down on Wednesday, as the fire-scarred state faced a new round of dry winds that raise the risk of infernos.

The Alisal fire covered more than 15,000 acres (24 sq miles) in the Santa Ynez Mountains west of Santa Barbara, and the number of firefighters was nearly doubled to 1,300, with more on the way. Containment remained at 5%.

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Categories: Environment

Investors could shun Australia without 2050 net zero commitment, RBA warns

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2021/10/13 - 4:40pm

Reserve Bank deputy governor Guy Debelle says other countries are adopting net zero policies, increasing the cost of emissions-intensive activities in Australia

Australia faces an intensifying risk of global investors divesting bonds or equity if we don’t join other nations in making a net zero emissions commitment for 2050, the Reserve Bank has warned.

As Scott Morrison tries to persuade the Nationals to adopt new climate commitments ahead of the Cop26 in Glasgow, RBA deputy governor Guy Debelle told an investment conference on Thursday climate risk was raised in “most conversations I have with foreign investors – this is a marked change from a few years ago”.

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Categories: Environment

One in five of Europe’s bird species slipping towards extinction

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2021/10/13 - 4:01pm

Exclusive: ‘Red list’ report finds 30% of native species in decline due to loss of habitat, intensive farming and climate crisis

The common swift, common snipe and rook are among species slipping towards extinction in Europe, according to the continent’s latest “red list” report, which finds that one in five bird species is now at risk.

From the Azores in the west to the Ural mountains in the east, birds that have been the cornerstones of European ecosystems are disappearing, according to the BirdLife International analysis, which is based on observations of 544 native bird species. Three species have become regionally extinct in Europe since the last report in 2015 – Pallas’s sandgrouse, common buttonquail and pine bunting.

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Categories: Environment

News Corp climate campaign pledged ‘positive stories’ only. Also excluded, any mea culpas | Graham Readfearn

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2021/10/13 - 4:00pm

From attacking people who are anti-nuclear to blaming Greens for lack of climate action, what was that about no partisan sniping or politicising?

News Corp Australia has launched its Mission Zero series of articles with the kinds of stories on the benefits of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and the risks of climate change that other outlets have been running for an age.

This campaign across the Murdoch-owned metropolitan tabloids is news because they have been a major conduit for climate science denial and carping about emissions reductions and “greenies” for decades.

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Categories: Environment

Biden officials announce ambitious plan to dot US coastline with wind farms

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2021/10/13 - 3:57pm
  • Farms envisaged on east coast, west coast and Gulf of Mexico
  • Biden aims to generate enough power for 10m homes by 2030

Seven major offshore wind farms would be developed on the east and west coasts and in the Gulf of Mexico under a plan announced Wednesday by the Biden administration.

The projects are part of Joe Biden’s plan to deploy 30 gigawatts of offshore wind energy by 2030, generating enough electricity to power more than 10 million homes.

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Categories: Environment

Immerse yourself in nature with these 2021 Wildlife Photographer of the Year images

NPR News - Environment - Wed, 2021/10/13 - 2:24pm

The top two winners of the 2021 Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition were selected from more than 50,000 entries worldwide. They are a biologist from France and a 10-year-old from India.

(Image credit: Vidyun R Hebbar/Wildlife Photographer of the Year)

Categories: Environment

Don’t drink from tap, Canadian city says, as gasoline suspected in water supply

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2021/10/13 - 11:51am

State of emergency in Iqaluit, capital of Nunavut territory, as officials say they are testing water for petroleum hydrocarbons

Officials in Canada’s northernmost capital have declared a local state of emergency after finding possible evidence of gasoline in the city’s tap water.

Residents of Iqaluit, the capital of the Arctic territory of Nunavut, have been told not to drink, boil or cook with the city’s water.

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Categories: Environment

Will China’s plan to build more coal plants derail Cop26?

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2021/10/13 - 10:16am

Analysis: while the short-term consequences are grim, veteran analysts talk of a wobble rather than a fall

China’s decision to build more coal plants is a setback for climate action, but analysts say it could still meet its long-term emission reduction targets and may even have scope to raise its ambition at Cop26 in Glasgow.

In recent days, Beijing has announced a buildup of coal capacity to address the most severe power cuts in a decade, which have caused rolling blackouts in half its provinces.

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Categories: Environment

States put Australia on track to beat 2030 emissions pledge but Morrison may not make it official

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2021/10/13 - 9:30am

Prime minister under pressure to increase country’s 2030 emissions reduction goal but faces challenges from openly hostile Nationals

State government commitments for 2030 have put Australia within reach of meeting global expectations on tackling the climate crisis, but it will fall short unless the Morrison government steps up, a new analysis has found.

Guardian Australia understands prime minister Scott Morrison has told colleagues he wants to increase Australia’s existing 2030 emissions reduction target as part of his current negotiations with the Nationals about new climate policies to be unveiled ahead of the Cop26 climate summit in Glasgow.

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Categories: Environment

EU aims for greater Arctic role and calls for oil, coal and gas to stay in the ground

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2021/10/13 - 9:15am

Bloc says it needs to play greater part in region, citing global heating and possible tensions over resources

The European Union has called for oil, coal and gas in the Arctic to stay in the ground, as it announced aspirations to play a greater role in the world’s northernmost region.

The EU, which has three member states with Arctic territory, said there was a “geopolitical necessity” for it to be involved in the region, as global heating opens up competition for resources and the prospect of new shipping lanes.

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Categories: Environment

Boss of English water firm fined over sewage says he would swim in rivers

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2021/10/13 - 8:46am

MPs challenge heads of five water companies over ‘routine’ discharges into English waterways

A water company boss has told MPs he would swim in the rivers and sea in the area where he lives, as he and others were challenged over “routine” dumping of raw sewage.

The heads of the five largest privatised companies – Southern Water, South West Water, Northumbrian, Severn Trent and Thames Water – were questioned on Wednesday over discharges of raw effluent into rivers.

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Categories: Environment

China’s coal plans could derail Cop26 climate ambitions, says Labour

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2021/10/13 - 8:15am

Ed Miliband joins climate experts in expressing deep concern over Beijing’s plans to step up coal output

China’s “deeply concerning” plan to burn more coal threatens to derail the UK’s efforts to coordinate tougher global commitments to reduce carbon emissions at next month’s Cop26 summit in Glasgow, according to climate experts and Labour.

Beijing has ordered its major coal-producing regions to step up output, after large parts of the country were hit by rolling blackouts affecting factories and homes.

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Categories: Environment

EU energy official says bloc must end reliance on foreign fossil fuels

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2021/10/13 - 8:12am

Kadri Simson points to Russia’s failure to increase gas supplies as reason to scale up renewables

Russia’s failure to boost short-term supplies to ease Europe’s energy price shock shows why the EU needs to wean itself off foreign fossil fuels and scale up renewables, the bloc’s top energy official has said.

Kadri Simson, the European commissioner for energy, also defended the EU’s green deal plan to move to a net zero carbon economy by 2050, amid calls for a climate policy rethink from central European leaders, as she set out the EU’s response to the energy price spike after wholesale electricity prices increased by 200% over the last year.

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Categories: Environment

Lake Tahoe water level hits four-year low as drought pummels tourist spot

Guardian Environment News - Wed, 2021/10/13 - 6:00am

Level is expected to fall below lake’s rim this week, cutting off major water source for Truckee River

Lake Tahoe’s water level dropped to a four-year low on Tuesday as gusty winds and the impacts of California’s devastating drought hit the popular tourist destination.

After days of high winds increased evaporation rates, water levels fell to the basin’s natural rim for the first time since 2017, the end of the state’s last drought. The lake normally sits above the rim, which allows for water to flow into the Truckee River. Levels will probably continue to drop, receding below the rim this week, sooner than expected.

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Categories: Environment

The Alisal Fire is rapidly growing near Santa Barbara

NPR News - Environment - Wed, 2021/10/13 - 5:12am

The fire was burning near Rancho del Cielo, which was once owned by Ronald and Nancy Reagan and was known as the Western White House during his presidency.

(Image credit: Mike Eliason/Santa Barbara County Fire Department/AP)

Categories: Environment
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