Transatlantic Energy and Environment News
Yanukovych Prepared to Offer Putin a Gas Deal
4 March 2013 – EurActiv
President Vladimir Putin and his Ukrainian counterpart Viktor Yanukovych are meeting in Moscow today to discuss their future cooperation as Ukraine seeks to secure a lower price for Russian gas. Ukraine is in a very difficult fiscal situation and it is attempting to receive aid from the IMF, which is calling on Ukraine to reduce it energy subsidies. Therefore, Ukraine needs to reach a deal with Russia to lower its gas prices in order to be eligible for the IMF assistance. Yanukovych said ahead of the meeting that Ukraine is prepared to lease its pipeline network to Gazprom to guarantee stable transit to the EU in exchange for lower gas prices.
Energy Supply Troubles Show Europe Vulnerable to Imports
4 March 2013 – Reuters
UK gas prices rose to a five-year high as imports from its main supplier, Norway, were cut due to technical problems. UK gas production decreased by two thirds since 2000 and is increasingly reliant on foreign supplies. The supply halt and immediate price hike also demonstrate the UK’s lack of storage capacity for gas, which makes the UK very vulnerable to external supply shocks. Italy experienced a similar problem as its gas imports from Libya decreased over the weekend because of militia fighting in proximity of the Melitah’s gas complex. Unlike the UK, Italy did not experience a sudden gas hike due to current low demand and long-term commitments from Russia. Both supply interruptions demonstrate the current vulnerability of the EU’s gas market to external supply disruptions.
Germany Debates Fracking as Energy Costs Rise
1 March 2013 – the Wall Street Journal
Germany’s environment and economic ministers reached an agreement regarding fracking restrictions across the country. The new regulations will allow fracking in areas where water sources could not be affected, providing hope for lower energy prices resulting from the new resource. With Germany’s conventional gas reserves in decline, shale gas will prove crucial in satisfying the domestic energy demand, especially after Germany closes six of its nuclear power plants in 2020. Shale gas could help bridge Germany’s transformation from nuclear to renewable energy and prevent the electricity costs from climbing even higher.
Greece Has the Right to Conduct Energy Exploration in its Territorial Waters: PM Samaras
20 February 2013 – Balkans Business News
Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras has pledged to seek a friendly solution with Turkey regarding exploration for hydrocarbons in the Aegean Sea. Samaras wants all nations to sign the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea that allows establishment of exclusive economic zones (EEZ). Based on the EEZs, Greece intends to explore for oil and gas reserves and expects to find fields as significant as the ones near Cyprus and Israel. The Aegean Sea is one of the least explored regions in Europe and Samaras hopes for Greece to play bigger role in the production of hydrocarbons to supply Europe from European sources. Significant and recoverable energy reserves in Greece could also revive the Greek economy that is mired in recession.
Shale Gas Debate Intensifies in Germany ahead of the Elections
19 February 2013 – EurActiv
Germany’s environmental lobby intensified its efforts to prevent or delay a fracking revolution in Germany. The country is attempting to transition to a nuclear-free economy by 2022 by increasing the share of renewable energy sources in its energy mix, but that is likely to increase energy prices. If prices rise, energy intensive industries will suffer in terms of competitiveness. While industry leaders are urging the government to draw up rules for exploration, the Greens are raising environmental concerns – splitting Merkel’s coalition as some CDU ministers have doubts about fracking. It will be a struggle for the coalition that emerges from the 2013 federal elections, but in a country where manufacturing accounts for 25% of the economy, the force lobbying for shale gas exploration will be strong.
Electricity Bills Set Bulgaria on Fire
18 February 2013 – Euractiv
On Sunday, tens of thousands of Bulgarians protested against high electricity prices in more than 20 cities across Bulgaria. The protesters accuse the three major foreign-owned energy companies of raking in large profits at the expense of the Bulgarian people. Electricity bills for the average home have been around €100 while average wage is only €387. The European Commission labeled the Bulgarian wholesale electricity market as not completely liberalized and on the January 24th it referred Bulgaria to the European Court of Justice for failing to fully comply with EU energy market rules. With parliamentary elections scheduled for July, public support for the ruling party of Prime Minister Borissov is declining because of these protests and opposition socialists led by Sergei Stanishev are ahead in the polls.
Gazprom Executive Medvedev: Won't Budge on Pricing of Exports
15 February 2013 – The Wall Street Journal
After last week’s news that Gazprom lost 9% of its European market share in 2012, its Deputy Chief Executive, Alexander Medvedev, said that Gazprom stands firm on how it prices its exports. According to Medvedev, Gazprom does not intend to adopt more flexible pricing despite losing market share to Statoil that is moving away from long-term contracts and toward spot market prices. Medvedev suggests that Statoil gained European market share at the expense of revenue and Gazprom is not prepared to sacrifice some of its profits to retain the market share. However, Gazprom still holds an advantage by providing a stable gas supply to Europe through its Nord Stream and South Stream pipelines without having to endure costs associated with shipping liquefied natural gas.
Senate Hearing on Natural Gas Reveals Divisions in the Manufacturing Sector
13 February 2013 – Houston Business Journal
At a U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources hearing, American manufacturers presented their differing opinions regarding natural gas policy. The Dow Chemical Co. argued for rules based international exports system because manufacturers in gas intensive industries are concerned that excessive exports might lead to increased U.S. gas prices, thus eliminating the advantage that the industries gained from the cheap supply of shale gas. On the other hand, National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) supports free trade rules to be upheld and argues against the introduction of export restrictions on the basis that it might affect U.S.’ ability to challenge other countries’ export restraints in other sectors. The conclusion is uncertain as top leaders of the Senate Energy Committee disagree about restrictions on gas exports.
OPEC, IEA Sound Cautious Note as Prices Rise
13 February 2013 – the Wall Street Journal
The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and the International Energy Agency (IEA) both issued announcements this week when the price of Brent crude oil hit $118 a barrel. OPEC countries previously cut investment in their production due to increased supply outlooks from non-OPEC countries, but OPEC is concerned that these increases might not amount to the forecasts, jeopardizing the global oil supply. OPEC specifically warned of the possibility that if the U.S. oil output falls short of the forecasts, supply might shrink and prices might rise. On the other hand, the IEA corrected its forecasts for slightly lower demand from major consuming countries. It also explicitly warned of supply challenges in oil exporting countries that face social and political changes. Oil prices are expected to develop in the coming months based on the revised demand and supply forecasts for this year.
Norway Oil Min: Statoil Pipeline May Pave Way for Permanent Arctic Hub
12 February 2013 - The Wall Street Journal
Norwegian state energy company, Statoil, intends to build a pipeline between its Skrugard and Havis fields that are located in the Barents Sea. A new terminal at Veidnes will service the oil coming from over 200 kilometers away in the Arctic. Norway’s northernmost region has not yet been thoroughly explored and it has potential for more discoveries that the new terminal would be able to accommodate. Norway’s Minister of Petroleum and Energy, Ola Borten Moe, characterized this region as a new petroleum province for Norway. Statoil expects to start the production in 2018 with an expected output of 200,000 barrels a day.
Ukraine to Start Importing Natural Gas from Europe via Hungary, Slovakia in Q1, 2013, Says Minister
7 February 2013 - Interfax
Energy and Coal minister of Ukraine, Eduard Stavytsky, said that Ukraine plans to start importing gas from Hungary and Slovakia in the first quarter of 2013. While there are still some technical issues to be resolved with Slovakia, Ukraine has resolved all problems with importing gas from Hungary. Stavytsky suggested that Ukraine received a proposal to supply natural gas not only from German RWE, but also from other companies. Reversing the flow of natural gas pipelines toward the east will be a historic step for Ukraine and the region. The gas supply from Europe will not completely replace Ukrainian imports of Russian natural gas, but will further decrease Ukrainian dependency on energy from the east.
Statoil Gas Sales to Europe Hit Record
7 February 2013 – The Wall Street Journal
Norwegian state energy company Statoil said that it exported record volumes of natural gas to Europe in 2012, capturing larger market share at the expense of Russia’s Gazprom. The reason behind Statoil’s success is that it adopted more flexible pricing schemes than Gazprom. The European economic downturn resulted into lower demand for gas that should have decreased the price, but Gazprom’s long-term contracts based on oil prices locked the natural gas price artificially high. Statoil has been quick to react to changing conditions in the European natural gas market and now sells less than a half of its gas based on oil-indexed prices, compared to 70% in 2009, and intends to decrease the percentage of its oil-indexed gas contracts to 25% by 2015. Despite the falling European demand, Statoil increased its market share by 10% in 2012 due to more favorable contract conditions, challenging Gazprom’s hold on the market.
How Long Before Fracking Spreads to Europe? A Decade, at Least
7 February 2013 – The Washington Post
Hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” has already altered the U.S. economy, but it did not happen overnight as the shale boom has been in development process for years. There have been numerous news reports about energy majors signing exploration deals in the UK, Ukraine, Poland, Lithuania, and Romania, but economically viable discoveries have been scarce. Even if such fields are found, it will take couple years to reach the commercial production stage and few more for countries to benefit from natural gas production. While shale gas exploration gives Europe hope for a more energy independent future, it is a rather long term prospect that should not be relied upon in the next couple years.
Fears for Higher Household Bills as UK Exports gas cheaper than Import Price
5 February 2013 – The Guardian
Great Britain became a net gas importer in 2004 as production in the North Sea declined. It established links with the Netherlands, Norway, Belgium and Qatar to import natural gas. Recently, the British newspaper Guardian and NGO Greenpeace conducted an analysis on gas interconnector between the Great Britain and Belgium between December 2011 and October 2012. The study showed that on two fifths of the days, gas flowed from the UK to Belgium despite higher wholesale prices in the UK. Ofgem, the UK’s electricity and gas markets regulator, will further investigate these market discrepancies, but controversies like this one create doubts about the transparency of energy markets in the UK.
No Gas Deal Signed with Kiev, Russia says
5 February 2013 - UPI
Russian authorities declined to comment on whether the government reached a new natural gas deal with Ukraine. Ukraine has been attempting to revise the current gas deal that has been in place since the resolution of the 2009 gas dispute. It was negotiated by Ukraine’s Prime Minister at the time, Yulia Tymoshenko, but is considered too costly by the current government. Russia has offered discounts on gas supplies to Ukraine, but made them conditional on Ukraine joining the Customs Union with Belarus and Kazachstan. Ukraine has not yet reached a decision whether it will join the Customs Union or sign an Association Agreement with the EU. An EU-Ukraine summit will be held on the February 25 where significant progress is expected to be made.
U.S. Moves Toward Near-Zero Emission Coal-Fired Power Plant
5 February 2013 – Yahoo!
The U.S. Department of Energy announced that it progressed into Phase II of its efforts to build commercial-scale carbon capture and storage technology. The DoE signed cooperative agreements with FutureGen Industrial Alliance, which consists of coal producers, users, and suppliers of coal equipment around the world. Together they will attempt to fit a coal-fired power plant in Illinois with technology that would capture 90% of its carbon emissions. Phase II consists of preliminary design, pre-construction, and engineering of the new retrofitted coal-fired power plant. Successful completion of this project might lead to the proliferation of this capture and storage technology around the world, dramatically reducing emissions from coal-fired power plants.
Cameron Pushes Energy Efficiency as Motor of Green Growth
4 February 2013 – The Guardian
David Cameron, prime minister of Great Britain, said that the UK must prioritize growth in energy efficiency and renewable energy. His remarks are regarded as a bold move trying to satisfy a pledge after his election in 2010, when he promised to lead “the greenest government ever.” According to a CBI report, green economy is worth about 8% of UK’s GDP and is one of the few areas of UK’s economy to experience growth. Mr. Cameron has been criticized for the past two years for his lack of leadership on environmental issues, but it seems his government has taken up the cause now. Cameron’s urging in his remarks to increase energy efficiency together with launching a “green deal” in January, as well as the government’s home insulation program, are signs that Cameron takes renewables, green energy, and efficiency seriously.
Poland Stumbles as Shale Gas Industry Fails to Take Off
30 January 2013 – Herald Standard
Poland became one of the main destinations for energy companies trying to expand in Europe, based on the U.S. Energy Information Agency’s 2011 report that estimated Polish shale gas reserves to be around 5.3 trillion cubic meters. Such figures led to early investment, but it has since been reduced by a factor of ten. Polish shale reserves also face problems in terms of very high initial production costs, which are estimated to be around $15 million for an exploratory well in Poland compared to just $4 million in Barnett Shale in Texas. These high costs threaten the commercial viability of further shale gas exploration and extraction in Poland. In 2012, Exxon Mobil withdrew from some of its operations in Poland, while ConocoPhillips decided not to exercise some of its drilling rights. The shale gas revolution in Poland might just not amount to what Polish politicians hoped it to be.
Gazprom Raises Price of South Stream Pipeline Project
29 January 2013 - Wall Street Journal
Gazprom announced a decision to invest an additional $16.89 billion in its South Stream project, bringing the total investment to $38.4 billion for the new pipeline. Gazprom has been investing heavily to diversify its supply routes to Europe and bypass Ukraine. While such diversification is beneficial for Europe as it allows a more stable supply, Gazprom has been criticized for overspending on these investments. Analysts argue that demand for Russian gas in Europe is declining and possible domestic shale gas developments might further decrease Gazprom’s market share, rendering South Stream an unnecessary but expensive project.
Russia Hits Ukraine with $7 Billion Gas Bill
27 January 2013 – Wall Street Journal
A few days after the Ukrainian government signed a gas exploration and production deal with Royal Dutch Shell that would reduce its dependency on Russia, Gazprom billed Ukraine for $7 billion for gas that Ukraine did not take in 2012. Gazprom argues that Ukraine is obliged to pay because of a “take-or-pay” clause in the contract. The bill comes at a bad time for the cash-strapped Ukrainian government as it is starting negotiations with the IMF over a potential $15 billion loan within the next few days.
Ukraine Signs Gas Deal with Shell
24 January 2013 – Wall Street Journal
Ukraine has awarded a contract to Royal Dutch Shell to drill for gas in the Yuzivka field in eastern Ukraine to exploit its promising shale reserves. By taking this step, Ukraine joined other European countries in their efforts to develop their domestic shale gas fields to reduce their import dependency. Ukraine hopes to reduce its reliance on Gazprom, as there are continuous disagreements over gas prices. Ukraine’s Prime Minister Azarov already said that Ukraine is planning to decrease its gas imports from Russia in 2013, which are to be replaced by domestic production, as well as imports from Germany.
Europe Likely to Take More West African Crude, Traders Say
24 January 2013 – Wall Street Journal
There has been less demand for oil from traditional providers to the U.S. energy market because of increased U.S. domestic production from shale developments. Suppliers of West African Crude are among the suppliers affected, as they have to shift some of their product toward Northwestern Europe and the Mediterranean region. The fall in demand is likely to push down the price of West African Crude in the coming weeks, while European crude prices are expected to come under pressure as well.
Azerbaijan Shah Deniz II Project to Choose Preferred Pipeline in June
23 January 2013 – Wall Street Journal
Al Cook, BP’s vice president for the Shah Deniz project, said that the consortium will choose between Trans-Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) and Nabucco-West in June 2013. Gas from Shah Deniz II field will be transported through Turkey, where it will connect to one of the above mentioned pipelines. Both TAP and Nabucco-West groups offered to sell 50% in their projects to the Shah Deniz consortium, hoping to secure the support for their pipelines. This gas route, independent from Russia, has only gained in importance as construction on South Stream began in December 2012 and Europe still attempts to diversify its energy supplies.
EU Warns on Oversupply of Carbon Permits
21 January 2013 – Wall Street Journal
The cost of producing one ton of carbon dioxide under EU’s Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) fell below €5 on Monday. The low prices were caused by the economic downturn in Europe. As companies decreased their production, they needed fewer permits than they were allocated, resulting into an oversupply on the carbon market. Such low prices jeopardize ETS’ mission, because they do not provide enough incentives for companies to invest in clean technologies. European Commission proposed corrections, but as changes have to pass national governments and the EU parliament, the supply of carbon permits is unlikely to be adjusted in the near future.
Russia to build pipeline with Croatia
18 January 2013 – United Press International
Russian energy giant, Gazprom, signed an agreement with Croatian state-owned gas company Plinacro. They have agreed to build an extension of the South Stream pipeline to deliver Russian natural gas to Croatia. As a part of the deal, Gazprom will also construct a gas power plant in Croatia. The gas giant has recently been facing a lot of uncertainty because of shale developments in Britain, Poland, Ukraine, and other EU states. By continuing to diversify its supply routes and signing deals such as the one with Croatia, Gazprom is attempting to retain or even increase its market share across Europe.
Chevron Seeks Lithuania Shale Gas, Oil Exploration Permit
15 January 2013 - Reuters
U.S. energy giant Chevron was the only company that applied for a permit in Lithuania to explore and extract oil and gas in Silute-Taurage field. If granted the rights, Chevron will invest at least $31 million in exploration. Chevron previously acquired a 50% stake in Lithuanian oil company LL Investicijos, which holds rights to an even larger field, Rietavas. New technologies in extracting unconventional energy supplies provide possibilities for Lithuania to decrease its dependence on Russian oil and gas imports. Lithuania joins Poland and Ukraine in their attempts to exploit their shale reserves.
Big Oil Interested in UK Shale Gas Partnership
15 January 2013 - Reuters
British gas exploration firm IGas has received interest from some of the majors in the world’s gas industry, according to its CEO, Andrew Austin. It was linked with Exxon Mobil in December and is expected to attract other big names interested in developing Britain’s unconventional gas reserves. Big oil and gas companies with their financial resources and technical expertise are perceived as necessary for Britain to develop its shale reserves. The shale gas exploration boom in Britain started only recently when the British government lifted the ban on fracking last December.
Clean Energy Investment Fell 11% as Governments Cut Subsidies
14 January 2013 - Bloomberg
The debt crisis on both sides of the Atlantic has caused a decrease in investment and government subsidies to clean energy technologies by 11% compared to 2011. Industrialized countries that were hit the hardest by the economic downturn – such as the U.S., Germany, Italy, and Spain – used to provide the best incentives for investing in renewable energy. But emerging countries such as Australia, Morocco, South Africa, Ukraine, Mexico, and South Korea have been gaining ground, especially in investments in solar and wind energy projects.
Nabucco to Become ‘a Real Pipeline’ soon, Owners Say
11 January 2013 - EurActiv
The Shah Deniz II consortium developing the largest gas field in the Caspian region intends to acquire a stake in the Nabucco pipeline project. Such an investment would provide a reliable upstream partner for the Nabucco consortium that plans to transport gas from Turkey to Austria. Nabucco is in competition with the TAP (Trans-Adriatic Pipeline) project going from Turkey to Italy through Greece, in which the Shah Deniz II consortium already acquired a stake. Brussels supports both the TAP and Nabucco projects, as the EU aims to decrease its dependence on Gazprom.
Gazprom LNG Venture to Target Asia
10 January 2013 – Wall Street Journal
Gazprom is set to create a joint venture with Russia’s leading independent gas producer Novatek to produce liquefied natural gas (LNG) to satisfy surging Asian demand. Due to recent discoveries of shale gas in Europe, Gazprom looks to diversify its supply routes to decrease its reliance on European deliveries. This joint venture is expected to utilize fields on the Yamal and Gydan peninsulas in Siberia. Gazprom’s decision to lean toward Asia is an answer to EU efforts to reduce its dependence on Russian energy supplies.
EU, U.S. rule out climate funding pledges in Doha
5 December 2012 – Agence France-Presse
The United States and European Union denied requests from developing countries for $60 billion in additional aid to mitigate the effects of climate change at UN talks in Qatar. Germany and the United Kingdom announced increases to their individual contributions of €400 million and £1.8 billion respectively. The EU and U.S. both focused on 2020 as the deadline for a new financing agreement, with the EU emphasizing the financial crisis and the United States noting that more urgent funding was outside the scope of the talks.
Congress moves to protect US airlines from EU emissions tax
13 November 2012 – Washington Post
The U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill preventing any U.S.-based airlines from paying into the EU emissions trading system only one day after the European Commission announced that airline participation would be suspended for a year. Rather than go through the process of conference committees to merge a House bill passed last year with the Senate bill passed this summer, the House passed the existing Senate bill on a voice vote to send to President Obama for his signature. The Obama administration has also opposed the EU program.
Senate votes to shield US airlines from EU’s carbon scheme
24 September 2012 – Reuters
The U.S. Senate unanimously passed a bill to exempt American airlines from paying carbon fees on flights to and from the European Union before the autumn recess. Similar legislation had previously passed in the House of Representatives and the two bills must be reconciled before going into law. Chinese and Indian airlines have also disputed the requirements, but their governments have not yet passed similar legislation.
U.S. and European Energy Specialists Will Meet this Week to Discuss Cracks in Belgian Reactor
10 August 2012 – Energy Tribune
European and U.S. nuclear energy specialists will meet this coming Thursday to discuss the cracks that may be present in the key component of a Belgian nuclear reactor. If cracks are present, the reactor may stand to effect neighboring countries as well as other nations around the world. (Read More)
The Climate Bond Initiative
26 June 2012 – Financial News
During the UN sustainable development summit in Rio de Janeiro, UN secretary General Kimoon has called for faster acting against the climate change. Also HSBC’s Climate Change Centre of Excellence Head N. Robins noted that countries do not want to play the leading role in tackling the sources of climate change. The global emission rose by 3.2% in 2011 and required investments are lacking. Climate Bond Initiative Chair Sean Kidney promoted the idea of financing anti climate change projects through a market of “green bonds”, because one could not rely on the support of governments, he said. In order to find bond investors the public has to be informed better and convinced of the possible profits. (Read More)
19 June 2012 – EU Observer
A recent report from the Danish EU Presidency concerning reform to the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) has received intense criticism from the pro-green World Wildlife Fund. The Danish report, published yesterday, states that while the Commission works to persuade farmers to adopt eco-friendly farming techniques, they will also grant member states greater flexibility in enforcement of sustainable development policies. EU lawmakers support shifting this area of oversight to individual member states, contesting that a large-scale green approach to the CAP at the EU-level would involve too much red tape. The WWF, however, has contested that increased CAP flexibility promotes the creation of policy loopholes, with member states picking and choosing reforms based on national interests rather than environmental wellbeing.” (Read More)
G20 Climate Investments
30 May 2012 – International Trade Union Confederation
The climate change investments of the G20 Financial Reform Agenda are regarded as limited by the International. Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) As a matter of fact, the amount of green bonds are considerably low in view of the total sum of bonds currently in the markets. The trade union organization’s general secretary says that more can be done for emission reduction and adaptation policies.. According to ITUC not only the investment in pension funds should be raised but also governments and financial institutions need to “take the lead” so that the present climate change investment barriers can be overcome. (Read More)
Mexico: Policies for Economic Growth and Against Climate Change
23 May 2012 – OECD Observer
Patricia Espinosa, the Foreign Minister of Mexico, describes the current global energy trends as negative contribution to global warming. The country commits itself to conferences to stop climate change and also wants to be “coresponsible” in other spheres of international relations. Mexico has set itself priorities from the G20 agenda with which it wants to stabilize its economy and set up policies towards “green growth”. According to Espinosa the government’s approaches, such as the involvement in international financial architecture, are intended to “ensure economic growth and well-being in every country of the world”. (Read More)
Bolivia takeover: Spain dismayed by TDE Nationalisation
2 May 2012 – BBC News
Spain’s economic minister has expressed disappointment at Bolivia’s decision to nationalise Spanish-owned electric power company. Luis de Guindos warned that the move could deter investment from outside nations, with the European Commission backing his opinion. Bolivia argues that the company did not invest enough in Bolivia and thus was not benefiting the nation. The decision comes on the heels of Argentina’s decision to nationalise the oil firm YPF which the Spanish company Repsol has a large stake in. Although Mr Guindos said the situation was very different, with YPF representing a value of around $25-35 billion and TDE much less. Spain is very keen to not draw parallels for fear other nations in the region also following suit and is making it very clear that Spain will be compensated. (Read More)
Rio Observers Fear Weakening of Earth Summit Proposals
2 May 2012 – Euractiv
Some of the main proposals in a draft text for negotiation at a UN sustainable development conference next month are being watered down at informal talks in New York, with fears of Rio+20 being a failure growing. Rio+20 in Brazil is expected to draw more than 50,000 participants from governments, companies and environmental and lobby groups. The aim of achieving sustainable development goals across seven core themes ranging from food security to water security to energy seems to be faltering. Companies are reportedly frustrated with the idea that they will have to report on how sustainable they are. Financial woes and waning confidence in climate change as a threat has meant many fear the outcome of Rio, especially when global leading figures such as President Barack Obama and Prime Minister David Cameron are not attending. (Read More)
23 April 2012 – Reuters
Britain and the US will agree to collaborate to develop floating wind turbine technology at a meeting of energy ministers in London this week. Energy ministers from 23 of the world’s largest economies will discuss how to speed up the move to cleaner energy. The two nations already make funding available for such projects, but this would allow the two countries to share expertise. The UK places offshore wind as a high priority for the UK’s energy future. Floating turbines can be placed in deep waters, whereas conventional turbines cannot. Waters to the west of the UK can be up to 100m deep, but have consistent high wind speeds. (Read More)
Parliament begins scrutiny of EU airport noise rules
26 April 2012 – Euractiv
The European Commission’s plan to ease noise restrictions in and around airports has been met with scepticism by the MEP in charge of the dossier, who believes the EU executive is placing economic interests above citizens concerns. The EC said that noise restrictions provided inconsistencies which hinder the growth of Europe’s already crowded airports. The EC’s plans would bring EU rules in line with the International Civil Aviation Organisation. The EC has also claimed that the new rules will improve transparency in the decision making process, and made it clear that individual nations have the final say on the restrictions around their airports. However, the EU may be granted the power to ban the nosiest planes with the aim that eventually all aircraft at EU airports will possess ‘type 4’ engines, the quietest. (Read More)
Mad Cow Disease Case in US was a ‘one-off’ caused by Mutation
25 April 2012 – The Guardian
The US Department of Agriculture has discovered a case of mad cow disease in a US dairy herd in California. Despite reassurances from the government that it was a ‘one off’ case caused by a mutated gene, sellers in South Korea stopped selling US meat. Mad-Cow Disease or BSE is caused by the misfolded proteins called prions building up in the brain. A huge outbreak of the disease in UK during the 1990s had profound consequences on its ability to trade to British meat, and also had serious effects on individuals. The US is confident that this case, the first since 2006, is not a problem caused by cattle feed or the process of slaughtering. (Read More)
MEPs Press Commission on 2020 Green Master Plan
23 April 2012 – Euractiv
With 60 days left before the Rio sustainable development conference, MEPs have told the European Commission to produce ‘without delay’ an ambitious environmental agenda for the decade ahead. On Friday the Parliament produced an 11-page resolution highlighting the shortcomings of the expiring Environmental Action Programme (EAP), including individual states failings. The decade old EAP has set in place many controversial pieces of legislation, whilst at the same time many governments have wavered in introducing it all. MEP’s encouraged the commission to come up with a more international paper that is not watered down due to current economic woes. The EU wishes to see itself take a leading role at talks in Rio in June. (Read More)
EU Airlines Emission Law is ‘Deal Breaker for Climate Talks’
12 April 2012 – The Guardian
India’s environment minister has said that the EU’s aviation emission permits are unacceptable. India has demonstrated strong criticism of the incorporation of aviation into the European Emission Trading Scheme. Although the US has announced that it will comply, China has barred its carriers from doing so, a move which India has now followed. Although the Environment ministers comments fall in line with the public Indian line, it is unclear whether these fresh words are officially endorsed. Since the EU introduced its trading scheme more progress has been made at the UN level, although many fear it still would not come into fruition anytime soon. The ‘coalition of the unwilling’, Russia, China and India have all said they will boycott such a scheme at future meetings. However, the EU has illustrated no moves to back down from this scheme. (Read More)
Putin Fears Shale Gas Competition
12 April 2012 – Euractiv
Russian Prime Minister, set to be President, Putin has told his country’s gas industry that it needs to ‘rise to the challenge’ of shale gas being pursued in the US and EU nations. Putin believes that US shale gas could completely restructure supply and demand of gas in Europe. In 2009 the US overtook Russia as the world’s biggest producer of natural gas, a feat only achieved with the help of shale gas. With the EU and other Eastern nations looking to cut their reliance on Russia for energy, it is a direct threat to Russian energy. However, the negatives ecological impacts of shale gas, have halted drilling Bulgaria, Romania and France. However, despite Europe looking for energy independence it is likely a Russian company like Gazprom will still control the companies. (Read More)
Three Russian Companies bid for Greece’s Gas Assets
3 April 2012 – Euractiv
A quarter of the countries bidding to acquire Greek gas companies DEPA and DESFA are Russian, with the most prominent offer being from Gazprom. Greece expects to obtain no less than € 2 billion from the auctioning of these companies. DEPA the public gas supplier for Greec is estimated at €1 billion with its subsidiary DEPA at circa €500 million. However, Greece’s geopolitics makes it an extremely lucrative deal. Greece currently represents the alternative corridor of gas for Europeans, for which the Russian companies wish to cut out. Three major pipelines run through Greece, South Stream, ITGI and TAP, many of which support Italy’s gas needs. There is concern that the Russian European gas monopoly will grow larger in the wake of this. (Read More)
29 March 2012 – BBC News
The UK government has suffered a major setback in its efforts to attract investment to two new nuclear power stations. Energy companies RWE Npower and E.On announced they would not develop the power projects in the UK despite orginal plans to develop new plants new Bristol. The energy companies blamed the lack of interest in raising funds for such projects and also the high cost of decommissioning nuclear power plants in Germany. The plan was to develop eight new power stations which could replace the current aging ones. However, with Germany decommissioning all of their nuclear power plants, it has been a costly time for RWE and E.On who own most of them. There is concern that without these two big European energy players there will not be a substantial enough alternative to fill their lack of support. (Read More)
23 March 2012 – EurActiv
In a move rarely seen, Boeing threw its weight behind Airbus in contending the EU’s airline emission tax announcing at the same time an agreement to work together to develop and commercialize sustainable biofuels. The CEO of Boeing Jim Albaugh said ‘This is not about Boeing and Airbus; it is about what is best for our customers and how we are going to get the whole industry to reduce its environmental footprint’. A meeting in Geneva of aviation industry leaders urged governments to work within the UN to prevent these zonal tax systems. The EU maintains that its scheme will remain in place until the UN can come up with a better or equal one. The two companies which annually compete for $100 billion worth of contracts are uniting to improve the viability of bio-fuels, with both companies understanding that it is crucial to the future of their industry. (Read More)
EU, US Still At Odds Over Airlines' CO2 Emissions Rules
21 March 2012 – Fox Business
At an aviation conference on Wednesday in Geneva, the FAA advised the EU to be more flexible in its discussions with the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) on the imposition of an emissions tax on all aircraft entering EU airspace. The US and many other countries have adamantly opposed the EU effort to include non-EU airlines in the Emissions Trading System as it charges an airline for the full flight, which usually begins outside of EU airspace. The airlines themselves are most concerned with the uncertainly of the matter although Delta and United recently added a three dollar surcharge to cover the new ETS taxes. (Read More)
EU Parliament Chief Says 63 million People Could Be Affected by Water Shortages in Middle East
21 March 2012 – KUNA
President of the European Parliament, Martin Schulz, said that water governance needs addressing in the Mediterranean ahead of an Assembly of Union for the Mediterranean nations in Morocco. 60% of the world’s population with little water is concentrated in the southern part of the Mediterranean region and the Middle East. Schulz claimed that 63 million people in this region could be affected by water shortages by 2025. Schulz went on to say that rapid urbanisation and the failure to properly manage water supplies fairly and efficiently could be damaging. (Read More)
19 March 2012 – China Daily
The criticism from China over the new EU aviation tax is still ongoing. The EU is happy to exempt Chinese flights if the discussion about emission trading schemes in China include aviation and come into action soon. China has selected seven provinces and cities, including Beijing and Tianjin to begin preparations for the pilot of such a market. China believes because it is only a pilot scheme and not national, it cannot include aviation yet. Although the gathering of opponents in Moscow seemed to achieve very little, behind the scenes the EU has said that the US and China are negotiating real solutions. The EU is not alone, South Africa will introduce and ETS later this year and Australia will follow in 2015. The EU is refusing to allow exceptions for fear of other airlines and nations complaining. For each tonne of carbon dioxide emitted without a permit, the airline will be charged 100 Euros. (Read More)
China Blocks Airbus Deals over EU Carbon Tax, says EADS
8 March 2012 – BBC News
In what is seen to be the first retaliatory measure against the new EU emission tax on airlines, China has barred its airlines from purchasing Airbus aircraft. Although China has made no official comment it is unclear whether this is a negotiating ploy or an official policy. EADS, the parent company of airbus, says this could have a large impact on already placed orders but not only that it could encourage other regions to emulate this retaliation. This move by China seems to have taken Europe by surprise after it was though tensions over the issue were easing. It is yet to be seen, in 2013, how many airlines will actually foot the bill of the tax. (Read More)
Germans Are Willing to Pay For Renewable Energies
6 March 2012 – Spiegel
German Environment Minister Norbert Roettgen made it clear that Germany is willing to pay the price in order to move to cleaner and greener energy, a move which he says is still on track. More than 90% of Germans wish for Nuclear energy to be phased out. Despite criticism from EU Energy Commissioner Guenther Oettinger that Germany lacks an energy plan, Roettgen believes it does and is making progress. Germany has to invest heavily in new electricity grids and storage facilities to meet the new types of energy, however improvement is slow. Germany remains a net exporter of energy but some feel this could change with the reduction of nuclear energy. Germany is continuing to expand its solar energy which is expanding faster than expected despite the costly subsidies. Nonetheless, Roettgen claims ‘all surveys show that Germans are willing to [pay], because it’