Britain Follows Paris Climate Deal With Cuts To Green Subsidies

paris screedBritain cut more renewable energy subsidies on Thursday, putting jobs at risk and drawing criticism for losing credibility in tackling climate change, a week after the landmark deal in Paris. Britain’s Conservative government has been reining in spending on all renewables subsidies since it took power in May, saying the cost of technology has come down sharply and subsidies should reflect that. Thursday’s cuts came a day after it allowed the use of fracking to extract shale gas below national parks and protected areas and as it is expected to announce the winners of new onshore oil and gas licenses. —Reuters, 17 December 2015

MPs on Wednesday voted in favour of the use of fracking to extract shale gas under national parks, weakening a decision against fracking in national parks made earlier this year and giving shale gas explorers access to more resources. Britain is estimated to have substantial amounts of gas trapped in underground shale rocks and Prime Minister Cameron has pledged to go all-out to extract these reserves, to help offset declining North Sea oil and gas output. MPs, who supported the rule change with a slim 37-vote margin, decided to loosen this rule on Wednesday by allowing shale gas explorers to undertake fracking at least 1,200 metres below the surface in national parks. —Reuters, 17 December 2015

The ink hasn’t yet dried on the UN climate accord and one of the territories most at risk from global warning is already demanding an opt-out. “We still have the option of making a territorial opt-out to COP21,” Kim Kielsen, the prime minister of Greenland, said during a visit to Copenhagen on Monday. “We have an emissions quota of 650,000 tonnes of CO2, which is the same as a single coal-fired power plant in Denmark, or a minor Danish city.” –Peter Levring, Bloomberg, 14 December 2015

India still plans to double coal output by 2020 and rely on the resource for decades afterwards, a senior official said on Monday, days after rich and poor countries agreed in Paris to curb carbon emissions that cause global warming. “The environment is non-negotiable and we are extremely careful about it,” Anil Swarup, the top bureaucrat in the coal ministry, told Reuters. “(But) our dependence on coal will continue. There are no other alternatives available.” —The Guardian, 14 December 2015

Less than a week since signing the global climate deal in Paris, Japan and South Korea are pressing ahead with plans to open scores of new coal-fired power plants, casting doubt on the strength of their commitment to cutting CO2 emissions. Even as many of the world’s rich nations seek to phase out the use of coal, Asia’s two most developed economies are burning more than ever and plan to add at least 60 new coal-fired power plants over the next 10 years. —Japan Times, 16 December 2015

A new paper forecasts that overall winter sea ice extent will remain steady in the near future. This research underlines the significance of satellite data showing that Arctic sea ice extent now is broadly similar to that reported a decade ago. Climate scientists at the US National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) found that changes in the North Atlantic ocean circulation could allow overall winter sea ice extent to remain steady in the near future, with continued loss in some regions balanced by possible growth in others, including in the Barents Sea. —Reporting Climate Science, 11 December 2015