Many have doubted forecasts calling for the onset of the first La Niña in almost five years, believing that its failure to materialize in convincing fashion last summer – as originally predicted – means that it may be off the table for 2016-17. But in recent weeks, the oceans and atmosphere have been pulling everything into place to facilitate a potentially stronger La Niña than previously thought, so those who follow commodities markets may want to take a second look. Cooling sea surface temperatures in the key Niño 3.4 region have touched the levels of early 2012. –Karen Braun, Reuters, 20 October 2016
The French government is set to drop plans to introduce a carbon tax, French financial daily Les Echos said on Thursday. The newspaper, quoting several sources, said the socialist government will not include the carbon tax in a draft 2016 budget update currently being discussed. Environment Minister Segolene Royal had said in May that France would unilaterally introduce a carbon price floor of about 30 euros ($33) a tonne with a view to kickstart broader European action to cut emissions and drive forward the December 2015 United Nations-led international climate accord. The plan had pushed power prices higher in the spring. —Reuters, 21 October 2016
France produced the most power from fossil fuels for September in 32 years to help meet demand as nuclear generation dropped. Output from coal and gas plants more than doubled as Paris-based Electricite de France SA was forced to keep reactors offline for inspections. French month-ahead power prices have risen to near the highest since 2009. “The availability of French nuclear continues to alarm market participants,” said Bruno Brunetti, managing director of global power at Pira Energy Group in New York. “With the lack of French exports supporting thermal generation, we have revised upward forecasts of coal-fired dispatching by roughly 5 terawatt-hours through 2017 in western Europe.” –Rachel Morison, Bloomberg 18 October 2016
The recent South Australian blackout has triggered a debate about the manifest risks of wind farms to the security of electricity networks. National Grid’s 2016/17 Winter Outlook reinforces previous concerns that low-carbon policy mandates are resulting in electricity systems that are likely to be fragile in the face of external shock, and are therefore more difficult and consequently more expensive to manage. Read together, National Grid’s UK Winter Outlook and AEMO’s reports on the South Australian case, suggest that systems heavily exposed to wind generation tend to be fragile, and rendering such systems adequately robust is both difficult and, crucially, expensive. –John Constable, Global Warming Policy Forum, 20 October 2016
The UK has joined Poland and a small group of other EU countries lobbying to delay tougher pollution rules for coal power stations ahead of discussions in Brussels on Thursday. In a letter seen by the FT, Thérèse Coffey, the UK’s environment minister, warned the EU environment commissioner, Karmenu Vella, that the “uncertain global economic climate” means new pollution regulations should not impose “a disproportionate financial cost or technical burden on industry”. Along with her counterparts from Poland, Greece, Finland and the Czech Republic, Ms Coffey believes more time should be given to a “comprehensive consideration” of the “significant” impact of new limits to be set under the EU’s main industry pollution law, the Industrial Emissions Directive. –Pilita Clark, Financial Times, 20 October 2016
Oil and gas companies are valued largely on reserves that will be produced over the next 15 years, meaning that their investors are not vulnerable to longer-term changes in energy markets, a leading industry adviser has said. Daniel Yergin of IHS Markit rejected warnings of a “carbon bubble” that could destabilise financial markets as policies to combat climate change hit fossil fuel producers, saying the transition to renewable energy would take decades and investors would have time to adjust their holdings. In a paper published on Wednesday, Mr Yergin argued that the concerns expressed by Mr Carney and others have been overdone, because investors generally look at relatively short time horizons when valuing oil and gas assets. –Ed Crooks, Financial Times, 19 October 2016
A former Greenpeace leader butted heads Tuesday with the anti-fracking movement by insisting that hydraulic fracturing is needed to help fight global warming. Stephen Tindale, who was executive director of Greenpeace U.K. from 2000 to 2005, said that fracking, used to extract natural gas and oil from underground rock, helps combat greenhouse-gas emissions by reducing reliance on coal. “[T]oday Britain faces its biggest environmental challenge ever — tackling global warming while still keeping the lights on,” Mr. Tindale said in the Tuesday article for the [U.K.] Sun. “And as a lifelong champion of the Green cause, I’m convinced that fracking is not the problem but a central part of the answer.” –Valerie Richardson, The Washington Times, 19 October 2016
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