Developing Nations Return To Cheap Fossil Fuels

greenDeveloping countries that already have a high share of renewable energy in their power mix are unlikely to grow this share further due to skyrocketing demand for cheap electricity, a report warns. The study by intergovernmental organisation the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) says that many developing countries made huge strides towards deploying renewable technologies over the past decade — but this rise is now levelling off. Instead, these countries are turning towards fossil fuels to meet the energy demands of their citizens, IRENA says. Renewables formed nearly 50 per cent of Indonesia’s energy mix in 2000, but this had dropped to under 40 per cent by 2013, the report found. China, India and Mexico have also seen their renewable share fall over this period. –Claudia Caruana, Sci Dev Net, 11 April 2016

Sanjeev Gupta’s plan to rescue the Port Talbot steelworks in south Wales by ripping out and replacing its blast furnaces would leave it twice as exposed to Britain’s high electricity prices, according to UK Steel, the trade association. It found that while the arc furnaces are more modern and efficient, they are twice as dependent on electricity as blast furnaces. Luis Sanz, Celsa’s UK managing director said: “The huge disparity in electricity costs compared with countries such as Germany and France has significantly damaged our competitive position, and ultimately our business.” … The issue is “the main hurdle in this whole equation” of how to save Port Talbot, Mr Gupta told the Financial Times. –Kiran Stacey and Michael Pooler, Financial Times, 11 April 2016

Tata has in the past blamed “cripplingly high” energy costs for the difficulties at its lossmaking UK unit, which has 15,000 employees. The most recent figures from the energy department show that electricity prices paid by large industrial users such as steelmakers are higher than anywhere else in the EU, and double the continent’s average. This is in part because the UK has imposed a higher carbon price than elsewhere, lifting the cost of electricity produced by power stations fired by fossil fuels. –Kiran Stacey and Michael Pooler, Financial Times, 11 April 2016

Sajid Javid, the business secretary, opened up the possibility of a part-nationalisation of Port Talbot steelworks after offering to co-invest with a buyer “on commercial terms”. Mr Javid has previously ruled out full nationalisation of the business but his comments signal the potential for the government to take a stake in the industry, which has been plunged into crisis due to a slump in price driven by a global supply glut. Such a move would be a historic step for a Tory government; there is almost no precedent since the 1970s. –Jim Pickard and Michael Pooler, Financial Times, 12 April 2016

Tens of thousands of workers in the German steel industry have taken to the streets to demonstrate for their jobs. The IG Metall union spoke of 45,000 participants. The steelworkers protested firstly against cheap imports from China. The steelworkers also fear the introduction of stricter climate policies by the EU. Federal Economics Minister Gabriel promised the steelworkers his support. He said, he would not agree to any climate policy that threatens the future of the German steel production. According to industry figures, the planned tightening of the EU emissions trading scheme would lead to additional annual costs of one billion euros for the German steel industry. —Die Tagesschau, 11 April 2016

Half of Germany’s steelworkers poured onto the country’s streets on Monday in protest against the dumping of Chinese steel, EU climate regulations and industry consolidation they fear will cost them their jobs. More than 40,000 downed tools to take part in protests against a backdrop of on-and-off steel merger talks between Thyssenkrupp, the country’s biggest steelmaker, and Tata Steel, which is retreating from Europe. Workers fear they could face a similar fate to their peers in Britain, where Tata has put its entire steel business up for sale, endangering thousands of jobs. The size of the demonstrations, organized by powerful trade union IG Metall and supported by Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel, showed the depth of Germany’s attachment to steel and the strength of likely opposition to any merger. Reuters, 11 April 2016 There are intriguing signs of a softening of political resolve to act on Climate Change, on the left wing of Australian Politics. Perhaps the Climate Policy driven jobs bloodbath, in the British Steel Industry, is starting to have a wider impact. This softening of Australian resolve on climate action may be a direct consequence, of growing union membership disquiet about the impact on jobs, of trying to “save” the planet. One obvious question is, why did labour unions ever support job destroying climate policies? –Eric Worrall, Watts Up With That, 11 April 2016

Conspiring to deprive “deniers” of their free speech rights would be a crime. As Bloomberg’s Megan McArdle noted: “They threw the word ‘fraud’ around a lot. But the more they talked about it, the more it became clear that what they meant by ‘fraud’ was ‘advocating for policies that the attorneys general disagreed with.'” The goal of these state attorneys general seems to be to treat disagreement as something more or less criminal. Yet prescribing such orthodoxy seems to be just what they have in mind. Their approach is — and I use this term quite deliberately — thoroughly un-American. In pursuing this action, they are betraying their oaths of office, abusing their powers and behaving unethically as attorneys. –Glenn Reynolds, USA Today, 11 April 2016