The Ecologist


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The UK government is lavishing billions of pounds of subsidies on North Sea gas and oil - while cutting renewable energy to the bone. Photo: Thistle Alpha oil rig in the North Sea roughly halfway between the Shetland islands and Norway by snapper via Flic

COP21: Time to end fossil fuel subsidies!

Tony Juniper

30th November 2015

The theme at COP21 today has been the urgent need to cut fossil fuel subsidies that favour dirty energy over renewables, writes Tony Juniper. Sadly the UK is setting all the wrong examples - ramping up its spending on fossil fuels, while slashing its much smaller renewable energy budgets. more...
A Greenland glacier breaks up into pieces into Ilulissat Icefjord. With rising sea levels and warming temperatures, such events are becoming ever more frequent. Photo: Tim Norris via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND).

WMO: record warming rises into danger zone

Alex Kirby

28th November 2015

A climate negotiators gather in Paris for COP21, the WMO say that a combination of human and natural causes will make 2015 temperatures the hottest ever - half way to the 2C 'safety threshold'. But despite the ever falling price of solar and wind, many newly industrialising countries are insisting on coal-fired development. more...
The list of sponsors for the 21st UN Climate Conference (COP21) released today includes some of the least climate-friendly multinationals. Image: Corporate Europe Observatory.

COP21 - brought to you by 200 Mt a year of coal-fired CO2

Pavlos Georgiadis

26th November 2015

As negotiators from around the world gather in Paris for what's hoped to be a groundbreaking climate summit, many will be surprised to discover that COP21 is funded by some of the world's biggest coal burners, writes Pavlos Georgiadis, and a leading financier of coal and tar sands development. Shouldn't we just ... kick them out? more...
HM Chancellor George Osborne gazing happily at his vision of the future, courtesy of Ealing Studios. Sadly, the device has a fault - and it's actually taking him back to the 1950s. Photo: PA / HM Treasury via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND).

Osborne's systematic devastation of the UK's sustainable future

David Lowry & Oliver Tickell

26th November 2015

The 'Autumn Statement' delivered with such aplomb by the Chancellor is yet another attack on the UK's sustainable future, write David Lowry & Oliver Tickell - cutting energy efficiency funds just as tens of thousands are set to die of cold this winter, betting £250m on pointless nuclear research, and raiding the renewables budget to fund subsidies to nuclear power and fossil fuels. more...
The growing gap between the projections of fossil energy companies, and the 450ppm of CO2 path to a 2C world. Image: Carbon Tracker.

Investors face $2.2 trillion loss on 'risky' fossil fuel assets

Alex Kirby

25th November 2015

A new report warns that coal, oil and gas assets will be stranded if the world is to limit temperature rise to 2C. Losses are projected to reach $2.2 trillion over the next decade, with coal taking the biggest hit, while oil demand peaks in 2020. Yet fossil energy companies are ignoring the very innovations that will put them out of business. more...
With this lot, what do you expect? At the G20 Turkey Leaders Summit (L-R) Jean-Claude Juncker, David Cameron, Donald Tusk. Photo: European Council President via Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA).

Weeks before COP21, G20 fail the climate challenge

Oliver Tickell

16th November 2015

In the run-up to the COP21 climate summit in Paris the G20's Antalya Communiqué is weaker on climate, fossil fuel subsidies and support for renewable energy than the G20's 2009 Pittsburgh Statement made shortly before the failed COP15 in Copenhagen six years ago. more...
'Whom the Gods would destroy, they first make mad.' Prometheus Brings Fire by Heinrich Friedrich Füger.

Britain's race for the climate abyss - only we can stop it now!

Alan Simpson

13th November 2015

The government's policies on climate, energy and industry are not merely stupid, writes Alan Simpson. The repeated cuts to renewables and energy efficiency, combined with limitless largesse to fossil fuels, has reached the point of insanity in the face of the UK's legal obligations and the growing climate crisis. Only we, the people, can end the madness. more...
Tigyit coal mine. Photo: Carole Oudot / Matthieu Baudey.

Burma goes for coal - but at what cost in pollution, disease and land grabs?

Carole Oudot & Matthieu Baudey

29th October 2015

The president of Burma has decided that coal is the way to future wealth and prosperity, write Carole Oudot & Matthieu Baudey. But if the experiences of farmers and village people near Tigyit, site of the country's biggest coal mine and coal-fired power plant is anything to go by, it will bring only poverty, pollution, ill-health and land grabs to rural communities across the country. more...
An Ecotricity wind turbine in Swaffham, Norfolk. Photo: Nick Ford via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND).

UK rigging power market against clean energy

Alex Kirby

7th October 2015

Ecotricity boss Dale Vince has accused the government of rigging the electricity market, writes Alex Kirby, by showering fossil fuels and nuclear power with huge subsidies, while taxing renewables and insisting they must 'stand on their own two feet'. more...
Aerial view of the Amazon rainforest, near Manaus, an area affected by fracking licences. Photo: Neil Palmer / CIAT for CIFOR on Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND).

Brazil to auction Amazon fracking licences

The Ecologist

6th October 2015

Brazil is about to auction hundreds of fracking blocks across the country - extending deep into the Amazon forest including the territories of remote and vulnerable indigenous peoples. Registered bidders include BP, Shell and ExxonMobil. more...
sHellNo! Flotilla Departure Blockade in Seattle's Elliott Bay, 15th June 2015. Photo: Jeff Dunnicliff / Backbone Campaign via Flickr (CC BY).

Shell's retreat from the Arctic - what tipped the scales?

Louise Rouse / Greenpeace Energydesk

30th September 2014

When Shell decided to quit its Arctic oil exploration it cited 'insufficient quantities' of oil and gas, writes Louise Rouse. But that was not the whole story: what tipped the balance was a combination of investor discontent, reputational damage and public opposition on an unprecedented scale. more...
Dead trees in a Duke Energy Buck coal ash pond, 2014. Photo: Dot Griffith, Waterkeeper Alliance via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND).

Coal ash: America's multi-billion ton toxic legacy

Ben Whitford

29th September 2015

America's coal-fired power plants produce 140 million tons of ash a year, reports Ben Whitford, most of it dumped in open storage ponds that contaminate drinking water with arsenic and heavy metals. And now Presidential candidate Jeb Bush is promising to scrap 'new and costly' (actually feeble) EPA regulations before they have even been implemented. more...

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The derelict Crowood Petrol Station next to the dual carriageway on the Cumbernauld Road as you enter the wee town of Chryston on the edge of Glasgow. Photo: byronv2 via Flickr (CC BY-NC).

VW wipeout: the end of fossil fuels looms near

Mike Berners-Lee & Chris Goodall

29th September 2015

VW's pollution cheating has caused thousands of premature deaths, write Mike Berners-Lee & Chris Goodall, creating costs that could destroy the company's entire shareholder equity. But this is no 'Black Swan' event. It is an early example of the existential threat to the fossil fuel economy. more...
Plenty more where that came from under the desert sands. Garage in the Empty Quarter, Saudi Arabia. Photo: Jon Bowen via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND).

Yemen in dust, blood and flames, and the world is silent. Could it be oil?

Martha Mundy

25th September 2015

There's a plan afoot in Yemen, writes Martha Mundy, but no one is telling you about it. It's a plan so big that a country of 20 million people has to be starved and bombed into total submission, yet the world is indifferent. Yes, its oil. Lots of oil, and gas too, and lakes of fossil water, all lurking beneath the desert sands of the Arabian peninsula. How do we know? Because they told us. more...
Is this what you want your pension fund to finance? Open pit coal mine near Hailar, Inner Mongolia. Photo: Herry Lawford via Flickr (CC BY).

Exposed: UK Councils' £14 billion fossil fuel gamble

The Ecologist

24th September 2015

UK local authorities have £14 billion invested in fossil fuels, campaigners revealed today. Now they should re-invest it in solar energy, new housing and other areas that generate local and global benefits - as well as providing better security for pension holders. more...
The House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee questions George Osborne, Chancellor of the Exchequer, on Hinkley C and other issues, 8th September 2015. Photo: ukhouseoflords via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND).

Shame upon them! The government's nuclear lies exposed

Oliver Tickell

23rd September 2015

The UK government and its Chancellor George Osborne are grossly misleading the public over the relative costs of renewable energy and nuclear power, writes Oliver Tickell. Osborne's claim that nuclear is the 'cheapest low carbon technology' is the very reverse of the truth. He and his nuclear plans must be stopped. more...
The city of Newcastle, Australia, home to the world's biggest coal port, is among those to join the divestment movement. Port Waratah Coal Loader and freight train carrying steel. Photo: OZinOH via Flickr (CC BY-NC).

Divestment pledges rise 50-fold to $2.6 trillion

The Ecologist

22nd September 2015

Pledges by investors to divest from fossil fuels have soared to $2.6 trillion - 50 times more than a year ago. 'Now is the time to divest', says Leonardo di Caprio, one of the latest to join the movement, which even includes Newcastle, Australia, home to the world's biggest coal port. more...
At the New Mexico Consortium, Los Alamos scientists are using genetic engineering to improve algae strains for increased biomass yield and carbon capture efficiency. Photo: Los Alamos National Laboratory via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND).

Re-engineering life? The dangers of 'next generation' biofuels

Almuth Ernsting

30th September 2015

The biofuels of the future will depend on microbes, writes Almuth Ernsting: algae to produce the biomass, and fungi or bacteria to break cellulose down into useful molecules. Just one problem: wild strains aren't up to the job. So scientists are trying to genetically engineer supercharged 'synthetic biology' variants - which will inevitably enter the environment. What could possibly go wrong? more...
Burn all our fossil fuels, and all the ice in Antarctica will melt, causing sea levels to rise 58m. The Ellsworth Range in Antarctica as seen from the IceBridge DC-8, 22nd October 2012. Photo: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (CC BY).

Let fossil fuels rip for an ice-free Antarctica

Tim Radford

18th September 2015

Scientists warn that burning up the planet's remaining fossil fuel would cause all Antarctic ice to melt and lead to 58m of sea level rise over 10,000 years, writes Tim Radford. But devastating impacts would strike much sooner, with oceans rising by 3m a century for the next millennium. more...
Linevo and its water reservoir formed by a dam on Koinikha, a small river falling into Ob. The giant Novosibirsk Electrode Factory is on the background. Photo: Tatiana Bulyonkova via Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA).

Russia - has the world's biggest country turned against the environment?

Lucy E J Woods

22nd September 2015

While other countries apply themselves to environmental challenges from climate change to nature protection, Russia - with its massive wealth of nature and natural resources - is stubbornly refusing to take part, writes Lucy E J Woods. And as the economy declines, the pressure is on: to ignore environmental regulations, and clamp down on environmental defenders. more...
Wind turbines along a mountain ridge in Galicia, Spain. Photo: Luis Alves via Flickr (CC BY).

The archaic nature of 'baseload' power

Michael Mariotte

7th September 2015

Nuclear power advocates cling like limpets to the idea of 'baseload' power, writes Michael Mariotte. No surprise there - it's the only selling point they've got. It's just too bad the idea is obsolete. Variable renewables combined with stronger grids, energy storage and responsive demand can do a better job for less money. No wonder the shills are getting desperate. more...
Seneca Lake defense = Climate defense. Protestors at Crestwood's Senaca Lake 'compression facility', 18th August 2015. Photo: via Facebook.

Over 370 arrests for blocking NY fracked gas store

Ashoka Jegroo / Waging NonViolence

31st August 2015

Protests against plans to make an enormous storage site for fracked gas at Seneca Lake in New York state seven times bigger are gathering pace, writes Ashoka Jegroo, with 13 arrests at a gate blockade last week. But is the company, Crestwood, getting the message? more...
'No Coal - the 'Ende Gelände' action, 15th August 2015. Photo: Ruben Neugebauer / via Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA).

Into the heart of the beast - occupying Germany's open cast coal nightmare

Toni Belly

21st August 2015

Last weekend Toni Belly was occupying Germany's biggest open cast coal mine in the once lovely Rhineland area, one of thousands of protestors from and other groups determined to shut the operation down. Nursing his bruises and eyes still sore from pepper spray, he set down his account of an unforgettable day of action. more...
There's coal in them thar hills outside Merthyr Tydfil. But Caerphilly councillors have just voted to leave it where it is, under the ground. Photo: Stuart Herbert (CC BY-NC-SA).

Campaigners celebrate as Caerphilly councillors vote: the coal stays in the ground

Guy Shrubsole

7th July 2015

Caerphilly councillors yesterday refused permission for a huge open cast coal mine in South Wales that's fiercely opposed by local people furious at its impacts on air, landscape, tranquillity and climate, writes Guy Shrubsole. Coming so soon after the rejection of fracking in Lancashire, the message is clear: fossil fuels are best left safely underground. more...
Mountaintop removal mining impacts on Blair Mountain, West Virginia, USA. Photo courtesy of Paul Corbit Brown.

RBS, Barclays, HSBC ... it's time to get out of coal!

Greig Aitken / BankTrack

4th August 2015

There's one big thing that Britain's biggest banks could do to reclaim their grievously impaired reputations, writes Greig Aitken: commit to stop investing in coal projects. As well as reducing climate change and local environmental impacts, it would also 'de-risk' their balance sheets as the global tide, from the US to China, turns against the dirty, carbon-heavy fuel. more...


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