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UK ministers ignored 'peak oil' warnings, report shows
Terry MacAlister, The Guardian
The government was warned by its own civil servants two years ago that there could be "significant negative economic consequences" to the UK posed by near-term "peak oil" energy shortages.
Ministers were told it was impossible to know exactly when production might fail to meet supply but when it did there could be global consequences, including "civil unrest."
Yet ministers consistently played down the threat with the contemporaneous Wicks Review into energy security (pdf) effectively dismissing peak oil as alarmist and irrelevant.
The report on the risks and impacts of a potential future decline in oil production has just been published – but only after the Department of Energy and Climate Change (Decc) was repeatedly threatened under the Freedom of Information Act with forced disclosure...
(15 June 2011)
Senate Rejects Effort to Cut Ethanol Subsidy
Siobhan Hughes , Wall Street Journal
A Senate effort to take away ethanol subsidies came up short Tuesday but exposed weakened support for a $6 billion tax break, suggesting that the incentive could be eliminated.
The Senate didn't reach the 60 votes needed to proceed to a vote, undermined by Democratic leaders frustrated at the procedural maneuver used to bring the measure to the floor. But in the process of reaching the 40-59 vote, a coalition of conservatives and environmentalists challenged the legitimacy of the subsidies as their peers became entangled in a larger debate over tax breaks in an age of deficits.
"Even though I've supported this tax credit, for all of the years that I have served in both the House and Senate, I think the time has come," said Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R, Ga.), in a sign of the changing political climate. "I do not intend to support an extension of that tax credit beginning from the expiration at the end of this year." ..
(14 June 2011)
Soot, smog curbs quick way to combat warming: U.N. study
Alister Doyle, Reuters
Tighter limits on soot and smog provide a quick and easy way to fight global warming while protecting human health and raising crop output, a U.N. study said on Tuesday.
It outlined 16 measures, ranging from plugging leaky gas transport pipelines to improving wood burning stoves, to limit "black carbon" -- soot -- methane and tropospheric ozone, which is a greenhouse gas that is a big component of smog.
"A small number of emission reduction measures ... offer dramatic public health, agricultural, economic and environmental benefits," Achim Steiner, head of the U.N. Environment Programme, said in a statement of the report.
The study, urging actions beyond a normal focus on curbing carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas from human activities, said the recommended actions could lop 0.5 degree Celsius (0.9 Fahrenheit) off rising temperatures...
Link to report summary
(14 June 2011)