Stop blocking fracking, UK government tells local councils

CRIB NOTES AUG 10-14: Westminster plans frack-attack, Aus INDC mooted, oil crash hits Venezuela, Russia

Amber Rudd at the Department for Energy and Climate Change (Flickr/ DECC)

Amber Rudd at the Department for Energy and Climate Change (Flickr/ DECC)

By Ed King

GET FRACKING: No holiday for UK climate chief Amber Rudd. While others in the cabinet top up their tans she’s working on a plan to streamline fracking regulations and lower the bar for new projects. “We can’t continue with a system where applications are dragged out for months or even years,” she writes in the Sunday Times.

This week the government will write to local authorities “to make clear there is a national need to explore shale in a safe, sustainable and timely way,” she adds. Recent attempts to frack for gas in the UK have foundered. More on that here.

Coincidentally… the govt has just released this funky cartoon explaining fracking (I love the end where fully grown trees miraculously appear out of a digger).

AUSTRALIA: We’re expecting its UN climate plan this week, although there’s little indication it will make waves. The Climate Institute have released results of a public opinion survey as a prelude to that report – it suggests 84% of Aussies see solar as one of their preferred energy choices, followed by wind.

“This week’s decision on Australia’s initial post-2020 climate commitment comes as nearly two thirds of Australian believe that the ‘Abbott government should take climate change more seriously’, a surge of 6 per cent from last year,” said John Connor, Climate Institute CEO.

BULLISH TALK: Still, not previously known for bragging about climate success, PM Tony Abbott has been bigging up the country’s carbon cutting efforts. In a statement he said it was well on course to meet its 2020 goal of 5% cuts on 2000 levels.

“On a per capita basis, this is a better performance than the United States, Canada, Japan and Europe,” he said. It’s worth adding that’s way off the 30% cuts by 2025 the government-funded Climate Change Authority recommend Australia target.

VENEZUELA: Has been “terrorised” by crashing oil prices, reports the FT. High social spending levels are increasingly untenable as income from oil, which account for 96% of export revenues, slumps.

“Over the past 14 months means revenues have slumped by about $36bn compared with the average of the previous two years, when the government raked in almost $79bn,” says the FT.

RUSSIA: There’s no escape. Nick Butler from the FT says Moscow is now “in trouble” after oil prices slumped against below $50. Economic problems could lead to further instability inside the country and in neighbouring countries. “The oil and gas markets are being shaped by forces that neither Mr Putin nor anyone else can control. The downward cycle could take years to play out,” he writes.

SOME THEORY: That’s not proven. That’s what Ohio governor John Kasich thinks about climate change. The Republican presidential hopeful told NBC he was’t convinced by the science. “We don’t want to destroy people’s jobs based on some theory that’s not proven,” he said. It’s a sign Kasich may be trying to ingratiate himself with the party faithful, say analysts. Previously he has talked up clean energy and spoken of the need to protect “God’s creation”.

HOLIDAY READING: What do think tanks think about the region’s climate targets? The European Parliamentary Research Service has pulled together 36 papers analysing the prospects of a UN climate deal. Get digging. Here.

SHELL LEAVES ALEC: As we reported late Friday, Royal Dutch Shell has said it will not renew its membership of the conservative lobby group ALEC (more on that here). Greenpeace are unimpressed: “Shell is being dragged kicking and screaming  out of ALEC due to investor and public pressure.  But they have a long way to go to bridge the massive gap between the reality of their business plans, most notably their catastrophic plan to drill in the Arctic, their other anti-climate lobbying, and their claimed leadership on climate change.”

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