Energy: September 2008 Archives

Sex officials in oil scandal.

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nakedoilprotesters.jpgThe BBC ran a story today about the "ethical failure" at the American Department of the Interior, entitled US oil officials in sex scandal

Earl Devaney, the investigator, found that officials rigged contracts, moonlighted as private contractors, and had sex with workers they were meant to be overseeing. All in the name of market intelligence.

The line I particularly noticed was "Sexual relationships with prohibited sources cannot, by definition, be arms-length". It might just be me, but is there a good reason why he appears to have exempted spanking?

I also mistakenly read the second word of the headline, seeing it as "oiled", while a wag here imagined a future Green government being exposed to the opposite sort of scandal, as per my title above. 
gordonchimney.jpgHats off to Greenpeace - six of their activists just persuaded a jury to acquit them of criminal damage for the graffiti to the left, on the chimney of the coal-fired power station at Kingsnorth. 

The best bit about this is that the jury effectively said "this criminal damage was an attempt to stop a more serious crime, the criminal damage caused around the world, by coal plants like this, through climate change".

It's the same sort of defence we used in our anti-GM case, but we had to wait for the appeal to get off, not least because Kingsnorth was heard by a jury, but we just had a sheriff.

If Labour or the SNP press ahead with more coal plants, they know they will be on thin legal ice now, and the potential protesters know it too.

The witnesses for this case notably included NASA's Professor James Hansen, an absolute star of early climate change science, and more detail on his evidence, including his written statement, is available here.

Greenpeace planned to write "Gordon, bin it", but I actually prefer the shorter version. Like Dennis Potter christening his cancerous tumour Rupert, after Murdoch, they renamed a grossly polluting chimney Gordon, after Brown. It's not just the dirtiest form of power generation, aside from nuclear, it's actually criminal.

Eight years and four months.

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coolingtower.jpgApparently this is a good timescale to make the changes we need on climate change. It is, of course, better known as 100 months. I'm not convinced by arbitrary deadines, and am not sure what is so vital about January 2017. 

Also, how do you sign people up halfway through? Will the domain name count down? And one final complaint: it's not clear who's behind the site, except by reading the linked-to Guardian site. 

The answer is NEF, incidentally, who I've been fond of in the past.

Having got all that snark off my chest, I did sign up, and will report back on what their monthly activity recommendations are. If they're something more substantial than urging us to turn the taps off when we brush our teeth, which surely they must be, I'll be ready to take it all back and encourage you all to sign up.
turbineanddarkclouds.jpgThe SNP set out their programme for government today, including a Climate Change Bill. Their manifesto last time was clear:

"In government we will introduce a Climate Change Bill with mandatory carbon reduction targets of 3% per annum and also set a long-term target of cutting emissions by a minimum of 80% by 2050 - above the UK target of 60%." (2007 SNP manifesto, p.21)

Annual targets are important because they make Ministers accountable. Each year they have to come before Parliament and say something like: ".. last year we achieved a 2.6% cut in our emissions, which is well below the target set in the legislation. With this in mind, we are increasing next year's budget for public transport, we will reject plans for new coal-fired power stations, and require all Scottish government agencies to switch to 100% clean energy."

The simple issue is this. Who will be in office in a year? The SNP, barring something unforeseen. Who's accountable then? They are. Who will be in office in 2050? No-one knows. Who's accountable? No-one. 

Update: Cochrane says "And, of course we won't be able to see if the Climate Change Bill has worked until 2050. I'll keep you posted."

Yet the annual targets have been dropped, and all that remains is the 80% target for 2050. Have the SNP gone native? Or have they taken it away just so they can look magnanimous by putting it back? It was even suggested to me today that annual targets would go back in exchange for our votes on Local Income Tax. I don't think so.

Not least because the votes are there in the chamber. I listened to the debate today and heard the case for annual targets made by (amongst others) Malcolm Chisholm for Labour, Alison McInnes for the Liberals, and John Scott for the Tories. 

With us, that's a massive majority for some kind of annual targets, whatever the SNP do. If they vote against, it's 81-47, assuming Margo votes for targets. So the question is this: what level should they be set at?

Let's follow the science. We back the Tyndall Centre's analysis. 90% is a better longterm target, and that means we need at least 4.5% annual cuts if we want to do our bit. 

I'm delighted to see the other parties, especially the Tories and the Liberals, really standing up for annual targets. Let's see if they back a sensible number, though.

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About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Energy category from September 2008.

Energy: August 2008 is the previous archive.

Energy: October 2008 is the next archive.