Search Results for Tag: Oil
Greenpeace criticizes draft Arctic oil spill response agreement
The Arctic Council environment ministers will be meeting in Jukkasjärvi in Sweden over the next few days. One of the items on the agenda is a long-awaited agreement on dealing with oil accidents in the Arctic. A copy of the document has been leaked, and Greenpeace says it is “vague and inadequate”. “Marine Oil Pollution Preparedness and Response in the Arctic” is the title of the paper, set to be adopted by the Council’s foreign ministers at their meeting in May. An oil spill in the Arctic would be very hard to tackle for various reasons, including remoteness, cold, ice, darkness and the fact that oil takes longer to break up in cold conditions. Remember the Exxon Valdez? If you are young enough not to, it was a tanker that went down in Prince William Sound in 1989, with devastating effects on the environment.. I visited the spot a couple of years ago, and there are still clumps of oil under stones on the beaches. And of course Shell is having its own problems with Arctic drilling at the moment.
Greenpeace is running an international campaign against oil drilling in the Arctic. Ben Ayliffe, head of the campaign, told the media: “This draft agreement does not inspire confidence in the ability of the Arctic Council to protect this fragile region when the worst happens. It’s incredibly vague, it fails to hold oil companies liable for the impact of their mistakes, and there is nothing here that ensures adequate capacity to deal with a spill in these nations”
I have been talking to a lot of experts on this over the last few years and most of them are convinced that a spill would happen sooner or later and would be extremely difficult to deal with. The risks to the fragile Arctic ecosystem would be enormous.
DateFebruary 4, 2013 | 4:05 pm
Green energy revolution in the Gulf?
“Everybody who’s anybody“in the world of renewables, climate and sustainability seems to be putting in an appearance here in the oil-rich emirate Abu Dhabi this week. Sustainability Week, as it’s dubbed, started off with a meeting of the International Renewable Energy Agency IRENA, which has its headquarters here. The announcement that China is applying for full membership this year was one of the highlights of the top-level meeting.
Today, at the start of the World Future Energy Summit, I’ve heard top-level speakers including French premier Francois Hollande, German environment minister Peter Altmaier, EU Climate Commissioner Connie Hedegard and others addressing the international audience (3,000 delegates, 30,00 visitors expected by the organizers in the course of the week). Germany in particular comes off very well, with people talking about the “Energiewende”, or energy transformation in progress there and the rapid development of renewable energy.
But the really fascinating thing for me is the feeling that the Gulf states seem to be getting serious at last about getting into renewables. There’s a lot of international interest in their motives. Abu Dhabi’s wealth, for instance, is clearly based on oil revenue. There is no sign that that is about to change in the near future. Use renewables at home to sell more oil abroad? Well, there is that.
But there is a clear interest in diversification of the energy supply and, of course, the economy. This region doesn’t want to miss out on the global move towards securing energy, water and food security by getting into renewables, (especially solar, for obvious reasons). When it comes to emissions reductions, of course, there is still plenty of scope for debate, which is taking place here at the conferences on a regular basis, at all levels, from the stages to the coffee tables.
Sustainability is the buzzword this week – but is it just a buzzword?
Yesterday I visited Shams1, the world’s biggest single-unit CSP (concentrated solar power) plant, with a capacity of 100 MW, set to open very soon (although no-one was willing to confirm the actual date). It’s a huge project, with lines of mirrors as far as the eye can see. It could power 20,000 homes when it’s ready. Tomorrow, I’ll be having a look at Masdar city.
Qatar is also increasing its solar activities, as we’ve reported on DW recently. “Leading by example”, is how Hedegard described the Masdar initiative in her keynote.
But one of the most interesting issues today was a talk by Saudi Arabia’s deputy industry Minister Khalid al Sueiman about their targets for renewables. 30% of electricity generation by 2032 certainly sounds like a move in the right direction. So is the country once known as a key blocker of climate agreements and emissions reduction commitments turning over a new leaf? The motivation, the minister says, is to make the oil go further. The international media were pushing hard for more information from the Saudi expert. “We need encouragement, don’t push us too hard”, was an unofficial comment I heard from one of his aides.
I talked to Professor Jeffrey Sachs, renowned expert from the Earth Institute, Columbia University in the USA about this. He was giving a keynote speech here and launching the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network (too hard to define right now).
He says he really does have the feeling positive things are happening here in the Gulf region.
The mega energy-event is sponsored by Exxon Mobile, incidentally. Oil companies preparing to shift to renewables? “I’ll believe it when I see it”, says Professor Sachs. But more on all that later. Things are certainly moving.
DateJanuary 15, 2013 | 2:08 pm
Polar bear in Abu Dhabi
Yes, the ice-blogger has indeed found a polar bear in Abu Dhabi. I was standing in front of ‘Wendy’, an eco-art creation by US-based artists and architects Marc Kushner and Matthias Hollwich, set up in downtown Abu Dhabi as part of Sustainability Week, when I was handed a magazine with a 3D picture of the climate impact icon, looking lost on a chunk of melting ice. Abdallah al Shami is the project editor of a spezial edition of the Abu Dhabi culture magazine Shawati in conjunction with Masdar to mark this week dedicated to sustainability, clean energy and water.
The picture showcases what our actions can do to the environment, he says. We can save it – or it will go. ‘We wanted to have a global message, not just address local issues’, says Abdallah. ‘With all the ice that has been melting in the Arctic, Abu Dhabi wants to address global issues and their interconnections’. And those connections between our actions anywhere in the globe and what’s happening in the Arctic are exactly why the ice blog is coming to you from this part of the world this week. Couldn’t have put it better myself, Abdallah.
DateJanuary 14, 2013 | 7:09 pm
Is not such an easy question to answer, Charles Emmerson from the British think-tank Chatham House told the Arctic Futures conference hosted by the International Polar Foundation and the EU committee of the regions in Brussels. In a session on the future of energy resources in the Arctic, he said it depends on various factors, including geographical location, economic costs and geo-political aspects. Emmerson was co-author of a study Arctic Opening: Opportunity and Risk in the High North for Chatham House and Lloyds.
DateOctober 9, 2012 | 9:54 am
Well, it has finally happened as feared. The National Snow and Ice Data Center at the University of Colorado has confirmed the summer sea ice in the Arctic has melted even further than in the record year 2007 – and it’s not at its annual summer minimum yet. It’s likely to melt more in the next three weeks. Must be a very frustrating feeling for the Greenpeace activists who have been hovering around the Russian Arctic drilling platform Prirazlomnaya, belonging to Gazprom, for the last five days.
DateAugust 29, 2012 | 9:30 am