The Great Debate UK
By Morven McCulloch
The ongoing crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in north-eastern Japan, seriously damaged by a March 11 earthquake and tsunami, has led to anti-nuclear protests in several countries and forced governments to rethink their energy policies.
The UK currently has 10 nuclear power stations, representing 18 percent of the country’s energy supply according to Energy UK. Should British Prime Minister David Cameron, like German Chancellor Angela Merkel, reverse his position on the safety of nuclear power?
Environment and climate scientist Lord Julian Hunt told Reuters in a video interview that although the situation at the Fukushima plant is an “extremely serious event,” there are risks to consider with every type of power.
Hunt says: “I think the difficulty about a public debate is to weigh up very short-term risks with longer-term risks that happen all the time.
from Global News Journal:
The consensus view in Germany is that Angela Merkel's abrupt reversal on nuclear energy after Fukushima was a transparent ploy to shore up support in an important state election in Baden-Wuerttemberg. If indeed that was her intention (she denies any political motive) then she miscalculated horribly. Her party was ousted from government in B-W on Sunday after running the prosperous southern region for 58 straight years. But what if Merkel was really thinking longer-term -- ie beyond the state vote to the next federal election in 2013? After the Japan catastrophe she may well have realised that her chances of getting elected to a third term were next-to-nil if she didn't pivot quickly on nuclear. There are two good reasons why that is probably a safe assumption. First is the extent of anti-nuclear sentiment in Germany. A recent poll for Stern magazine showed nearly two in three Germans would like to see the country's 17 nuclear power plants shut down within 5 years. The nuclear issue was the decisive factor in the B-W election. And you can bet it will play an important role in the next national vote -- even if it is 2-1/2 years away. The second reason why the reversal looks like a good strategic decision from a political point of view is the dire state of Merkel's junior partner in government -- the Free Democrats. It was the strength of the FDP which vaulted her to a second term in September 2009. But now it looks like their weakness could be her undoing in 2013. Merkel probably needs the FDP to score at least 10 percent in the next vote to give her a chance of renewing her "black-yellow" coalition. Right now the FDP is hovering at a meagre 5 percent and it is difficult to see how they double that anytime soon. The nuclear shift widens Merkel's options in one fell swoop. Suddenly the issue that made a coalition between Merkel's Christian Democrats and the Greens unthinkable at the federal level has vanished. Her party set a precedent by hooking up with the Greens in the city-state of Hamburg in 2008. Now she has more than two years to lay the foundations for a similar partnership in Berlin. By then voters may see Merkel's nuclear U-turn in a different light. And only then will it be truly clear if it was a huge political mistake, as the Baden-Wuerttemberg vote suggests, or a prescient strategic coup.
By Kathleen Brooks. The opinions expressed are her own.
As the nuclear threat in Japan steps up a gear, global politicians have pre-empted a wave of anti-atomic feeling from their public and spoken out against nuclear reactors, which threatens its future as a viable alternative to oil.
As Japan has found out with devastating consequences when things go wrong with atomic energy the effect is both devastating and immediate. Unlike carbon fuels, which have a lagged detrimental effect on the atmosphere, a nuclear accident doesn’t get worse in increments – once radioactive material is released into the atmosphere the damage to the surrounding areas is done.
– Sam Gill is Operational Director at the Environmental Investment Organisation. The opinions expressed are his own. —
Today’s launch of the Environmental Tracking (ET) UK 100 Carbon Rankings show just how far we have to go in tackling corporate emissions. If the first step is getting trusted, accurate data into the public domain, then 65 percent of the UK’s biggest companies are keeping us in the dark.
from Summit Notebook:
A surge in portfolio inflows is flooding into emerging central Europe, although yield-hungry investors are picking solid policy and higher growth over countries still struggling to put the crisis behind them.
After deep contractions across the region, a two-speed recovery is underway, with countries boasting better debt fundamentals like Poland and the Czech Republic for the moment ahead of those who depend on foreign lending.
Vedanta Resources' Indian oil interest is hard to fathom. No doubt Cairn Energy will have plenty of ideas for any cash it may raise by selling a stake in the UK oil explorer's Indian subsidiary. But it's harder to see what Anil Agarwal's mining group has to gain from dipping its toe into the oil business.
Vedanta's interest is in Cairn India, which pumps oil in the Rajasthan desert and has had a separate listing since January 2007. A full takeover would be a stretch. Cairn Energy's 62 percent stake is worth $8.5 billion at current market prices. Add in a control premium, and a possible offer to minority shareholders, and a deal could easily cost twice that amount.
BP’s chief executive Tony Hayward branded “the most hated man in America” may be surprised to find himself cast in the role of victim by a growing clan of web-based supporters on Facebook.
One such group ‘Support BP’ calls itself the defender of an “undeservedly harassed institution” and seeks to show that the public opprobrium BP faces over its now 60-day-old Gulf of Mexico oil spill is not universal.
- Juliet Davenport is founder and CEO of Good Energy, a renewable electricity supplier. The opinions expressed are her own. -
When parliament resumes, roughly a third of all MPs will be taking their seats in Westminster for the first time.
from Environment Forum:
Fred Krupp is president of the Environmental Defense Fund. The views expressed are his own.
It’s as though three mammoth challenges facing America are intertwined like the strands of a rope: reducing our dependence on Mideast oil; creating new American jobs from clean energy; and reducing pollution responsible for climate change.
from The Great Debate:
-- John Kemp is a Reuters columnist. The views expressed are his own --
U.S. refiners have emerged as the biggest losers from the previous surge in oil and push for cleaner energy. The industry's brief golden age has swiftly given way to a prolonged dark period of adjustment and decline.
What went wrong? Like other sectors, refiners have been hit by the cyclical downturn, which has cut trade volumes and the related demand for transport fuels such as aviation fuel and marine diesel especially hard.