Greenman's Occasional Organ

Ecosocialist. Syndicalist. Critical Techno-Progressive.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Energy debate in MSM

With various news stories around oil, coal, gas and renewables and the continuing Bali conference some UK mainstream media (MSM) outlets are commenting around these issues.
One of the stories is about BP (Beyond Petroleum? I don't think so!) investing £1.5 billion towards the extraction of oil from Canadian tar sands. This is a very expensive procedure in both financial and energy terms. This was reported in yesterday's Independent.

Mike Hudema, the climate and energy campaigner for Greenpeace in Canada, told The Independent: "BP has done a very good job in recent years of promoting its green objectives. By jumping into tar sands extraction it is taking part in the biggest global warming crime ever seen and BP's green sheen is gone.

"It takes about 29kg of CO2 to produce a barrel of oil conventionally. That figure can be as much 125kg for tar sands oil. It also has the potential to kill off or damage the vast forest wilderness, greater than the size of England and Wales, which forms part of the world's biggest carbon sinks. For BP to be involved in this trade not only flies in the face of their rhetoric but in the era of climate change it should not be being developed at all. You cannot call yourself 'Beyond Petroleum' and involve yourself in tar sands extraction." Mr Hudema said Greenpeace was planning a direct action campaign against BP, which could disrupt its activities as its starts construction work in Alberta next year.

Mike Hudema's Independent article is here. The paper's editorial referenced the story in its' editorial yesterday.

The Guardian picked up on the story today and linked it to the news that Shell are selling off parts of their renewables operations in developing countries.

The Guardian also subjects the government wind energy announcement to scrutiny. There is growing scepticism about the UK govt's ability to deliver on this pledge.

The paper hosts a version of much of what George Monbiot said at the Climate Change rally on Saturday, where he says that fossil fuels should be left in the ground, but that the peak oil situation will mean that they are more attractive to investment and resources that are ever more difficult and costly to extract will be brought to market and add to the emissions problem.

The Guardian's editorial makes various sensible points about the need to clean up existing emissions and develop Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) as quickly as possible (If it can be - and as Monbiot gloomily comments - this is a big if) for both developed world use and for those engaged in massive coal-fired power building programmes as in China.

These are all difficult and complicated questions, but a way must be worked through, and workers' organisations should both have an input and engage in open minded debate on the issues. As such the Trade Union Climate Change Conference organised for February 22nd at the University of London Union by the Campaign Against Climate Change could be important, and it would be good to see open minded involvement from mining and energy union members. The campaign have made it clear that they have no fixed position on the energy path for Britain, whilst being fairly clear that renewables should play as large a part as possible.

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