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Cost of environmental rules for oil refining ‘matched by their benefits’

EU environmental laws on petroleum refining have delivered on their objectives and their costs are in proportion to the societal benefits achieved, a European Commission study has found. The legislation, which includes rules on the sulphur content of fuels and pollution limits from refinery operations, contained 'no regulatory gaps, overlaps, inconsistencies or obsolete measures leading to excessive administrative burdens'.

Citizens gave the high-carbon oil sector its toughest year

Who could have imagined that over the last year the oil industry would be facing so many radical changes and high-carbon tar sands would be having such a tough time? The year 2015 told us that these kinds of positive changes can happen rapidly when economics, citizen mobilisation and political leadership converge in the same direction.

€27bn subsidy to diesel cars last year in lower fuel tax

Europe’s diesel cars received indirect subsidies totalling almost €27 billion last year through lower fuel taxes, a new study has found. Diesel fuel was taxed at, on average, 14 cent less per litre than petrol in 2014, according to Europe’s tax deals for diesel, which was published by T&E last month.

Obama stops Arctic oil drilling – for now

The Obama administration has blocked any new drilling permits for oil in the Arctic for the next two years, and refused requests to extend existing drilling permits. The decision follows Shell’s abandonment of Arctic drilling in September and could signal the end of the threat of oil exploration in the delicate Arctic ecosystem.

How green is Canada’s new government?

The environmental direction of Canada’s new Liberal Party government is known – easily an improvement on Stephen Harper’s hostile Conservative administration. But the extent to which new prime minister Justin Trudeau (pictured) moves the G7 country away from its tar sands obsession remains to be seen. Particular concern surrounds his commitment to the controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline.

Transport consuming most energy in developed world

Transport is the greatest consumer of energy in the developed world, consuming more than industry, the International Energy Agency (IEA) has found for the second consecutive year. In the EU, transport still lags behind industry in total final energy consumption, but the gap is narrowing, and road transport’s continued reliance on oil is making the sector increasingly slow to embrace lower-emission energy.

Biodiesel consumption increased in 2014

New figures show the amount of biofuels being used for transport in the EU rose by 6.1% in 2014, but the increase is less than the fall in transport biofuels registered in 2013. The rise suggests trends are going in the wrong direction as biodiesel takes up the most important part of the increase, though the figures should be treated with caution because there is limited information on the type of feedstocks used to produce these biofuels.

Shale’s false dawn shouldn’t obscure the clean electricity revolution

It is impossible to have missed the news on cheap oil and gas, and what it is doing to our economies. A Google search for ‘oil price drop’ shows you what Reuters, BBC, Bloomberg, Forbes, etc – the big boys – have to say on the subject. And shale plays a key role in both. And indeed, oil costs less than it did in 2008 and 2012. And indeed, this is having a big economic impact. It means that Europe in 2014 saved around 1% of GDP, more than €100 billion, in import bills. A free and welcome boost. But this column is not seeking to add to what Reuters has to say. It wants to offer two other perspectives.

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