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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.

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.

Major oil companies call for carbon pricing

Six of the largest oil and gas companies in Europe have called for the UN to let them help devise a global carbon pricing system. Responding to rising pressure ahead of the Paris climate talks at the end of this year, the chief executives of Royal Dutch Shell, BP and BG Group from the UK, France’s Total, Norway’s Statoil and Italy’s Eni have sought direct talks with governments.

Seven years’ biofuels deliberations teaches us ‘put quality before quantity’

April 2015 will enter history as the month in which the EU reversed course on its energy policies in transport. It adopted its long-mooted reform of biofuels policy – especially regarding indirect land-use change (ILUC). The practical implications in the next years may not be so big. But the political and longer-term ones are.

EU finally agrees to stop bad biofuels after 2020

The European Parliament has given its final approval to a law capping the use of land-based biofuels in transport. The reform, which aims to be a check on the growing consumption of biofuels that increase carbon emissions compared to conventional diesel and petrol due to ILUC emissions, has been passed after seven years of public debate and tense negotiations between the European Commission, MEPs and EU member states.

Biomass ‘zero’ rating sees up to 150m tonnes CO2 escape ETS

Between 90 and 150 million tonnes of CO2 resulting from burning biomass with no climate safeguards are labelled carbon neutral in Europe, according to a new study. This costs EU governments €630m-€1 billion a year in foregone revenue from the emissions trading system (ETS) because such emissions do not require carbon permits and thus industry does not have to surrender allowances for burning biomass.