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Has fossil fuel consumption within the EU peaked?

Rune Likvern, The Oil Drum: Europe
One thing that caught my attention some time back was the perceived lack of interest for energy questions, usage and supplies within the European Union (EU) compared to the USA. As this post will show the likelihood that the EU’s fossil fuel consumption has peaked, back in 1979, is now very real. It will also compare the degree of net fossil fuel self-sufficiency between the EU and the USA as of 2007.

The EU has to a much larger extent (presently approximately twice that of USA) allowed its energy mixture and fossil fuel consumption to be based upon imports. The EU energy independence is not a realistic choice or goal (unless living standards are swiftly and dramatically lowered), and there are reasons to believe that the EU members will continue to find it increasingly hard to harmonize their energy policies towards energy exporters which will add to the strains within the union.

This is something Putin (Russia is presently EU’s biggest supplier of fossil fuels) seems to have been aware of while the EU occupied itself with defining goals for greenhouse gas emissions it sleepwalked into increased reliance on Russian fossil fuel imports. Former head of IEA recently urged the EU to reduce their dependence on Russian fossil fuel supplies. It looks like realpolitik again will trump wishes, which is evident to everyone who cares to have a closer look at the hard data.

… Given that technology is available for CO2 capture and sequestration from coal fired power stations, which makes coal a more political acceptable energy source than nuclear, it seems likely that coal is in for a future growth in consumption within EU.
(9 July 2008)
Author seems very optimistic about CO2 sequestration, which has yet to be demonstrated as a viable process. His dismissal of global warming concerns may seem cavalier to those living in countries which will be suffering famines and droughts from it. -BA

Why Europe backpedals on biofuel targets

Mark Rice-Oxley, Christian Science Monitor
Ethanol and other biofuels are boosting food prices and greenhouse gases, says a new British report.

Europe is signaling a retreat from its bold commitment to biofuels as concern mounts that the plant-based alternative to gas and diesel, once heralded as a panacea for climate change, is contributing to spiraling global food prices.

Officially, the 27-nation European Union is sticking to a target that will require 10 percent of motor vehicle fuel to be derived from renewable sources by 2020, as part of overall efforts to reduce carbon emissions by 20 percent.

But official backpedaling is on the rise. The British government indicated Monday it would take a more cautious approach following an official report that raised multiple warnings about the technology, specifically that it contributes to high food prices and may create more greenhouse gas emissions than it prevents.
(8 July 2008)

Boris Johnson scraps congestion charge for 4×4 vehicles

James Kirkup, The Daily Telegraph
Boris Johnson, the mayor of London, has dropped plans for a £25 congestion charge for bringing “gas guzzler” 4×4 vehicles into the centre of the capital.

The mayor abandoned the proposal to extend the existing congestion charging scheme after a legal challenge by Porsche, the German carmaker…

…Under plans put forward by Ken Livingstone, Mr Johnson’s Labour predecessor, vehicles emitting more than 225 grams of carbon dioxide per one kilometre and cars registered before March 2001 with engines larger than 3,000cc would have faced a £25 charge…

…Mr Johnson campaigned against the plan before his election in May, and said he was pleased to kill the charge…

…Porsche went to the Administrative Court to seek judicial review of the proposal after uncovering research from King’s College which showed that the new charge would actually increase CO2 emissions in Greater London by making people drive further to avoid the congestion charging zone.
(8 July 2008)

Britain teeters on brink of recession as companies cut back

Kathryn Hopkins and David Gow, Guardian
The UK is in serious danger of heading into recession as the credit crunch tightens its hold on the economy, according to a survey of businesses across the country published today. An increase in the number of firms reporting fewer orders, more job cuts and less investment is the latest indication that the British economy is suffering from the effects of the global credit crunch and the steep rise in the price of fuel, food and other raw materials.
(8 July 2008)