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ODAC Newsletter - Oct 22

Welcome to the ODAC Newsletter, a weekly roundup from the Oil Depletion Analysis Centre, the UK registered charity dedicated to raising awareness of peak oil.

After weeks of prediction and build up, this was finally the week of the UK government spending review statement. With the government insisting that it will be the greenest ever there was much anticipation of how the Department of Energy and Climate Change would fare in the review.

In the event, high profile programmes like the renewable heat incentives and feed in tariffs (FiT)s have been preserved. The Renewable Heat Incentive will get £860 million directly from government — the scheme is due to start in 2011. The FiTs will continue as they are for now, however the review which is scheduled for 2012 may be brought forward if uptake is 'higher than expected' — though what is expected isn't made clear. Also, from 2014-15 £40 million will be cut from the budget.

Funding for renewables, including money to prepare port infrastructure for the next wave of off-shore wind, has also remained in place. Meanwhile the flagship 'green investment bank' to provide support for new low-carbon technologies, will come into being. Many are disappointed though that it is not a bank, but rather a government fund, and that with only £1bn to spend it is insufficient for the task at hand.

Carbon capture and storage remains on the agenda, but secured government funding is currently only on the table for one of the four proposed pilot projects. Whether even the one pilot will become a reality anytime soon was however in doubt this week as EoN withdrew from the competition for the funding stating that plans for a new plant at Kingsnorth, their entry, were currently uneconomic.

In energy policy the first big announcement of the week actually came on Monday with the widely expected news that the government will not be pursuing the Severn barrage due to its cost. The statement also set out the government's chosen sites for new nuclear builds, which energy secretary Chris Huhne insists are a key part of government policy. Nuclear received support in the spending review via increased funding for the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority. While the government insists it will not provide subsidies for new nuclear it is not ruling out a framework for taking ownership of waste at a set price, or setting limits to operator liability for accidents. Depending on the levels set for these provisions they could be construed as de facto subsidies.

In transport where the majority of the UK's oil dependence resides, news that rail fares are to be allowed to increase at 3% above inflation from 2012 and that bus subsidies are to be reduced goes in the wrong direction. Surely this illustrates the need for peak oil planning to be included in central government policy.

Also worrying for peak oil planning was the slashing of Local Authority funding by 28%. ODAC has worked with a number of Local Authorities to raise awareness of the coming oil crisis and it is at this level that many of the required changes can be put into effect. On the positive side Local Authorities are to be given greater autonomy on how they spend whatever money is left — so this could be the ideal time to approach them with tips on how to do so from Alexis Rowell's book Communities, Councils and a Low-Carbon Future: what we can do if governments won't released this week. ODAC can provide the expert speaker if you can provide the audience of councillors!

Oil

French police break key blockade

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Crude Oil Rises in New York as Reports Show Improved U.S. Economic Outlook

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Saudi Arabia says easy oil is not over-Naimi

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Moscow to lower oil export taxes

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Oil heats up as bulls target $100-a-barrel price

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BP tells court it waives cap on spill liability

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Gas

Kuwaiti firm among winners as Iraq sells off gas fields

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Coal

E.ON pulls out of Kingsnorth carbon storage bid

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Study: World's 'Peak Coal' Moment Has Arrived

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Mining and Minerals

China denies reports on halting export of rare earth

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US inquiry into China rare earth shipments

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Biofuels

US to subsidize farmers to grow new biofuel crops

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UK

How has Decc fared in the spending review?

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Spending Review: what it means for the Environment and Climate Change

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Fury over £1bn green stealth tax in spending review

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Transport: Commuters buffeted by 10 per cent increase in rail fares

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Spending Review: Forecasts rely on 'heroic assumptions'

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Councils face collapse, KPMG warns

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Nuclear power: Eight sites identified for future plants

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Huhne drops Severn barrage to invest in wind power

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A step-by-step guide to greening your local council

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Economy

UK borrowing at £16.2bn in September

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China's rapid economic growth slows in third quarter

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Transport

China electric vehicles to hit 1 million by 2020: report

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How electric cars could become a giant battery for renewable energy

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