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ODAC Newsletter - Nov 26

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.

Economic recovery may look anaemic, especially against the backdrop of the Eurozone crisis, but measured in CO2 the downturn is over. After falling by 1.3% in 2009, global emissions are set to bounce 3% this year. Worse, the emissions cuts pledged at Copenhagen last year fall 40% short of what's needed to limit warming to 2 degrees and avoid runaway climate change, according to a report called The Emissions Gap, published by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP). Few hold much hope of a major improvement at next week's talks in Cancun.

If that isn't frightening enough it should be remembered that the Copenhagen pledges aren't binding and that many scientists, including NASA's James Hansen, now believe that the atmospheric concentration of 455ppm targeted by the climate talks is far too high. In their view we need to get back to 350ppm — fast.

And what of the UK? According to WWFs Climate Policy Tracker for the European Union, Britain trails behind Germany, Denmark, Ireland and Sweden in its efforts to cut emissions, and Europe as a whole is doing only a third of what's needed to deliver an 80-95% reduction by 2050. Worse, reports suggest the government may be about to relax the terms of its promised "emissions performance standard" (EPS) for coal plants. If so it would be awful news for the climate.

It may also be economically foolish, in light of an article by Richard Heinberg and David Fridley published in Nature magazine. They argue the days of cheap coal are numbered due to a combination of overstated global reserves data, and ballooning demand. The piece coincided with reports that China's coal imports in November will hit a record high, and that the country is considering capping domestic coal output to avoid running reserves down too rapidly.

Meanwhile James Fallow, writing in The Atlantic, argues that the only way to mitigate the climate impact of coal demand in the developing world is through carbon capture or clean coal, and that Chinese and US cooperation could develop this technology. He points out however that clean-up comes at a cost of 30% of power output. But if coal prices rise, will the political will be there to pay this price?

Confirmation of growing demand for fossil fuel energy came this week from BP Chief Economist Christof Ruehl, who forecasts that floating storage inventories of oil will be used up by Q2 of 2011; and from Paddy Padmanathan, Chief Executive Officer of the Saudi Company ACWA Power, who anticipates that the kingdom will need to double its domestic oil use by 2023 to meet rising electricity demand.

View our Reports and Resources page

Oil

Floating Oil Storage Seen Exhausted By 2Q '11 -BP Economist

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Crude Oil Drops From One-Week High on European Debt Concern

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Saudi Arabia may double oil use by 2023, cut exports, ACWA Says

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China's Saudi oil imports seen up 11% next year - sources

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Coal

Coal Running Out, Prices to Soar, Nature Reports

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China's Coal Crisis

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Dirty Coal, Clean Future

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Nations That Debate Coal Use Export It to Feed China's Need

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Renewables

Clean energy funding slumps

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Government to speed up offshore wind energy development

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Mining and Minerals

China resumes rare earth exports to Japan

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China

China's Nine-Month Energy Intensity Falls 3%, China Daily Says

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Analysis: Where is gas used next in China? Trucks and trawlers

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Chinese dairy raises the bar for cow-pat power

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UK

Conservative pre-election coal plant emissions promise goes up in smoke

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Chris Huhne: The Severn barrage will be built

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Green restrictions on gas 'could endanger UK supply'

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Government to launch North Sea review

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Climate

UN issues severe climate warning ahead of summit

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Carbon emissions set to be highest in history

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UK 'must step up emissions push'

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Climate change scepticism is about more than just science

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China says is world's top greenhouse gas emitter

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World mayors sign climate change pact

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Transport

Railways to get £8bn investment

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Winter fuel demand, China and rising diesel prices

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