Public remains divided or undecided on fracking, government data shows

  • 12 Aug 2014, 11:50
  • Mat Hope

Credit: Daniel Foster 

The public remain divided and undecided on fracking, with a small but growing minority strongly opposed to shale gas extraction,  new government statistics show.

The poll comes just a day after an industry survey suggested a majority of the public supported fracking. That finding was widely covered in the media, including the BBC, Telegraph and  Daily Mail.

Shale gas

The Department of Energy and Climate Change today released the results of its  latest poll tracking public opinion on energy and climate issues. It shows the public split over fracking, with the same proportion - 24 per cent - saying they support and oppose shale gas extraction.

Shale Gas Divided cropped

The DECC poll is a tracker study, meaning it is repeated every few months. Support for shale gas appears to have fallen slightly since the poll was last conducted in March, when 29 per cent of respondents said they supported shale gas extraction.

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Daily Briefing | Climate change main threat to Great Barrier Reef - report

  • 12 Aug 2014, 09:15
  • Carbon Brief staff

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Great Barrier Reef's greatest threat is climate change, says new report 
The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority says climate change is the most serious threat to the ecosystem. In a new 300 page report, it says climate change "is already affecting the reef and is likely to have far-reaching consequences in the decades to come". The report comes ahead of a United Nations' world heritage committee decision, due in 2015, on whether to give the reef "in danger" status.
Australian Associated Press via Guardian 

Climate and energy news

Japan reduces chance of El Nino weather pattern this year 
Japan's weather bureau says the chance of an El Nino weather event this year has reduced, compared to previous estimates. The bureau now puts the chances of El Nino occurring at 50 per cent, having previously said there was a "high chance" of it occurring this year, Reuters reports. 

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Fracking’s impact on house prices is unclear, but people still don’t want it (or anything else) in their back yards

  • 11 Aug 2014, 13:45
  • Mat Hope

CC 2.0

The government has  released a report on the potential local impacts of shale gas in response to a freedom of information request. Several parts are heavily redacted, leading to accusations that the government is  trying to hide fracking's possible downsides.

But the Department of Environment and Rural Affairs (Defra) says it's concerned there is a risk that "disclosure of early thinking, could close down discussion".

Such sensitivities are very real - although many people support the idea of fracking for shale gas, polling suggests opposition rises as the idea of the technology gets closer to home.

House prices

The Defra study sets out to try and find out - among other things - what effect shale gas production has on house prices.

The report cites four North American studies that find shale gas developments can have an impact on local house prices. Three studies looking at  TexasPittsburgh, and  Alberta, Canada found nearby shale gas wells could decrease house prices by between 3 and 14 per cent. A fourth study focused on Pennsylvania found fracking could increase property prices in some cases, but deflate them in others.


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Daily Briefing | Parties get political over flooding policy

  • 11 Aug 2014, 09:15
  • Carbon Brief staff

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Labour to warn over flood risk 
330,000 additional homes could be at risk under the government's current flood prevention plans, Labour will today argue. The figure comes from a Committee on Climate Change report. The shadow environment secretary, Maria Eagle, will tell a Woking audience that under the Conservatives, the flood prevention budget has been cut by 20 per cent in real terms. The Conservatives are expected to counter that it has spent more on flooding than the previous Labour government, the Guardian reports.
Daily Mail 

Climate and energy news

What Climate Change Means for Your Coffee 
Coffee is at risk from a changing climate according to Kew Botanic Gardens. We only use two main varieties of coffee bean meaning there is low genetic diversity and high vulnerability to pests and diseases. Kew is developing monitoring networks to look at how coffee is faring in Ethiopia. 

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Infographic: Cutting emissions to avoid the worst impacts of climate change

  • 08 Aug 2014, 11:45
  • Mat Hope

CC 2.0: Andrew Bowden

What happens if humans keep emitting greenhouse gases? Answering that question is at the core of a lot of climate change research. But communicating the often complex findings isn't easy.

WRI's infographic is based on four scenarios used in the IPCC's reports, known as representative concentration pathways (RCPs).Late last year, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)  released three reports synthesising what the latest research had to say on the matter. Those documents were quite dense, so thinktank the World Resources Institute (WRI) has tried to condense the information  into four, colourful panels:

WRI Square InfoG

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Daily Briefing | Drax accepts court ruling on biomass subsidy

  • 08 Aug 2014, 09:15
  • Carbon Brief staff

Credit: Drax Group

The potential consequences of Drax's legal defeat on biomass subsidies 
The Court of Appeal has ruled against power generator Drax in its row with the government over biomass subsidies. Drax applied for a new subsidy to convert two units from coal to biomass, with the government originally allocating funds to both units. Later, the government decided only one unit was eligible for the subsidy. Drax took the government to court claiming the overruling was unfair, and won. The government then appealed, and won. Confused? The Telegraph has a good primer. The upshot is that Drax has the original subsidy for one unit, and can apply for a new - potentially less lucrative subsidy - for the other unit. The main disadvantage of the court ruling to Drax "is lack of certainty on price", the Guardian's Nils Pratley says. But it's not the end of the world, he argues - "maybe the financial risks are worth taking anyway. Clear it ain't - but that's today's energy market". 

Climate and energy news

Science shut down at crippled UK Antarctic base 
The electrical and heating systems failed at the UK's Halley Research Station in Antarctica last week, meaning all science "ground to a halt" at the base. One of the electrical engineers at the base has been New Scientist how the researchers are coping. 
Nature News 

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In pictures: The hidden face of UK renewable electricity

  • 07 Aug 2014, 16:00
  • Simon Evans


Where does renewable electricity come from? You're probably thinking about wind turbines and solar panels. But in the UK, that's only half the story.

To find out why, join us for our third dive into the government's annual energy data, DUKES, published last week. Parts one and two covered the challenge of decarbonising the UK and changes in UK gas supply and demand.

In part three we show - among other things - that rotting rubbish tips generated more electricity in 2013 than hydropower or solar panels. In a series of pictures we'll show you the hidden faces behind the past, present and future of UK renewable electricity.

UK renewable electricity is growing fast

Renewables generated 54 terawatt hours of electricity in 2013, 15 per cent of the UK total. That's enough to supply 11 million average homes with all their electricity for a year, almost half of all UK homes.


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Daily Briefing | What is an 'average' temperature?

  • 07 Aug 2014, 09:15
  • Carbon Brief staff

Credit: Satoru Kikuchi

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For most of us, global warming has become 'normal' climate 
February 1985 was the last month when global temperatures were below the twentieth century average, meaning a majority of people alive today have not experienced average global temperatures. Climate change is gradually shifting our sense of what is normal, and scientists will need to "remind the public about just how rapid and unprecedented the changes truly are", the Secretary General of the World Meteorological Organisation tells Reuters. 

Climate and energy news

World's top emerging economies talk climate in Delhi 
Environment ministers from four of the world's leading emerging economies meet in Delhi on Thursday to discuss plans to address climate change, RTCC reports. The BASIC group will discuss its position ahead of climate talks in Lima this year and Paris next year that hope to secure a global deal on reducing greenhouse gas emissions. 
Responding to Climate Change 

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Daily Briefing | Energy price riggers face jail time

  • 06 Aug 2014, 09:15
  • Carbon Brief staff

CC 2.0: Marine Perez

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Energy price riggers to face jail under new proposals 
At the moment people can be fined for artificially fixing energy prices but now energy Secretary Ed Davey wants it to be a criminal offence worthy of jail time. Davey said the proposals - which come as the profits of the Big Six energy firms are being investigated - would provide a "much stronger deterrent - more in line with the approach taken in the financial markets", reports the Financial Times. Under the new rules, it would also be a criminal offence to use insider information to buy or sell energy on the wholesale market, says The Telegraph. Energy regulator Ofgem welcomed the move. If approved by parliament, the new criminal sanctions could come into force in spring, says Reuters
BBC News 

Climate and energy news

Reindeer invade Arctic road tunnel in Norway to escape heat 
With temperatures currently topping 22 degrees Celsius, Norway is experiencing one of its warmest summers on record. Arctic reindeers are seeking refuge underground in road tunnels, causing havoc for local traffic, reports Reuters. The heat-shy ungulates have forced the closure of a major highway, forcing drivers to take a detour to reach Hammerfest, home to Europe's only LNG liquefaction facility.

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Government data hints at future challenges for curbing natural gas emissions

  • 05 Aug 2014, 16:30
  • Mat Hope

CC 2.0

Gas plays an essential role in the UK's energy mix, providing heat for homes and electricity to sockets. While that's not likely to change in the short term, the fuel will need to be increasingly phased out as the government seeks to  decarbonise the energy sector.

A trawl through new government  data shows how far the UK's come in recent years, and hints at challenges to come.

Gas trends

The UK currently uses three trillion cubic feet of gas each year. That demand may need to fall by as much as  20 per cent over the next two decades if the UK is going to hit its  climate targets.

The Department of Energy and Climate Change's  Digest of UK Energy Statistics, released last week, shows how much would need to change for that to happen.

DECC's data shows gas demand has fallen 17 per cent in the last five years. But while demand has fallen significantly from 2011's high, its plateaued in recent years. Demand was only one per cent lower in 2013 compared to a year before.

Gas is mainly used for two things, as the blue and purple sections of the graph below show: generating electricity, and heating people's homes.

DUKES 2014 UK gas consumptionDECC's data shows gas is being used increasingly sparingly to generate electricity. The amount of gas used in electricity generation fell by 13 per cent last year. But that doesn't necessarily spell good news for the UK's emissions.  

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