Fossil fuels

A view from Australia as the moon blocks out the sun in 2002. Now, Australia's decision to pledge $166 million USD to the Green Climate Fund means light is again on the horizon (Photo: NASA/ESA)
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As the high-level section of the 20th Conference of the Parties (COP20) gathers pace in Lima, delegates warmly received the news that Australia has pledged US$166 million to the Green Climate Fund
The sun glints on smoke above Beijing. China is on course to see overall coal consumption peak this year (Photo; GadgetDan via Creative Commons)
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Coal companies are in complete denial — the developing world doesn't need more pollution or expensive new grids, but renewable energy sources
More than 300,000 marched in New York to call for action on climate change (Photo: John Minchillo)
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People around the world are putting increasing pressure on world leaders to take action on climate change, as demonstrated by this week’s climate march in New York
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A year ago today, the oil industry was shaken by a blowout on the Deepwater Horizon rig, 1500 metres deep in the Gulf of Mexico. The explosion killed 11 people and spilled 200 million gallons of oil. BP’s bill – over US$8 billion to date – is expected to reach US$32 billion after all damage claims have been made.

BP wasn’t solely responsible for the spill. BP’s contractors were also held to task, including Transocean, the rig owner; Halliburton, who did the cement job; and Cameron International, who built the blowout preventer. The incident highlighted the complexity – and vulnerability – of today’s oil and gas contracting arrangements.

IIED’s new report Shared value, shared responsibility: a new approach to managing oil and gas contracting chains argues that a shift in industry culture is required to manage the challenges posed by complex chains of oil and gas contractors in increasingly risk-laden environments.

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Almost unnoticed by the world, Iran has moved towards the adoption of a basic income grant to distribute money from its oil industry directly to its citizens. This could be a good example of how distorting fossil fuel subsidies used in many developing countries could be repealed without adversely impacting upon the poor. Furthermore, the outcomes of this policy could have a wider impact on the way rents from natural resources are used - allowing households to choose how to spend profits from resource extraction.

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The world is facing an energy crisis with major global and local implications. Energy issues need to be addressed holistically, based on integrated models and approaches and involving multiple stakeholders. IIED's work on energy currently focuses on two key areas: governance of large-scale energy sector development (oil, gas, biofuels); and models for delivery of sustainable decentralised energy services.

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