Opinion

Opinion

No room for complacency with the gender pay gap

26/04/2019

The gender pay gap in the energy sector has been attributed in some part to ongoing recruitment problems in the industry, but Erica Kinmond, an employment law and diversity & inclusion specialist, and vice chair of Aberdeen’s Axis Network which promotes equal gender balance in the energy sector, says organisations should also look within to address the issue.

Opinion

Unleashing the power of hydrogen

26/04/2019

Very soon, the Climate Change Committee is expected to call for a ‘net zero’ carbon emission target for 2050. It underlines how serious rapid global warming is and how we should all act collectively as quickly as possible, but even in the face of doomsday predictions there is increasing evidence that an alternative future can be realised, using technology that is both clean and green.

Opinion

Is Nord Stream 2 at risk?

25/04/2019

In February 2019, the EU amended the Gas Directive to extend its scope to apply to pipelines from third countries to the EU. The proposal has primarily targeted Nord Stream 2, a pipeline which would bring Russian gas to Germany bypassing Ukraine and other former Soviet states. The pipeline has been under construction across the Baltic Sea since August 2018.

Opinion

We need an emergency climate bill, but one written with the conviction of a 16-year-old

25/04/2019

Greta Thunberg and the Extinction Rebellion (ER) have their critics, but the evidence is clearly on their side. The broadcast media collectively reported the ER protests as “middle-class people disrupt traffic shock” – a lazy cop-out from the real story. It’s a global tale of doing too little too late. Greta ducked school to protest outside the Swedish parliament at the lack of action on climate change. She has been copied by schoolchildren across the world. This makes her an ideal photo opp for politicians, and Westminster leaders were eager to be snapped next to her this week in London. The SNP’s Iain Blackford used the moment to brag: “The Scottish Government’s Climate Change Bill has been hailed as ‘a concrete application of the Paris Agreement’ by Laurent Fabius, the architect of the Paris Agreement. “The bill contains the most ambitious statutory targets of any country in the world for 2020, 2030 and 2040, with the aim of Scotland being carbon-neutral by 2050.” Another architect of the Paris agreement and chief executive of the European Climate Foundation, Laurence Tubiana, has praised the British Government. “This decision to review Britain’s long-term climate target sends a strong message to the EU and other big economies that London is committed to the Paris Agreement, and now it’s time they too considered what more they can do,” he said. Britain sounds like it’s doing the right thing. If only it were enough. The International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) special report of 2018 is the benchmark for climate policy, and it reports the world has a decade to restrict global temperature rises. The Scottish Greens report this as “The IPCC… findings add up to one clear, over-riding message that confronts humanity with the most important decision it will ever make: act now, or face climate breakdown.” The IPCC is saying that the game got a lot bigger and we need to do a lot more. Carbon-neutral by 2050 does not cut it. The governments of Edinburgh and London are building a dinghy – what’s needed is an ark. The Greens say the “climate bill... going through the Scottish Parliament now... (is) not strong enough and it doesn’t respond to the latest science coming from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change”. They propose a climate emergency bill which has a 10-point plan: 1. Lead a green energy transition. Scotland is on track to generate 100% of our electricity needs from renewables in the next five years. This is great progress but we need to see similar gains made in generating the energy we use for heating our homes from renewables rather than fossil fuels. 2. Divest all public investment from the fossil fuel industry, including public bodies’ pension funds. 3. Increase funding for walking and cycling, putting Scotland on par with the Netherlands. 4. Better buses and reliable rail that are publicly funded and cheap to use. 5. Develop a district heating funding stream to deliver renewable heat to homes across Scotland. 6. Deliver warm homes for all, ending the scourge of fuel poverty and ensuring all homes achieve at least an EPC Band C rating by 2030. 7. Support climate-friendly farming and land management, including a massive increase in investment in sustainable forestry and peat restoration. Introduce a nitrogen budget for the farming sector to reduce harmful nitrous oxide emissions. 8. Tax single-use plastics. For example, Scotland consumes between 200 million and 800 million single-use cups each year. A 25p levy or tax would result in an annual revenue of £50-200 million and a significant reduction in consumption. 9. Give councils the power to introduce workplace parking levies. 10. Redirect government business support towards environmentally responsible companies. All of the above is necessary, but it does not go far enough. Aviation produces 600 million tonnes of CO2, according to Friends of Earth, amounting to “about 3.5% of global warming from all human activities”. Yet no mention of restricting flights to a personal limit of, say, two a year. And no mention of tablets and mobile phones. In 2016, data centres which make the inherent possible consumed more electricity (over 400 terawatt hours) than the whole of the UK (about 300 terawatt hours) globally. A US study warns that 20% of all the world energy could be needed for data by 2025. To put this into context, the world’s largest data centre is in Virginia, USA, and according to The Guardian just 1% of its energy comes from renewable sources. A research paper published in Nature magazine in 2018 concluded “UK and US citizens need to cut beef by 90% and milk by 60% while increasing beans and pulses between four and six times”. We need an emergency climate bill, but one written with the conviction of a 16-year old girl. Greta Thunberg told Westminster: “You don’t listen to the science because you are only interested in solutions that will enable you to carry on like before.” It is equally applicable to Holyrood.

Opinion

IR35: The clock is ticking down

15/04/2019

Employment law can be complex and the energy sector is not immune from the confusion that surrounds IR35.

Opinion

KPMG: The challenges of assessing third party risk

08/04/2019

There is increasing pressure on oil and gas companies in Aberdeen to address the risks associated with counterparties, be it suppliers, agents, vendors, contractors or joint venture partners - the list goes on.

Opinion

Bringing isles’ energy assets to the market

05/04/2019

The 20-year campaign to utilise the renewable energy assets of Shetland and the Western Isles to benefit the entire UK may be approaching end-game with outcomes still wide open.

Opinion

Saipem looks to the future of energy for fresh profit

02/04/2019

Stefano Cao, chief executive of Italian offshore firm Saipem, claims his firm is increasingly focussed on liquified natural gas, decommissioning, renewables and some new opportunities in the Oriental Mediterranean area.  

Opinion

CCUS is a stopgap to a big hydrogen world

26/03/2019

As a proponent of hydrogen being key to the UK’s atmospheric decarbonisation drive, I am concerned that hydrogen receives so little press when compared with carbon capture and storage (CCS).

Opinion

Energy industry must get ready for IR35 reforms

25/03/2019

In April 2020 the Government’s IR35 payroll reforms will come into effect in the private sector, putting the responsibility firmly on larger employers for PAYE and NICs in respect of contractors engaged via an intermediary.

Opinion

The ‘new reality’ of the oil and gas sector

25/03/2019

The “new reality” that Oil & Gas UK has identified in its new Business Outlook highlights the significant pressures that those operating on the UKCS continue to grapple with, as the industry strives to remain competitive and sustainable.

Opinion

Why the smart meter rollout target needs revising

19/03/2019

The UK’s smart meter rollout has been plagued with problems from the outset. From issues with the technology to meters failing when suppliers are switched, it seems the government may have underestimated the effort required to get meters in every home and business across the UK.

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