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Triple Crunch Log                                                                                                            

Democrats scale back climate proposals. FT: “At a meeting with fellow Democrats on Thursday, Harry Reid, Senate majority leader, acknowledged the lack of support for a more far-reaching bill, but said efforts would continue to “lay the foundations for a safer and stronger future”. Without describing the new slimmed-down proposal in detail, Mr Reid said it would have four aims: to hold BP “accountable”; to “create clean energy jobs”; to lessen US dependence on foreign oil; and to invest in the manufacturing of natural gas vehicles. …. If Republicans make large gains in the November elections, as is predicted by many pollsters, comprehensive climate change legislation could be shelved.619

The world's first CSP power plant using molten salt for both storage and heating opens in Sicily. The 5MW Archimede demonstration solar plant in Sicily becomes the first plant in the world to use molten salts not just to store heat but also to collect it from the sun in the first place. The plant can work 24 hours a day for several days in the absence of sun or during rainy days. Molten salts reach higher temperatures than the oil of older CSP plants permitting the use of steam turbines at the standard pressure/temperature parameters as used in most common gas-cycle fossil power plants.620

Message from Delhi: don’t cut too soon. Montek Singh, deputy chairman of the Indian government’s planning commission, in the FT: “Our anxiety about an austerity drive in industrialised countries is clear. Manmohan Singh, prime minister, warned in Toronto that while concerns about debt sustainability normally suggested a need for fiscal contraction, “circumstances are not normal”. The recovery is still fragile. Contractionary policies, if followed by many industrialised countries, could provoke a double-dip recession with “very negative effects on developing countries”. He went on to say the situation calls for careful co-ordination among the G20 countries.”621

BP acquits itself of sole blame for gulf spill after internal inquiry. FT: The company has found no evidence of gross negligence and does not expect any to come to light in the future. It will robustly defend itself against such claims.622

23.7.10. Jonathan Porritt accuses UK government of wanting to avoid scrutiny on sustainable development, in the wake of their disbanding of the Sustainable Development Commission.623

24.7.10. An army of ecologists” is descending on the “accidental laboratory” that is now the Gulf of Mexico, New Scientist reports. Their aim: to assess the impact of up to 700 million litres of oil and 7 million litres of dispersant. Many already have good data for baselines. Among the concerns, “a deadlier dead zone. …Even before the spill, this summer’s dead zone was forecast to be the fifth largest since systematic studies began there in 1985. … “The concern is that as well as being toxic to plankton and fish, oil could extend the anoxic dead zone: bacteria that feast on oil can further deplete oxygen levels, and slicks on the surface may block the uptake of oxygen from the atmosphere.”624

25.7.10. Seven more US banks collapse into federal receivership on day of Europe's banking stress tests. The number of US failures, with more than 100 so far, now expected to exceed last year's total. Seven European banks fail a financial health check today, 5 in Spain, 1 in Greece and 1 in Germany. Barclays, HSBC and the bailed-out Royal Bank of Scotland and Lloyds Banking Group comfortably pass the tests.625

Global banking regulators reach a breakthrough agreement in Basel to tighten capital requirements and impose new worldwide liquidity and leverage standards. But they soften some of their proposals and delay  others to at least 2018. The Basel Committee on Banking Supervision says all but one of the 27 member countries have signed up to the new principles, which limit what banks can count as so-called tier-one capital – the only kind that can be counted on to absorb losses: a move that could could constrain lending.626

BP will fire Tony Hayward tomorrow. The Board evidently reportedly either Hayward or Svanberg would have to go first. As the New York Daily News has put it, Hayward has become “the most hated and clueless man in America,” so it must have been an easy choice. He will depart with a £1m pay-off and a £10m pension pot.

Bob Dudley to be appointed CEO, and Tony Hayward will be offered job on board of TNK-BP Russia. Hayward is expected to stand down as chief executive in October, but remain a board director until November. Analysts say the expected offer of a directorship at TNK-BP would be well received in Moscow.627

Blackpool hopes to become the new Houston as the first drilling for UK shale gas starts. Lord Browne of Madingley is one of the backers of Cuadrilla Resources, which will start operations on the Bowland Shale, a geological formation that stretches from Pendle Hill to the Lancashire coast near Blackpool. Says CEO Chris Cornelius: “It could help offset imports into Europe by a certain percentage, about 5% or 10%, if we're successful.”628

UK engineers enter race to design world's biggest offshore wind turbines. The revolutionary 10MW Aerogenerator X, a new type of offshore wind turbine in development by British firm Arup, mimics a spinning sycamore leaf. It would stretch nearly 275m from blade tip to tip. The first machines could be built in 2013-14 following two years of testing. There is in stiff competition with other groups in the US and Norwat to get the economies of scale that can come from 10MW scale. 629

Every penny we give in aid to Africa must be made to count in growing local economies, argues Larry Elliot in the Guardian. “The critics of aid ….argue that too much aid is pocketed by corrupt elites. They argue that a good chunk of western financial assistance is wasted even when it doesn't find its way into numbered Swiss bank accounts. Above all, they argue that aid encourages a dependency culture. On all three counts, there is a case to answer.”… “Labour enshrined in law a commitment to raise UK aid spending to 0.7% of GDP by 2013, a pledge that would involve the budget of the Department for International Development (DfID) increasing by more than 10% a year. Cameron, in opposition, said he would stick by the 0.7% target, making international development one of only two areas of spending ringfenced against cuts. That makes Andrew Mitchell, the current development secretary, both a lucky and a marked man.”…. “A third of Africans have mobile phones; Vodafone has identified Africa as one of its three priority areas alongside Europe and India; undersea cables are being laid along Africa's coasts to drive the expansion of broadband. Aid flows alone will be insufficient to meet the enormous cost of such investment, but the hope is that smart use of development assistance could help to leverage money from the private sector.”630

26.8.10. Safety fears raised at Flamanville Reactor. A French anti-nuclear NGO is arguing that changes to the initially proposed cladding design would present “a serious safety problem.” FT: “Areva’s plant operating partner, the French energy group EDF, is preparing a safety report on Flamanville, to be filed with the A.S.N. by

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