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Triple Crunch Log                                                                                                            

accused the banks of starving British businesses of cash as they scramble out of recession. "Banks have sucked £50bn out of British businesses over the last year," he said. … The FSB wants to curb the current reliance on big banks for funding and is urging the government to investigate alternative sources such as regional stock exchanges or credit unions.”720

20.8.10. Church of Scotland makes a stand against a coal power station as protesters target RBS over coal. The church has joined a coalition of environment groups opposing plans to construct the 1852MW Hunterston station, which has seen about 14,000 written objections from across the UK and beyond. Guardian: “The development came as climate camp protesters gathered near the Royal Bank of Scotland headquarters in Edinburgh for a weekend of action. Climate activists are threatening a day of disruption and direct action against the bank and Edinburgh festival events sponsored by RBS on Monday.”721

22.8.10. Peak oil alarm revealed by secret official talks: Observer headline. “Behind government dismissals of 'alarmist' fears there is growing concern over critical future energy supplies. …Speculation that government ministers are far more concerned about a future supply crunch than they have admitted has been fuelled by the revelation that they are canvassing views from industry and the scientific community about "peak oil". The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) is also refusing to hand over policy documents about "peak oil" – the point at which oil production reaches its maximum and then declines – under the Freedom of Information (FoI) Act, despite releasing others in which it admits "secrecy around the topic is probably not good". Experts say they have received a letter from David Mackay, chief scientific adviser to the DECC, asking for information and advice on peak oil amid a growing campaign from industrialists such as Sir Richard Branson for the government to put contingency plans in place to deal with any future crisis.722

Outrage greets UN decision to exonerate Shell for oil pollution in Niger delta. A Shell-funded study by UNEP finds that 10% of 9m barrels leaked in 40 years is down to the company, the rest was caused by theft and saboteurs. Mike Cowing, the head of a UN team of 100 people studying environmental damage in the region for three years, says that 300 known oil spills in the Ogoniland region of the delta caused massive damage and 90% of these were caused by "bunkering" gangs trying to steal oil. He stands accused of bias by Nigerians and environmental groups. Guardian: “Oil production in the delta started during the 1950s, but was suspended in the 90s due to unrest. The oil fields in Ogoniland have since remained dormant.”723

John Vidal finds grinding poverty and deteriorating land and water in the Niger delta, ten years after his first visit. “Women said they had to wash fish and vegetables in detergent before they could be cooked. Other communities complained of fish dying, contaminated land and crops destroyed. Village leaders said fishing grounds had been polluted but never cleaned up. That was Ogoniland nearly 10 years ago. These days the 400 sq mile, densely-populated delta which provided Shell and the Nigerian government with some $100bn (£64bn) of oil between its discovery in 1958 and the company being expelled by the community in 1994, is still badly polluted.” Rusting infrastructure causes many of the numerous spills.724

UK Energy Minister Charles Hendry gives his first major interview in the job. On oil regulation: “We think industry is in a very strong place to deal with this. They understand it's their heads on the block if they get it wrong.” Telegraph: “Hendry has clearly spent a lot of time being briefed by companies about the impending power supply gap that could hit by 2015. For a decade, this has been an open secret in industry but was rarely publicly admitted by the politicians. "Most of it will come back to bills or the Government and taxpayers. I think the likelihood is pressures will result in price spikes rather than outages," he says. … the minister raises for the first time the probability that Britain's ageing fleet of reactors will have to be kept in action. "There's a realistic prospect that the Magnox fleet will have life extensions. I see that as a bonus. But it's not something we can rely on." "I see it as my job to remove the barriers for investment in nuclear." He toes the department line on no taxpayer support for the £50bn construction but there appears to be wriggle-room on the definition of subsidy. "Something specifically for nuclear and only nuclear I would consider a subsidy," he says carefully. "Something for [all low-carbon generation] I would consider to be of a general nature." He talks much less than his boss about renewable energy, though is clear that offshore wind will be necessary alongside nuclear. And he is also closely reviewing the £27bn in subsidies for green heat pumps (the Renewable Heat Incentive) and the £8bn for those who install windmills and solar panels (feed-in tariffs). It is an area that may have its funding slashed in the spending review. "We inherited a situation where we could see who was going to benefit commercially but we couldn't really see how it was going to be paid for and that it would create pretty substantial bills," he says. "We [need to] make sure we're using the money in the most sensible way." Jobs: Roles in public relations at Ogilvy & Mather and Burson-Marsteller.”725

West jittery as Iran opens its first energy-producing nuclear reactor, with much help from Russia. Iranian and Russian engineers will load more than 80 tons of urnamium fuel into the plant, near the city of Bushehr, over the next two weeks. Two months later the first electricity will be produced. Independent: “Russia, which helped to finish building Bushehr, has pledged to prevent spent nuclear fuel at the site from being shifted to a possible weapons programme. … The new power station is not considered a proliferation risk because the terms of the deal commit Iran to allowing Russia to retrieve all used reactor fuel for reprocessing. Professor Norman Dombey: “While Iran's plans for Bushehr don't pose a proliferation problem, its enrichment plans do."726

“Only Keynes's animal spirits can intoxicate our hung-over economies. Neither increased government spending nor austerity can solve the world economy's problems on their own. We must give entrepreneurs a reason to rediscover their exuberance,” writes John Llewellyn, former chief economist at Lehman Brothers, in the Observer. “What Maynard was concerned about … was "animal spirits" – the optimism of businessmen to borrow and spend today, even though the resulting output can be offered for sale only in a future that is intrinsically unknowable.”727

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