Take action over Hunterston

In previous posts and briefing documents we have argued that HUnterston poses a grave threat to the safety of everyone living in the Central Belt and that moreover, nuclear should have no part in the transition to a sustainable economy.

The Office of Nuclear Regulation has given EDF permission to restart reactor 4 at Hunterston B.  The date is not yet certain but the probable date is 30th August.  Although cracking in Reactor 4 is not as extensive as in Reactor 3, there is an issue of some cracks openings that are greater than 1.2 cm wide (ie ~½ inch).

Actions you might wish to take: 

  1.  Write (with copies to social media) to the following people – (addresses are given below)
  • the Chief Inspector of the Office of Nuclear Regulation (ONR),
  • the Chief Executive of the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA),
  • your own MSP and the current Scottish Minister for Energy
  • the Scottish Government’s Director of Energy and Climate Change

In writing to the above and in using social media, you might express the views that:

  • both the Hunterston B reactors should remain closed for good
  • that EDF and North Ayrshire Council should publish their plans for evacuation in the event of a nuclear accident; and
  • that free potassium iodate tablets should be pre-distributed to the population within 50 km of Hunterston B.

Consider planning, organising and participating in demonstrations outside Hunterston.

Useful Addresses

Office for Nuclear Regulation

Building 4, Redgrave Court

Merton Road

Bootle L20 7HS

Or use the online form http://www.onr.org.uk/complaining-about-onr.htm

Scottish Environmental Protection Agency

Strathallan House, Castle Business Park

Stirling FK9 4TZ

or online form https://www.sepa.org.uk/contact/contact-us-via-email/

Minister for Energy, Connectivity and the Islands

The Scottish Government
St. Andrew’s House, Regent Road
Edinburgh EH1 3DG

scottish.ministers@gov.scot

Scottish Government Energy and Climate Change Directorate

Director of Energy and Climate Change

Atlantic Quay, 150 Broomielaw
Glasgow G2 8LU

ceu@gov.scot

North Ayrshire Council 
Cunninghame House
Friars Croft
Irvine KA12 8EE
info@northayrshire.community

email: northayrshireperforms@north-ayrshire.gov.uk

East Ayrshire Council

London Road

Kilmarnock KA3 7BU

https://our.east-ayrshire.gov.uk/AchieveForms

(Thanks to Edinburgh CND for much of this information).

Sheep graze in fields next to British Energy Hunterston 'B' nuclear power station in west Scotland

By Jonathonchampton at English Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=11050069

Sea Change – a review

In May we welcomed the publication of an important report on North Sea Oil and Gas. Ann Morgan shares her reflections on the report here.

Sea Change: Climate Emergency, Jobs and Managing the Phase Out of UK Oil and Gas Extraction

Introduction

Sea Change highlights the tremendous potential for a just transition and in outlining the scale of the potential increase in new climate jobs provides convincing evidence that trade unions, activists, politicians and economists can utilise in designing a sustainable economy.

Bella Caledonia calls the report a ‘landmark’.  A landmark is defined as a’ turning point’ or a ‘critical point.’ However, as the report is released there are very mixed messages from policy makers.  On the one hand the declaration of climate emergency by the Scottish Government and many local authorities and on the other the Oil and Gas Authority press release on 10thJuly 2019 announcing new licences for exploration and exploitation of hydrocarbons.

The Gas discovery by the Chinese State Owned CNOOC in January this year is said to be the largest in over a decade.  Exxon Mobil and Shell and other oil companies are busy extolling the virtues of Natural Gas, greenwashing thus

‘This versatile and abundant resource is contributing to emissions reductions all over the world’

No word of emissions of methane (research is currently underway to assess methane emission underestimated previously in the North Sea).  As we know methane is a potent greenhouse gas and natural gas is not a ‘bridge’ fuel as the report emphasises.

Just transition

The ScotE3 draft manifesto defines a just transition as

‘One that ensures no individual or community suffers economically or socially as old jobs end and new jobs are created’.

Sea Change makes it clear that a just transition to renewable energy is manifestly possible with the potential that three new climate jobs could be created for every North Sea job at risk. 

Just transition is the way to win hearts and minds and the Sea Change report gives an informed and detailed bridge to that improved working and living environment.  An effective campaign is needed to turn around the Oil and Gas Authority (OAG) insistence on opening up applications for the 32ndround of licensing.

Alternatives

To end fossil fuel dependence and move to the alternative, a clean and safe working and sustainable environment, will not be easy.  However the structured and planned transition that Sea Change describes cannot be ignored.  The report notes that oil and gas was developed with Government support and intervention.  Indeed the big energy companies continue to attract subsidy for their hydrocarbon activities. It argues that it is now high time for intervention and investment to enable a renewable transformation.

Sea Change is an outstanding analysis of the importance of energy at the ‘production’ level and has relevance in the systemic changes required, in public ownership, in governance and accountability and in designing new social models.  The report further illustrates a point also made by Asbjørn Wahl that solutions cannot be made on an environmental/scientific analysis alone.  Action is required to change the power imbalance nationally and internationally.

The need to end extraction

Sea Change documents the current impact of North Sea Oil and Gas and demonstrates in the starkest terms that the continued practice of Maximum Economic Recovery (MER) Is incompatible with the Climate Change Act and emissions reduction.  Mary Church Head of Campaigns at FoE (Scotland) puts it succinctly

‘ Climate Science is clear that we urgently need to phase out fossil fuels, yet the government and big oil companies are doing everything they can to squeeze every drop out of the North Sea … we must ban further exploration and redirect the vast subsidies propping up extraction towards creating decent jobs in a clean energy economy.’

The report finds that:

  • The Uk ‘s 5.7 billion barrels of oil and gas in already operating oil and gas fields will exceed the UK’s share of carbon emissions agreed in the Paris Climate goals. Currently Government and industry aim to extract 20 billion barrels.
  • The additional oil and gas extraction enabled by recent subsidies will add twice as much carbon to the atmosphere as the phase out of coal power saves.
  • Given the right policies, clean industries could create more than three jobs for every North Sea oil job lost.

The authors call for the withdrawal of the OAG authority’s 32ndlicensing round.  They recommend that the UK and Scottish Governments work with affected communities and trade unions in a managed phase out of North Sea oil and gas, investing in education, retraining and reskilling (although it is acknowledged that many existing jobs are highly skilled and transferable) and influencing the priorities of the Scottish National Investment Bank with a significant degree of public ownership. Infrastructure costs can be met with a rapid phase out of oil subsidies underpinned by a fiscal policy of support for clean energy to at least the level to which the oil and gas industry have been supported.

Otherwise the future looks bleak.  The report notes that

  • Offshore oil industry increasingly pressurised (See RMT union’s report on North Sea working conditions)
  • Renewables – currently no significant UK jobs creation with manufacturing jobs going overseas
  • Oil and Gas extraction from newly developed fields would push the world beyond climate limits

In short, the Westminster and HolyroodGovernments face a choice between two pathways to stay in climate limits.

  1. Deferred Collapse: Continue to pursue Maximum Extraction through subsidies until worsening climate impacts force rapid action to cut emissions globally. The UK Oil industry collapses pushing workers out of work in a short space of time.
  2. Managed Transition. Stop approving licensing permits and tax breaks and phase out extraction.

Climate jobs

The report argues that a National Energy Strategy can mean an energy transformation that meets climate commitments while protecting livelihoods and economic well being.  Local manufacturing and workforce participation needs to guide this transformation with new approaches in economic development, strong trade union rights and sectoral bargaining.

‘Clearly it is an ambitious project to transform the UK energy sector within a couple of decades, just as the rapid development of the North Sea was an ambitious project …’

The report models the impact on the oil and gas workforce of ending the development of new fields.  Taking into account the jobs created through decommissioning and forecast retirement in the existing workforce, it estimates that 40,000 existing oil workers (direct and support chain) may need to be in a different job by 2030. To examine the scale of jobs that can be created in compatible clean energy industries and the level of policy ambition necessary, it models the numbers of new jobs that would be created in offshore wind, marine renewables and energy efficiency retrofits, sectors that have strong overlaps with existing oil and gas skills and finds that the number of jobs created will be at least three times more than the number lost.

Social Justice

The report also highlights the international justice commitment to ensure transition is fastest in wealthier countries and end operations, which harm poor communities and workers (Jake Molloy in the RMT report notes the harsh working conditions for Asian migrant workers in decommissioning in the North Sea for as little as around £3 an hour).  Decommissioning should be paid for by oil companies and decommissioning plans should detail and provide for a Just Transition for workers.

Overall, Just Transition plans, guided by climate limits, should provide structured pathways for the existing workforce, new workers and communities.  Terms and conditions of workers must be safeguarded and accountability to trade unions and local stakeholders in place.

Finally, the authors report that in other policy arenas restrictions on the supply of harmful substances (e.g. ozone depleting chemicals and asbestos) targeted the substances, whereas with fossil fuels only measures to slow the consumption have been taken leaving the market to determine extraction.  This is beginning to change.  It is to be hoped the banning of fracking in Scotland and UK wide in future will serve as an example of legislative measures to make unsafe practices unlawful.

It is worth noting that the authors place no great faith in carbon negative strategies such as capture and storage.  While these technologies may have their place in future developments, philosophy of enabling business as usual must be guarded against.  To finish with the words of the authors

‘Oil and Gas sucks investment …’

Investment in renewables could swiftly move us to reduction in emissions within climate limits.

‘Today’s decisions shape the long term energy future’.

Let’s begin the sustainable revolution.

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Confronting corporate power

A month ago we reported on the launch of the “Fife Ready For Renewal” campaign to insist that production work for the new Neart na Gaoithe wind farm should take place at the currently unoccupied Bifab yards in Burntisland and Methil.  On Friday 5th July the campaign stepped up a notch when 100 pickets assembled in Edinburgh.

IMG_4674Ex-Bifab workers, reps of 5 or 6 unions, School Strikers, ScotE3,  Friends of the Earth and others surrounded the EDF Renewables HQ in Morrison Street, Edinburgh. An expert bugler, echoing his fanfares round the tall buildings, attracted a lot of passing attention. No uniformed police. Four School Strikers were lined up behind a very long banner. They were shy so we got them to go to the front. Good speeches. The plan had been to present a letter to EDF, listing questions and demands. But we arrived to find their door locked. So the questions and demands were magicked onto two long scrolls, which were displayed at the front of the protest and photographed. Then it was decided we should march round the side of the building  to see if there was a back door open so the original letter could be presented. There was a back door – a big revolving one, behind which four large security guards retreated when they saw us coming – a lot of loud music and chanting by this time on a good PA system. Good large flags, multiplied by reflexion in glass walls. Two people were allowed inside to give the letter to the guards, then one worker managed to push his way backwards through the door with a big flag, which he waved at us through the glass with a big smile, while the guards pinioned him. There was a point when it looked as if the crowd would push through the door, but not this time. The guards nudged the worker back though the door, then decided to lock it. This was the best bit – a guard on his knees inside struggling to lock the door with a ground-bolt, but failing to get any of his big bunch of keys to fit. This gave a great photo opportunity, and was greeted with hilarity by the crowd, who offered technical training for EDF workers.

IMG_4675Thanks to Mike and Eileen for words and images.

June organising meeting

We will be meeting at 7pm at the Edinburgh Peace and Justice Centre on Wednesday 19th  June.  The draft agenda includes discussion and organising on:

Our contribution to the Edinburgh World Justice Festival (28th September – 19th October) which this year has a theme of Climate Action and Social Justice.

The Fife Ready for Renewal Meeting in Buckhaven on 20 June

Taking forward action and writing on: Climate Justice, Defence Divestment and links to Climate Action, Re-engineering the grid for a sustainable future, State Energy Company

These are open meetings and anyone who wants to get involved is welcome.  If you want to add items to the agenda please use the contact form of email directly to triple.e.scot@gmail.com

open-ideas_0

Image CC-BY-SA https://www.jisc.ac.uk/blog/open-science-many-hands-make-light-work-17-aug-2015

Climate Camp

We’ll be running a workshop at the XR Climate Campo at Holyrood on Monday evening (17th June), 7pm – it’s on ‘Climate jobs, just transition and building a movement with social justice at its heart’ – do come along if you can and in any case support the Climate Camp – on this week from this evening until Thursday.

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Fife – Ready for Renewal

EDF renewables have the contract for the new Neart na Gaoithe offshore wind farm. Although the turbines will be located around 15.5 km off the Fife coast the company plans to source much of the infrastructure for the site from South East Asia.

The project aims to generate 450MW of renewable energy (enough to power all of Edinburgh) – this makes the decision to manufacture the jackets that the turbines rest on in the far east and then ship them around the world all the more ludicrous. It will create huge additional carbon emissions – the STUC reckons this would be the equivalent of putting 35,000 additional petrol or diesel cars on the road.

Simply on the basis of its carbon footprint, the argument for dropping the EDF plan and building the jackets at the BiFab yards in Fife is incontestable. But in the context of a climate emergency it also raises other fundamental issues about how Scotland plays its part in the transition to a zero carbon economy. Mary Church, Head of Campaigns at Friends of the Earth Scotland puts the case very well:

We urgently need to build the clean energy economy in Scotland to do our fair share of tackling the climate emergency. But the new clean economy must be created in a way that ensures the benefits and costs are shared fairly, both internationally and here in Scotland.

Crucially, it also means losing the opportunity to create decent manufacturing work in Fife, that could help kick start the badly need Just Transition for workers and communities currently dependent on high carbon industries here in Scotland.

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The skills of the BiFab workers are critical to a Just Transition. Fundamentally this is about social justice and about the contribution that Scotland can make to the global response to the climate crisis. We have abundant resources for sustainable energy production and workers with the skills required to build the new sustainable economy. However, if we are serious about dealing with a climate emergency it is essential to develop policy and institutions that enable public control and accountability.

The STUC together with Unite the Union and the GMB have launched a campaign, ‘Fife – ready for renewal’ to bring the work to Fife. And Nicola Sturgeon is backing appeals to EDF to move production to the BiFab yards. This is really welcome.  But taking the climate emergency seriously surely requires going beyond call to the ‘social conscience’ of the big energy companies. There is a pressing need to develop a publicly owned energy company. Such a company could invest in production through new offshore wind, wave and tidal, take control of the grid and update it with new subsea connections and a smart distribution system and end the dependency on the market.

There is a public meeting in Buckhaven on June 20th to build support for the campaign – details on Facebook.

Sea Change

This week has seen the publication of an important report on North Sea oil and gas.  ‘Sea Change – climate emergency, jobs and managing the phase-out of UK oil and gas extraction’.  The report is co-published by Platform, Oil Change International and Friends of the Earth Scotland. It finds that

  • The UK’s 5.7 billion barrels of oil and gas in already-operating oil and gas fields will exceed the UK’s share in relation to Paris climate goals – whereas industry and government aim to extract 20 billion barrels;
  • Recent subsidies for oil and gas extraction will add twice as much carbon to the atmosphere as the phase-out of coal power saves;
  • Given the right policies, job creation in clean energy industries will exceed affected oil and gas jobs more than threefold.

Recommendations to the UK and Scottish Governments include:

  • Stop issuing licenses and permits for new oil and gas exploration and development, and revoke undeveloped licenses;
  • Rapidly phase out all subsidies for oil and gas extraction, including tax breaks, and redirect them to fund a Just Transition;
  • Enable rapid building of the clean energy industry through fiscal and policy support to at least the extent they have provided to the oil industry, including inward investment in affected regions and communities;
  • Open formal consultations with trade unions to develop and implement a Just Transition strategy for oil-dependent regions and communities.

We hope to publish a longer review of the report in the near future.  However, in the meantime we strongly recommend downloading, reading and sharing the PDF.

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NFLA Seminar on just transition

On Friday 10th May I attended the Nuclear Free Local Authorities (NFLA) Scotland Spring Seminar in Dundee on behalf of Scot.E3. The subject of the seminar was ‘Dealing With Climate Change, Just Transition and Divestment Issues’.

The four presentations grappled with issues of just transition and sustainability from a local authority perspective:

You can use the hyperlinks to access the presentations. NFLA have also produced a useful briefing on some of these issues – ‘Climate Emergency’ Declarations and the practicalities in Local Authority Action to go ‘Carbon Neutral’

Eileen Cook

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Energy from Waste

The UK’s Green Investment Bank had a short and inglorious history; founded in 2012 it was privatised in 2017.  The private company is now called the Green Investment Group – a wholly owned financial arm of the Australian development company Macquarie. The company also owns the formerly US owned incineration company Wheelabrator.  The group is playing a role in energy from waste schemes.  In Scotland the Green Investment GroupIG has taken an equity risk of 50% capital in the Earl’s Gate EfW CHP project at Grangemouth. Wheelabrator incineration is at the heart of the project.  Earl’s Gate boasts the capacity to ‘treat’ more than 20% of Scotland’s municipal waste.  Local authorities are being drawn into long-term and dubious ‘green’ capital projects with virtually no public debate.

The evolution of the Green Investment Bank is a salutary lesson in what happens when policy initiatives are based on market ideology.

geograph-5887688-by-Derek-HarperImage by Derek Harper CC BY SA 2.0 https://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/5887688

A SHOCK TO THE SYSTEM

An Energy Policy Consultation paper – A shock to the system – the case for a publicly owned and democratically accountable Scottish energy company

In 2014 the Scottish government initiated an energy policy review. The purpose of this review was to examine the present state of Scotland’s energy economy and consider future options in the light of both a looming climate crisis and also the optimum strategy for replacing ageing fossil fuel and nuclear generating capacity with a range of renewable technologies.

In 2017 in order to ensure employment and fuel poverty issues were taken into account in this review, an infant SCOT.E3 decided to submit its own paper in an attempt to ensure that a full spectrum of related energy and environmental issues were incorporated into a memorandum of evidence.

Yet five years on and despite an almost universal acknowledgement of an accelerating climate crisis, little has been done- in practical terms- to address an impending environmental disaster and its related social and economic consequences. Also, within the intervening period, we have seen the commercial collapse of the BiFab renewable power technology company at Burntisland as well as the continued interest of the petro-chemical company Ineos in activating its shale gas fracking options to the point that it will feel confident to test the validity of the current Scottish governments ‘anti-fracking’ moratorium.

So it is against this present uncertainty that SCOT.E3 is now initiating another energy policy review to which it invites all interested parties to participate. The aim of this exercise is to re-examine the range of issues needed to be addressed; a renewable energy economy and the availability of appropriate technologies, the issue of fuel poverty and affordability of energy, energy efficiency, energy related employment and just transition possibilities regarding current energy and defence related employment, improvement of housing stock and carbon neutral public transport systems- to name but a few.

And as can be seen from the attached paper, SCOT.E3 have made a start in outlining the historical record of electricity generation and supply in Scotland in order to reinforce the case for a major stage in meeting Scotland’s forthcoming energy and environmental needs- a long promised Scottish state owned energy company.

We are therefore inviting you to participate in this exercise by adding your comments and/or contributions under the section headings so far left blank. This is to ensure that any report fully takes into account the range of opinions that truly reflect the technical and scientific know-how- as well as the concerns of environmental, community and trade union campaigns and interests engaged in these vital and urgent issues.

In order to ensure that this exercise is properly democratic, it is our intention to hold a consultative meeting for all consultees in the near future, as well as a major workshop type conference in the autumn.

We hope that you find the introductory notes both useful and of interest and we look forward to hearing from you in the near future. For any further information please contact:

SCOT.E3 at www.scote3.wordpress.com, email triple.e.scot@gmail.com 

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