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Posts Tagged ‘Environment’

Cyber Attacks Force EU to Close Emission Trading System

In Financial Markets, Health and Environment, International Econnomic Politics, Law & Regulations, Natural science, Quantitative Finance, Technology, Trading software, Uncategorized, Views, commentaries and opinions on 22.01.11 at 03:15

A series of cyber-attacks on national registries, where carbon permits are stored, have forced the EU to close its emissions trading system (ETS) for at least a week. The European Commission posted the announcement on its website on Wednesday after Czech Republic-based firm Blackstone Global Ventures said about €6.8 million of carbon allowances appeared to have disappeared. Thefts on electronic registries in Austria, Greece, Poland and Estonia have also been reported over the last days.

“They will over time undermine the credibility of carbon trading as a policy measure.”

Kjersti Ulset


After discovering unauthorized trading on its account on Wednesday, Blackstone contacted the Czech registry OTE AS, which promptly closed all operations and began an investigation. The Paris-based BlueNext SA, operator of the world’s biggest spot exchange for permits, followed suit, as did registries in Poland and Estonia, before the EU finally imposed a region-wide shutdown.

It’s not the first time cyber criminal have been trading stolen permits at the international ETS market, but never has the activity been so comprehensive that the regulators have been forced to close the whole market.

“Incidents over the last weeks have underlined the urgent need for enhanced security measures,” the EU commission says in its announcement of the closure.

The bloc’s ETS system will be down, at least until 26 January.

Full statement

Q&A’s

A Criminals Market

According to The Guardian, European Authorities estimate that up to 90% of the whole market volume is plain fraudulent activities.

Belgian prosecutors highlighted the massive losses faced by EU governments from VAT fraud today after they charged three Britons and a Dutchman with money-laundering following an investigation into a multimillion-pound scam involving carbon emissions permits.

The three Britons, who were arrested last month in Belgium, were accused of failing to pay VAT worth €3m (£2.7m) on a series of carbon credit transactions.

European authorities believe the EU has lost at least €5bn to carbon-trading VAT fraud in the last 18 months.

Last month, the European police agency Europol reported that the European Union’s Emissions Trading Scheme had been victim of fraudulent trading activities over the past 18 months, worth €5 billion for several national tax revenues.

Europol, the EU’s law-­enforcement operation, fears the fraud will be used in other areas, especially gas and electricity trading markets, after criminals found VAT fraud was one of the most lucrative financial frauds.

The Most Lucrative Financial Fraud

Wednesday’s announcement and similar cyber-attacks have also damaged the EU initiative, together with reports of tax fraud and the recycling of used credits, the EUobserver.com reports.

“They will over time undermine the credibility of carbon trading as a policy measure,” says Kjersti Ulset, manager at Point Carbon, a company that reports on Europe’s emission trading, carried out in a network of registries across the union.

Despite its pioneering position, Europe’s ETS system has attracted criticism over its six years of operation, with some businesses saying it threatens the bloc’s competitiveness, while NGOs argue emission thresholds have been set too high.

By placing a price on carbon, Europe’s trading system is designed to lower company emissions and therefore protect the environment from global warming. Corporations received emission permits for free under the first phase (2005-2007) of the scheme. Some, however, are forced to pay for a portion of their permits.

The European emission trading system is the world’s largest, as the US plans for a similar cap-and-trade scheme was blocked by the US Senate last year.

Carbon permits are, however, traded as ordinary securities at the Chicago Carbon Exchange.

Brussels wants to see energy companies buy all their permits with their own money from 2013 and onwards, with other heavy industries gradually phased in by 2020.

China experts suggest pilot ETS projects could appear in Beijing’s next five-year plan, set to be approved in March.

Here at The Swapper we have been skeptical to the ETS all along.

It’s an artificial market, created on basis of nice thoughts, without a real supply/demand situation and is regulated in a way the is more similar to a pharmacy than a financial market.

But what is really worrisome, is the sharp increase in this kind of activity.

Just wait till you see the Chicago Board Option Exchange gets hacked!

Related by The Swapper:

BP's Oily Aftermath – Colbert Style

In Health and Environment, International Econnomic Politics, National Economic Politics, Views, commentaries and opinions on 22.08.10 at 17:30

One last segment from the Colbert Report, Colbert is making jokes at BP‘s expense, and with a great follow-on interview with Michael Blum, an environmental scientist from Tulane.  Interesting mixed with a message about tainted shrimp…

“Our inspectors are so good they can find shrimp taint by smell.”

Stephan Colbert

Notice at the one-minute mark, the weaselly news-reader’s description of the BP spill — “when oil began seeping” into the Gulf. Seeping? BP could have written that manipulative phrasing.

I’m impressed that Colbert is able to fit so much factual information into segments that are also funny and ironic.

If you want to see masterful PR manipulation, by the way, notice the new BP ads (no link, but they’re turning up as intros to MSNBC online vids).

Pristine waters, happy citizens, a cohort of rested and ready-to-restart BP beach cleaners; and one core message:

“Now that the oil is gone from the beaches, we’ve done our job. And if oil ever returns to the beaches, we’ll be back just that fast to clean it up again.”

And all that clean water in the background. The words may say “beaches,” but the pictures say “all outdoors.”

Can you smell the manipulation? Smells like that oil “taint,” Colbert joked about.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

BP Collecting Millions In Government Stimulus Funds

New CEO Isn’t the Long-Term Answer at BP, Expert Says

Readers Response: The BP Conspiracy

Statoil May Buy BP Assets, Expert Says

Fears Of Oil Spill Consequences Subside, CDS Spreads Show

EU To Seek Temporary Ban On Deep-Water Oil Permits

BP Rules Out Issuing New Shares

Response To The BP Derivatives Story

So, You Thought BP Was An OIL Company?

Dockwise To Assist BP In Gulf Oil Spill Clean Up

Gulf Oil Spill: A Carefully Planned Inside Job?

Norway’s Oil Fund Among BP’s Largest Shareholders As Bankruptcy Rumors Hit Market

Oil Spill Makes Waves

BP Is Drowning In Its Own Oil Spill

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Statoil May Buy BP Assets, Expert Says

In Financial Markets, Health and Environment, International Econnomic Politics, National Economic Politics on 28.07.10 at 01:23

As BP now is about to sell assets for nearly NOK 200 billion, Statoil may be one of the buyers, says Norway‘s foremost expert on the petroleum industry economics, professor Øystein Noreng at the Norwegian School of Management.

“Statoil is looking, Statoil’s got a lot of money and they’re going global.”

Øystein Noreng

“Statoil is looking, Statoil has a lot of money and thet’re going global. It is clear that BP must sell assets worth hundreds of billion, but exactly which assets BP will sell, to who, or from whom Statoil will buy, I don’t know,  the  know, professor Noreng says in an interview, published on the website E24.no.

Øystein Noreng at the Norwegian School of Management is regarded as one of the top experts in the world on petroleum economics.

Within the next 18 months, BP will seek to reduce net debt by 10 to 15 billion dollars. Among other things, BP will sell assets for a total of 30 billion dollar. (185.2 billion Norwegian kroner).

“BP will sell a portion of their holdings, even in Mexico. It’s not known if it’s the deep water installations,” says Noreng.

The new top manager at BP, Robert Dudley, said at the current quarter earnings report presentation that he will change the BP from a company that produces four million barrels of oil per day, to one that produces 3.5 million oil per day. Dudley also said that the company will have assets of “higher quality” and a more focused portfolio.

It’s a quite polite way of saying;  BP must sell a lot of assets.

BP reported Tuesday morning on a negative second quarter results at 16.973 billion dollars.

Loss for the second quarter of 2010 will stand as one of the biggest losses for a British company ever.

The bill for oil disaster has, according to the company itself now reached 32 billion dollars.

BP says in a statement that the company will not shrink “dramatically” in the United States. Chairman Svanberg sees no great change in the structure of the company, E24.no writes.

A Heap of Scrap

BP have earlier been accused of having the worst platforms on the Norwegian continental shelf, whit half of the oil installations in the North Sea outdated.

BP’s own fields Valhall is being described as a heap of scrap, by sources speaking with the Norwegian news paper, Dagbladet.

“We’ve had problems with bacterias eating up the pipes from the inside, it’s about just the paint again. One worker started to pick off some old paint on one of the tubes, and then suddenly the oil sprayed out. The pipes are so rusty that they hardly can be disassembled, “ said an anonymous source to the newspaper.

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The Statoil shares (STL) ended flat in today’s trading at Oslo Stock Exchange, while the Benchmark index declined 0,29%.

Related by the Econotwist:

Norway’s Oil Fund Among BP’s Largest Shareholders As Bankruptcy Rumors Hit Market

BP Rules Out Issuing New Shares

Fears Of Oil Spill Consequences Subside, CDS Spreads Show

So, You Thought BP Was An OIL Company?

Response To The BP Derivatives Story

Gulf Oil Spill: A Carefully Planned Inside Job?

Oil Spill Makes Waves

BP Is Drowning In Its Own Oil Spill

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Fears Of Oil Spill Consequences Subside, CDS Spreads Show

In Financial Markets, Health and Environment, International Econnomic Politics, National Economic Politics on 21.07.10 at 01:18

Fears over the Gulf oil spill appear to have subsided for now as tighter oil and gas credit default swap (CDS) spreads show, according to Fitch Solutions in its latest weekly Risk and Performance Monitor (RPM).

Credit markets have stopped pricing in additional risk for the oil and gas industry for the time being.”

Jonathan Di Giambattista


Oil & gas companies led a 1.4% overall tightening of global CDS spreads, with spreads coming in 3.4%, more than for any other industry, according to Fitch Solutions.

“Credit markets have stopped pricing in additional risk for the oil and gas industry for the time being,” says Author and Managing Director Jonathan Di Giambattista.

Elsewhere, sovereign CDS spreads outpaced the broader market movement, with the Republic of Peru CDS tightening over 50%.

The “Fitch Risk and Performance Monitor”, which is published on a weekly basis, is available at http://www.fitchsolutions.com.

Related Research: Fitch Risk and Performance Monitor

Related by the Econotwist:

EU To Seek Temporary Ban On Deep-Water Oil Permits

BP Rules Out Issuing New Shares

So, You Thought BP Was An OIL Company?

Response To The BP Derivatives Story

Dockwise To Assist BP In Gulf Oil Spill Clean Up

Gulf Oil Spill: A Carefully Planned Inside Job?

Norway’s Oil Fund Among BP’s Largest Shareholders As Bankruptcy Rumors Hit Market

Oil Spill Makes Waves

BP Is Drowning In Its Own Oil Spill

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Most Polluting Companies Makes Billions On Carbon Trade

In Financial Markets, Health and Environment, International Econnomic Politics, National Economic Politics, Views, commentaries and opinions on 01.06.10 at 16:38

I guess this is the final evidence that E.U.’s emission trading system is complete fiasco.  According to editor of Euro-correspondent.com Stephen Gardner the most polluting companies in Europe stand to make a profit of more than 13 billion euro by selling emissions permissions – ETS – they have been given for free, but won’t need.

“The most polluting companies in Europe are lining up to receive a windfall that could be as much as €13.3 billion from the ill-conceived emissions trading system.”

Stephen Gardner


I’ve been skeptical towards this emission trading scheme all along, but after reading Mr. Gardner’s latest blog post at the EUobserver.com, I have no more doubt; the ETS market is a complete flop!

Here are a few examples:

In Belgium, in 2008, ArcelorMittal received for its various plants 11,183,005 allowances. But it only used up 7,109,899 of them — a surplus of more than 4 million.

Another metal-basher, Corus, received in 2008 across various plants 11,414,550 allowances, but only used 6,953,746 of them.

Massive German ironworks Hüttenwerke Krupp Mannesmann, meanwhile, got 8.6 million allowances but only used half of them.

Editor of Euro-correspondent.com, Stephen Gardner calls it a “scandal.”

I have no problem agreeing with him.

Here’s what he writes:

Look closely enough at yesterday’s European Commission communication on ‘moving beyond a 20 percent greenhouse gas reduction’ and you will spot a scandal. It’s on page 3 and it reads like this: ‘With many allowances unused during the crisis, companies will be able to carry over some 5-8% of their allowances from the 2008-2012 period into the third phase of the ETS.’

What this means is that during the 2008-2012 period of the EU emissions trading system, companies were given more carbon allowances — pollution permits — than they needed. Partly this is a consequence of unforeseen events. Because of the deep recession, big steel firms and the like drastically cut their production between 2008 and 2009, emitting much less CO2 than expected, and so ending up with piles of unused emission allowances.

Stephen Gardner is editor of Euro-correspondent.com, and Brussels freelance environment correspondent for the Bureau of National Affairs (US). He is also a contributor to other media such as the BBC and the UK magazines Ethical Corporation and Private Eye.

But partly, the allowance surpluses are down to bad planning, lobbying and the rewarding by governments of their favourite industries (ie those that threatened to relocate elsewhere if they did not get bumper carbon allowance handouts).

Because of the way the ETS was set up, the surpluses are held primarily by heavy industry, rather than by power plants. Here are a few examples. In Belgium, in 2008, ArcelorMittal received for its various plants 11,183,005 allowances. But it only used up 7,109,899 of them — a surplus of more than 4 million.

Another metal-basher, Corus, received in 2008 across various plants 11,414,550 allowances, but only used 6,953,746 of them. Massive German ironworks Hüttenwerke Krupp Mannesmann, meanwhile, got 8.6 million allowances but only used half of them.

These massive surpluses were: 1). given to these companies for free, and 2). can be carried over to the next phase of the ETS (2013-2020) and sold then. By my admittedly back-of-the-envelope calculations, the 5-8% cited in the Commission’s paper means between 520 million and 833 million surplus allowances EU-wide.

Here is the absolutely scandalous part: the companies holding these allowances can sell them for at least an estimated €16 each in the next phase. That means the most polluting companies in Europe are lining up to receive a windfall that could be as much as €13.3 billion from the ill-conceived emissions trading system.

And who precisely will deliver this windfall to billionaires like Lakshmi Mittal? Well, while EU governments were dishing out massive surpluses to their favourite manufacturers, they gave far smaller allocations to power plants. This was because power plants can’t flounce off to another country if they don’t get what they want. So the massive Drax power plant in northern England, for example, was given in 2008 9.5 million allowances, but had emissions equivalent to 22.3 million — a shortfall of 12.8 million.

But another reason power plants were given insufficient allowances was that they do not suffer any real negative effect from it — they simply pass on the cost to their customers in the form of higher electricity bills. So the ill-conceived ETS has resulted in households across Europe funnelling money into the pockets of some of the continent’s most polluting companies, who have no incentive to do anything in return, but just wait for the free money to roll in.

Increasing the EU’s 2020 emissions reduction target from 20 to 30 percent compared to 1990 levels would force a quicker burn through of the surplus but will not reduce the windfall. In fact, it might increase it, because the carbon price would likely rise. However, the Commission should scrap the rule that allows the 2008-2012 surplus to be carried forward to the next ETS phase. Of course in the face of the lobbying power of the steel industry and others, this is hardly likely to happen.

By Stephen Gardner

Original blog here.

Here’s a copy of the E.U. commissions emission report.

Related by the Econotwist:

Another Carbon Fraud Raid Reveals Firearms, Piles Of Cash

Hackers Steal CO2-emission Permits Worth $4bn

World May Not Be Warming, Scientists Says

As Climate War Intensifies, So Does Extreme Weather

Top Scientist: “UN Climate Panel Is Losing All Credibility”

Mother Earth On Crack

Øko-logisk regnefeil?

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The Other Debt Crisis – The Climate Debt

In Health and Environment, International Econnomic Politics, National Economic Politics, Views, commentaries and opinions on 23.05.10 at 21:31

After another week with intense focus on poor Europe, evil speculators and malicious Credit-default Swaps, I guess it’s time for another reminder of what’s really important, and what’s not.

In the latest edition of Fault Lines, at the Arabic TV station Al Jazeera, reporter Avi Lewis travels to Bolivia to explore the country’s climate crusade from the inside.

“Capitalism Dies, or Earth Dies.

Evo Morales

Here’s the “must watch” of the weekend:

Related by the Econotwist:

E.U. Climate Chief Pessimistic After U.S. Visit

U.N Climate Panel Seeks Help

As Climate War Intensifies, So Does Extreme Weather

World May Not Be Warming, Scientists Says

“Mini Ice Age” Underway?

A non-agreement on nothing

Volcano Ash Can Send The Earth Into “Deep Freeze”

Low-Oxygen Zones In Oceans Worry Scientists

Earthquake May Have Shortened Days on Earth

Mother Earth On Crack

More Mysterious “Monster Fish” Comes To Surface

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As Climate War Intensifies, So Does Extreme Weather

In Health and Environment, International Econnomic Politics, National Economic Politics on 23.02.10 at 17:40

Climate scientists have been forced to withdraw a study on projected sea level rise due to global warming after finding mistakes that undermined the findings.  The 2009 study claimed that sea levels would rise by up to 82cm by the end of century – but the report’s author now says true estimate is still unknown.

“It’s one of those things that happens.”

Mark Siddall

Scientists have been forced to withdraw a study on projected sea level rise due to global warming after finding mistakes that undermined the findings, The Guardian report. At the same time, extreme levels of snow is once again paralyzing major European countries.

Climate scientists withdraw their journal that claims rising of sea levels. The 2009 study claimed that sea levels would rise by up to 82cm by the end of century – but the report’s author now says true estimate is still unknown.

The study, published in 2009 in Nature Geoscience, one of the top journals in its field, confirmed the conclusions of the 2007 report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). It used data over the last 22,000 years to predict that sea level would rise by between 7cm and 82cm by the end of the century.

At the time, Mark Siddall, from the Earth Sciences Department at the University of Bristol, said the study “strengthens the confidence with which one may interpret the IPCC results”. The IPCC said that sea level would probably rise by 18cm-59cm by 2100, though stressed this was based on incomplete information about ice sheet melting and that the true rise could be higher.

Many scientists criticised the IPCC approach as too conservative, and several papers since have suggested that sea level could rise more. Martin Vermeer of the Helsinki University of Technology, Finland and Stefan Rahmstorf of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany published a study in December that projected a rise of 0.75m to 1.9m by 2100.

Siddall said that he did not know whether the retracted paper’s estimate of sea level rise was an overestimate or an underestimate.

Announcing the formal retraction of the paper from the journal, Siddall said: “It’s one of those things that happens. People make mistakes and mistakes happen in science.” He said there were two separate technical mistakes in the paper, which were pointed out by other scientists after it was published. A formal retraction was required, rather than a correction, because the errors undermined the study’s conclusion.

“Retraction is a regular part of the publication process,” he said. “Science is a complicated game and there are set procedures in place that act as checks and balances.”

Full article at guardian.co.uk

Related:

Climate sceptics are recycled critics of controls on tobacco and acid rain

World’s top firms cause $2.2tn of environmental damage, report estimates

Climate scientists admit fresh error over data on rising sea levels

Deep-sea trawling is destroying coral reefs and pristine marine habitats

Read the full story of the hacked climate emails

Moscow Burried By Record Snowfall

Thousands of snow-clearing machines have been working to dig the Russian capital Moscow out of a record-breaking fall of 63cm (nearly 25 inches), according to BBC News.

After a weekend of heavy snow showers, the regional weather centre announced that the previous record of 62cm, set in 1966, had been broken.

Snow ploughs were due to make three clean sweeps of the city on Monday.

Drivers were asked to leave their cars at home but rail services are said to have been unaffected by the weather.

A Moscow railway spokesman said that 4,471km (2,778m) of track had been cleared of snow on Sunday.

In all, about 15,000 snow-clearing machines were deployed in the city of about 10.5 million people, backed by 8,500 dump trucks and about 5,500 street-sweeping personnel.

Source: news.bbc.co.uk

The heavy snowfall is also resulting in canceled flights and delayed trains in Scandinavia and central Europe.

Here’s last nights TV news report from Moscov:

Related by the Econotwist:

World May Not Be Warming, Scientists Says

Top Scientist: “UN Climate Panel Is Losing All Credibility”

Netherlands Adds New Controversy To UN Climate Report

Hackers Steal CO2-emission Permits Worth $4bn

U.S: Miami’s First Cold Weather Death Confirmed

Coldest January In Norwegian History

“Mini Ice Age” Underway?

Extreme Weather Around The Globe

Eco-logical Miscalculations?

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World May Not Be Warming, Scientists Says

In Health and Environment, International Econnomic Politics, National Economic Politics, Views, commentaries and opinions on 22.02.10 at 14:27

The United Nations climate panel faces a new challenge with scientists casting doubt on its claim that global temperatures are rising inexorably because of human pollution, The Sunday Times reports.

“The temperature records cannot be relied on as indicators of global change.”

John Christy


In its last assessment the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) said the evidence that the world was warming was “unequivocal”.

It warned that greenhouse gases had already heated the world by 0.7C and that there could be 5C-6C more warming by 2100, with devastating impacts on humanity and wildlife. However, new research, including work by British scientists, is casting doubt on such claims.

Some even suggest the world may not be warming much at all.

“The temperature records cannot be relied on as indicators of global change,” said John Christy, professor of atmospheric science at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, a former lead author on the IPCC.

The doubts of Christy and a number of other researchers focus on the thousands of weather stations around the world, which have been used to collect temperature data over the past 150 years.

These stations, they believe, have been seriously compromised by factors such as urbanisation, changes in land use and, in many cases, being moved from site to site.

Christy has published research papers looking at these effects in three different regions: east Africa, and the American states of California and Alabama.

“The story is the same for each one,” he said. “The popular data sets show a lot of warming but the apparent temperature rise was actually caused by local factors affecting the weather stations, such as land development.”

The IPCC faces similar criticisms from Ross McKitrick, professor of economics at the University of Guelph, Canada, who was invited by the panel to review its last report.

The experience turned him into a strong critic and he has since published a research paper questioning its methods.

“We concluded, with overwhelming statistical significance, that the IPCC’s climate data are contaminated with surface effects from industrialisation and data quality problems. These add up to a large warming bias,” he said.

Such warnings are supported by a study of US weather stations co-written by Anthony Watts, an American meteorologist and climate change sceptic.

His study, which has not been peer reviewed, is illustrated with photographs of weather stations in locations where their readings are distorted by heat-generating equipment.

Full article at timesonline.co.uk

Related by the Econotwist:

Top Scientist: “UN Climate Panel Is Losing All Credibility”

Netherlands Adds New Controversy To UN Climate Report

Hackers Steal CO2-emission Permits Worth $4bn

U.S: Miami’s First Cold Weather Death Confirmed

Coldest January In Norwegian History

“Mini Ice Age” Underway?

Extreme Weather Around The Globe

Eco-logical Miscalculations?

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