Green energy sector attacks chancellor’s changes to climate change levy


George Osborne has infuriated green energy producers and campaigners with a £910m-a-year raid on the renewable energy sector by changing a climate change levy (CCL) at the same time as providing more fiscal help for North Sea oilfields.

RenewableUK, the lobby group, said the changes would cost green energy producers around £450m in the current financial year, and up to £1bn by 2020-2021.

The move hammered the share price of power generator Drax which is in the process of converting stations from burning coal to burning wood pellets. The company lost more than a quarter of its stock market value as it said the move would cost it £30m this year and £60m in 2016.

Caroline Lucas, the Green party MP, described the budget as a “serious blow for the fight against climate change”, while Greenpeace said it showed the chancellor is out of step with the times.

Osborne insisted the Conservative government would still continue to promote low carbon investment and would be pushing for a deal at United Nations talks in Paris later this year to limit global warming to 2C.

But his budget measures included removing the CCL exemption from renewable electricity schemes and promised streamlining other taxes.

“The government will review the business energy efficiency tax landscape and consider approaches to simplify and improve the effectiveness of the regime. A consultation will be launched in autumn 2015,” he said.

Osborne also promised to bring forward proposals for a sovereign wealth fund for communities that host shale gas developments, to expand the North Sea investment, and cluster area allowances to include additional activities.

Phil Grant, of management consultants Baringa Partners, said the budget was bad news for investors in green power. “Britain is a world leader in green energy but the abolishment of climate change levies for renewables is another blow for an already fragile sector. Investors were perturbed by recent decisions … to reduce subsidies for new renewable plants and we’ve seen the share prices of companies exposed to renewables take a further hit this afternoon.”

Gordon Edge, RenewableUK’s director of policy, said that until now, Levy Exemption Certificates generated as a result of the CCL had provided vital financial support for renewable energy producers.

“The government had already announced an end to future financial support for onshore wind – even though it’s the most cost-effective form of clean energy we have. Now they’re imposing retrospective cuts on projects already up and running across the entire clean energy sector.

“Yet again the government is moving the goalposts, pushing some marginal projects from profit into loss. It’s another example of this government’s unfair, illogical and obsessive attacks on renewables”.

Caroline Lucas said that axing the CCL exemption for renewable electricity, committing to further funding for road building, and doing nothing to push forward a low-carbon agenda more widely jeopardised progress on climate change.

“We’ve seen yet another example of reckless short-term policy making that prioritises the profits of polluters over the public interest in a safe and habitable climate,” she added.

Doug Parr, director of policy at Greenpeace, said Osborne was now taxing clean-power schemes as if they were fossil fuel. “This will make it more expensive for business to buy electricity from renewable power. He is man out of step with the times,” he added.

But the move to review the impact of energy efficiency measures on bill payers was welcomed by the EEF, manufacturing employers organisation.

“Fifteen years of layering and tinkering with policy has left us with a vast patchwork of expensive, inefficient and incoherent policy drivers for decarbonisation,” said the EEF’s director of policy, Paul Raynes.

“We urgently need to revisit the policy landscape to reduce costs, improve the business environment and better deliver on our policy objective of reducing emissions,” he added.

Meanwhile Catherine Mitchell, a professor of energy policy at the University of Exeter, said the government wanted a sustainable, secure and affordable energy system but had introduced policy changes that took the UK away from that goal.

“The ending of subsidies for onshore wind farms, our cheapest low-carbon electricity resource, the failure to exploit the potential of energy efficiency, the removal of the Climate Change Levy exemption for renewable energy, and support for unpopular fracking and extortionately expensive nuclear power does not add up to a credible energy policy,” she said adding: “It reduces the chances of us meeting our various legal requirements, and presents serious political risk to investors, which in itself makes energy more expensive.”

Sam Fankhauser, a professor and deputy director at the ESRC Centre for Climate Change Economics and Policy at the London School of Economics, said the move on renewable electricity compromised the effectiveness of the Climate Change Levy as a form of carbon pricing.

But he believed a review of green taxes could be constructive: “UK energy taxes can and should be reformed to make them less burdensome for businesses, deliver increased revenues for HM Treasury and reduce carbon emissions more efficiently. For instance, the Carbon Reduction Commitment Energy Efficiency Scheme, Climate Change Levy and Climate Change Agreement can be combined into one single instrument.”

IMF to not Bend Rules Over Greece Debt Issue

WASHINGTON: The International Monetary Fund (IMF) Managing Director Christine Lagarde said that the fund will not bend rules on debts owed by Greece but would remain fully engaged in order to help find solution.

“Whenever the IMF (is) involved, it’s certainly my view that the IMF has to follow its rules, should not bend the rules, and should always be even-handed, there cannot be any special treatment,” Lagarde spoke at the Brookings Institute on Wednesday.

“Our loans to countries experiencing difficulties, our loans are conditional upon various requirements, but all of them aim at restoring stability, restoring growth and debt sustainability,” she said, Xinhua reported.

Lagarde reiterated that Greece should walk on two legs in terms of reform: one is significant reforms and fiscal consolidation, and the other is debt restructuring with sustainability.

She underlined that the situation of accrued crisis needs to be addressed “seriously and promptly”, and the IMF would be engaged to find the most inclusive solution to help restore stability, growth and debt sustainability in Greece.

Since July 1, Greece has been in arrears to the IMF and needs to repay 3.5 billion Euros in loan installments to the European Central Bank by July 20.

Without emergency assistance, Greece seems to head to default, largely increasing the risk of exit from the Eurozone.

Last week the IMF said in a staff report that financing needs for Greece could add up to more than 50 billion Euros (about $55.42 billion) over the next three years and the country is unlikely to close its financing gaps from the markets on terms consistent with debt sustainability.Members of the European Parliament hold placards which reads

Countdown begins for ISRO’s heaviest commercial mission

Chennai: ISRO is all set for its “heaviest” commercial mission to put in orbit five British satellites, with the countdown begining today for the July 10 launch of India’s PSLV-C28from space port of Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh.

The 62.5-hour countdown began today at 07.28 AM and is progressing smoothly, an ISRO official told PTI.

ISRO’s workhorse Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) will blast off at 9.58 PM on July 10 from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre at Sriharikota, about 90 km from here, and put in orbit the five satellites.

With the overall lift-off mass of the five satellites amounting to about 1440 kg, this mission becomes the “heaviest commercial mission” ever undertaken by ISRO and its commercial arm Antrix, the agency said.

The Mission Readiness Review Committee and Launch Authorisation Board cleared the countdown for the PSLV C28/ DMC3 mission yesterday, he said.

PSLV, in its 30th mission, will launch three identical DMC3 optical earth observation satellites, built by Surrey Satellite Technology Limited (SSTL), United Kingdom, and two auxiliary satellites

The three DMC3 satellites, each weighing 447 kg, will be launched into a 647 km Sun-Synchronous Orbit (SSO) using the high-end version of PSLV-XL.

In addition to the three DMC3 satellites, the PSLV C28 will also carry two auxiliary satellites from UK — CBNT-1, a technology demonstrator earth observation micro satellite built by SSTL, and De-OrbitSail, a technology demonstrator nano satellite built by Surrey Space Centre.

The five international satellites are being launched as part of the arrangement entered into between DMC International Imaging (DMCii), a wholly owned subsidiary of SSTL, UK and Antrix Corporation Limited.

The DMC3 constellation, comprising three advanced mini-satellites DMC3-1, DMC3-2 and DMC3-3, is designed to address the need for simultaneous high spatial resolution and high temporal resolution optical Earth Observation.

These satellites can image any target on the Earth’s surface every day. Major application areas include surveying the resources on earth and its environment, managing urban infrastructure and monitoring disasters.

Countdown begins for ISRO's heaviest commercial mission

BJP President Amit Shah on two-day Maharashtra tour for ‘Maha Sampark Abhiyan’

Mumbai: BJP President Amit Shah will be on a two-day tour of Maharashtra from Wednesday onwards to take stock of the party’s ‘Maha Sampark Abhiyan’, launched to strengthen the organisation.

“Out of the total 10 crore members enrolled with the BJP, 1 crore are from Maharashtra alone. These enrolments were done through mobile phones. Now, there is a need of heart-to-heart connect with masses to take the abhiyan forward.

Thus, to discuss the way further, party president Amit Shah will come to Mumbai tomorrow evening,” state finance minister Sudhir Mungantiwar said on Tuesday.

Shah will arrive in the city on Wednesday evening and will meet MPs, MLAs of Maharashtra, Gujarat and Goa, and office bearers, he said.

The visit assumes significance in the wake of a severe drubbing the party has been faced with its ministers being charged with several allegations from the opposition.

Cabinet ministers Babanrao Lonikar and Vinod Tawde are facing allegations of submitting forged educational qualification degrees.

Rural development minister Pankaja Munde has been in the line of fire for allegedly flouting rules while awarding contracts worth Rs 206 crore for procurement of various goods through a rate contract system without inviting tenders. The minister, however, dismissed that the visit is “political” in nature, saying his party is only concentrating on adding new members and nurturing the existing ones.

Sebi lays out cyber security policy for stock exchanges, depositories and clearing corporations

MUMBAI: The Securities and Exchange Baord of India(Sebi) has asked stock exchanges,depositories and clearing corporations to put in place a system that would prevent cyber attacks and improve its resilience.

“Stock exchanges, depositories and clearing corporations are systemically important market infrastructure institutions(MIIs).As part of the operational risk management, these MIIs need to have robust cyber security framework to provide essential facilities and perform systemically critical functions relating to trading, clearing and settlement in securities market,”Sebi said in a circular posted on its website on Monday.The regulator has asked these MIIs to put in place systems and also amend its rules within six months.

The policy once approved by the board of these public utilities would have to be reviewed by it at least once a year.
MIIs would also have to designate a senior official as chief information security officer whose function would be to assess,identify and reduce cyber security risks,respond to incidents,establish appropriate standards and controls.

“MII should identify critical assets based on their sensitivity and criticality for business operations, services and data management. To this end, MII should maintain up-to-date inventory of its hardware and systems, software and information assets (internal and external), details of its network resources, connections to its network and data flows,” Sebi said.

“No person by virtue of rank or position should have any intrinsic right to access confidential data, applications, system resources or facilities,” it said.


2 rockets from Sinai hit Israel; Netanyahu blasts UNHRC over vote

Jerusalem (CNN)Two rockets fired from Sinai landed in southern Israel Friday afternoon, the first such attack since last summer.

The rockets, which hit in the Eshkol Regional Council, caused no injuries and did no damage, according to police, but the strikes come at a time of increased tension along the Israel-Egypt border.

Israel closed Road 12 along the Egyptian border in the wake coordinated attacks — for which ISIS claimed responsibility — against Egyptian military checkpoints in north Sinai. The attacks Wednesday left 17 Egyptian soldiers dead and 30 injured.

Israel temporarily closed the Nitzana border crossing into Sinai, used for commercial traffic. It has since been reopened.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu mentioned the attacks while slamming the U.N. Human Rights Council for adopting a resolution condemning Israel based on a recent report about the 2014 Gaza war.

“On the day on which Israel was fired at from Sinai, and at a time when ISIS is committing vicious terrorist attacks in Egypt, as (Bashar al) Assad slaughters his people in Syria and as the number of arbitrary executions per annum climbs in Iran — the U.N. Human Rights Council decides to condemn the State of Israel for no fault of its own, for acting to defend itself from a murderous terrorist organization.”

A short time before the rocket attacks, sirens went off in southern Israel, which has become an increasing occurrence in recent weeks after months of silence since the Gaza war.

In the past month, rockets from Gaza have landed in southern Israel three times, according to the Israel Defense Forces, including a rocket on June 23 that landed near Yad Mordechai, a community just north of Gaza.

Another rocket fell short of Israeli territory and landed in Gaza.

The Omar Brigades, a Salafist group in Gaza claiming loyalty to ISIS, has taken responsibility for some of the rocket attacks, which have caused no injuries or damage.

In response, the IDF struck “terrorist infrastructure” in Gaza. The retaliatory airstrikes caused no injuries.

ISIS claims attacks on security forces in Sinai

Magnitude 6.1 earthquake hits China’s western Xinjiang: USGS

BEIJING (Reuters) – A strong earthquake with a magnitude of 6.1 hit China’s western region of Xinjiang on Friday, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) said.

The shallow quake struck 160 km (100 miles) northwest of the region’s southern city of Hotan near Guma county at a depth of 10 km (6 miles), the USGS said.

There were no immediate reports of damage. Chinese state television said casualties were still being confirmed and that authorities were hopeful there would not be many.

Guma is a poor and largely agricultural area, with a population of over 200,000, mostly ethnic Muslim Uighurs.

“If many people are gathered in one place during an earthquake, it can lead to a serious disaster, but in this case, there were relatively few people so it isn’t so serious,” said Sun Shihong, a researcher at China Earthquake Networks Center, in an interview with state broadcaster China Central Television (CCTV).

The quake was initially reported as measuring 6.3. Several aftershocks were reported minutes following the initial quake, the strongest measuring magnitude 4.7, according to the USGS.

Chinese microblog users who claimed to be at the location of the quake expressed shock at its strength.

“The buildings are all shaking, and there are people everywhere outside,” wrote one user of microblogging service Weibo.

(Reporting by Michael Martina and Megha Rajagopalan; Editing by Paul Tait and Richard Borsuk)

Nigeria Boko Haram crisis: Militants ‘kill 150’

Nearly 150 people are reported to have been killed by suspected Boko Haram Islamist militants in attacks in Nigeria’s north-eastern Borno state.

Eyewitnesses say the gunmen stormed the village of Kukawa near Lake Chad on Wednesday evening, killing 97 people, including women and children.

On Tuesday, the militants shot dead 48 men after they had finished prayers in two villages near the town of Monguno, a resident told the BBC.

The women are said to have been spared.

Monguno was recently recaptured from Boko Haram.

At least 23 people died in the town last month after a confiscated Boko Haram bomb exploded during celebrations to mark the successful military operation against the Islamist group.

According to Amnesty International, at least 17,000 people, mostly civilians, have been killed since 2009, when Boko Haram launched its violent uprising to try to impose militant Islamist rule.

‘They spared nobody’

More than 50 militants stormed Kukawa on Wednesday, eyewitness Babami Alhaji Kolo was quoted as saying by the AFP news agency.

“The terrorists first descended on Muslim worshippers in various mosques who were observing the Maghrib prayer shortly after breaking their fast,” he said.

“They… opened fire on the worshippers who were mostly men and young children.

“They spared nobody. In fact, while some of the terrorists waited and set most of the corpses on fire, others proceeded to houses and shot indiscriminately at women who were preparing food,” he said.

A resident of Monguno told BBC Hausa he had heard gun shots at one of the two villages attacked on Tuesday and saw it on fire.

“They were praying in the mosque when Boko Haram attackers descended on the village. They waited till they finished the prayers. They gathered them in one place, separated men from women and opened fire on them,” he said.

“Many died, some escaped. They then set the village on fire. I saw five victims with bullet wounds who managed to escape. They were brought to [Monguno] on wheelbarrows, before they were transferred to vehicles that took them to hospitals.”


Boko Haram at a glance

  • Founded in 2002, initially focused on opposing Western-style education – Boko Haram means “Western education is forbidden” in the Hausa language
  • Launched military operations in 2009
  • Joined Islamic State
  • Thousands killed, mostly in north-eastern Nigeria, abducted hundreds, including at least 200 schoolgirls
  • Seized large area in north-east, where it declared caliphate
  • Regional force has retaken most territory

Will new military HQ defeat Boko Haram?

Why Boko Haram remains a threat


The politician representing the area, Mohammed Tahir Monguno, said jihadist fighters who had recently been flushed out of their stronghold in the Sambisa forest had settled in these villages close to Lake Chad.

He said that before the attack, he had notified the military of the jihadists’ presence, warning that the villages were not safe.

These are the worst Boko Haram attacks for many weeks, BBC Nigeria correspondent Will Ross reports.

The group has carried out frequent bombings since it was weakened by a regional military offensive to recapture most of the territory it had controlled.

Nigeria’s new President Muhammadu Buhari says his main priority is improving the regional effort to defeat Boko Haram.

The group is still holding many women, girls and children captive, including 219 schoolgirls it kidnapped from a school in Chibok in April last year.


Judges’ medical bill not entitled to be disclosed under RTI: SC

A bench headed by Chief Justice H L Dattu refused to interfere with the Delhi High Court verdict which had dismissed a plea seeking details of medical reimbursements of Supreme Court judges.

The Supreme Court on Thursday held that the medical expenses incurred on judges and their family members cannot be disclosed or made public under the Right to Information Act.

A bench headed by Chief Justice H L Dattu refused to interfere with the Delhi High Court verdict which had dismissed a plea seeking details of medical reimbursements of Supreme Court judges, saying it had personal information and providing it would amount to invasion of their privacy.

“We understand that we are getting the reimbursement from public money for our treatment and we are entitled for it as per the service conditions of judges,” the bench, which comprised justices Arun Mishra and Amitava Roy, observed.

The bench said, “there should be some respect for privacy and if such informations are being disclosed, there will be no stopping.”

“Today he is asking informations for medical expenses.

Tomorrow he will ask what are the medicines purchased by the judges. When there will be a list of medicines he can make out what type of ailment the judge is suffering from. It starts like this. Where does this stop,” the bench further observed.

The apex court was hearing an appeal filed by RTI activist Subhash Chandra Agarwal against the April 17 judgement of a division bench of the High Court which had upheld decision of its single judge that the information about reimbursement of medical bills of judges and their families cannot be disclosed under RTI law.

The single judge had set aside the Central Information Commission’s (CIC) direction holding that judges have to disclose such information’s.

The apex court did not agree with advocate Prashant Bhushan that since citizens are entitled to know how public money is spent by other public servants, they also have a right to know how these funds were being utilised for medical treatment of judges.

Supreme Court

Good news for farmers: Cabinet clears national irrigation scheme

New Delhi, July 2: In a bid to insulate farmers from the vagaries of the monsoon, the government on Thursday announced a new national irrigation scheme with an outlay of Rs.50,000 crore that will not only ensure supply of water to the agricultural sector, but also promote its efficient use and prevent wastage. Read more: Cabinet approves Rs 3,900 crore for Krishi Vigyan Kendras The scheme will have an outlay of Rs. 50,000 crore over a period of five years beginning the current fiscal, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley told a press conference here. The allocation for the current financial year is Rs.5,300 crore. The approval to the “Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana” (PMKSY) was given by the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) at a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Jaitley said the scheme aims to expand cultivable area under assured irrigation, improve on-farm water use efficiency to reduce wastage of water and enhance the adoption of precision-irrigation and other water saving technologies.

Cabinet clears new irrigation scheme

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