Better oil price needed for emissions controls to work environment minister

The ability of the oil and gas sector to absorb tough government controls on their greenhouse gas emissions depends on Canada getting a better price for its oil, Environment Minister Peter Kent says.The extra revenue would allow companies to invest heavily in leading-edge technology that would curtail pollution, he said in an interview from London.“What we have to do, one way or another, is get rid of the U.S. discount,” Kent said. “That would certainly provide great latitude to invest in the technology….Keystone or not.”Government and industry have long eyed the proposed — but not yet approved — Keystone XL pipeline as a way to demand world prices for Canadian crude.For now, Canadian crude is sold in the U.S. at a price that fluctuates but is substantially lower than in global markets. A new pipeline to the Texas coast, the theory goes, would give Alberta oil better market access, thereby reducing the Canadian price discount.While some parts of the oil and gas industry could already afford the extra costs that would come with pending emissions regulations, that’s not true across the board, Kent said.But the Keystone XL pipeline is not a slam-dunk, since environmentalists eye the project as a growing source of greenhouse gas emissions from Canada.Reports this weekend suggested more delays in a final decision, which was initially expected this summer.“It is a problem if it’s unnecessarily delayed,” Kent said, adding that he still respects the U.S. process.“I still hope for a positive decision sooner rather than later.”TransCanada Corp. has said regulatory delays would substantially drive up costs and postpone startup until late 2015.Ottawa, meanwhile, is pulling out all the stops to find better market access for Canadian crude. Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver has just finished pleading Canada’s case in Europe. Kent is following in his footsteps all this week. Prime Minister Stephen Harper is jetting down to New York on Thursday to make the case to Wall Street.Key to their case is the argument that Canada is well advanced in its plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and is developing oil and gas in a responsible manner. Buy-in for that argument would go a long way towards giving the oilsands the social license they need for pipeline approvals.But Harper, Kent and Oliver are making the case with one hand tied behind their backs. That’s because the actual regulations that will force the oil and gas sector to improve its emissions record are gummed up in negotiations among Ottawa, industry players and the provinces.“It would be nice to be able to pull it out of a hat and show it off….but we want to make sure it’s right,” Kent said. “It would certainly play well in meetings like that.”He said the negotiations are going well, but he would not give any details. After months and months of talks, a variety of complex proposals are on the table, most of which would cost oil producers less than 50 cents a barrel but may put a strain on refineries where profit margins are slim.Instead, the Harper government’s quest for social license is focusing on emissions rules already placed on the coal sector, as well as technological advances that companies are undertaking on their own accord in the oil patch.Kent says he will be talking up Imperial Oil’s Kearl project which promises emissions only slightly higher than conventional oil.Tempers have flared recently, however, with environmentalists and scientists raising loud alarms about Canada’s emissions record, and the government responding aggressively, questioning the credibility and motivation of the critics.Kent said he hopes to cool things off as he tours Europe in the coming days.“I’m going to keep the temperature low, I’m going to keep the temperature friendly,” he said, adding he plans to meet with some of his critics.News on Friday that carbon dioxide in the world’s atmosphere had reached the 400 parts per million milestone will add pressure on all sides to find a global solution to climate change quickly, Kent added.“It’s a reminder that climate change is a global problem and it requires a global solution. There is a sense of urgency…for a pragmatic response to reduce absolute megatonnage.”On that front, Kent said major emitters are engaged in productive talks to craft a binding agreement by 2015, that would kick into force by 2020.“There is reason for gentle optimism,” he said. “This is the year to make some real progress towards a new treaty.” read more

Richard Hammonds family robbed as they sleep amid fears of Saint Tropez

Jenson Button claimed he was gassed after £300,000 worth of jewellery was stolen from his villa in Saint Tropez Formula One world champion Jenson Button claimed that he had also been sedated after more than £300,000 worth of jewellery was taken from his rented villa in Saint Tropez 2010.Experts have doubted the claims, saying gasses such as ethers and chloroforms would cause coughing and spluttering to anyone exposed to high doses. It would not be possible to pump high enough concentrations of alternative gasses, such as nitrous oxide, through an entire villa to knock victims out for long enough, some experts have said.  “I’m pretty convinced we must have been gassed or something, because they were in all of the bedrooms – they went where they wanted, into each room, opening and closing the drawers, searching through handbags etc,” she told the Sunday Express.“You have got to have some kind of confidence to do that and to be quite satisfied that people aren’t going to wake up.”Ex-Arsenal star Patrick Vieira was targeted while holidaying in Cannes in 2006. Gas was discovered in the ventilation system after the French midfielder woke feeling unwell to discover his home had been raided with jewellery and his Mercedes 4×4 missing. I’m pretty convinced we must have been gassed or somethingMindy Hammond But describing their break-in last month as a “horror story” Mrs Hammond said before going to bed she had heard male voices behind the living room door but assumed it was some of their guests.She only realised the next morning she had, in fact, had a close shave with the thieves. The neighbouring house had also been robbed that night. she said, and after the incident family employed a security guard. Police arrested the two burglars within 48 hours as they were caught on CCTV.  British Formula One world champion Jenson Button claimed he was gassed after £300,000 worth of jewellery was stolen from his villa in Saint TropezCredit:Mark Thompson/Getty Images Sport Fears are emerging that Saint Tropez’s knockout gas burglars have returned after Richard Hammond’s family were robbed in their sleep.Thieves are known to have previously pumped anaesthetic gas through air conditioning systems in a series of raids on luxury villas on the French Riviera.Mr Hammond’s wife, Mindy, said she is “convinced” the family were targeted while staying at an up-market property on the French coast. The former Top Gear star’s teenage daughter, Willow, had a watch stolen from her bedside table while she slept and the couple had cash stolen from their wallets. Mrs Hammond said she was not even woken by her husband Richard’s snoring but when she did eventually stir she noticed all the bedroom doors were open.  Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. read more

Facebook accused of using Chelsea Flower Show to improve its tarnished reputation

The former host of Gardeners Question Time has accused Facebook of using the Chelsea Flower show to improve its “tarnished reputation”. Next month the ‘Beyond The Screen’ garden by award-winning designer Joe Perkins and sponsored by Facebook will be shown at the horticultural event.Facebook says its £75,000 coastal-themed landscape garden will highlight how social media is a “powerful force for positive change in the real world”.However Professor Stefan Buczacki, former chairman of Gardener’s Question Time, said: “It is a backhanded compliment to the influence of gardening that Facebook wants to improve that tarnished reputation by associating with what is the most healthy, wholesome outdoor activity,” he said. “The idea that Facebook will get young people away from their screens and into gardening is pretty bizarre. BBC producers had the same mantra for years that we must get young people gardening.”But the reality is that young people will not be interested in gardening until they have their own garden and that is further away than ever these days because they cannot afford their own homes.”Matthew Appleby, of magazine Horticulture Week, added that it was “ironic” Facebook had a garden because “too much screen time is the biggest barrier to getting kids outdoors and into healthy activities like gardening”. Mr Perkins, 42, of Hove, East Sussex, added: “Social media is not going away. We all use it. I have a lot of gardening books at home but I have not looked at them for over five years. If I want some inspiration or to find something out I go online.” Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. read more