By Karolin Schaps and Susanna Twidale LONDON (Reuters) - Britain needs to put a carbon emissions limit on power plants bidding for back-up capacity contracts as an auction last week laid bare the contradiction between support for dirty emergency power stations and ambitions to tackle climate change. Britain is dangerously close to experiencing blackouts due to a lack of new power plants and it has set a 2025 deadline to close all coal-fired plants to help meet its carbon reduction goals. In a policy reset, Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change Amber Rudd last month spoke of the need for new gas-fired plants to fill the void, saying this was the cheapest way to clean up the power sector and ensure the lights stay on. But a support scheme, also known as the capacity market, put in place to provide an incentive for the construction of new plants, especially gas-fired ones, is still not lucrative enough as Friday's weak capacity auction price showed. Just one new gas-fired station secured a capacity contract in the auction and a further 5.1 GW of new gas capacity failed to gain contracts. Instead, more than 1 GW of carbon intensive diesel-fired power generators and 4.4 GW of coal-fired plants won contracts, undermining Britain's claim to be at the forefront of global efforts to cut emissions at last week's U.N. climate deal negotiations in Paris. "The current auction rules will likely need to change and potentially include a form of emissions standard in order to qualify for a contract," said Phil Grant, partner in the energy practice at consultancy Baringa. The Institute for Public Policy Research, a British think-tank, said the limit for generators obtaining 15-year capacity contracts should be set at 450 gramms of carbon dioxide per kilowatt hour (gCO2/kWh), a level which would effectively rule out coal and oil-fired plants but allow gas plants. Poor market economics for gas-fired power plants, which emit half the amount of carbon spread by coal plants, means owners have been announcing gas plant closures rather than plans to build new ones. Utility Centrica was the latest company to confirm one of its gas plants would close next year. Front-month clean spark spreads, the measure of profitability for a gas plant once fuel and carbon costs have been taken into consideration, are currently around 4.5 pounds per megawatt-hour (MWh), way off the 8-9 pounds/MWh analysts say is needed to justify new investment. Another flaw in Britain's capacity auction is that it requests too much capacity, flooding the auction process and essentially weighing down the final price, analysts said. "It is our belief that the government will be forced to tweak the parameters for the next auction, resulting in higher prices and some credible new build projects entering the fray," said utility analysts at Bernstein. They estimate power proucers Drax, SSE and RWE npower are most exposed to revenue linked to capacity market contracts. "RESET THE RESET"? The government has already said it will make proposals next year to improve the capacity market after a two-month consultation that closed last week. "I am clear we want to move away from diesel and I have said we will review the capacity market auction after this one has concluded to ensure in the future it includes gas," Rudd told a parliamentary hearing on Wednesday. The plans to forge ahead with new gas plants have come under scrutiny from green groups after a global climate agreement struck in Paris sets the course for a historic transformation of world economies away from fossil-fuels. Under the Climate Change Act Britain already has a legally binding target to cut emissions by 80 percent on 1990 levels by 2050. They have already fallen by around 36 percent and to achieve the goal the government sets five-yearly carbon budgets. A recommendation by the Committee on Climate Change (CCC), which advises the government on climate issues, said in order to meet the fifth budget, from 2028-2032, it should reduce emissions from the power sector to below 100 gCO2/kWh in 2030. This would limit new gas-fired power unless they are fitted with technology to capture carbon emissions and store them underground or else as back-up for intermittent renewables. A billion-pound scheme to help commercialize carbon capture and storage (CCS) was abandoned by the government in last month's spending review, while subsidies for renewables have been slashed this year. "The Government knows it has made a mess of energy policy ... The success in Paris provides a clear opportunity to 'reset the reset' with a modicum of honor and get us back onto a safe, low cost, low carbon energy future," said Nick Mabey, chief executive of climate policy think tank E3G. (Additional reporting by Nina Chestney; editing by Estelle Shirbon)
- The Independent
‘There was a protocol breach when the front doors were not held open’
With the dawn of the Biden administration comes Cholleti Vinay Reddy, the country’s first Indian American presidential speechwriter. Reddy’s roots originate from Pothireddypeta, a rural village in the Indian state of Telangana, whose residents have been celebrating his latest milestone: Biden’s inaugural address. Born and raised in Dayton, Ohio, Reddy is believed to have acquired his political acumen from his grandfather, Tirupathi, who served as the village sarpanch (head) for 30 years.
- The Telegraph
A Republican congresswoman is facing calls to resign over reports that she helped to spread falsehoods about the Parkland school shooting. Marjorie Taylor Greene reportedly agreed with a conspiracy theory about the 2018 shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, in which 17 people were killed. Facebook screenshots showed a discussion about why a police officer had not rushed into the building, and someone claimed that the mass shooting was a "false flag planned shooting." Greene replied: “Exactly!" The social media giant later removed the posts after they were reported to them. Cameron Kasky, a former Parkland pupil who co-founded the group Never Again MSD, said: "She should resign. She can apologise. I don’t think anybody will accept it.” The congresswoman was elected in Georgia in November, backed Donald Trump's claims of election fraud, and has previously expressed support for the QAnon conspiracy theory. Fred Guttenberg, who's 14-year-old daughter Jaime died in the Parkland shooting, said: "Your feelings on gun laws are irrelevant to your claim that Parkland never happened. You are a fraud who must resign. Be prepared to meet me directly in person to explain your conspiracy theory, and soon." The comments by the politician were first reported by Media Matters for America. In a statement Ms Greene accused Media Matters for America of being "communists' and "fake news". Meanwhile, US Capitol Police were investigating an incident in which a Republican congressman was found carrying a concealed gun while trying to enter the floor of the House of Representatives. Andy Harris, a staunch gun-rights advocate, set off a metal detector going through security on his way to the House floor . Metal detectors were installed outside the chamber to beef up security in the aftermath of the Capitol riots on Jan 6.
- Yahoo News Video
A woman facing charges that she helped steal a laptop from the office of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi during the attack on the U.S. Capitol will be released from jail, a federal judge decided Thursday.
- The Week
The evenly split Senate is having a hard time agreeing who's in charge.Georgia's two new Democratic senators were sworn in Wednesday, giving Republicans and Democrats 50 senators each, with Vice President Kamala Harris as a Democratic tiebreaker. The two parties are now working out a power-sharing agreement, but Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's (R-Ky.) commitment to the filibuster is standing in the way.McConnell on Thursday formally acknowledged Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) as the chamber's new majority leader. But as he has been for days, McConnell again implored Democrats to preserve the filibuster that lets a senator extend debate and block a timely vote on a bill if there aren't 60 votes to stop it. Democrats "have no plans to gut the filibuster further, but argue it would be a mistake to take one of their tools off the table just as they're about to govern," Politico reports; More progressive senators do want to remove the option completely.If his filibuster demands aren't met, McConnell has threatened to block the Senate power-sharing agreement that would put Democrats in charge of the body's committees. But Democrats already seem confident in their newfound power, with Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) telling Politico that "Chuck Schumer is the majority leader and he should be treated like majority leader." Giving in to McConnell "would be exactly the wrong way to begin," Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) echoed.Other Democrats shared their resistance to McConnell's demands in tweets. > McConnell is threatening to filibuster the Organizing Resolution which allows Democrats to assume the committee Chair positions. It's an absolutely unprecedented, wacky, counterproductive request. We won the Senate. We get the gavels.> > -- Brian Schatz (@brianschatz) January 21, 2021> So after Mitch McConnell changed the Senate rules at a blistering pace during his 6 years in charge, he is threatening to filibuster the Senate's organizing resolution unless the Democratic majority agrees to never change the rules again.> > Huh.> > -- Chris Murphy (@ChrisMurphyCT) January 21, 2021More stories from theweek.com McConnell is already moving to strangle the Biden presidency 7 brutally funny cartoons about Trump's White House exit Tom Brokaw is retiring from NBC News after 55 years
- The Independent
Sean Hannity denounces Biden’s first week as ‘disastrous’ before the president completed a full day of work
‘The Biden administration is off to a very rocky start,’ Fox News host says
- Associated Press
The three National Guard members killed when a helicopter crashed in an upstate New York field this week were experienced pilots with past deployments to Afghanistan, officials said Friday. Killed in the crash were Chief Warrant Officer 5 Steven Skoda, 54, of Rochester, Chief Warrant Officer 4 Christian Koch, 39, of Honeoye Falls, and Chief Warrant Officer 2 Daniel Prial, 30 of Rochester, according to the National Guard.
- The Telegraph
Families who lost relatives during Wuhan's initial outbreak of coronavirus are being blocked in their legal efforts to hold the Chinese authorities responsible for the deaths, one year after lockdown first went in place at ground zero of the pandemic. Five families accuse the municipal and provincial governments for covering up the outbreak, neglecting to notify the public, and failing to act swiftly, causing infections to explode. More than two million people globally have died from coronavirus. The Telegraph has interviewed four of the five trying to bring unprecedented lawsuits, most of whom are seeking 2 million yuan (£226,000) each in reparations. They told this newspaper of a campaign of harassment and denial of justice. Chinese courts have rejected all lawsuits they have tried to file, though they continue to persist by attempting to sue at higher courts, defying government threats that have scared dozens of others into giving up. Pursuing their cases poses immense risks as they’re challenging China’s official narrative, which claims authorities acted swiftly and with transparency to contain Covid-19, glossing over missteps and the silencing of whistleblowers.
- NBC News
A woman has been arrested and charged with murder after the dismembered remains of her missing roommate, Talina Galloway, were found in a freezer in the woods of Polk County, Arkansas last week. Talina, 53, was reported missing by her roommate, Kore Bommeli on April 17, 2020. Talina’s remains were found in the freezer on January 14, 2021. Bommeli, who has been a person of interest throughout the investigation, was located in Wisconsin and faces charges of murder and desecration of a corpse. Th
- National Review
Biden Admonishes Reporter for Questioning Whether Vaccine Goal Is Ambitious Enough: ‘Give Me a Break’
President Biden pushed back on a reporter at a press briefing on Thursday, who questioned whether the new administration’s coronavirus vaccine goal is ambitious enough. Biden has set a goal to vaccinate 100 million Americans during his first 100 days in office. During the press conference, Biden called the Trump administration’s distribution of coronavirus vaccines a “dismal failure so far,” warning that “things are going to continue to get worse before they get better.” However, the seven-day rolling average for coronavirus vaccine doses administered to Americans currently sits at 912,000, according to the Bloomberg vaccine tracker. (On Wednesday alone, 1.6 million doses were administered.) This indicates that the Biden administration is not far from its goal of vaccinating one million Americans per day. On Thursday, Associated Press reporter Zeke Miller asked Biden if the vaccination goal was “high enough,” since “that’s basically where the U.S. is right now.” “When I announced it you all said it wasn’t possible. Come on, give me a break, man,” Biden responded. “It’s a good start, a hundred million.” Internal projections from the Trump administration showed that the U.S. could administer at least 170 million doses by the end of April, two Trump administration officials told Bloomberg. During the press conference, Biden also announced that he would invoke the Defense Production Act to “accelerate the making of everything that’s needed to protect, test, and vaccinate and the care of our people.” Biden warned that the death toll from coronavirus infections would hit 500,000 in February. Over 408,000 Americans have died of COVID-19 as of Thursday.
- Architectural Digest
800 feet up in the sky, the Dreamy 6,000 square foot space offers panoramic views from the East River to the HudsonOriginally Appeared on Architectural Digest
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is suing the Biden administration in federal district court over its 100-day freeze on deporting unauthorized immigrants, and asking for a temporary restraining order.Between the lines: The freeze went into effect Friday, temporarily halting most immigration enforcement in the U.S. In the lawsuit, Paxton claims the move "violates the U.S. Constitution, federal immigration and administrative law, and a contractual agreement between Texas" and the Department of Homeland Security. Be smart: sign up FREE for the most influential newsletter in America. * Leon Fresco, an immigration attorney, told Axios that the lawsuit is likely to fail at fully reinstating deportations because a judge cannot force Immigration and Customs Enforcement to remove any particular person. * The executive branch has broad authority over immigration enforcement, as was seen in both President Obama and President Trump's administrations. What they're saying: In the announcement of the moratorium on Wednesday, the Department of Homeland Security said the pause on deportations would "allow DHS to ensure that its resources are dedicated to responding to the most pressing challenges that the United States faces." * In Paxton's request for a temporary restraining order, he claims, "Without emergency relief, Texas faces irreparable harm from having to provide costly educational, social, welfare, healthcare, and other services to illegal aliens who remain in Texas because Defendants have ceased removing them."The White House has not yet responded to Axios' request for comment.Get smarter, faster with the news CEOs, entrepreneurs and top politicians read. Sign up for Axios Newsletters here.
America may not have won World War II and landed on the moon later if not for the contributions of a brilliant Chinese scientist named Qian Xuesen. Fearing communist presence after the war, the U.S., however, deported Qian to China, clueless that he would eventually spearhead programs that would target American troops and eventually propel China into space. Born to well-educated parents in 1911, it was evident from an early age that Qian had superior intellect.
- Associated Press
The master tenant of a San Francisco Bay Area warehouse where 36 people perished when a fire ignited during a 2016 dance party pleaded guilty Friday to the deaths, avoiding a second trial after the first ended in a hung jury. Derick Almena, 50, pleaded guilty to 36 counts of involuntary manslaughter in exchange for a 12-year sentence. Already free on bail, Almena likely won't return to jail because of the nearly three years he already spent behind bars and credit for good behavior.
- The Week
It's the end of a very caffeinated era.When former President Donald Trump occupied the Oval Office, he quite literally had a button on his desk that ordered a Diet Coke to the room whenever it was pressed. But as a glimpse at President Biden's desk just hours after his inauguration shows, the soda-summoning button is gone.> President Biden has removed the Diet Coke button. When @ShippersUnbound and I interviewed Donald Trump in 2019, we became fascinated by what the little red button did. Eventually Trump pressed it, and a butler swiftly brought in a Diet Coke on a silver platter. It's gone now. pic.twitter.com/rFzhPaHYjk> > — Tom Newton Dunn (@tnewtondunn) January 21, 2021While it may have sounded just too weird to be true, Trump's Diet Coke obsession and his button to match were absolutely real. No word on if Biden will install some kind of ice cream-ordering alternative.More stories from theweek.com McConnell is already moving to strangle the Biden presidency 7 brutally funny cartoons about Trump's White House exit Tom Brokaw is retiring from NBC News after 55 years
Returned Honduran migrants are directing anger against their president this week after their U.S.-bound caravan was blocked by the region's security forces, accusing him of making their county unlivable while thwarting their escape to a better life. Honduras is reeling from two back-to-back hurricanes that devastated Central America in November, as well as an historic economic contraction on the back of coronavirus pandemic. President Juan Orlando Hernandez has also been under fire from U.S. prosecutors that have accused him of having ties to drug cartels, an allegation he has strongly denied.
An initial report said he had been found unresponsive.
- The Telegraph
Spain will be “more ready” to welcome holidaymakers once 70 per cent of the country are vaccinated at the end of the summer, the PM has said, casting doubt on travel plans this year. Pime Minister Pedro Sánchez echoed other government ministers in saying that this threshold would probably not be reached until the end of August. “The government is working to vaccinate at the highest possible rate […] to reach the end of the summer with 70 per cent, which will leave Spain progressively more ready to receive international tourists”, Mr Sánchez said at a World Tourism Organization event in Madrid this week. “The tourism recovery begins with vaccination. And full recovery, with full vaccination,” the Spanish leader stated, leaving the door open for some easing of restrictions before the 70 per cent safety level is reached. But Spain’s tourism and industry minister, Reyes Maroto, stepped in on Friday to reassure the sector that plans were afoot to save at least part of the summer season. “We hope that at the end of spring and especially during the summer, international travel will resume and travellers will choose Spain as their destination,” Ms Maroto said. Mr Sánchez said Spain’s Covid vaccination campaign was going well and was “one of the best in Europe”, but a considerable acceleration will be required to protect 70 per cent of the population in time to restart the country’s stalled tourism sector this year. After nearly four weeks since the start of the vaccination campaign, Spain has delivered 1.1 million jabs, equalling just over two per cent of the population, with very few having had their second injection. Before the Covid pandemic, tourism represented 12 per cent of the Spanish economy, with close to 84 million international arrivals in 2019. Spain is one of several European Union countries supporting the introduction of a system of Covid vaccine passports to allow people who have been inoculated to travel. “This would be a shared and reliable framework to help avoid indiscriminate measures such as quarantines and travel bans,” Ms Maroto said. It came as Belgium’s consultation committee banned non-essential travel to and from the country from January 27 to March 1 on Friday. Alexander De Croo, the prime minister, had said he wanted to impose the ban at Thursday’s video summit of EU leaders. Belgian media reported his mind was made up after 160,000 travelled abroad for the Christmas holidays despite warnings not to do so. All travellers from the UK, South Africa and South America will have to go into quarantine for 10 days and be tested on the first and seventh day. Non-residents will have to be tested on departure and arrival “Let this be clear: we are not building a wall around our country,” said Mr De Croo. “Coming and going is still possible, but there will have to be a good reason.” Meanwhile France is to make PCR tests compulsory for all travellers into the country, including from fellow EU countries, starting Sunday, President Emmanuel Macron's office confirmed yesterday/FRI The rule, which is already in place for people travelling between the UK and France, applies to all but cross-border workers and land transportation. The new restrictions come as a top French epidemiologist and government adviser warned that the country will have to resort to a strict lockdown like those in Ireland and Britain if it fails to rein in the more contagious variants of the coronavirus.
- The Independent
Former first daughter and husband will not live in Florida like Donald Trump
- Associated Press Videos
Paul Chavez didn’t know where a sculpture of his father, the late Latino American civil rights and labor leader Cesar Chavez, would end up in the White House. He shipped it from California and was surprised to see it right behind Biden on Wednesday. (Jan. 21)