The International Energy Agency said that a peak in global green house gas emissions could be achieved as early as 2020 if governments implement five key policy measures — banning coal-fired power plants; raising investments in renewable energy sources to US$400 billion by 2030, from US$270 billion currently; phasing out energy subsidies for consumers; energy efficiency in transportation and buildings; and reducing methane emissions in crude oil and natural gas production.

Russia’s Gazprom, the world’s largest natural gas producer, said last week that Shell and its long-time gas customers in Europe – Germany’s E.ON and Austria’s OMV – have agreed to build two new Nord Stream gas pipelines under the Baltic Sea to Germany.

BP and Royal Dutch Shell, Europe’s two biggest oil companies, are looking for increased access to Russia’s vast energy reserves and their proximity to the markets of China and Japan. Last week BP announced it will pay $750 million for a 20% stake in an East Siberian oil producer.

In Nigeria, the shale boom that has reduced US dependence on overseas crude is reverberating as Africa’s biggest oil producer cuts the pricing for its highest crude oil grade to the lowest in a decade. The West African country relies on oil for about 70% of its income and has been forced to scale back budgeted spending and devalue its currency. It is estimated the federal government and the oil and gas producing companies have lost an estimated $11.5 billion due to the drop in the price of world oil prices from $115 per barrel in June to about $70 now.

In Canada, a new study suggests that 185,000 petroleum industry jobs will likely be lost this year due to the drop in world oil prices. Most of these jobs are concentrated in the western province of Alberta.

China has agreed to design a high-speed railway between the Russian cities of Moscow and Kazan. The cities are 810 km apart and it presently takes 11 1/2 hours to travel between them.

In Wales, a 160-turbine wind farm — the second largest offshore facility in the UK with 576 megawatts of generating capacity — has been brought on stream.

The UK has announced plans to end public subsidies for new onshore wind farms starting in April 2016. Energy Secretary Amber Rudd said this was likely to mean 2,500 planned turbines would not be built. Ms Rudd said onshore wind was an “important” part of the energy mix, but “we are reaching the limits of what is affordable and what the public is prepared to accept”.

The Australian government has voted to reduce the amount of renewable electricity from 41,000 gigawatt hours to 33,000. The government believes the reduced target will address an oversupply of electricity in the market and save consumers from possible price hikes had the larger target not been reached.

A new report from Bloomberg New Energy Finance projects wind and solar will supply 59% of Australia’s electricity by 2040. Fossil fuels will only account for 41% of this country’s electricity generation by this date, due to aging coal and natural gas plants being replaced by lower-cost wind and solar installations.

The US state of Hawaii has passed legislation setting a goal of 100% renewable electricty by 2045.  This is the first state in that country to legislate a 100% target.

The UK, France, Netherlands, Malta and Luxembourg are projected to miss the European Union’s binding goal of getting 20% of its energy from renewable sources by 2020. Adopted in 2009, the binding target requires the EU to source 20% of energy from renewables such as wind, solar and biomass by 2020. Most of the 28 EU countries are on track to hit their contribution to the renewable energy target, with Sweden, Denmark and Estonia expected to exceed it.

Honda Motor Company has announced it will no longer produce the natural gas Civic as the automobile has not drawn much consumer interest. The company continues to have plans to produce electric vehicles and those powered by hydrogen fuel. Without a ubiquitous natural gas refueling infrastructure, consumers are not willing to invest in natural gas vehicles.

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