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The news reported in the scientific journal Nature this month that trees might be account for about 10 to 30 per cent of the potent greenhouse gas methane that is entering the atmosphere is a gift to climate skeptics and the oil industry.

For years they have tried to argue that man-made emissions were not to blame. It is also a gift to those people who oppose the UN Kyoto protocol, because part of that agreement is the off-setting of carbon dioxide emissions with the planting of trees.

Watch this space – we will monitor what these groups have to say in

BP is not the only one making obscene amounts of money from oil at the moment. The US Department of Energy has forecast that OPEC’s revenues will increase by 10 per cent to a record $522bn this year – this would be the largest in real terms in 25 years.

Chris Finlayson obviously likes a big challenge. Having been running Shell’s highly controversial operations in Nigeria, where the company has repeatedly been cited for environmental pollution and for being complicit in human rights abuses, he has moved to head up Shell’s operations in Russia.

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