Monthly Archives: March 2010

Feeling the Stones

Deng Xiaoping (pictured) famously advocated a pragmatic approach to progress. ‘Cross the river by feeling the stones‘ he said. Is this cautious view of change in any way compatible with the measures needed to decarbonise economies?

We ask this because there is quite clearly a significant gap between the positions of the US and China in relation to the Copenhagen Accord. There’s a fair amount of debate concerning the semantics of the language of association or support. Continue reading

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No more market power?

Buried in today’s Budget was the Energy Markets Assessment. What is significant about the EMA is that it marks a further implicit shift in UK climate policy away from carbon trading.

The Government has consistently said that the carbon market lies at the heart of its climate policies (for example here and here). But it has also become clear that the EU ETS is failing to create price signals that are credible and long-term enough to guide investment in the power sector. This is why Ed Miliband banned conventional coal-fired new build last year. The EMA acknowledges that the carbon market won’t drive investment Continue reading

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Taxing times

The French Government’s  plans for introducing a carbon tax have been dropped, in the wake of regional electoral defeats for Sarkozy and claims that it would harm competitiveness. If carbon trading is hard, carbon taxes appear to be no easier, politically.

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Finance Ministers Threaten EU R&D Ambitions

We live in austere times in which talk of cuts is common. But there’s a difference between making cuts and cutting off your nose. EU finance ministers appear to be arguing for the latter by opposing the Commission’s long-standing plan to spend 3 per cent of European GDP on research and development.

Admittedly, Europe’s record of achievement in this area is not good. The 3 per cent target was set as part of the Lisbon strategy in 2000, and yet most EU countries’ expenditure on R&D has not changed much. In 2000, EU R&D spending was 1.8 per cent of GDP, by 2008 it was 1.9 per cent of GDP. Japan and South Korea – noted for their record on innovation – spend more than 3 per cent of GDP on R&D and China and India are catching the EU fast (all the data is drawn from the EU’s own Lisbon evaluation, which I have linked to earlier in this paragraph).

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A New Response to Climate Change

For six weeks, Political Climate has been finding its feet in the blogosphere. Much of what we’ve written hitherto has been aimed at making our views clear on some of the most important issues in the climate change debate. Thus we’ve covered growth, innovation, the underlying politics of climate change and geo-politics.

It’s hard to reflect on the shortcomings of conventional environmental wisdom without sounding negative, but this blog’s main aim is to contribute towards a renewal in thinking about climate change. Indeed, it is our desire to see the negative language and imagery of climate change replaced by a resolutely optimistic debate.

The ‘About‘ link above will take you to a longer explanation of our aims. We are also developing a Political Climate manifesto and a set of proposals for work in areas in which thinking needs to be developed, such as innovation policy and finance. In the meantime, we’ve been working on the appearance of the site and we owe its new smoothness to Lawrence. If you like what you see, we urge you to sign up to receive notification of new posts using the box at the top of the column on the right-hand-side of the page.

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OK – really truly everything you wanted to know about innovation (and probably some things you didn’t)…

Posted by Matthew Lockwood

Ryan from Australia has pulled us up on the last post, saying it is mistitled: “You have listed a number of interesting and promising developments, but in the end you have said very little about innovation itself. How does innovation actually work?” Our titles are supposed to be witty rather than literal, but in the spirit of following through, this post goes into some of the thinking about the innovation process, and also why we need innovation policy for mitigating climate change.

Tackling climate change needs technology policy because just correcting the Continue reading

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Everything you wanted to know about innnovation but were afraid to ask

Posted by Matthew Lockwood

A key issue at the heart of our last two controversial posts was the potential for innovation in low carbon technologies to delink energy growth (and therefore economc growth) from carbon emissions.  One comment accused us of having a “blind faith in infinite innovation”. I wouldn’t quite put it that way, but we do believe that innovation offers the only viable path to mitigation, mainly by making clean energy cheap.

A couple of examples that have come my way in the last couple of days serve  to illustrate the point. Continue reading

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