Author Archives: Matthew Lockwood

Spending and borrowing plans

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As the parties begin to publish their spending plans, its good to see not only the bidding up of ambition on resources on measures to reduce emissions, but also proposals to meet the cost of these from public borrowing.

The Liberal Democrats are pledging to spend £15 billion over the life of the next Parliament on investing in the housing stock to reduce emissions. Labour meanwhile are promising to spend £60 billion via a National Transformation Fund on transforming housing , using a mix of public borrowing and private finance. However, Continue reading

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A series of fortunate events…?

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The children’s author Lemony Snicket named his highly successful series of books A Series of Unfortunate Events. This title drips with irony, since the awful and apparently endless troubles of the orphaned Baudelaire twins have nothing to do with chance, but instead are very much the result of an intentional campaign waged by the wicked Count Olaf in order to get his hands on their family fortune.

In this post I argue that a mirror image of this construction can be found in some of the recent boosterism about the UK’s record on climate policy, and especially the ease with which the first two carbon budgets have been met. Rather than a simple story about the success of policies adopted under the Climate Change Act (CCA), promoted as a model for the rest of the world, I would argue that what has actually happened is a more complex and nuanced tale, in which a degree of good luck has played a major part.

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British climate politics – this time it’s different (but the same)

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Starting about 15 years ago, Britain saw a wave of heightened concern about climate change. It emerged in the spring of 2004, peaked in late 2006 and by the early 2010s had largely dissipated.  But concern about climate change has made a dramatic comeback in 2019. This year has seen a ‘climate spring’ – the school strikes for climate, the net zero report by the Committee on Climate Change and above all the demonstrations by Extinction Rebellion have all pushed the issue way back the agenda. A climate emergency has been declared by multiple bodies and authorities, including Parliament. How far are things different this time round?

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The significance of Parliament’s Citizens Assembly on net zero

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This post first appeared on the IGov blog.

The announcement today from six House of Commons Select Committees that they are to hold a Citizens Assembly (CA) on how we might achieve a pathway to net zero emissions is a major step. The move is clearly inspired by (and made under pressure from) the upsurge of activism on climate change – school strikes, Extinction Rebellion protests, the resurgence of the Green New Deal and the declaration by numerous institutions, including Parliament, of a ‘climate emergency’ (as well as a bit of encouragement from IGov’s Dr Becky Willis).

I would argue that the Select Committees holding a CA is particularly important in the UK context. Continue reading

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What do Mark Carney’s recent troubles and climate policy have in common?

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This morning former Shadow Chancellor and Strictly star Ed Balls waded into the current controversy about the role of an independent Bank of England. Along with Gordon Brown, Balls was the man who pulled the rabbit of central bank independence out of the hat the day after the 1997 election that brought Labour to power. Today Balls argued that:

‘If in the end when things start to go wrong, everything is concentrated in the Bank of England only, that is politically dangerous for the Bank. So in order to protect independence, the Bank needs more political support and accountability’

Balls’ intervention comes after Theresa May’s criticism of quantitative easing in the Tory party conference speech in October, and then a series of more direct attacks by senior Tory politicians on Mark Carney, the Bank’s Governor, most recently by Jacob Rees-Mogg. There have also been attacks on the US’s Federal Bank by Donald Trump. Continue reading

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Energy competitiveness in the Budget – going for cheap and dirty, not lean and clean

Steel-MakingMuch of the discussion of today’s Budget will be about wins for pensioners and bingo players, but another winner was energy-intensive industry. Setting the background, the Budget text involved some fairly selective data and glided over a few inconvenient facts. Continue reading

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Response to Guy Newey on carbon pricing

Policy ExchangeGuy Newey, head of environment and energy at the centre-right think-tank Policy Exchange has written a critique of my post on the politics of carbon pricing. Just a few further thoughts in response: Continue reading

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