Will India’s coalition government be the next victim of political backlash against fossil fuel subsidy reform? Last Friday, squeezed by rising oil prices and growing fiscal strain, the Government reduced subsidies on diesel, and prices jumped 14%. The Chief Minister of West Bengal and leader of junior coalition partner in the Congress-led Government has threatened to walk out of the coalition, while more radical voices on both left and right have backed demonstrations and strikes. India’s unrest adds to riots this year in Nigeria, Indonesia and Sudan over subsidy reform.
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I have just posted the following as a guest on Duncan Green’s From Poverty to Power blog:
In recent years up to $500 billion a year or more has been spent globally on making high-carbon fuels cheap, with around 40% of that in developing countries, including some of the big emerging economies such as China, India, Indonesia and South Africa.
From a policy perspective, reducing fossil fuel subsidies is a no-brainer. Continue reading
Last week the UK Energy Research Council produced a big report on the route to a demonstration of carbon capture and storage (coordinated by my Sussex colleague Jim Watson), informed by past experience of stimulating innovation in similar types of large scale energy engineering technology. In theory, Continue reading
Dieter Helm, centre right economist and newly appointed Chair of the Natural Capital Committee has just produced an interesting new essay (hat tip to Matthew Spencer). His approach draws a lot on the work of people like Kenneth Arrow and Partha Dasgupta who have argued for the need to measure the “assets” of the natural world (including a safe atmosphere and biodiversity). What is new is his argument that maintaining these assets should be the primary aim of the state in the 21st century. Continue reading
1. As new boy in DECC, Ed Davey seems to have been ambushed by the gas industry, with a ruling allowing new gas power plants to emit up to 450 gCO2/kWh out to 2045. This move will mean that there will be no requirement to fit carbon capture and storage. Someone should tell the Climate Change Committee, who say that average emissions from electricity generation need to be 50 gCO2/kWh by 2030 to meet the 4th carbon budget. The DECC press release unusually quotes George Osborne, so either Davey has already given in to the Treasury within a few weeks, in a way that Chris Huhne managed to avoid for almost 2 years, or else he has done some clever deal in the budget.
2. The strength of public sentiment on fuel tax remains very, very strong. Anthony Wells over at ukpollingreport reports on a YouGov Sunday Times poll:
Unsurprisingly the overwhelming majority of people (77%) would support a decrease in the level of fuel duty. There is still a substantial majority in favour when YouGov asked people to balance the competing priorities of cutting the deficit or cutting fuel duty – 59% think it is more important to cut fuel duty compared to 20% who think it is more important to cut the deficit.
Amongst all the coverage in the build up to Durban last week, I noticed a rather odd-looking story from Fiona Harvey (previously at the Financial Times, now in the green corner at The Guardian) on “government research” claiming that UK carbon-cutting targets would be exceeded. The piece said that a new report claimed that the UK would “over-achieve on its carbon-cutting targets” and that “Since 1990, the UK’s carbon emissions have dropped by a quarter.” This is not Continue reading
So the UNFCCC juggernaut gears up again for another year. According to reports, top celebs attending COP17 in Durban include Angelina Jolie, Bono, Leonardio di Caprio, Arnold Schwarzengger and
Sarah Palin. But for them, and the thousands of official delegates and NGOs who will also be there, the summit is, by common consent, very unlikely to deliver anything significant on emissions targets, and may not even deliver Continue reading