I have been looking at long-term trends in grid electricity carbon coefficients (i.e. how much CO2 is generated across the whole electricity system to produce a given amount of power). This is a good overall indicator of the sustainability of the electricity system in a country from a climate point of view, and is determined by the fuel mix.
The climate book of the moment is The Burning Question, by Mike Berners-Lee and Duncan Clark. It comes adorned with glowing recommendations from an amazing array of big figures, from Al Gore and Jim Hansen to Mike Barry of M&S and Sam Fankhauser at the LSE. Of recent books on climate change, it is the one that seems to have touched a nerve, making it high up on the bestsellers list at the Guardian.
And this is indeed the best three-quarters of a book I have read on climate change Continue reading
This post originally appeared on the IGov blog at the University of Exeter
The idea that the best way to provide energy is simply to avoid unnecessary use in the first place has been around for some time. Back in 1989, Amory Lovins coined the term “negawatts” (energy saved by cutting out waste) to emphasise the contrast with megawatts of power or heat that needs to be generated if that waste is not eradicated. Continue reading
I’ve blogged before on my ideas about the importance of seeing climate scepticism as a political phenomenon related to populism. With yesterday’s county council election results now showing a big UKIP vote, today seems an appropriate time to note that the rise in UKIP support correlates pretty well with an increase in scepticism expressed in polls. Continue reading
So, the Daily Telegraph has called for the repeal of the 2008 Climate Change Act. A piece of legislation that Tony Blair called revolutionary and Friends of the Earth (who had campaigned for it) called ground-breaking. Our current PM, David Cameron, said that the Act would be remembered long after he’d gone (although acerbic critics might add that that date is fast approaching…). Many environmentalists saw the CCA as a key step, locking the UK into the certainty of a low-carbon future. Even at the time, my view was that it wasn’t that simple, that politics always trumps law. More to the point, as the American political scientist Eric Patashnik argues in his excellent book, “the passage of a reform law is only the beginning of a political struggle”. I have drawn out the implications of this point for the CCA at length in a recent working paper for the Energy Policy Group at Exeter University. Continue reading
This post also appears on the website of the IGov project at the University of Exeter Energy Policy Group
It’s widely expected that the electricity sector will lead the transition to a low carbon economy in the UK. Producing about 40% of our carbon emissions, electricity generation plays a central role in determining our overall emissions performance. That is why the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) said in 2011 that they thought it Continue reading
A while back, I picked up on a debate we had with Alex Evans, and particularly the view that weather related disasters in the US and Europe might transform public opinion on climate change. I still take the view that this is unlikely, despite Mayor Bloomberg’s words after Hurricane Sandy slammed into New York earlier this month. I also think that the current flooding in the UK, which is getting worse, is unlikely to have that effect. However, I do think that the floods could have an effect on policy that works through a different route Continue reading
This week DECC officials managed to deliver, at least in part, on David Cameron’s surprise announcement in the commons that the government would legislate to force energy companies to put consumers onto their lowest tariff. As ever, the devil will be in the detail, but on the face of it, reducing the complexity in energy tariffs is a good thing. However, Continue reading
A couple of weeks ago I floated the idea that the state should step back in to the energy retail market and regulate prices. Too radical for mainstream politics? Well apparently the UK public don’t think so. A Populus survey just out shows that 74% of respondents said they would like energy prices regulated by Ofgem.
It is clear that UK climate policy is in somewhat of a crisis at the moment. In the near future I shall be blogging on the sustainability of and threats to the Climate Change Act. But this post takes a different direction. However, there is a link, in the sense that the position of Osborne and others bearing down on strong unilateral UK climate policy is based on the idea that this will be bad for the competitiveness of UK industries. Continue reading