Why is the coalition keeping the coal fires burning?

Live coalsThis post is by Stephen Tindale, climate and energy consultant and associate fellow at the Centre for European Reform. It was first published on Climate Answers.

In the 20th century, the British political party which supported the coal industry was Labour. The relationship between the Tories and the miners was confrontational. A miners’ strike contributed to Edward Heath’s loss of power. The miners then tried to bring the Thatcher government down in 1984-85.

However, thirty years on, it is a Conservative-led coalition which is planning to keep coal power stations open through public subsidy,  supported by the Liberal Democrats in an apparent retreat from their longstanding climate commitments. And Labour is opposing coal subsidies to unabated coal, despite its leader and shadow energy and climate secretary having constituencies in Doncaster, a historic coal community. Continue reading

Posted in Europe, Low carbon energy, Policy | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Borrowing is the best way to pay for flood protection

flooded warning signsThis post first appeared on The Staggers, the New Statesman’s politics blog.

Economics is not called the dismal science for nothing. As we watch the shocking images of filthy water pouring into homes and distressed residents leaving in rubber dinghies, economists are already debating what this means for the next GDP figures. This highlights the shortcomings of GDP as a measure of economic progress, but looking at the wider economic impacts can help us deal with the challenges posed by the floods. Continue reading

Posted in Climate change, Environment, Politics, Water | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Who’ll want to be the next leader of the Environment Agency?

1024px-Boxing_Day_Storm_(6574859717)Today is the last day to apply to be the new chair of the Environment Agency. Chris Smith stands down in July and interviews for his replacement are to be held in April.  Faced with storms of both a physical and political nature, and coming after painful budget cuts, it is hard to imagine many people will want the role.  Yet, the Environment Agency’s job remains one of the most important of any public agency and we need its top team to be able to continue to show brave but nuanced leadership. Continue reading

Posted in Environment | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Why a non-binding renewable energy target could mean more power to the EU

This post is by Clive Bates, director of Counterfactual Consulting and Advocacy.

On 27 January, the European Commission published its 2030 Framework for Climate and Energy Policies.  There were two attention grabbers: a target to reduce EU greenhouse gas emissions to 40 per cent below the 1990 level, en route to 80 per cent by 2050; and a target to secure 27 per cent of energy consumption from renewables at EU-level.

Continue reading

Posted in Europe, Low carbon energy | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Why targets alone won’t build a green economy

müllThis post first appeared on Business Green.

With all the debate over whether non-binding EU 2030 energy and carbon targets are a statement of ambitious intent or resigned defeat, you could be forgiven for thinking that setting a target is all policy makers need to do to deliver a shiny green economy. But experience from the waste and resources sector has shown that targets are only half the story, regardless of how binding or not they are. Behind every successful target is a suite of more focused interventions, which is exactly what’s needed to make the shift to a more resource resilient economy. Continue reading

Posted in Circular Economy, Green economy, Resource Stewardship, Sustainable Business, Sustainable Economy | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Why politics really needs civil society

Forest of handsThe Lobbying Bill is now an Act and will make life more difficult for civil society. The ball is in Labour’s court to announce that they would repeal it if elected. That may make it easier for the other two parties to catch up with themselves and realise that a less muzzled civil society is in their interest. Continue reading

Posted in Political Leadership / NGO Engagement | Tagged | Leave a comment

Community energy comes of age

People on hillThis post is by Rebecca Willis, independent adviser on environment and sustainability and Green Alliance associate, working with us on our Climate Leadership Programme.

Poll after poll shows that community energy projects, whether co-operatively owned renewables or local energy action groups, are astonishingly popular. Continue reading

Posted in Community energy, Environment | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

The UK’s curious crusade against a new renewable energy target

liverpool windfarmsIt’s rare to find a government policy which visibly annoys studiously neutral mandarins, but I now regularly encounter energetic rejection of renewable energy targets by senior officials.

Targets are considered an affront to rational thinking, a source of extra cost and an unnecessary constraint, binding the government’s hands on energy policy. Continue reading

Posted in Low carbon energy, Political Leadership / NGO Engagement, Sustainable Economy | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Let’s follow Germany with a renewable gas strategy instead of fracking

gas flame partThis post is by Dr Bruce Tofield, associate consultant at the Adapt Low Carbon Group, University of East Anglia.

In launching Next steps for shale production, energy minister Michael Fallon said that fracking “is an exciting prospect, which could bring growth, jobs and security”.  There is, however, great concern about the damaging local environmental impact of fracking in Britain.  Less remarked upon is fossil fuel lock-in, highlighted recently by Rachel Cary.  As Michael Liebreich, CEO of Bloomberg New Energy Finance, has pointed out  “If the UK ever becomes dependent on shale gas, it will never be able to kick the fracking habit.” Continue reading

Posted in Low carbon energy, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 5 Comments

The ‘penny-drop moment’: building political leadership for radical emission reduction

Five light bulbs in lineThis post is by Rebecca Willis, independent adviser on environment and sustainability and Green Alliance associate, working with us on our Climate Leadership Programme. This is a shortened version of her recent presentation to the Tyndall Centre’s Radical Emissions Reduction conference

Crossword fanatics call it the ‘penny-drop moment’, or PDM: the moment when a series of jumbled clues falls into place, and the whole picture becomes clear. I’ve seen it happen. At the end of a long question and answer session between new MPs and a climate scientist, something clicks. The politicians realise that the development of modern societies, economies, and arguably democracy itself, has only been possible because of a stable climate, and that we can’t take the climate for granted any more. There’s a tangible change of mood as this reality sinks in, and the MPs grasp the significance of climate change for the future of politics and, indeed, their own political careers. Continue reading

Posted in Climate change, Political Leadership / NGO Engagement, Politics | Tagged , , | 2 Comments