The EU’s unique role in helping us to respond to environmental threats

EU flag and space for textThis post is by Nigel Haigh, director of the Institute for European Environmental Policy (IEEP) 1980- 98 and chair of Green Alliance 1989-98. He is author of the forthcoming book EU Environmental Policy – its journey to centre stage  (to be published in December by Routledge)

As the debate around an in/out EU referendum intensifies, I am sure others will point out that it is because of the EU that we now have low energy light bulbs and separate our biodegradable kitchen waste to reduce methane emissions from landfills. There are plenty of other examples,  mandatory air quality standards being particularly relevant just now. Continue reading

Posted in Environment, Political Leadership | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

What motivates politicians to act on climate change?

Climate ChangeThis post is by Green Alliance associate Rebecca Willis who is working with us on a new research project, in collaboration with Lancaster University.

How often have you heard the lament amongst environmentalists, “what’s lacking is political will”? If only politicians understood enough, and cared enough, to confront and act on environmental issues like climate change, the argument goes, they could implement the solutions (green the economy, fine the polluters) and lead the transition to a sustainable society. Continue reading

Posted in Climate change, Political Leadership, Politics | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

How cheaper negawatts are made to look more expensive than watts

Negawatts_websiteThis post is by Nic Craig, Green Alliance policy intern, Amy Mount and Dustin Benton

The capacity market, which provides payments to ‘keep the lights on’, is one of the energy policies still surviving after a summer of scrappages and watering down. The bidders for the second auction were announced at the end of last week, and, as before, the list is dominated by carbon heavy power stations: 48 per cent gas plants and 19 per cent coal plants (including Aberthaw, which raises the worrying prospect of public money supporting a power station that’s currently breaking pollution laws). Continue reading

Posted in Energy demand, Low carbon energy | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

How to get UK energy and climate policy back on track

21660736191_b33a880c4d_zSometimes it takes an outsider to reveal an uncomfortable truth. In his speech this week to Green Alliance’s Beyond Paris event, held in association with the CBI, Al Gore held up a mirror to the UK and it wasn’t pretty.

He described a UK out of step with the new found ambition of China and the US on green growth, a welter of low carbon energy policies being cancelled and a prime minster who is not providing public leadership on climate action. An audience of over 400 studiously phlegmatic business and NGO leaders got to their feet and gave him a standing ovation. It must have been a first for a buttoned up London policy audience. Continue reading

Posted in Climate change, Low carbon energy, Political Leadership, Sustainable Economy | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

The climate case against shale gas

fracking3This post is by Tony Bosworth, Friends of the Earth’s energy campaigner.

It’s no surprise that a task force funded by the shale gas industry has produced a report saying fracking can help tackle climate change. But its arguments – repeated in the blog here this week by Stephen Tindale, an advisor to the task force – doesn’t present the whole picture and glosses over some vital issues. Continue reading

Posted in Climate change, Low carbon energy, Sustainable Economy | Tagged , , , , , , | 8 Comments

The climate case for shale gas

shale gasThis post is by climate and energy consultant Stephen Tindale. He blogs at

UK climate campaigners should support fracking for shale gas. Shale gas would enable the UK to reduce the burning of coal, and also the import of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG). Continue reading

Posted in Low carbon energy | Tagged , , , , , | 7 Comments

Why government spending decisions need to account for nature

lapwing - credit marie haleThis post is by Richard Benwell,  parliamentary programme manager at RSPB and director of communications at Westmill Solar Co-operative.

If you’ve been following the to and fro of international financial markets over recent weeks, like me you might have been amazed by how ephemeral and unpredictable financial wealth can be. Not so the economic wealth that underlies those markets. While trade, production and employment are influenced by turns of confidence, and even luck, they all depend on people and assets. Continue reading

Posted in Nature and wildlife, Political Leadership, Sustainable Economy | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Devolution is a chance for more democratic infrastructure planning

Opening up infrastructure planning-7This post has been written by Amy Mount of Green Alliance and Andrew Wescott of the Institute of Civil Engineers. It first appeared on the ICE blog

In the run up to the general election, there was a clamour of calls for a more strategic national approach to infrastructure planning, in expert reports, workshops, and conference speeches. In this context, ‘strategic’ means long term and evidence based,  with measures to shape demand as well as the supply of big kit, and considering green alongside ‘grey’ infrastructure. Continue reading

Posted in Infrastructure, Sustainable Economy | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Banks are waking up to the advantages of a circular economy

the bankGreen Alliance was among the first organisations to recognise the potential of the financial sector to drive sustainability.   In 1992, alongside the Rio environment summit, UNEP brokered a Statement by Banks on Environment and Sustainable Development, and Green Alliance encouraged UK institutions to get involved.

Four years later, Green Alliance assessed progress against the pledges: it was discernible, but slow.  Twenty-odd years on, we see the seeds sown at Rio yielding results, as financial institutions start to act on the risks and opportunities presented by environmental challenges. Continue reading

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

Scotland starts to ask the big infrastructure questions

Train entering a tunnel, Forth Rail Bridge, ScotlandWorking on UK climate and energy policy in our office in London, it’s easy to regard with envy the politics north of the Scottish border. The Scottish government has adopted far more ambitious targets than the UK as a whole, aiming at a largely decarbonised electricity sector by 2030, almost complete decarbonisation of road transport by 2050 and a largely decarbonised heat sector by 2050. Continue reading

Posted in Infrastructure, Low carbon energy, Political Leadership | Tagged , , | 1 Comment