Why the EU2030 climate agreement is progress

Coal powerplant view - chimneys and fumesThe new EU 2030 climate package is a messy compromise, just like every other negotiated agreement in history, but it constitutes real progress.

It is progress because we now have the most ambitious regional agreement on emissions reduction anywhere in the world. At the start of this week, five members of the European Union had a 2030 target for greenhouse gasses. At the end of this week, all 28 members had one.  Continue reading

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Is the US outclassing the UK on climate statesmanship?

obama green economy speech 2010_2Al Gore is the famous what-if of US climate politics, given the controversial near miss that was the presidential election of 2000, combined with his subsequent activism.  His film, ‘An Inconvenient Truth’, won two Academy Awards, and the man himself won a share of the Nobel Peace Prize (along with the IPCC) for his efforts to wake the world up to climate change.

But current Secretary of State John Kerry, the second contender to lose a presidential election to George W Bush, has started to nudge Gore out of the climate action spotlight.  Continue reading

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Five items for the next PM’s in tray

Big Ben & Houses of ParliamentThis article features in the latest issue of Green Alliance’s journal Inside Track which focuses on priorities for the next parliament.

The fog surrounding the next government’s priorities couldn’t be thicker. We are heading into an election that no one can call, with a possible EU referendum that could obscure all other issues. Nevertheless, it is useful to consider what, in normal weather, the political landscape would look like, and what will be in the next PM’s in tray irrespective of the party they represent.

At Green Alliance we have identified five areas of action which we think will be central to successful green outcomes in the next parliament and which we would expect ministers to resolve within a year of coming to power: Continue reading

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Five ways to stop the world’s wildlife vanishing

lorisThis post is by Paul Jepson, course director, MSc Biodiversity, Conservation and Management at University of Oxford. It was first published by The Conversation.

Full marks to colleagues at WWF and the Zoological Society of London for the Living Planet Report 2014 and its headline message which one hopes ought to shock the world out of its complacency: a 52 per cent decline of wildlife populations in the past 40 years.

Over the summer I re-read Fairfield Osborne’s 1948 classic, Our plundered planet, the first mass readership environmental book that detailed the scale of the damage humanity wrought on nature. Faced with the figures in this report it is easy to slip into despondency and to blame others. But this would be a mistake. At the time, Osborne’s report must have been equally alarming, but the eclectic conservation movement of which he was part responded with confidence, hope and vision. Continue reading

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Reform the Treasury to tackle major environmental challenges

shutterstock_Treasury_lo (2)This post is by Duncan Hames MP. It was first published by The Guardian

Tackling climate change and restoring the public finances both require a long term view, but politics continues to be driven by short term considerations.

A lack of long term thinking in government undermines effective policy making, and that really matters when it comes to the environment. The threat of climate change demands action now but, by its very nature, we won’t see many of the benefits of that action – or the consequences of inaction – for decades to come. Continue reading

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We can have resource security without protectionism

resource 250This post is by Dan Byles MP, it was first published on ConservativeHome.

The UK has a long history as a global trading nation. For centuries we have viewed free trade and an open economy as the route to prosperity, and history has proved us right: Britain is the second largest exporter of services after the United States, and according to government analysis every ten per cent increase in trade openness raises national income by four per cent. Continue reading

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A little more conversation, a lot more action: getting infrastructure right

Centre span of the new Severn Bridge , UKThis post is by Huw Irranca-Davies MP. It first appeared on Labour List.

The infrastructure we use to travel, talk and power our homes and businesses is constantly being renewed and improved. When we get it right, it delivers outcomes that society hugely values such as easier and quicker commuting, allowing people more time to spend with their families, clean, plentiful water supplies and access to affordable energy. The best infrastructure is also future proof and helps to tackle climate change.

But infrastructure can also be a source of huge frustration and contention as debates erupt over new projects and interest groups get pitted against each other. Continue reading

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Stern’s gone global, but is the Treasury still listening?

6852339529_58fdb0b41a_zThis week, the New Climate Economy (NCE) project published its report spelling out the compelling economic logic behind moving to a low carbon world. In contrast to the earlier Stern Review, there has been a focus on large and fast growing developing countries, which are expected to generate the largest growth in CO2 emissions in the coming decades.

But, here at the home of Stern’s original report, is the UK – and in particular the Treasury – still heeding its advice? The latest scaling down of ambition for the deployment of renewable energy in the Treasury’s Infrastructure Pipeline will inevitably raise doubts. Continue reading

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Why the New Climate Economy report isn’t just another report

Modern office exteriorThis post is by Michael Jacobs, senior adviser to the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate.

The publication of the long awaited report of the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate marks an important moment in the gathering global politics of climate change.

The New Climate Economy report provides the first major, authoritative account of the economic case for acting on climate change since the seminal Stern Review of 2006. Backed by an impressive array of current and former global leaders from 19 countries  – including six former heads of government and finance ministers, the head of one the largest private banks in China and the former head of its biggest public one, the heads or deputies of seven international economic institutions, the mayors of two of the world’s largest cities and the heads of four of the world’s largest corporations – it brings together a huge compendium of evidence that acting on climate change is not only compatible with economic growth, it can actually improve it. Continue reading

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A review of new EU and UK ambitions for a circular economy

12_CETFA version of this post was first published on BusinessGreen.

It’s only years after its 1970s inception that the circular economy concept is really beginning to gain traction. The publication this summer of a clutch of policy proposals and recommendations from governments, business organisations and NGOs alike show that the idea is really gaining momentum.

But the catch-all title ‘circular economy’ belies a diverse set of complementary but distinct processes and activities. Some of these, such as improved recycling, could be achieved through tweaks to current regulatory and financial systems. Others, such as the more ambitious and valuable ‘inner loops’ of a circular economy – reuse, remanufacturing and servitisation – require more fundamental changes in the frameworks that shape business strategies and investments. Continue reading

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