2018 was a mixed bag for energy and climate policy. On the plus side, unbeknown to most of its millions of consumers, the UK’s power sector provided a third of the country’s electricity from renewable sources, over twice as much as five years ago. Read more
This blog was first published by Business Green.
The unprecedented, prolonged heatwave that Britain and much of the northern hemisphere is experiencing seems to have brought climate change, albeit temporarily, to the forefront of our public and political discourse. A timely report from the Environmental Audit Committee has warned there will be 7,000 heat-related deaths every year in the UK by 2050, triple today’s rate, if we do not take further action. Former energy and climate secretary Amber Rudd penned a Times op-ed stating climate change is here and rising global temperatures are already baked in. But the thrust of her argument was that a madcap approach to Brexit could unravel Britain’s ambitious climate goals. Addressing climate change, she said, requires “co-operation, shared sovereignty and internationalism.”
The government published its Road to Zero strategy this week, as a pathway to decarbonise the road transport sector, the source of a quarter of the UK’s annual carbon emissions. The strategy also aims to show how this transition will make Britain a global leader in low carbon vehicles and their associated infrastructure. Read more
We have always known that aviation will be a hard nut to crack in tackling climate change. Digital technology was expected to bring people closer virtually but has had no impact on mitigating air travel which has continued to grow over the past decade. Meanwhile, the aviation industry has felt itself exempt from climate policy, a feeling which must have been emphasised by the limited role that climate considerations played in this week’s decision to expand Heathrow. Read more
Britain’s automotive industry faces a moment of reckoning. Brexit threatens to disrupt its highly sophisticated ‘just in time’ operations while pressure to cut air pollution and go electric risks stranding investment in factories designed for the fossil fuel age. Read more
The Committee on Climate Change (CCC) today published its analysis of the Clean Growth Strategy (CGS), the government’s blueprint for meeting the targets it is legally bound to achieve under the Climate Change Act.
The analysis highlights a worrying gap (of 10-65 MTCO2e) between the government’s existing policies and commitments and the requirements set under the fourth and fifth carbon budgets. To bridge this gap and minimise delivery risks, the CCC says, the government must urgently firm up the policies, proposals and intentions laid out in the Clean Growth
On 13 November, we invited the EU’s former director general of DG Energy, Sir Philip Lowe, to speak to a small specialist audience about the likely impacts of Brexit on energy and climate policy. Sir Philip, who was in post from 2010 to 2014, is well qualified to comment: he has deep expertise across key EU institutions and is currently chair of the World Energy Council’s energy trilemma initiative. The meeting sparked interesting conversations, including around Sir Philip’s recent publication, Brexit and energy. This post reports the main insights from our discussion. Read more
In her speech in Ottawa yesterday, Theresa May reiterated the UK’s commitment to phasing out unabated coal (ie where emissions are not captured) by 2025. This was the prime minister’s first public statement on climate policy since taking office after the Brexit referendum last year. Although the Conservative manifesto mentioned it, the prime minister has been worryingly tight lipped, leading to concerns about her commitment to climate leadership. Brexit has slowed down domestic policy making, but this statement asserts the UK’s aspiration to be a global climate leader, even as it prepares to leave the EU. Read more
The results of the yesterday’s government auction for renewables procurement has taken the entire energy sector by surprise. Clearing 860 MW at £75/MWh in 2021 and 2.3 GW at £57/MWh in 2022, it revealed that the cost of offshore wind has dropped by 65 per cent in under five years. This result comes close on the heels of a report from Renewable UK, highlighting that the UK’s offshore wind industry has now increased its domestic content to 48 per cent and is in the process is providing almost 20,000 direct and indirect jobs. Heavy investment during the industry’s nascent years has yielded tremendous results and the UK can confidently stake its claim to be the global leader in offshore wind.
This post first appeared on BusinessGreen.
At 11am, on 14 July 2017, eight per cent of UK’s total electricity demand was generated by offshore wind, more than any other country in the world. Proactive policy and industrial innovation have crafted the UK’s success story on offshore wind but another significant part of the story has been the lending from the European Investment Bank (EIB) that has accelerated the sector’s growth. Roughly £2.6 billion has been invested in wind farms and transmission networks since 2012, part of an overall £8 billion investment in energy infrastructure in the UK. As we leave the EU, cheap EIB loans will not flow as easily, raising concerns about the future growth of our renewable energy industry. It is, therefore, critical that we negotiate to be a major shareholder and benefactor of the EIB and the other European investment bodies that support innovation and growth in low carbon technology. Read more