What Dieter Helm’s review and the industrial strategy might miss

2143563816_27d654bf2b_b.jpgNot all of the ten ‘pillars’ of the industrial strategy green paper will make it into the white paper expected by the end of this year.  Civil servants working on the final strategy say the innovation, skills, place, business and infrastructure pillars are the ones likely to remain and the content of the affordable energy and clean growth pillar will be embedded across the strategy.   If that can be done well it will better than having a standalone chapter, but if it is done badly, it will be a disaster for the UK’s low carbon transition.

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Is Theresa May a climate leader?

37321447925_722215f265_bIn 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

What does climate change look like through the eyes of a politician?

hop 2I’m in a café in the House of Commons, talking to a newly-elected MP about climate change. He’s under no illusions about likely impacts. He points out that where we’re sitting, beside the River Thames, could be under water in decades to come. He calls climate change ‘catastrophic’, and looks for every opportunity he can to raise the issue.  But his commitment has come at a price: speaking out on climate is, he tells me, a ‘career-limiting move’.

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What will Brexit mean for the UK’s trade in electricity with Europe?

26954793856_a891ff7d7f_h (1)This post is by Jonathan Bosch, research postgraduate at the Grantham Institute, Imperial College London.

The internal electricity market (IEM) is one of the major achievements of the European single market, allowing electricity to be traded and transmitted seamlessly across national borders. The UK has played a crucial role in the IEM’s development, working with EU energy regulatory agencies to help achieve ‘market coupling’, whereby power station operation and interconnection capacity are allocated simultaneously to achieve more efficient outcomes. The IEM relies on the physical interconnection infrastructure across the continent, and current plans see an expansion of interconnection between the UK and the European mainland in the coming years.

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Who’s afraid of the ECJ? Let’s debate environmental governance

ECJ (3)This post is by Prof Andrew Jordan and Dr Viviane Gravey, co-chairs of the Brexit and Environment network of academic experts, co-funded by the ESRC’s UK in a Changing Europe Initiative.

Among the many proposals in Michael Gove’s thoughtful speech on the environment, one received less attention that we think it deserved.  It was his invitation to debate how the UK can “design potentially more effective, more rigorous and more responsive institutions, new means of holding individuals and organisations to account for environmental outcomes”. This creates a welcome opportunity to debate what kind of governance system the UK should have outside the EU.

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Now renewables are the cheapest source of energy, it’s time to rethink UK policy

cleanThe 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.

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How Michael Gove can unleash a new wave of farming entrepreneurs

English Longhorn cattle on Cissbury Ring, West Sussex, in winter

For farmers, change is a way of life. Weather is unpredictable. Consumer appetites change. Prices go up and down. Managing uncertainty and volatility goes with the job.

But the ability of farmers to keep bouncing back will soon be tested to its limits, and possibly beyond. Brexit will bring change of a scale and at a speed that will dwarf anything seen by the current generation of farmers. This could include changes to the availability and cost of labour, the size and terms of subsidy payments, the potential imposition of new import and export tariffs and, should certain trade deals be struck, increased competition from low cost food imports. Not all farmers will cope. Many are likely to fail. Read more

We need the Clean Growth Plan to avoid an epic fail on climate change

Day view UK Motorway Road Wind TurbinesCredit where credit’s due, the UK has shown strong leadership in tackling climate change. We were the first major economy to commit to phasing out coal fired power and we’ve set ambitious, legally binding carbon budgets up to 2032. We’ve also made strong progress towards meeting these carbon targets, having achieved our 2020 target five years early in 2015. Read more

Why we need to look beyond subsidies to save UK farming

field agriculture farm crops england ukUK farming is in crisis. Forty per cent of farms make no profit. Farm debt is soaring. Farmers are taking home an ever decreasing share of what we spend on food and, over the long term, food prices have been dropping.

Many farmers are stuck in a cycle of working the land ever harder just to break even. This is taking a heavy toll on the asset that farming relies on most of all – nature –  as regular reports from the State of Nature partnership and the Natural Capital Committee make clear.

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