We still don’t know enough about new heat technologies to decide the best way forward

This post is by Dr Robert Sansom of the IET’s Energy Policy Panel

Recently, Professor Cebon wrote on this blog that pursuing the hydrogen economy would be a mistake. I am neither an advocate of hydrogen nor am I associated with the oil and gas industry, but I was the lead author of a report, produced by the IET in 2019, which focused on the engineering questions that need to be addressed if the UK is to transition to hydrogen.  There are also major questions around the electrification of heat. Until these questions are dealt with, I do not believe anyone can say that one technology is better than another.

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Why isn’t there a wind turbine emoji?

This post is by Dr Alice Bell, co-director of the climate charity Possible.

Chatter about emoji might seem frivolous. But whether it’s a drop of blood symbol helping to lift the taboo around periods or adding emotional context to conversations that have moved online during lockdown, emoji play a crucial role in modern culture. Like gifs, memes and other cultural references, emoji are part of how we talk to each other today. As such, it only seems sensible that the ever growing emoji vocabulary should include symbols relating to climate change. There’s an oil drum, a gas pump and a power station, so why nothing relating to green tech?

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Why a green recovery needs a blue recovery at its heart

This post is by Tom Fewins, head of policy & advocacy at the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust (WWT).

Here’s a question for you: what does ‘Ramsar’ stand for?

While some may see it as shorthand for the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance, it is actually named after a place. The Iranian city of Ramsar sits on the shores of the Caspian Sea, where this multilateral agreement was first signed; this year the Ramsar Convention marks its 50th anniversary.

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Will the government do the right thing about aviation emissions?

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This post is by Matt Finch, UK policy manager at Transport & Environment .

Cutting aviation’s carbon emissions is a challenge, but it’s achievable. In previous years, discussing this would have resulted in a frown, a shrug and a sigh: “It’s simply too hard”, people would say. However, in recent years technology has advanced and the opportunity to do so is here. The UK government has started to take action by setting up the Jet Zero council. This council, composed of both senior government ministers and industry leaders, has an ambitious aim: the Transport Secretary Grant Shapps announced last year that its goal is to “demonstrate flight across the Atlantic…. within a generation…. without harming the environment”. So far, though, there has not been a meaningful policy introduced that would start to bend the curve towards achieving this aim.

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Will the government’s updated fuel poverty strategy have better results?

Around ten per cent of England’s population is estimated to be living in fuel poverty. This is where households on low incomes live in homes with poor energy efficiency and struggle to pay their energy bills. The government has just published an updated fuel poverty strategy, building on its 2015 predecessor which set out how it aims to support as many homes as is “reasonably practicable” to achieve a minimum energy efficiency rating of Band C (EPC C) by 2030.

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Will joining the CPTPP tarnish the UK’s green credentials?

This post is by Aradhna Tandon, policy assistant in the Greener UK unit at Green Alliance

International Trade Secretary Liz Truss announced recently that the UK had submitted its request to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), a trade agreement between 11 countries: Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam. The US played a central role in the initial negotiations but withdrew when it failed to gain domestic support to join the trading bloc.

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Airport expansion plans show that national and local decisions are at odds on climate

This post is by Agathe de Canson and Jo Furtado, policy advisers at Green Alliance.

Last week, the French government scrapped plans to expand its largest airport, Roissy Charles de Gaulle, citing environmental concerns. A few days later, Leeds City Council voted to expand Leeds Bradford Airport.  

Aviation emissions accounted for seven per cent of UK greenhouse gas emissions in 2018, but this figure will inevitably grow if demand increases, making it harder still to limit the emissions of a sector that has no straightforward way to decarbonise. Airport expansion, like road expansion, increases demand, so will make it much harder to reach our climate goals. 

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What has gone wrong with the Green Homes Grant?

This post is by Jan Rosenow and Louise Sunderland of the Regulatory Assistance Project.

The Green Homes Grant risks becoming the second government home energy efficiency scheme in a decade designed to fail.

The last decade wasn’t a good one for energy efficiency policy in the UK. We all remember the Green Deal, the coalition government’s flagship energy efficiency policy that was supposed to support 14 million home retrofits by 2020. It was terminated in 2015, after two years, having achieved fewer than 20,000 home retrofits. If anything, it was an example of how not to design an energy efficiency policy. The failure of the Green Deal left a gaping hole that was never plugged.

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Why ‘Ride the Bus to Help Us’ might be better than Eat Out to Help out

2020 saw the UK’s largest ever economic slump, effectively taking us back to 2013 levels. In a fortnight the chancellor will have this at the front of his mind as he lays out his budget. Although output has returned to past levels, economic policies can’t go back. In planning the recovery, Rishi Sunak shouldn’t seek to restore how things were in 2013 or 2019, but build a futureproof economy that is still growing in 2033 and 2049.  

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Why the government must hold the line on chemicals safety

This post is by Ruth Chambers, senior parliamentary affairs associate, Greener UK Unit and Libby Peake, head of resource policy at Green Alliance

It didn’t take long for the first major test of the government’s Brexit promise to maintain high environmental standards to arrive. The chemicals industry is lobbying the government to relax the rules on how important information on the safety of chemicals is managed, citing the extra costs it has to bear as a result of Brexit.

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