Why community renewables still have no government support

solar house smallThe closing of the feed-in tariff scheme (FiT) in March this year caused dismay, inviting accusations that it was a retrogressive step for an aspiring low carbon economy and unfair to community energy groups. FiTs had underpinned the growth of this sector over the past decade. It was the means by which small scale renewable energy generators, including households, were paid for surplus energy they fed in to the grid. Read more

Plans for new Rivers Authorities are flawed and threaten our environment

rivers smallThis post is by Tom Lancaster, acting head of land use policy at the RSPB.

The world of flood and coastal erosion risk management (FCERM) is complex, and at times niche. But it is something that affects the lives of millions, and will become an increasingly pressing priority as the impacts of climate change get worse.

We all have a stake in the decisions to protect communities, businesses and nature from floods, whilst making the best use of the nation’s resources. They should be debated openly, both locally and nationally. Above all, managing flood risk should take place within a long term strategic framework, rigorously assessed to ensure maximum bang for our FCERM buck. Read more

Why the chancellor’s statement could imperil UK climate ambitions

Philip Hammond smallThis post is by Dimitri Zenghelis, senior visiting fellow at the Grantham Research Institute at LSE and Green Alliance associate. It was first posted on LSE’s Grantham Institute blog. 

Chancellor Philip Hammond’s assertion that the cost of transitioning to a net zero carbon economy in the UK will exceed a trillion pounds by 2050, made in a letter to Prime Minister Theresa May on Wednesday, is simply incorrect. The evidence for this is set out clearly and in detail in the Report of the Advisory Group on Costs and Benefits of Net Zero for the Committee on Climate Change (CCC), which was drafted by a panel of experts including a senior economist from Shell International and the chief economist of the Confederation of British Industry. Read more

Tim Beaumont: Green Alliance’s first director defined our unique purpose

Song Thrush - Turdus philomelos

This post is by Nigel Haigh, former director of the Institute for European Environmental Policy and chair of Green Alliance from 1989 to 1998.

Of all the talented directors that Green Alliance has had, Tim Beaumont – or, to give him his full title, the Reverend Lord Beaumont of Whitley – was surely the most extraordinary.  He was one of three people connected with the Liberal Party who joined with others across the political spectrum to create and launch Green Alliance in 1979.  Maurice Ash was to become its chairman, Richard Holme its treasurer, and Tim was its  ‘convenor’ or ‘co-ordinator’.  He never called himself the director, though he ran the show and gave it its sense of direction. Read more

With parliament gridlocked, divestment is a creative approach to climate action

creative divestment smallIn case you haven’t heard, the UK is in a political crisis. Parliament has come to a Brexit standstill, and any resolution will be fraught with unrest. Recent polling from the Hansard Society found that public faith in the political system is at a low, with feelings of powerlessness rife.

British environmental politics has not escaped this quagmire. Key pieces of legislation that were once sources of optimism for a green Brexit are frustratingly stuck in unsatisfactory form in their progression through parliament. To salvage her legacy, Theresa May could legislate for the CCC’s net-zero target, but that would require the cabinet consent that she has found so elusive during her tenure. Read more

Four decades of getting an ‘ecological perspective’ into politics: we are 40

PrintAccording to an early promotional leaflet, Green Alliance was set up “by a group of individuals concerned that Britain’s political parties were failing to understand or respond to environmental issues”. Plus ça change. With an emphasis on “ideas more than issues”, the organisation aimed “to introduce an ecological perspective into British political life”.

This has been our aim ever since and is needed now more than ever as the scale of the climate and ecological emergency we face becomes clearer. Over our history we have used various methods to achieve it, from poetry and the arts to analysis, thought leadership and brokering historical political pledges.  One ‘softer’ way we do it is by getting people together to talk, to understand the relevance of environmental issues and to catalyse action. Read more

The shackles need to come off our national parks to combat climate change

mam-tor-3600896_1920_Ian KelsallThis post is by Andrew McCloy, chair of the Peak District National Park Authority. He writes here in a personal capacity.

Melanie Haiken recently outlined the dire implications of climate change on North America’s national parks if drastic action isn’t taken soon. US parks are warming at twice the national average and, without significant action, the outlook for their fragile ecosystems and varied biodiversity is bleak. Iconic parks like Sequoia, Glacier Bay and Joshua Tree could lose their namesake features altogether. Read more

We need to worry about what Theresa May’s speech means for our environment

Ruth's blog smallIn her Mansion House speech in March 2017 the prime minister said “As we leave the EU we will uphold environmental standards and go further to protect our shared natural heritage”. But her speech yesterday appears to ignore the government’s commitments to improve and not just maintain standards.

On the face of it the commitment that “there will be no change in the level of environmental protection when we leave the EU” should be reassuring as the government has repeatedly said that standards will not be weakened by Brexit. But no change infers no improvement which, when facing an environmental crisis, seems very wide of the mark. Read more

We need to change our land use practices now to solve the environmental crisis

drought small.pngThis post is by Georgina Mace, professor of biodiversity and ecosystems at University College London.

The recent UN IPBES Global Assessment on biodiversity and ecosystems exposed the dramatic decline of nature. Seventy five per cent of the land surface has been significantly altered, and among assessed groups of mammals and birds, one in four species are at risk of extinction. The average abundance of native species in most major terrestrial biomes has fallen by at least 20 per cent and land degradation has reduced productivity in 23 per cent of the global terrestrial area.

This crisis not only threatens the diversity of life on Earth. Ongoing degradation and changes to ecosystems pose further risks to people through threats to food, energy and water security, as well as being a significant driver of climate change. Read more

Why aren’t farmers loudly (and proudly) demanding climate action?

Mulberry river smallWhile travelling with my dad from Little Rock to Springdale, Arkansas, we took the scenic route through the Ozark National Forest. My lungs, eyes and ears were refreshed by the clean air, bright blue skies and green trees, and the sounds of animals and insects. As someone who has lived in cities for the past seven years, I was reminded of the beauty of the natural environment.

To fully enjoy the scenery, we decided to stop at a local kayak business. With classic southern hospitality, the store owner insisted that he would keep the store open for an extra two hours for us to ride down the Mulberry River. As his colleague drove us up the mountain to our mini adventure, the typical small talk arose. Read more

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