This post is by Carolyn Fairbairn, director general of the CBI.
Technology is changing the world around us at an unprecedented rate. The Internet of Things, the sharing economy, 5G and autonomous vehicles will all change the way we live and work. At the same time, Brexit is going to have a profound impact on our politics and the way the UK works and trades with Europe and the rest of the world.
This year the spring budget comes at an odd time for all things low carbon in the UK. In February, the government published its industrial strategy, setting out its clean growth aims as part of Theresa May’s flagship domestic economic policy. By the beginning of the summer, the government will produce a ‘clean growth’ plan, outlining how the UK will meet its fourth and fifth carbon budgets (covering 2023-32).
This post is by Paul Brockway, research fellow at the University of Leeds. He examines roles and relationships between energy, economy and society as part of UKERC’s research programme.
Energy efficiency is often seen as a win-win: falling energy use benefits consumers and the environment, whilst it also allows the economy to grow. However, our recent research into energy rebound or ‘take back’ (when energy efficiency can be cancelled out by changes in people’s behaviour) suggests it may hamper the effectiveness of policy aimed at reducing energy use and its associated carbon emissions. Read more
This post is by Chris Goodall, author of The Switch, which describes how the world can cost effectively move to a zero carbon economy.
Sometimes we just don’t notice how well things are going in the race to decarbonise the world economy. Solar photovoltaic panels (PV) continue to decline sharply in cost. Batteries are becoming rapidly cheaper and we will have inexpensive electric cars with 200 miles of range within eighteen months. Wind turbines are improving in price and performance, particularly offshore. Energy use is proving easy to manage second by second. Optimism about a prosperous low carbon future for all seven billion people in the world is more justified with each passing month.
Forget the cuts to the RHI. Ignore halving ECO. The biggest change to the UK’s energy strategy didn’t appear in yesterday’s autumn statement. Instead, a two line note snuck out an hour or so after George Osborne finished his speech confirmed that carbon capture and storage (CCS) in the UK is effectively dead. Read more
The case for carbon capture and storage (CCS) is increasingly confused. The IPCC suggests CCS makes quick, low cost decarbonisation much more feasible, and the prime minister recently declared the technology “absolutely crucial.” But a recent UCL study found that CCS makes little difference to the proportion of fossil reserves that cannot be burned. Less than a quarter of people support CCS in the UK, compared to the 80 per cent supporting renewables, and activists led anti-CCS protests at the recent Lima climate conference because they fear it will be used as a smokescreen for additional unabated fossil fuel use. Read more
It’s rare to find a government policy which visibly annoys studiously neutral mandarins, but I now regularly encounter energetic rejection of renewable energy targets by senior officials.
Targets are considered an affront to rational thinking, a source of extra cost and an unnecessary constraint, binding the government’s hands on energy policy. Read more
This post is by Matthew Spencer, director of Green Alliance.
Anyone reading the media coverage of the Energy Bill announcement last Friday will be left wondering who really won and what will happen next to energy policy. There were some clear winners but they weren’t on either side of the Coalition divide on decarbonisation, which means that the future direction of energy policy remains very uncertain.
The lack of agreement on decarbonisation raises the risk for the first time that climate change could become a dividing line between the political parties at the next election. Read more