Do you remember the old lady who swallowed a fly? Her chosen remedy – to swallow a spider in hope of catching the fly – unfortunately made things worse: said spider wriggled and jiggled and tickled inside her. She dealt with this unintended consequence by swallowing a bird, which didn’t help either. Bird led to cat led to dog, goat and then cow (I don’t know how). The sad denouement came when she swallowed a horse, and died. Of course.
The British electricity system is starting to look worryingly like that poor old lady. The government, dissatisfied with what the markets are delivering, is proposing modification after modification, in the hope that one day the ‘neutral’ market will deliver the government’s ever more obvious technology preferences. It looks as if our energy policy designers have forgotten their nursery rhymes.
The climate for renewable technologies in the UK has been notably inclement lately, ever since the summer’s soggy policy announcements resoundingly dampened investors’ and businesses’ enthusiasm. Now, even the usually resilient edifice of government is leaking.
Sometimes it takes an outsider to reveal an uncomfortable truth. In his speech this week to Green Alliance’s Beyond Paris event, held in association with the CBI, Al Gore held up a mirror to the UK and it wasn’t pretty.
He described a UK out of step with the new found ambition of China and the US on green growth, a welter of low carbon energy policies being cancelled and a prime minster who is not providing public leadership on climate action. An audience of over 400 studiously phlegmatic business and NGO leaders got to their feet and gave him a standing ovation. It must have been a first for a buttoned up London policy audience. Read more
This post is by climate and energy consultant Stephen Tindale. He blogs at www.climateanswers.info.
UK climate campaigners should support fracking for shale gas. Shale gas would enable the UK to reduce the burning of coal, and also the import of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG). Read more
This post is by independent researcher and Green Alliance associate Rebecca Willis.
It’s obvious, when you think about it, that emerging industries and innovators have less of a voice in government than established players. Incumbents have a lot of advantages: they have a proven technology or system which regulators understand; they can afford to pay staff or consultants to engage and lobby; and policies and regulations are designed with them in mind. In contrast, innovators put all their effort into getting their new approach off the ground (with little time left for lobbying); regulations aren’t designed for them; and policy makers may not understand what they do. Read more
The EU is on the brink of setting its energy and climate future, and must agree a new policy framework for 2030 by March 2014, ahead of international climate talks in Paris this December.
In reaction to the European Commission’s green paper on options for the 2030 climate and energy policy framework last March, Europe’s largest trade association, Business Europe, suggested European manufacturing was being left behind. It stated, “Europe’s major competitors, the US and China are reindustrialising on the back of low energy costs. Meanwhile the current EU energy and climate policy is driving up costs through inconsistencies in EU policies as well as uncoordinated and heavy-handed national government intervention in energy markets.” Read more
This post is by Jonathan Gaventa, programme leader on European energy infrastructure at E3G. Jonathan is one of 20 experts Green Alliance interviewed as part of a review of European climate and energy policy which will be published next week.
There is no security in separatism, no innovation in isolationism, and nothing to be gained from walking away from our seat at the European table. Read more
Heat is responsible for a third of carbon emissions and around half of the energy we use in the UK. Whilst there is a range of views about how to achieve the deep cuts needed in carbon emissions from heating, all future scenarios indicate that there will have to be a significant rise in the uptake of heat pumps. Read more
Anticipating significant trends is a compulsive but risky habit. Last year I forecasted three, and whilst two did come good, one was spectacularly wrong. The Conservative Party did not follow a centrist strategy and did not reassert its support for a green economy. The challenge to the UK’s low carbon leadership which this reflects makes prediction harder than usual but, undaunted, I offer three more for the coming year: Read more
This post is by Dustin Benton, senior policy adviser at Green Alliance and author of our recent policy insight The CCS challenge: securing a second chance for UK carbon capture and storage.
Recent announcements on carbon capture and storage have made it clear that it is make or break time for the technology. CCS is controversial. Its detractors point out that it doesn’t deal with the problems of resource extraction, and may only buy us a few more decades of fossil fuel power generation. But its potential to enable rapid reductions in CO2 emissions, from the power sector and industrial emitters both in the UK and abroad, mean that we, at least, should establish whether or not CCS is possible. The starting point for doing this in the UK is a publicly funded, multibillion pound demonstration programme, which was relaunched a few weeks ago. Read more