The prime minister’s bold promises to protect the climate are not yet backed by policies and cash, says an end-of-year report by a think tank, Green Alliance. It says there’s a “significant gap” between Boris Johnson’s world-leading plans and what’s needed to meet the UK’s carbon-cutting targets. The government admits that low-carbon policies are a work in progress – but insists they will be published in coming months. Its report estimates that £22.7bn of additional spending will be needed to tackle the climate and nature challenge. This annual sum includes: £9bn on accelerating the transition to electric vehicles, and on walking, cycling, bus and rail infrastructure; £2.3bn on making buildings efficient and kickstarting the roll-out of electric heat pumps; £400m on establishing a resource efficiency programme for industry; £6.6bn on nature restoration and the food and farming sector; The authors say: “During 2020 there have been many signals of intention to act on climate and nature.
BBC 29th Dec 2020 read more »
The government’s New Year’s resolution should be to follow up the wave of green promises and targets announced over the past 12 months with concrete actions that help drive down UK emissions, Green Alliance has urged. A climate briefing published by the environmental think tank yesterday warns that despite many “bold climate promises”, the government is yet to produce a comprehensive policy and investment plan for its new target of reducing emissions by at least 68 per cent on 1990 levels by 2030.
Business Green 30th Dec 2020 read more »
Nick Butler: The UK has an ambitious decarbonisation plan. But does it have a credible one? 2021 will be the critical year for climate change policy. The UK’s enthusiasm is no guarantee of success. The UK has set some bold climate change targets. Aspirations are easy. Now comes the hard part—explaining who will pay and demonstrating that other countries are sharing the burden. A new White Paper and 10-point plan launched by the Prime Minister follow the announcement of a target of reducing emissions by almost 70 per cent over the next 10 years, from a 1990 baseline. It is all to help meet the overriding objective of UK energy policy—decarbonisation. By 2050 the goal is to achieve net zero. The 10-year target in particular marks the biggest shift in energy policy since the run-down of the coal industry in the 1980s. Much of the detail is sketchy. There is clearly no road map to 2030, let alone 2050—simply a range of options, some of which are within reach, others highly improbable. The declaration of intent has been made—now the real debate on the economics and politics will begin. The results of the modelling are counter intuitive. It is hard, for instance, to see how more new nuclear power stations can be built without consumer bills rising. Indeed, the White Paper endorses the idea of regulated asset-based pricing—a formula which adds the costs to bills as the plants are being built. Sizewell C, the next planned nuclear facility, is projected to cost £20bn—contributions to which could start to appear on bills as soon as construction begins. Nuclear is particularly capital intensive but is not the only item which will need to be paid for. Installing 600,000 heat pumps each year, which absorb heat from outside sources and transfer it to provide heat for homes or offices, is not cost free. Nor is the provision of charging facilities for electric vehicles or smart meters, the construction of hydrogen hubs, or the enhanced grid which will be needed to cope with added supplies of renewables such as offshore wind and multiple sources of distributed power. The willingness to pay to secure a clean environment and to reduce the risks of climate change has not yet been truly tested. Much will depend on whether consumers and taxpayers believe that the costs involved will actually deliver the intended result. The amount of spending required to achieve the reduction target by 2030 will meet resistance if the UK appears to be moving too far ahead of other countries where emissions continue to grow. If the decline in UK emissions, which contribute only 1.5 per cent to the global total, continues to be offset year by year by increases from China, India and other emerging economies, financing the measures could start to seem a futile gesture. That is why the international climate change conference planned for the autumn of next year is crucial.
Prospect 29th Dec 2020 read more »
LAST year was meant to be a blockbuster for action on the climate crisis. But the unexpected covid-19 pandemic upended climate choreography, postponing the major UN summit COP26 and forcing striking students off the streets. There are good reasons to think 2021 will be different. Global carbon dioxide emissions fell an unprecedented 7 per cent in 2020 due to coronavirus restrictions, making a rebound in 2021 very likely, says Corinne Le Quéré at the University of East Anglia in the UK.
New Scientist 28th Dec 2020 read more »