One of the most striking aspects of the (CCC) report is how eminently feasible and in line with existing technological and cultural trends, it all feels. From offshore wind as the backbone of our energy system and increasingly plant-based diets as standard to more liveable cities and expanded electric vehicle fleets, so many of the core recommendations simply build on momentum that is now well established. Even when the report wrestles with the heavy lifting of decarbonising more challenging sectors such as industry or heat we can see how many of the technologies and systems required are already starting their journey down the cost curve. Nothing about the report seems impossible.
Business Green 2nd May 2019 read more »
Bill McKibben: On Wednesday, the British House of Commons, led by the Conservative Party, voted to declare that the planet was in a “climate emergency.” The day before, a CNN poll found that, in the United States, Democratic voters care more about climate change than about any other issue in the upcoming Presidential election: more than health care, more than gun control, more than free college, more than impeaching the President. Having followed the issue closely since I wrote my first book about climate change, thirty years ago, I think I can say that we’re in a remarkable moment, when, after years of languishing, climate concern is suddenly and explosively rising to the top of the political agenda. Maybe, though not certainly, it is rising fast enough that we’ll get real action.
New Yorker 1st May 2019 read more »
The United Kingdom has taken a potentially momentous policy decision: it says there is a UK climate emergency. On 1 May British members of Parliament (MPs) became the world’s first national legislature to declare a formal climate and environment emergency, saying they hoped they could work with like-minded countries across the world to take action to avoid more than 1.5°C of global warming.
Climate News Network 3rd May 2019 read more »
The Conservative grandee Lord Deben’s family firm has received nearly £500,000 in fees from two businesses poised to benefit from key recommendations in his climate change report. The peer, 79, launched the blueprint this week for Britain to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 although he remains under investigation by a Lords watchdog over whether he properly declared his interests in green clients. John Selwyn Gummer, who served in the cabinets of Margaret Thatcher and John Major, has since become highly esteemed both as a businessman and politician specialising in environmental sustainability. The Lords commissioner for standards, Lucy Scott-Moncrieff, launched an inquiry in February into whether Lord Deben had properly registered and declared his business interests. Johnson Matthey, a sustainable technologies business that paid £290,000 over five years, is a prominent player in batteries for electric vehicles. Saria, a multinational that has interests in food recycling and owns ReFood UK, Britain’s leading operator of anaerobic digestion facilities, paid Sancroft £180,000 over five years.
Times 4th May 2019 read more »
When I began reporting on climate change for this newspaper in 2011, it would have been inconceivable to imagine the document the government’s official climate advisers issued on Thursday. The report from the Committee on Climate Change says the UK should not merely cut its greenhouse gas emissions to almost zero by 2050. It also calls for a minor revolution in how we drive, eat, fly and heat our homes. One of the report’s big messages is we can no longer cut emissions in ways we barely noticed, such as the greener electricity supply that has helped drive emissions down to 42 per cent below 1990 levels. More than 60 per cent of emissions cuts the Committee envisages will require a degree of change that will be hard for any of us to ignore. Personally, I am not fussed about the challenge to set my thermostat at 19C or buy LED lights. The recommended 20 per cent cut in lamb chops, beef and dairy food is probably in line with what I should be eating anyway. But as a beef farmer’s daughter, I doubt that idea will be universally popular in the countryside. The advice to plant about 30,000 hectares of trees a year to soak up carbon emissions, nearly treble current rates, might also prove disruptive. Land may be freed up by the cuts in meat and dairy consumption but a government rethink on agricultural support will still be needed. Then there is the gas boiler that came with my flat. It must become a dinosaur, but how? Today, more than 1m of these boilers are sold each year, compared with 20,000 of the greener electric heat pumps that could replace them. Those pumps are currently unaffordable for many families, few of whom have even heard of such a gadget, and there are nowhere near enough qualified installers. No wonder the Committee says its plan will require concerted action across the whole government, not just the Treasury and environment department. The transport department’s agenda alone will be bursting. All new cars and vans should be electric by 2035 at the latest and preferably by 2030, the Committee says. I would happily buy a second-hand electric car today but I can’t recharge at home and there is only one public charger within a 10-minute walk from my flat. When it comes to flying, the Committee suggests fares might have to rise from 2035, but perhaps by less than thought. Flying from London to New York might eventually cost an extra £20-£55, one report author told me last week. The more pressing challenge posed by the net-zero emissions goal is the need to make the green transition fair. As a nation, the extra costs of clean heating may be offset by, say, cheaper low carbon power and electric cars. For individuals it is a different story.
FT 4th May 2019 read more »
The CEO of EDF Energy responds to the vision set out by the Committee on Climate Change to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and achieve ‘net zero’ by 2050. EDF is also at the forefront of the relaunch of the UK’s nuclear industry. There are now 4,000 people working at the construction site of our new nuclear power station Hinkley Point C. It is on schedule and benefitting from the lessons learned at other projects. Nuclear is a proven technology. Our eight existing nuclear power stations already prevent around 20m tonnes of carbon emissions each year. It can support the future expansion of renewables as it is nearly always available and reduces the costly effects of intermittency. If we aim for ‘net zero’ its contribution will become even more valuable. Sweden and France both cut their emissions rapidly by using nuclear. By contrast, Germany’s decision to close its reactors has left it having to rely on coal and it is struggling to meet its greenhouse gas targets. We know that in the UK, the cost of nuclear has to come down. As the CCC points out, the way to achieve that is through replication and using lower cost financing. That’s why we are working on proposals to build a near-replica of Hinkley Point C at Sizewell in Suffolk. If Sizewell C goes ahead in 2021, we can maximise the savings by transferring the staff and skills quickly from one project to another. The debate about energy is too often polarised, pitting one technology against another. The energy mix which will take us towards ‘net zero’ at lowest cost is one which includes renewables and nuclear as part of an integrated mix. Both are vital if we want to accelerate our response to the climate crisis.
Politics Home 3rd May 2019 read more »
The impossible fantasy of carbon-free nuclear power. So how does the UK Committee on Climate Change characterize nuclear‘s carbon contribution in its path-breaking report this week? I have gone through the text for the mentions of nuclear. They are collected together below in the order they appear.
David Lowry’s Blog 4th May 2019 read more »