The government has been accused of coming up short with its much-vaunted green recovery plan, as further details on its £12bn low carbon investment package were released yesterday that suggested the new measures would only deliver around half of the CO2 cuts required to hit UK climate targets over the coming decade. Concerns remain that the policies and funding announced by the government this week remain underpowered when set against the rate of decarbonisation required over the coming decade to put the UK on a pathway that is compliant with the Paris Agreement’s 1.5C goal and the UK’s target of achieving net zero emissions by 2050. Political opponents were swift to condemn the plan as inadequate, comparing the government’s £12bn funding package, only around £4bn of which is new, with the €40bn green recovery package announced by the German government this summer.
Business Green 19th Nov 2020 read more »
Boris Johnson’s 10-point plan to slash Britain’s greenhouse gas emissions will not cut them fast enough to meet his target, experts and politicians have claimed. Ministers have known for years that the UK’s progress on cutting carbon was slowing, and fresh policies would be needed to kick-start progress. But Boris Johnson’s plans to roll out hydrogen heating, carbon capture technologies, home insulation, and electric vehicles will go only half the way to closing the “emissions gap” between the UK’s current trajectory and its emissions targets. The Government says the new strategy will shave 180 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (Mt CO2 e) off the UK’s emissions between 2023 and 2032, equal to taking all of today’s cars off the road for around two years. But its own projections say 331 Mt CO2e of emissions savings are needed to put the UK on course to meet its interim climate targets for the same dates. Even more would be needed to get the UK on track for net zero emissions, because those interim targets were set before the UK adopted its net zero emissions goal. Dr Simon Evans, policy editor at the climate website Carbon Brief, was first to spot the shortfall. Although the Government has put in place the “building blocks” of future emissions savings with the plan, it will not cut emissions fast enough in the short term, he said.
iNews 19th Nov 2020 read more »
A quick analysis of the details of the plan suggests that the new measures announced by the prime minister are not ambitious enough to reach the government’s near-term climate goals, or its target of net-zero emissions by 2050. “There’s a gap between the government plans, even with this new set of proposals, and meeting the fourth and fifth carbon budgets, and there’s a second gap between the fourth and fifth carbon budgets and the path we would need to follow to hit net zero,” Dr Simon Evans, deputy editor of the climate change website Carbon Brief, told The Independent. Until now, five carbon budgets have been set in law, spanning the period from 2008 to 2032. The country’s fourth carbon budget was set in 2011 and spans the period 2023 to 2027, while its fifth budget was set in 2016 and cover 2028 to 2032. Analysis by Dr Evans shows that the measures outlined in Mr Johnson’s 10-point plan are unlikely to reduce the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions enough to be in line with the fourth or fifth budgets. The UK’s fifth carbon budget says the UK should limit its greenhouse gas emissions to 1,725 million tonnes of CO2 between 2028 and 2032. This is equivalent to cutting the UK’s annual emissions by 57 per cent over this period, when compared to levels in 1990.
Independent 20th Nov 2020 read more »
After eight months of severe restrictions on our liberties and businesses, the British people are painfully aware of the reality of economic trade-offs. It was therefore bold of the Prime Minister, so soon after news of successful vaccine trials that could end this pandemic, to start rolling the pitch for our next round of sacrifices. Three things about the plan struck me. First, it shows that the Government (if it wasn’t clear already) will engage in significant amounts of central planning to achieve its climate targets. Second, though Boris might not admit it, such green industrial policy, entailing tilting the decks towards more costly technologies, brings inevitable economic inefficiency, which in turn produces higher prices. Finally, perhaps the area where Johnson’s failure to acknowledge trade-offs is clearest relates to bringing forward the ban on the sale of new diesel and petrol cars to 2030. Toyota recently admitted that fully electric vehicles will unlikely be price competitive by then, meaning either yet more subsidies will be needed to encourage wide take-up, or people will use older internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles. What Johnson’s “green industrial revolution” amounts to then is industrial planning that will bring significant near-term economic costs. The investments required in the energy network to incorporate electric vehicle charging will bill into multiple billions of pounds alone. Maybe some of the other bets on technologies will prove prescient. But given the performance of the UK state in dealing with the Covid-19 crisis, you’d have to have blind faith to trust that the Government knows best on efficient decarbonisation. Yes, climate change is real and a difficult challenge. Yet nobody is helped by pretending the transition to a low-carbon economy won’t be painful, just as social distancing has been. And the British people, having endured economic hardship, deserve more candour about the trade-offs than fantasies about “green jobs” and green going “hand-in-hand” with growth.
Telegraph 19th Nov 2020 read more »
Media reaction: Boris Johnson’s ‘10-point’ net-zero plan for climate change. In the lead up to the plan, expectations were running high for a major announcement on nuclear power, after weeks of stories about a “green light” for the Sizewell C plant and Rolls-Royce planning to build up to 16 mini-nuclear plants. In an article published at the start of November, the i newspaper said “Johnson…is expected to commit to building a new nuclear power station at Sizewell in Suffolk”. The Daily Mail’s Ruth Sunderland said new nuclear will “have to be” part of the UK’s energy mix and suggested that Johnson was posed to give approval to the new Sizewell facility, despite opposition “by protesters who say it threatens ecology and wildlife”. The reality was less specific. The plan included a fund of £525m “to help develop large and smaller-scale nuclear plants, and research and develop new advanced modular reactors”, but did not mention a specific project. A government consultation last year concluded that the UK “will…require” new nuclear power to meet its net-zero emissions target. An analysis by environment correspondent Fiona Harvey in the Guardian noted that with proposals for new nuclear in the UK from Sizewell to Wylfa wavering “if the government wishes to expand nuclear power, it will have to prove that it can be economical”.
Carbon Brief 18th Nov 2020 read more »
Despite being the most cost-effective electricity generating technology for the foreseeable future according to the Government’s own forecasts, solar was noticeably absent from the Prime Minister’s announcement, which is largely a repackaging of policies already announced earlier this year. While the Government has yet to make its ambitions for UK solar clear there is lively activity taking place in other parts of the public sector. The City of London has announced a new 15-year Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) with developer Voltalia, which will see a 50MW solar park built in Dorset to supply the City with clean power. STA chief executive Chris Hewett said, “It is disappointing that Number 10 has yet to grasp the opportunity presented by solar in the UK. Not only is it set to be the cheapest power source for years to come, it also provides good jobs and business opportunities up and down the country.
Energyst 19th Nov 2020 read more »
Greenpeace briefing on SMRs and Sizewell. The government has produced no analysis to show that nuclear reactors are essential, despite being asked by select committees to do so. It is making the same strategic mistakes in decision making as the Cameron and May governments did with Hinkley. Being drawn in to commitments they can’t pull out from, by conducting secretive deals behind closed doors with no scrutiny or competition, for the convenience of the nuclear industry.
Nuclear News 19th Nov 2020 read more »
Prime Minister Boris Johnson is not a details man; and he often plays fast-and-loose with the truth. So it should not really come as a surprise that the document he issued in support of his ‘Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution’ contains inaccuracies. I am sure he did not write it himself, so specialist officials who prepared it, have been prepared to write in his happy-go-lucky casual relation with the truth in the text they crafted. The section covering Point 3: Delivering New and Advanced Nuclear Power, is a good exemplar of a perpetuated inaccuracy by nuclear cheerleaders, who rewrite history for modern convenience. In the second paragraph of this section, its states: “The UK was home to the world’s first full-scale civil nuclear power station more than sixty years ago… “ The nuclear plants in question are not named, but sixty years ago there were only four nuclear power reactor plants operating in the UK. Two were experimental reactors in Scotland: the Dounreay Materials Test Reactor (DMTR) that went critical in May 1958; and the Dounreay Fast Reactor (DFR), which achieved criticality on 14 November 1959. The only other two reactors operating were the Chapel Cross Magnox production reactor in Annan, Dumfries and Galloway, in 1959, which did generate electricity, but primarily was used to produce weapons-useable plutonium, and tritium from inserted lithium, to enhance hydrogen nuclear warhead explosions
Dave Lowry’s Blog 19th Nov 2020 read more »