Hard Rain is Going to Fall

As the atmosphere of the planet is warming up, (and there is no doubt that it is warming up) so the air can hold more water vapour. Although we do not understand the processes completely, it is becoming clear that more water vapour in the atmosphere will mean more rain clouds and it seems likely that in certain parts of the world we will be experiencing harder and more violent downpours. Continue reading

Wheelie Bins

All over the developed world there is one thing that you see on almost every street. The thing is instantly recognisable whatever language you speak and spends usually twenty to forty hours a week on pavements. They stand like Daleks and litter the streets. They are the wheelie bin. Continue reading

Aircraft emissions – a little hope on the horizon

Emissions from aircraft and shipping are impossible to control under present international law. They are unregulated and will continue to be unregulated unless an international agreement is signed under which each of the nations of the world agrees to charge an aviation fuel tax and a shipping fuel tax. Negotiations involving over 160 nations have not yet started and there are some many vested interests in these fiercely competitive industries that I cannot be optimistic about aviation and shipping emissions being controlled in the foreseeable future. I hope I am wrong. Continue reading

Sale of English Woodland suspended

The Coalition government of the United Kingdom has decided to abandon its policy of a large scale sale of the forests owned by the government quango, the Forestry Commission.  Many people regard this as good news because access to forests for the public will be secured. I think that there is a more important issue than public access. Continue reading

Environmental litigation Republic of Ecuador -v- Chevron at Lago Agrio

Ecuador has a gross domestic product of around $61 billion in 2010. Ecuador is simply dwarfed by the size of multinational companies like Chevron whose total revenues in 2010 were $200 billion. Between 1972 and 1992 Texaco (now part of Chevron) was active in the small South American republic of Ecuador. Continue reading

Renewable energy: we are still talking the talk but not walking the walk

I attended a seminar in London yesterday that was organised for lawyers and others concerned with the environmental aspects of science, law and policy. It is easy to underestimate how little policy-makers understand about the environment. They resort to a kind of language that is particularly imprecise and a series of concepts which are often as vague as the language.The catch phrases were all there

  • Diversity (in energy applications) is good
  • Green jobs
  • Investor confidence
  • Carbon (when they meant carbon dioxide)

While supporting a concept of diversity with words so far government legislation and tax payers’ money has only properly supported traditional fossil fuels, uranium, wind and PV power. While talking about green jobs many people in green industries have lost their jobs in the past two years. While talking about investor confidence which investors can have confidence about making an investment in a industry which the government lest money flow to, like a child with a tap, turning it on and off.

The three speakers concentrated almost exclusively upon electricity, particularly wind farms. I was struck at how central to policy was wind generated electricity. There was no fundamental commentary upon the limitations of wind power. It is as though the decision to support wind energy has been made and there is no revisiting it, regardless of performance and problems encountered. Government policy is like an oil tanker – very hard to turn and even harder to stop. Continue reading

Waiting for renewables

Mr Greg Barker, the United Kingdom’s climate change minister, is concerned that there is what he calls “a lot of resistance” by householders to fit renewable energy measures. His department proposes incentives to enable householders to do this. The most popular  form of renewable energy, solar water heating, which can be easily retrofitted to most homes and where the home itself will enjoy the savings in terms of money and emissions, will soon benefit from incentives under the renewable heat incentive, the details of which Mr Barker’s department has yet to publish. Continue reading