Mindless Renewable Energy Targets

In the almost mindless race to meet the United Kingdom’s emission targets the government has decided to subsidise, at taxpayer’s expense, the generation of electricity in a way which will mean the creation of far more greenhouse gas emissions. Continue reading

The Maple Leaf – a badge of shame

The Kyoto Agreement is not much, in terms of fighting climate change, but it is virtually all that we have that binds nations to emission reductions. Some nations signed up to the accord and never implemented it. Canada is such a nation. The accord required modest reduction in emissions from a 1990 base. Canada’s emissions have actually risen since Kyoto was signed by them, so Canada is now withdrawing from Kyoto to avoid being fined $13.6 billion. It shows the vacuous nature of the Kyoto accord and Canada’s commitment to fighting climate change. Continue reading

Climate Change Policy – the Curate’s Egg

The UK Treasury does not attach enough importance to climate change issues. Joan Walley, a labour MP has argued that by the Chancellor making statements that emissions will not be cut at the expense of British business the Treasury is undermining investor confidence in low carbon industries. Greg Barker talks about the need to review the system to ensure that we are not simply shipping emissions abroad and Mr Cameron wanted this government to be the greenest ever. These statements show the current muddle of British climate change policy. Continue reading

Warmth in a Changing Climate: more thinking required

I have always wondered why a think tank is so named. Is it supposed to be like a military tank, that trundles through battlefields and cities firing shells or a fish tank in which in a special environment sheltered for the protection of the thinkers the thinkers can operate. Perhaps it is a water tank, with thinkers encapsulated inside, shielded, but that cannot be it. Continue reading

The great land grab

The big money may be moving out of stock markets across the world and it may be worried about the security of bank deposits but one thing is sure; it is rushing into investing in land, arable land, around the tropical and sub tropical world. In the past ten years Oxfam reports that 227 million hectares of farm land have been bought or leased by big business and investors. Continue reading

Budgeting for energy prices in 2020

Many people are having difficulty in paying their energy bills. Some estimates by independent sources claim that a quarter of the households are finding it hard to budget for the energy bills, although presumably these households are having problems in paying all their bills in these difficult times. Continue reading

Record Carbon Dioxide Emissions from Energy in 2010

The big news of the month of May came at its very end. The International Energy Agency estimates that carbon dioxide emissions due to energy – heat and electricity – rose to a record level in 2010. In 2009 emissions from these sources fell, due to the financial crisis, but since the recovery emissions are on the rise and were 5% higher than the previous record year in 2008. These are records of shame, recording the first steps of our descent into self destruction. Continue reading

The Green Deal

In two weeks time the UK Government will have completed the finishing touches to the “Green Deal” which will be at the heart of its claim to be the greenest government ever. Frankly there is not a great deal of competition when it comes to being a green government of the United Kingdom; the last labour government was very good at setting up bodies to talk about being green and provide advice, very good at putting targets into legislation but when it came to measures they were rather on the short side. Continue reading

Biofuel Madness

The Nuffield Council on Bioethics is made up, at the last count of 15 professors and four doctors whose talents and knowledge range over many specialities and disciplines. Professors have knowledge and my hope is that the Council’s report will be heeded by policymakers as they have set themselves the task of identifying and defining the ethical questions that are raised by the rapidly advancing field of biological science. Genetic modifications, advanced breeding techniques and synthetic biology (rather a contradiction in terms) are like much of science moving forward more quickly than the ethical understanding of how such advances should be used for the benefit of humanity. It was always the case. We move our knowledge more quickly than our understanding. Wisdom fails in keeping pace with the movement of change. 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