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

A Road Map Leading Nowhere

Today the European Commission explain its policy (these days called a road map) on reducing emissions. The target is to reduce emissions by 20% (compared with 1990 level of emissions) and many people will be disappointed that the target has not been raised to 30%, or at least 25%, claiming that it will not cost significantly more to reduce emissions by the extra 5% or 10%. The road map leads nowhere. Continue reading

Save our forests

When the Romans first set foot in England they found a country that was virtually covered in trees. Apart from marshlands, which were subsequently drained, and grassy chalk down lands, forests were the prime feature of the English countryside. Today if you travel from London to the north along the M1 motorway it can be hard to imagine that great forests covered the countryside that you see today. By the time the Normans landed in 1066 the forest were still the predominant feature of the landscape. They were so large that outlaws could hide in them. The forests of England were deciduous woodlands, mainly oak. Continue reading

The Renewable Heat Incentive and clean and dirty renewables

The Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) is a critical environmental measure. Heat for homes, businesses commerce and industry produces about half of the United Kingdom’s building emissions. There have been a number of measures concerning electricity, but heat was left on the back burner by the last Labour government and the present administration has by the Prime Minister, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change and the Minister in charge of the RHI, Mr Greg Barker, all promised that the Renewable Heat Incentive should be in place by 10th June. Continue reading

The United Kingdom’s lost decade on climate change

“The last 10 years have been a lost decade for renewables. Labour’s tragic legacy is that we are 25th out of 27 EU member states on renewables. We have been playing as amateurs when we should have been in the Premiership.”

Mr Huhne, Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change made this comments in response to a Report by the Committee of Public Accounts which criticised the United Kingdom’s record on Climate Change measures. Mr Huhne simply speaks the truth; in the past decade the United Kingdom’s climate change ambition has not matched its measures. Continue reading

Certification of biofuels and biomass

I have written a number of times about the problems with biofuels and biomass. Most governments seem to accept that these are “renewable” fuels and because of that associate them with low carbon fuels. They fail to understand that not all the carbon dioxide is taken up with new growth and in some cases, like ethanol made from corn, the net carbon dioxide emissions are higher than those created by burning oil. For that reason I have classified biofuels and biomass as “dirty” renewables.

The message is beginning to sink in. The European Union is now encouraging (but not mandating) member states to set up certification programs for biofuels, including wood and wood chip. I do not know yet how the certification system would work – no one does – but we can only hope that the standards would be stringent and genuinely address the problems that certain biofuels create, by banning them, or at least withdrawing all energy subsidies for them. Continue reading

A stitch in time saves nine; the cost of climate change adaptation

Imagine eating in an expensive restaurant. The food and wine is very good and you and your party have eaten and drunk far more than you need, and in some cases far more than you enjoyed. You are sipping your final drinks but the waiter is about to present the bill. You were not careful about what you consumed and imagined that you could afford to pay it. The bill comes, and it is far more money than you imagined. It is even more money than you have.

That is the position of the world today with climate change; Continue reading