Latest Carbon & energy efficiency posts

Let’s have more green advertisements like this one

Sales of all-electric, battery powered cars have got off to a disappointingly slow start, not just in the UK but globally. Perhaps the whimsical and rather brilliant television advertisement which Renault is now running for its new range of ZE (zero emission) electric vehicles will change things. It is clever and funny enough to deserve to.



Shale gas: a little less nonsense, please

The most useful academic subject I ever studied was risk management. This taught me how and why people exaggerate, or underplay, the likelihood of certain things happening.

Through my MSc course, I had the honour of meeting Paul Slovic, author of an iconic 1987 paper on the perception of risk. This stated that true risks can be largely distorted in the mind by ‘dread’ and ‘knowability’.

Dread reflects the degree of personal control and possibility of death or catastrophe now or in the future. A dread risk terrifies us, so we want to see it removed, or at least reduced.

Knowability relates to a risk’s novelty, whether it is understood or can be observed and whether its effects are delayed or unknown to those exposed. Lack of knowability makes people anxious. It is unsettling.



No more hot air – just more wind and gas

Chris Cullen, Sam Taylor and Adam Baddeley of Eunomia Research & Consulting analyse the problems of securing the UK’s future electricity supply

Affordable, secure and clean – these are the objectives for the future of electricity supply in the UK, as stated in July’s white paper on electricity market reform (EMR). The question of what levels of support should be given to each technology type is a relevant one. This should be prefixed, however, by asking what generation mix we need to meet the above policy objectives? Or, perhaps more pertinently, is it even possible that they can all be met?



Give Green Deal customers a choice on how they repay

Andrew Warren, director of the Association for the Conservation of Energy, blogs for on the government’s Green Deal scheme

The government’s forthcoming Green Deal scheme is primarily designed to save energy used for heating and hot water. Households will borrow money to finance major energy saving improvements to their home, then pay the loan back gradually through a charge on their energy bills.

Across Britain, most heating and hot water is provided by natural gas. So why, then, is the government insisting that all Green Deal charges must be placed only on the electricity bill? (more…)


Lord Lawson and the Daily Mail gang up on green energy taxes

The Daily Mail’s recent re-adoption of climate change scepticism has its origins in a lunch between editor Paul Dacre and former Tory chancellor Lord Lawson.

In recent years, the mighty Mail has shown signs of joining the global warming consensus. While it could never be accused of leading the charge for decarbonisation or of being a green crusader, the tabloid’s take on the issue appeared to be that climate change was serious and worth tackling. Even columnist Melanie Phillips had found other subjects to foam about.

All that changed following a talk between Britain’s foremost tabloid editor and a semi-retired big beast politician who has become the UK’s foremost climate change sceptic. The Mail has “put on the war paint” (a Dacre phrase) and is campaigning against what it calls green taxes – the wide and growing range of levies on gas and electricity consumers, which are used to fund energy efficiency measures and the decarbonising of UK electricity supplies.

And it really is a campaign, complete with front page ‘splashes’, opinion leaders and a long comment piece in June by Lord Lawson, who chairs a climate change sceptical thinktank, the  Global Warming Policy Foundation.

Here’s a sample from a Daily Mail leader on 11 July, anticipating the electricity white paper. “With huge doubts surrounding climate change science – experts have just concluded that we are headed for a global temperature drop – ministers must give us a break from green taxation.”

The Mail’s campaign matters, for two reasons. (more…)


Amber light for the Green Investment Bank

The advent of an independent Green Investment Bank will be a major step forward for a government that claims to be the greenest ever. It comes at a time when, hopefully, electricity market reforms (ENDS Report, December 2010) will unleash a £200bn low-carbon energy infrastructure investment programme by 2020. (more…)


Time for mandatory carbon reporting

The environment department (DEFRA) recently published a consultation on proposals to require larger companies to report their carbon emissions.

But speaking at an event in London on 16 May, Sainsbury’s chief executive Justin King said he was against mandatory carbon reporting. He argued that the need for companies to protect their reputations and competition between firms was a more important driver of environmental improvements. (more…)


Fallout and climate policy

It’s no exaggeration to say that the Fukushima nuclear reactor disaster in March has cast a shadow over plans for new nuclear power capacity globally, and it is too early to say whether this will fade with time. But it’s also having much wider indirect consequences which could yet cause a shift in Europe’s energy and climate policy and complicate global climate talks.

Many of the accident’s extreme circumstances were unique to Japan, so there may or may not be lessons to learn in other countries. But, rightly or wrongly, that message is rapidly becoming politically irrelevant amid the understandable trauma. (more…)


CRC: Dead man walking?

Industry lobby groups are calling on the government to kill off the Carbon Reduction Commitment (CRC) Energy Efficiency Scheme.

The recent consultation by the energy and climate department (DECC) on reforming the CRC focuses on ways to keep it intact while simplifying its rules and requirements. Among the myriad options there seems to be a handful of frontrunners.

But in their consultation responses, trade associations including the manufacturers’ organisation EEF, the British Retail Consortium (BRC) and the British Property Federation (BPF) argue the CRC cannot be revived. (more…)


Conflicting objectives

Conventional wisdom among climate policymakers holds to the idea that greenhouse gas mitigation, energy efficiency, and renewable energy targets will combine to deliver the EU’s 20% emissions reduction goal for 2020 relative to 1990, with a higher 30% target still on the table.

But the reality is that there is a long-standing and unresolved tension at the heart of the EU’s 2008 20/20/20 energy and climate package. And the bloc’s roadmap for 2050 (ENDS Report, March 2011), aimed at cutting emissions by at least 80% relative to 1990, has brought matters to a head. It’s not just about whether to go for 30% or a near offer, but about how the three elements work together, or do not.

The European Commission is deeply concerned that a renewed drive for energy efficiency, together with a continuing surge in renewable energy investment across the EU, will undermine carbon price signals in phase III of the EU emissions trading scheme (ETS) from 2013. Already in Germany, the power sector is battling low profitability from its conventional power plants which must now power down inefficiently when renewable electricity is available. These utilities are struggling to find the cash to invest in the vast amount of new low-carbon plant needed to decarbonise its grid, not least in back-up and baseload plants. (more…)

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The ENDS Carbon & Energy Efficiency blog provides news and comment for carbon and energy management professionals in business and the public sector, covering the Carbon Reduction Commitment (CRC) Energy Efficiency Scheme and other carbon and energy management and regulation issues. The blog is part of the ENDS Report Carbon & Energy Efficiency channel.

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