2011 January

Climate change agreements revisited


Latest thinking by the energy and climate department (DECC) over climate change agreements (CCAs) smacks of blue-sky thinking. It has floated ideas not only to reform but even potentially to scrap the instruments. The government should be careful before reinventing this particular wheel.

Last December, DECC organised a closed workshop including representatives of sectors covered by CCAs to discuss their future. It released a report on the meeting last week.

There is general consensus that CCAs need reform. The voluntary agreements to cut emissions now signed with 52 industry sectors have various shortcomings. These include difficulties with monitoring and benchmarking of progress and an uneasy mixture of absolute and relative targets in different agreements. (more…)


Secret policemen can’t protect big carbon


In the Easter of 2009, the state appeared to have landed a crushing blow on Britain’s motley crew of direct action climate campaigners. A late night police raid rounded up more than 100 of them, allegedly preventing them shutting down one of the country’s largest coal-fired power stations, Eon’s Ratcliffe-on-Soar.

But today, after one court case with very lenient sentences (and the judge lionising the campaigners), another case abandoned by the prosecution, and the unmasking of undercover police officer Mark Kennedy, it is looking more like a devastating own goal.

Much of the media commentary on Mr Kennedy, who spent seven years pretending to be a direct action campaigner, has tut-tutted about police over-reaction. Millions of taxpayers’ pounds have been wasted by the National Public Order Intelligence Unit, penetrating (even in the physical sense, apparently) a bunch of tree huggers, treating them as if they were dangerous terrorists.

There are several aspects of this police operation which are questionable, not least the line between effective intelligence gathering and becoming an agent provocateur. But surely the state does have a duty to try to prevent the invasion and closure of huge power stations or the runways of major airports. (more…)

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