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Let’s have more green advertisements like this one

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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.

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Give Green Deal customers a choice on how they repay

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Andrew Warren, director of the Association for the Conservation of Energy, blogs for endsreport.com 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…)

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

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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…)

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Amber light for the Green Investment Bank

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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…)

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Fallout and climate policy

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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…)

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Conflicting objectives

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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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Climate change agreements revisited

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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…)

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Secret policemen can’t protect big carbon

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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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Talk is cheap – but so is energy efficiency

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The last time energy efficiency was a high profile issue was during the notorious oil shocks of the 1970s and the three-day week. But here we are again.

This time round, the ‘trinity’ of rising energy costs, supply concerns and climate change policies is providing a new imperative that will be harder to ignore or forget.

The new ENDS special report on energy efficiency shows how far a wide range of both large and medium sized companies have gone on their energy efficiency journey – and how they are reaping rewards in lower energy bills and greater competitiveness.

As the report explains, there is still a huge amount to be done. (more…)

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Good intentions, wrong kind of cuts

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The phrase ‘greenest government ever’ has become a mantra for the Coalition, not least for David Cameron and energy and climate secretary Chris Huhne. And we are assured that at the heart of the vision is Britain’s commitment to a low carbon future.

Emissions should be cut by at least 34% by 2020 relative to 1990. Low-carbon businesses and technologies should help drive the UK out of recession and towards green growth.

We will see whether these ambitions translate into reality or get lost in a fog of fiscal expediency when the government publishes its spending review in less than a week’s time. (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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