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…)
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…)
On Friday, the Committee on Climate Change was supposed to advise the government on how tightly it should cap carbon emissions under the Carbon Reduction Commitment (CRC) Energy Efficiency Scheme when full cap-and-trade is introduced in 2013.
Energy policy in the UK is at a crossroads, and the decisions made now will reverberate for decades. At least 43 gigawatts of new electrical generation capacity, equivalent to half of Britain’s current total, will be needed by 2020, as all but one of its nuclear plants are retired and coal-fired power stations closed to meet EU air pollution standards.
A staggering £200bn of investment will be needed not only to maintain energy security against price spikes as North Sea resources dwindle and energy imports grow, but also to deliver the largest single contribution to a low-carbon economy. (more…)
The latest inter-sessional climate talks at Bonn revealed just how much the future of global climate and energy action still hangs by a thread – and a badly frayed one at that.
Until now, the international offset market has limped along despite the looming threat of a gap between the first Kyoto Protocol commitment period, which ends in 2012, and the beginning of a new global agreement. There had been signs of a recovery in momentum at the June talks in Bonn (ENDS Report July 2010), with progress on rationalising negotiating texts. (more…)
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