Environment & Energy Blogs

We should be preparing for a Russian gas shut-off

We should be preparing for a Russian gas shut-off

Over the weekend, long-held policy positions fell like dominoes in Berlin. Having already blocked his country’s Nord Stream 2 pipeline from Russia, Olaf Scholz committed to two new Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) shipping terminals and a review of Germany’s anti-nuclear power policy. He is decoupling his economy from Russian gas.

For Levelling Up to succeed a green industrial policy is needed: this requires the right sort of government intervention

For Levelling Up to succeed a green industrial policy is needed: this requires the right sort of government intervention

In the eyes of many, 2021 was an extraordinary year for environmental politics. Within hours of becoming president, Joe Biden announced that the U.S. would be re-joining the Paris agreement. Meanwhile, in Glasgow, a twelve-day summit on climate change was wound up with promises on all sides, including a commitment to phase-down the use of coal. Globally, these events took place against a backdrop of record-breaking fires, heatwaves and floods.

What does the Levelling Up White Paper mean for Energy and Environment policy?

What does the Levelling Up White Paper mean for Energy and Environment policy?

The Secretary of State’s foreword to the Levelling Up White Paper starts by praising the redevelopment of Teesside under the guidance of Mayor Ben Houchen. Central to Houchen’s strategy is to revitalise Teesside’s manufacturing industry with new factories building offshore wind turbines, new carbon capture projects, and new hydrogen technologies.

More trees in cities will make us healthier, happier and more resilient

More trees in cities will make us healthier, happier and more resilient

Edward O. Wilson, the famous naturalist who wrote Sociobiology: The New Synthesis, died on Boxing Day at the age of 92. Recognised as an influential if controversial ecologist and the world’s leading expert on the behaviour of ants, Wilson was among the first biologists to argue that human beings have an innate tendency to focus on life and lifelike processes. The object of this reflection was summarised by a single word, “biophilia”, which served as the title of Wilson’s 1986 book.

“Electric petrol stations” are important, but don’t forget “slow” chargepoints.

“Electric petrol stations” are important, but don’t forget “slow” chargepoints.

Last week (Thursday 13th January), a new electric vehicle charging hub opened in London, replacing an existing petrol station. Ultra-rapid charging hubs like this will be extremely important to support EV drivers who need to charge up quickly on the move.

However, the Government must not overlook the role of “slow” chargepoints (circa 5kW). These chargepoints take several hours to an electric vehicle (EV), but can be installed cheaply in homes and businesses, often without requiring expensive new electricity cables or digging up roads.

Five options to reduce energy bills

Five options to reduce energy bills

Energy policy is back on the front pages, with stories about rising energy bills, energy suppliers going bust, and concerns over security of supply, with the UK’s electricity grid appearing to creak even before demand ramps up during the winter.

It’s a formidable in-tray for new Energy Minister Greg Hands, who will benefit from working alongside BEIS Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng, a former Energy Minister himself.

Is Net Zero a “dangerous trap”?

Is Net Zero a “dangerous trap”?

Voices in the environment sector have long fired criticisms at Net Zero, the Government’s target for eradicating emissions by the middle of this century. Last year, Greta Thunberg argued that the world should ‘forget’ Net Zero, and an article recently posted by The Conversation argued it is a “dangerous trap”. However, the opposite is true; Net Zero is a practical and a political victory for the decarbonisation agenda, not a dangerous trap worth forgetting.

Good moves in the Government’s Trees Action Plan

Good moves in the Government’s Trees Action Plan

The Government’s tree strategy for England arrived this week, setting out a range of welcome measures designed to meet its manifesto promise of 30,000 hectares of new trees per year by the end of the Parliament. That’s about three times the current rate and it’s a tall order. Compared to places like France and Germany, which have tree cover upwards of 30%, the UK has a paltry 13%.

Fight over grants for EVs shows that climate policies need an endgame.

Fight over grants for EVs shows that climate policies need an endgame.

Last month the Government announced a surprise cut to the grants available for buyers of new electric vehicles (EVs) and restricted eligibility to only the cheapest models.[1] The cut is the Government’s response to the growing popularity and falling prices of EVs, which threatens to blow the budget of the UK’s grant programme. The design of the grant programme sets up the Government to fail – to be seen as the climate Scrooge in the same year it hosts COP26, constantly intervening to cut support for EVs just as more drivers look to take the plunge.

Will history repeat itself on negative emissions?

Will history repeat itself on negative emissions?

Negative emissions are piquing the interest of the Government, as shown in its recent  announcement of innovation funding for new negative emission technologies (NETs). However, policies based on grants and innovation funding are short-term options – they act as the spark to get the kindling going, but the fire requires continuous government support until the flame catches.

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