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Tag Archives: climate change

Delivering the goods – clean energy policy

By Dave Elliott

‘Delivering Energy Law and Policy in the EU and the US’, edited by Raphael J. Heffron, Gavin F. M. Little and published by Edinburgh University Press, is a compilation of short chapters from a very wide range of academics that reviews the state of play in the energy policy field in the West. As the editors note, one issue that emerges is the slow progress in relation to the adoption of new cleaner, greener energy options, which they say ‘encourages incumbents and in essence maintains their status’.  The reviews in this book look at what has been done so far and at what could be done to move things on in the future, via new policies and legislation.

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BREXIT impacts and implications

By Dave Elliott

The overall context for UK energy policy and the prospects for renewables have taken something of a hit following the narrow referendum vote to leave the EU, with the climate for new investment looking uncertain. In what may become a familiar pattern, leading German engineering company Siemens has put new wind power investment plans in the UK on hold, and more may follow if the economy continues to falter. It certainly looks grim: www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/jun/28/leave-vote-makes-uks-transition-to-clean-energy-harder-say-experts  and http://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-britain-eu-renewables-idUKKCN0ZH4CZ

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Climate action and birds

By Dave Elliott

“There is no habitat that benefits from coal pollution”, says David Roberts, commenting on an article in New Yorker last year by Jonathan Franzen, who was worried that, in the rush to deal with climate change by using renewables, local impacts on birds would get ignored, given the argument that global climate change due to fossil fuel use would hurt them much more than wind farms or whatever: http://grist.org/living/jonathan-franzen-is-confused-about-climate-change-but-then-lots-of-people-are/
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Reactions to climate uncertainty

By Dave Elliott

Renewable energy has benefited from concerns about climate change. But in some countries there are doubts about whether climate impacts will be severe and in some there are no significant climate policies. Contrarian views may be in a minority in most places, but much has been made of the apparent slowdown in average global temperature rises in recent years. Indeed some sceptics claim that this refutes all the climate models, with some pointing to a 17-year or more period when the running average did not indicate a rise. So it’s claimed we don’t need to rush ahead with renewables. (more…)

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Ditch climate arguments: they won’t help nuclear revive

By Dave Elliott

Steve Kidd, one time leading nuclear lobbyist with the World Nuclear Association, has had a rethink and left the WNA. In an article in Nuclear Engineering International he says ‘we have seen no nuclear renaissance’ and he outlines his new view- which is that the nuclear industry is in trouble and should stop using climate change arguments in its lobbying. (more…)

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Capacity Market – the first UK auction

By Dave Elliott

In a fully free-market energy supply system there is no direct commercial incentive for generation companies to ensure that the lights stay on long term, by investing in new and/or backup capacity. Given that some old plants are scheduled for closure and more reliance on sometimes variable renewables is planned, the UK government has stepped in to create a new ‘capacity market’ to try to fill the potential gap in terms of reserve capacity and grid balancing capacity. (more…)

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Urban form, public transit and climate change


by Felix Creutzig

Most inhabitants of Hong Kong commute with the subway system, but those living in Houston, US, commute by car. Of course, it is a question of which transport mode is available. Clearly, a dense city like Hong Kong enables the construction of a subway system that is financially viable: many people use it and ridership is high. In contrast, a subway system for the Houston metropolitan area would be pointless, as each ride would be rarely frequented. This has important implications for the GHG emissions from the transport sector.

Felix Creutzig, group leader at the Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change in Berlin, has investigated this relationship in a paper just published in Urban Climate. “The results clarify the interaction between population density, modal share and GHG emissions from urban transport,” says Creutzig. “In a transition from a very sprawled city to a city of medium density, all GHG savings come from shorter distance traveled. However, when you cross a certain density threshold, possibly 50persons per hectare, the additional climate mitigation comes from a modal shift from car to public transit and cycling.”

The density of German cities mostly support public transit. “But as an important implication of the research results,” says Creutzig, “additional suburban development should focus on high public transit and bicycle connectivity, supported by sufficiently compact development.”

The study relies on both analytical methods from urban economics and data from world cities. As such, the paper is part of a broader research agenda that aims to utilize urban economics for questions of climate change mitigation, gauging models with real data.

The study can be downloaded on  the journal website of Urban Climate.

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Facts and fiction

By Dave Elliott

Is the truth out there? An extended Xmas Whimsy

It’s usual for there to be a spread of viewpoints on most issues, and it’s always worth looking at a range views, including ‘outlier’ ones! On that, this is fun: www.xonitek.com/press-room/company-news/the-stone-age-didnt-end-because-they-ran-out-of-stones/

However at times you can get weary of obsessive time wasters and yearn for clarity! Sadly that may not be easy to achieve.

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A world of trouble

A World of Troubles

by Dave Elliott

With the typhoon disaster in the Philippines, Japan’s cut back on its climate targets and Australia abandoning its climate policy, the latest gathering of the Conference of Parties of the UN Framework Convention of Climate Change in Poland last October was a rather gloomy affair. The Fifth report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change had reinforced a key message from the basic science- it was now 95 % certain that climate change was caused by human activities, up from 90% previously. And the results were likely to be serious. The United Nations Environment Programme then issued a warning that if countries failed to take immediate steps to cut greenhouse gas emissions, the global temperature will be significantly more likely to rise above 2˚C.

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Kilpisjärvi: disturbing the plants

By Liz Kalaugher

Reindeer in front of Saana

A reindeer helps survey landscape heterogeneity.

It’s not just humans and animals who can affect plants – Earth system processes, whether caused by water, frost, snow or wind, do too. Miska Luoto of the University of Helsinki showed me some of these in action when he assessed topography and disturbance at some of the team’s independent transect sites near the fells of Korkea (High) Jehkas and Iso (Big) Jehkas, where the vegetation had already been surveyed.

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