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Professor John Urry
22nd March 2016
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I am deeply saddened that my Lancaster University colleague, PhD supervisor and friend John Urry died on Friday 18 March.

 

I have known and admired John for many years, so when, in 2013, I began to think about a return to university life, I knew he’d be the right person to speak to. I was hesitant; he was characteristically enthusiastic. With his unstinting support, we got planning. The result was a collaborative research project which, like so much of John’s work, is a creative blend of theory and activism. In our many discussions since then, John wore his » Continue Reading.

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The Trouble with Targets: Climate policy and the Climate Change Act
13th January 2016
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Yesterday, the Prime Minister was directly asked the question that we’ve all been waiting for. Is the UK’s domestic climate policy compatible with the Climate Change Act, and the new Paris Agreement?

Government policy on carbon reduction has come under heavy fire from, well, just about everyone. The CBI, Al Gore, the Committee on Climate Change and many others have criticised recent decisions, including drastic reductions in Feed-in Tariffs, cancellation of funding for carbon capture, and privatisation of the Green Investment Bank, saying that they add up to a significant weakening of support for the low-carbon economy.

Yet » Continue Reading.

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Why fund the politics?
22nd December 2015
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The Environmental Funders’ Network do a brilliant job of convening charitable trusts that provide support for green projects of one sort or another. When they asked me to write for their new blog, it was really interesting to reflect on the whole question of where their money could be spent. This is what I thought…. lots more interesting views on green funding on their blog.

A few years ago, I sat down to dinner with a group of enthusiastic young parliamentary candidates standing in the the 2010 election. In the company of climate scientists, policy experts and senior politicians, » Continue Reading.

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Is the Paris agreement a success? Emphatically yes, a little bit no, and a dose of ‘it depends’
13th December 2015
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Six years after the failure of the climate negotiations at Copenhagen, agreement has at last been reached in Paris. Can we call this success? Weighing up the outcome, the outcome is emphatically yes, but in some senses no, and in large part it depends – on how the agreement is received, and what happens next.

The success is clear and undeniable. After years of tortuous negotiations, it’s truly remarkable that one hundred and ninety-five countries have agreed a common framework for action on climate, and that each has agreed to take action. This alone makes the Paris deal historic and » Continue Reading.

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From Cumbria to Paris: When climate change gets personal
7th December 2015
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I write this in the aftermath of Storm Desmond, which battered my home town of Kendal this weekend. I am lucky to live up a hill, and over the weekend, our house filled with flood refugees. We hunkered down to watch films as the wind howled outside. Today, a sizeable portion of my town is still under water. Schools are closed, which my kids obviously think is brilliant. But across the county of Cumbria, the devastation is truly terrible. It is only this morning, as the waters subside, that the extent of the damage to homes, livelihoods, transport and infrastructure » Continue Reading.

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Can we forget about energy?
18th November 2015
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Amber Rudd’s speech today was nothing if not politically shrewd. A phase-out of coal-fired generation is very welcome news; the backtracking on renewables has been announced in several waves over the last few months, and is no surprise at all. So reaction to Rudd’s announcement has been surprisingly positive.

But yet again, we’re playing the technology game. Coal v gas v renewables v nuclear. It’s all about kit, and not about people. In fact, Rudd emphasised this, by saying straight out that “energy policy shouldn’t be noticed”. We should be able to go about our daily lives without so much as a » Continue Reading.

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The real value of people power: New research project with the British Academy
22nd October 2015
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With renewables policy in a state of flux (I think that’s the polite way of putting it) it’s really important to make the case for community-based initiatives, which offer much more than megawatts – contributing to local regeneration, social cohesion and engagement in climate change. So I’m really pleased to be working with the British Academy on a project which really gets under the skin of these projects. Working with colleagues Pete Capener, of Bath and West Community Energy, and Neil Simcock at Lancaster University, we’ll be delving into the all-important cultural factors which influence these projects, and seeing what the » Continue Reading.

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Working with Lancaster University and Green Alliance: Understanding political responses to climate change
8th October 2015
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This month marks the beginning of my collaborative research project with Lancaster University and Green Alliance.

How often have you heard the lament amongst environmentalists, “what’s lacking is political will”? If only politicians understood enough, and cared enough, to confront and act on environmental issues like climate change, the argument goes, they could implement the solutions (green the economy, fine the polluters) and lead the transition to a sustainable society.

But is it as simple as that? What is this elusive quality, ‘political will’? Put another way, what is it that motivates politicians to take action on climate change, and » Continue Reading.

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Energy Mentoring: Lessons for Government
13th July 2015
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I’ve written before about the fantastic Energy Mentoring Project that I’ve been working on with Co-operatives UK.

 

One of the things we built into the project from the start was a report-back function, whereby we help the community energy pioneers talk to government about how policy could help the sector achieve its potential. (Imagine if all projects supporting social entrepreneurs had a properly resourced talk-to-government-about-your-experience element to them. It would be a brilliant antidote to corporate lobbying.)

 

So to help with this, over the past couple of months I’ve talked to our brave energy pioneers about » Continue Reading.

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Peer Mentoring for community energy: So, has it worked?
2nd July 2015
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I blogged a little while ago about the Peer Mentoring Scheme for community energy projects that I helped to design, and which has been run brilliantly by Petra Morris at Co-operatives UK. Over the past few months, I’ve spoken in detail to the projects who have received support from the scheme, as well as the mentors who’ve offered their support, both moral and technical. The results of these conversations, and other outcomes from the scheme, are now summarised in this pretty (and mercifully short) publication that Petra put together. Let me know what you think.