This briefing, published by Green Alliance, summarises a four-year research project for Lancaster University.
With the IPCC’s latest report showing the urgent need for action on climate change, attention has turned once again to that tricky issue of ‘political will’. In the words of Christiana Figueres, previously head of the UN’s climate body, there is “an acute need for speed, radical collaboration, and more visionary political leadership”.
But what do the politicians themselves think? What does the deceptively simple phrase ‘political will’ mean to elected representatives, who are called on to act?
This is a question I have been studying since 2014, in a collaborative research project with Lancaster University and Green Alliance. » Continue Reading.
Suddenly, it seems, I’m part of the establishment. Last weekend, the Sunday Times business pages announced the “death of the power dinosaurs”, arguing that the very existence of the big energy supply companies is now in doubt. The old model, where consumers simply bought units of electricity and gas and then paid the bill, is on its way out. As the Sunday Times put it, “Centrica is the new Kodak”. Instead, there are now opportunities for people to generate their own renewable heat and power; manage demand through smart meters; trade with their neighbours; charge electric vehicles; and store » Continue Reading.
Scientists are clear that urgent action is needed on climate. At the Paris Summit in 2015, world leaders agreed to limit rises in global temperatures. And yet climate change barely troubles domestic politics. Since then, I’ve interviewed over 20 members of the UK parliament, and one message has emerged with striking clarity: the electorate are not asking their representatives to act. In the words of one of my interviewees, “Voters don’t ask about it. We go out and knock on doors, and we speak to people, and I don’t know if I’ve ever been asked about climate change, ever.”
This » Continue Reading.
I’m in a café in the House of Commons, talking to a newly-elected MP about climate change. He’s under no illusions about likely impacts. He points out that where we’re sitting, beside the River Thames, could be under water in decades to come. He calls climate change ‘catastrophic’, and looks for every opportunity he can to raise the issue. But his commitment has come at a price: speaking out on climate is, he tells me, a ‘career-limiting move’.
It’s easy to get frustrated with politicians. We know the consequences of not acting on climate change. We know what needs to » Continue Reading.
As the need to cut carbon becomes more urgent, we are seeing more attention paid to technologies offering ways to remove greenhouse gases from the atmosphere. At the risk of acronym overload, proposals include bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) and direct air capture (DAC). Most climate modelling which predicts how the goals of the Paris Agreement can be reached now includes these technologies, as this Nature paper explains. The UK’s Research Councils have just funded a set of projects exploring the feasibility of greenhouse gas removal technologies.
Sounds great – after all, we need to do » Continue Reading.
My first encounter with the New Economics Foundation was over twenty years ago. A nervous new graduate, I came for an interview to be NEF’s office manager. I’d never worked in an office, or managed anything, but I had long admired NEF, so I somehow blagged my way in. I had a great chat with them about the state of the world, but unsurprisingly, they chose someone who, er, knew how to manage an office. (Incidentally, on the subject of rejection, have a look at this brilliant blog by Nick Hopwood. It would do us all good to » Continue Reading.