Letters Richard Black, director, Energy & Climate Intelligence Unit Dominic Lawson says a target of zero carbon emissions will result in industry fleeing the country. The same was said when parliament passed the Climate Change Act 2008. Since then the UK has slashed carbon emissions by almost a third while the economy has grown; employment stands at record levels; and energy bills have grown smaller. Achieving a net-zero economy will not be straightforward. But the evidence shows it is achievable, affordable and popular.
John MacMillan, Lawson is wrong to suggest that measures to reduce the use of fossil fuels are economically disastrous. Technology has already made huge cuts in emissions with innovations such as LED bulbs, combi boilers, heat pumps and fuel-efficient engines. More is coming. In Canada and Scotland new battery prototypes raise the prospect of ironing out the fluctuations in solar and wind that make these unreliable energy sources. The effect will be to reduce our bills as well as cut emissions.
David Lowry Lawson asserts that “there is no practicable zero-carbon future without full-on investment in nuclear power”. However, recent life-cycle assessments of greenhouse gas emissions from power-generating systems by Professor Mark Jacobson of Stanford indicate that nuclear CO2 emissions are 10 to 18 times greater than those from renewables.
Times 12th May 2019 read more »
There’s no need to sacrifice growth to save the planet. Parliament has trouble agreeing on much, but it has this month declared “a climate emergency”. The Environment Agency warns that entire communities may have to be moved because of flooding and coastal erosion. A report on Thursday from the Institute for Public Policy Research’s Centre for Economic Justice declared that because of “environmental breakdown”, “our current economic model is fundamentally unsustainable”. Is it? Sometimes in this debate a crude lesson is drawn on economic growth and the environment, which is that the only way of saving the planet is by giving up on growth. Not many sensible people say this explicitly, but many activists do, and it is not far below the surface even in some of the heavyweight reports. The IPBES notes a 15% increase in global per capita use of materials since 1980 as one of the factors behind environmental degradation. It is, however, plainly the case that you can have economic growth and do right by the planet. The UK’s expert committee on climate change, in a recent report, noted that there has been a 44% reduction in Britain’s greenhouse gas emissions since 1990, alongside a 75% increase in real gross domestic product. Economic growth and reduced emissions have gone hand in hand. The CCC says: “The UK could receive an industrial boost as it leads the way in low-carbon products and services including electric vehicles, finance and engineering, carbon capture and storage and hydrogen technologies with potential benefits for exports, productivity and jobs.” With some slightly more astute political leadership than we have seen recently, it should also be eminently possible for this to go with the grain of public opinion. Britain can, then, combine economic growth with lower carbon emissions, and with other action to reduce the impact of economic activity on the environment. The bigger challenge is whether this can happen globally, particularly in countries in a different stage of economic and industrial development from Britain.
Times 12th May 2019 read more »