October 2018 Climate News

Here’s a roundup of climate change news from Yorkshire and further afield for the month:

IPCC Report demands “rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented” changes

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) special report on Global Warming of 1.5C provided a timely warning to policy makers on the risks we face if we exceed safe limits of climate change.

The report highlighted the differences in impacts between warming of 1.5C and 2C including significantly lower levels of sea level rise and coral depletion as well as giving people more time to adapt to a changing climate.

The IPCC said that keeping temperature rises within 1.5C (as aspired to in the Paris Agreement) would require “rapid and far-reaching transitions in land, energy, industry, buildings, transport, and cities.” This would mean nearly halving emissions within the next 12 years and achieving net-zero emissions by 2050.

Green investment
Ireland’s first ever Sovereign Green Fund has attracted more than 3 billion euros of investment. The National Treasury Management Agency’s fund will be invested in climate change mitigation and adaptation, clean air and waste water treatment with nearly a quarter of investment coming from the UK. Ireland is only one of 4 EU countries to have issued such funds (France, Belgium and Poland being the others.

 

Divestment

Scottish Power has sold its four remaining gas-fired power stations to Yorkshire-based Drax in a bid to release capital for investment in renewables. The gas-fired power stations are in Kent, Hertfordshire, Sussex and Lancashire.

The deal has been welcomed by climate campaigners as it marks a signal that major utilities are looking to move away from fossil fuels.

Energy Mix

Q3 of 2018 saw the lowest ever share of fossil fuel generated electricity into the power sector, according to EnAppSys GB Electricity Market Summary.

The quarterly summary showed fossil fuels generating only 41% of Great Britain’s power (down from 74% in Q3 2010). The primary driver for this was the increased level of renewable power generation (which has tripled over the same period).

The report also showed coal-fired generation at only 6% (down from 60% five years ago).

Meanwhile, the Telegraph reported a potential thaw in the government’s stance towards onshore wind which could lead to more projects being successful in a very challenging planning policy arena. However, the revised National Planning Policy Framework, published in July, still retains a high benchmark for projects to cross.

Low Carbon transition

The Institute for Public Policy Research’s (IPPR) report, “Risk or Reward”, on the transition to a low carbon economy challenges the government to increase its policy ambition in order to support a just transition.

The report balances the risks of the loss of up to 28000 jobs in the high carbon sector in the north of England against the rewards, potential creation of 46000 low carbon jobs and identifies that the skills system is currently insufficiently resourced to provide training for the new roles increasing the risk that low carbon investment will move elsewhere in Europe.

A further report from the Crown Estate Scotland and the Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult identified the potential for floating offshore wind energy to generate an additional 10GW of renewable energy by 2050 supporting 17000 UK jobs.

Is the Government budget fit for the climate?

At the end of October, Philip Hammond gave his Budget speech to Parliament in which he failed to mention climate change.

Here’s a closer analysis of the budget document itself:

  • Fuel duty and air passenger duty frozen for another year;
  • Announced the biggest ever roads investment package with a £28bn National Roads Fund established using revenue from vehicle excise duty;
  • Carbon price support frozen for another year with plans to reduce this if the EUETS price remains ‘high’;
  • A new Carbon Emissions Tax to be introduced in the event of a ‘no-deal’ Brexit to fill the gap left by the UK exit from the EUETS;
  • Enhanced Capital Allowances for electric vehicle charging points extended until 2023;
  • A new National Infrastructure Commission study into resilience including the impact of climate change;
  • An extra £13m investment in flood risk management;