Monthly Archives: August 2012

 

Mitt Romney speaks during a campaign rally at American Energy Corporation  in Beallsville, Ohio

Mitt Romney speaks during a campaign rally at American Energy Corporation in Beallsville, Ohio

The Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney published last week his plan for Energy Independence for the US by 2020.  Critics immediately dismissed the plan as unachievable. But while parts of it certainly look unlikely, many of the proposals could be delivered and by including Canada and Mexico in the calculation, Romney has made “independence” technically possible.   The real challenge, however, is the mindset and beliefs revealed by the plan and its implications for the rest of the world. Read more

The world energy market now revolves around China. So does the climate change debate and any attempt to reduce emissions. According to the latest figures from the BP Statistical Review, the growth in China’s energy consumption last year amounted to more than the total annual consumption of the UK. Then there is a corporate dimension to China’s growing role in the global energy market. The Chinese are using their current economic strength to buy into European energy companies. How should Europe respond to all this? Read more

Although we hear a great deal about national energy policies it is important to remember that this is a global sector. Prices are set internationally. So are patterns of investment and developments in technology. Emissions and climate change are international issues.  National policies can protect, subsidise or tax different elements of energy production and consumption – but they are essentially local responses to external, global developments.

I think it is therefore worth looking at what is shaping the global market. It would be silly to reduce a complex system to a single answer but what stands out at the moment and for the foreseeable future is the absolutely critical role of China. Read more

Thanks to those who have commented on the post on adaptation to climate change – or at least thanks to most of them.

Just to be clear, I don’t see adaptation as an alternative to emissions reductions but as an essential part of a twin track strategy.  We need both.  As I said, I can’t see emissions being kept low enough to avoid the risk of an increase of around 2 degree C.  That isn’t a statement of what is desirable, but a judgment of the current political reality.  I hope I’m wrong, but watching what is happening in the US in particular, I am not optimistic.  I will write more on the US situation in the run up to the election. Given my lack of optimism I feel that adaptation is an imperative.  But the other track should be pursued as well.  If we don’t limit emissions at all, the risk is that the average temperature change could go well beyond 2 degrees.  Then we really will be in trouble, especially in terms of food production and the fate of low lying territories and their inhabitants. Read more

Wanted.  Permanent Secretary for the UK’s Department of Energy and Climate Change.   Key attributes – a thick skin, a blind eye and the ability to wield a sharp knife.

The speed with which the appointment process has moved since the resignation of Moira Wallace was announced at the unusual hour of 8pm on the evening of July 19th and the direct involvement of Sir Bob Kerslake, the head of the home civil service, are signs of the concern felt at the top end of Whitehall about what is happening in DECC and the way in which the Department has lost its way.   Putting things right, however, will need something more than a change of personnel. Read more