Sixth Carbon Budget hits the statute books

Quite rightly, most major channels are focusing this month on the news the UK will adopt the Sixth Carbon Budget.

EDIE writes that Prime Minister Boris Johnson has agreed to legislate a new target to reduce national emissions by 78% by 2035, including emissions from international shipping and aviation, following the Climate Change Committee’s advice.

EDIE’s key analysis is that a notable inclusion in the Sixth Carbon Budget is the UK’s share of international aviation and shipping emissions. Historically, the Government’s emissions reduction efforts only accounted for emissions on a “territorial” basis and therefore only included those within the UK’s borders, a decision that had drawn criticism from green groups.

“This news points to a growing awareness within Government of how rapidly we need to scale up our efforts on both Net Zero and overarching climate change,” comments Kevin Cox, Managing Director, Energys.

“Mr Johnson says he is ready to make the UK home to pioneering businesses, new technologies and green innovation as we make progress to Net Zero emissions, ‘laying the foundations for decades of economic growth in a way that creates thousands of jobs.’

“I’m delighted to hear this is the case. Let’s get to work now on a new green economics that can truly revolutionise both the UK and Net Zero for better.”

EDIE also points out that replacement boilers will need to be zero carbon in operation by the early 2030s, which makes for some interesting possibilities regarding energy efficient retrofits; especially across the public sector.

Plainly, there is much encouraging work to be done.

Net Zero Financial Futures

CEOs of institutional investment firms and other financial institutions responsible for approximately £4 trillion GBP (over $5 trillion USD) in assets are calling for UK policymakers to support Net Zero financial systems.

Signatories to the call include the CEO of the UK’s largest insurer, Aviva, as well as the CEO of the UK’s largest asset manager, Legal & General.

The E3G independent think tank-backed letter calls on the Prime Minister to aim for the financial sector to become Net Zero, and to support Net Zero financial reform at home and at the G7.

Nick Mabey, Chief Executive of E3G, said: “We won’t be able to achieve Net Zero without Net Zero finance. Investors understand the importance of setting a clear direction of travel. Now is the moment for the Prime Minister to commit to a Net Zero financial system and lead the world to climate safety.”

Intriguingly, E3G Chair Tom Burke also told the BBC that, on UK overarching policy, “The most important thing, I think, is for [the prime minister] to focus his policy around energy efficiency, around wind and solar, and around storage of electricity and the management of the grid.”

“We vastly welcome E3G’s comments on the vital role of energy efficiency, and we equally welcome signals that a new Net Zero financial system could be on the way,” comments Kevin Cox.

“It is impossible to divorce good environmental work from funding and the way capital flows around the world, The City and the UK. Environmental, social and governance criteria have an ever more important role to play in how we deliver low carbon solutions and services at pace.”

Coal, carbon, Covid and energy futures

The Energyst is reporting that closing the UK’s remaining coal-fired power stations has made a bigger dent in national carbon pollution than a year of coronavirus lockdowns, analysis by generation plant manufacturer Wartsila has found.

It appears Britain recorded emissions went down 7.6%, as cumulative power demand dropped 5.4% in the twelve months to 30 March 2021. Within that lower demand, cutting coal-fired power output by over 42% accounted for the bulk of the reduced carbon pollution.

The researchers said the numbers posed intriguing implications for immediate energy futures. “The impact of Covid is like achieving a gold medal while spraining both ankles in the process,” said Tony Meski, senior development analyst at Wartsila Energy.

“We’ve achieved record breaking carbon reductions, but our global economy has been put under intense strain. One year since lockdowns began, we must now focus on a strategic, scientific, and intelligent approach to cutting carbon emissions that enables us to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement while actually benefiting our economy and improving our quality of life.”

And a final word on Covid itself…

Despite its dominance of the global news agenda for the last 12 months and the untold harm the virus has caused, it finally appears there may be hope on the horizon.

Prof Neil Ferguson, an expert on the spread of infectious diseases who sits on the government’s New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (Nervtag), told the BBC new variants emerging posed the biggest risk to the UK’s progress in the pandemic.

“In the worst case scenario, if we have a new variant pop up which does manage to evade the vaccines, say late summer or early autumn, there may be a need to roll back on some of these measures (being eased) at least temporarily until we can boost people’s immunity,” he told the BBC.

“Do I think it’s likely to happen? No, I don’t. I think we are much more likely to be on a steady course now out of this pandemic, at least in this country.”

Prof Ferguson said variants would need to be monitored carefully, but the UK had gone from a terrible situation in January to a remarkably good situation now.

“Let us hope these positive signals continue, for UK energy efficiency, our economy and of course the UK and the world’s people,” comments our MD Kevin Cox.

“It has been an extraordinary 12 months. Let us hope this glimpse towards normality hastens over the summer.”

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