SDGs marry energy and climate concerns

Those of us who spend most of our working lives sitting at a computer will perhaps find this hard to picture, but nearly one in five people on the planet has no access to electricity. Billions of people can’t take the things that we do for granted: kids doing their homework in the evening, a fridge to store food or medicine, giving birth in a safely and brightly lit room.

In addition, almost three billion people rely on wood, coal, charcoal or animal waste for cooking and heating. Women and young children are exposed daily to indoor air pollution that causes serious diseases – this is among the reasons why millions of children die every year before they get to the age of five.

Read the rest of the blog on the Energy & Climate Intelligence Unit website

Nine things you need to know about the Scottish “Energiewende”

The German Energiewende has been covered ­widely in the international press, with its pros and cons hotly debated (particularly in the ­English-speaking press). Perhaps less known is that Scotland is also undergoing a remarkable energy transition of its own, with growth of renewable energy far in excess of overall UK targets.

Read the rest of the article, originally published in early May on Sun & Wind Energy. 

Is the business sector key to tackling climate change? Q&A with Mark Kenber

Just six months before the United Nations climate talks, business leaders and investors are gathering in Paris for “Climate Week” and a parallel “Business & Climate Summit”. I interviewed Mark Kenber, an economist with 20 years’ experience in climate policy, CEO since 2011 of The Climate Group, which organized Climate Week.

Read the rest on the Road to Paris website.

Can the Pope shift the climate change debate?

Pope Francis is due to issue an “Encyclical” on climate change in June or July this year, ahead of the UN climate talks in December. Will he make history? Some believe that it could influence other faiths, potentially shifting the central focus of the debate from science, technology and economics towards ethical and moral values.

Read the rest on the Road to Paris blog or the World Economic Forum website.

EU-bashing requests for EU to act on migration won’t work

Trying to push for a new EU policy whilst at the same time using the sort of EU-bashing language that creates anti-European sentiment in the first place may work in the short term but it will backfire in the long term. This is particularly true in the UK context (and may be less so in other countries), and British activists need to watch their language.

Last week I was concerned about the language used by Save the Children in their very important campaign, which I support. Today, I have similar concerns about the language used by anti-xenophobia groups, which I also think are doing amazingly good work – particularly the “I’m an immigrant” poster campaign. But precisely because they are so great, they need to watch their language on the EU if they want to have an impact. In particular, they should avoid saying that thousands dying in the Mediterranean are due to something that has been “imposed by the European Union”. This is what they do in a leaflet calling for a demo this weekend in front of the EU offices in London.

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Of course, I don’t mean to say the European Commission is devoid of all responsibilities when it comes to “Fortress Europe” – i.e. the de facto impossibility for migrants to come to Europe from outside other than by risking their lives. Of course not. But it is important to remember that the European Commission does not IMPOSE anything on member states. The idea of things being imposed is classic Europhobic misleading language, and it won’t help the anti-xenophobia cause to adopt it. The Commission makes proposals, generally designed in ways that are perceived to be realistically able to survive the scrutiny of member states and the European Parliament. These are the ultimate decision makers. If the proposals that are being made now by the Commission on migration are woefully inadequate – and it seems they are – it is most likely because there is a fear that many governments in the grip of right wing, xenophobic rhetoric will not be able to support something better.

So I am all for protesting in front of EU offices in London to show the need for EU action, and the European Commission also needs to feel the pressure. But activists may also want to consider a more urgent need to protest in front of the Daily Mail, UKIP and even more mainstream political parties that are using misleading information (including on the EU) and xenophobic language and on a daily basis. This is the real background problem that needs solving, without which no EU level action supported by the UK will ever be possible.