Category Archives: climate change

The Brexit threat to fighting climate change

In December 2015 in Paris, over 190 countries reached a historical agreement on fighting climate change. The European Union has had an important role in this agreement, and will be crucial to its success. But will the multiple political and economic woes on the continent undermine these efforts? And could the messy “Brexit” debate – and potential outcome – give it a further blow?

There has been major progress on renewable energy in the past few years with prices coming down, and rapid growth of clean technology in many countries. The EU – with its continent-wide renewable energy targets – has played a crucial role. But – if the Paris Agreement is to be honoured – efforts on these policies need to be stepped up, not disrupted.

As Lord Deben, a former UK Tory secretary of state, recently said: “The battle against climate change depends hugely on the ability of Britain to remain within, and be a leader in, the European Union. We’ve only got where we have got on climate change because of the European Union, there would have been no Kyoto Agreement without the European Union, and we do have to recognise that the idea that you can do anything environmentally on your own is just factually untrue.”

The UK will hold the presidency of the EU Council in 2017, which would be a great opportunity to lead on climate change in Europe, pushing for stronger policies to reflect the ambition of the Paris Agreement. But right now, how can Britain even think of doing that, while it has one foot out of the door?

Read the rest of the article on the Wake up Europe website.

Climate finance: Is Britain being taken for a ride?

In the last few days, the press has focused on the UK’s contribution to climate finance, particularly relative to other countries.

Some articles suggest that Britain is paying way beyond its dues: indeed for The Times, we ‘lavish’ money on the poor, and have ‘pledged far more than any other country to international climate funds’.

Under the UN climate convention, rich countries have committed to help poorer ones constrain their carbon emissions and prepare for climate impacts.

Read the rest on the Energy & Climate Intelligence Unit blog.

Q&A with Mary Robinson: what is climate justice

I had the good fortune to interview recently a great leader, a woman that I greatly admire: Mary Robinson, the first female President of Ireland (1990-1997), and a former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (1997-2002). We discussed the work she is doing on climate change justice through the Mary Robinson Foundation – Climate Justice. We touched upon the role of women in climate change, human rights, the role of business and the what to do about the refugee crisis (over a month before much of the English-speaking press finally started to cover it with the depth it deserves).

Read the interview on the Road to Paris and the World Economic Forum blogs.

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

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.

Book Review – The Energy of Nations

It was with a bit of trepidation that I started to read Jeremy Leggett’s most recent book, The Energy of Nations: Risk Blindness and the Road to Renaissance (Routledge, 2013). Last time I read one of Leggett’s books – The Carbon Wars – it had such an impact on me that it contributed heavily to my decision to leave a promising job as a financial journalist to pursue a fascinating but less linear career in climate change policy. Continue reading Book Review – The Energy of Nations