The UK government has announced today that its fourth carbon budget – which sets emission reduction targets in the mid 2020s – will remain unchanged despite pressure to the weaken the measures.
The UK has in place a number of targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, building towards the ultimate aim of an 80% cut from 1990 levels by 2050.
The budgets were set by the legally binding Climate Change Act, but the government does hold the power to review and alter the targets.
The fourth budget, which covers the period from 2023 to 2027, had been up for review earlier this year and the outcome had been expected this summer.
Finally, energy secretary, Ed Davey confirmed this morning that the government would commit to the fourth budget.
“Having conducted a detailed review, it is clear that the evidence does not support amending the budget,” he said in a written statement.
“Today’s decision cements the UK’s place as a global leader in combating climate change, which will allow us to play a central role in delivering a global deal to combat climate change at the end of 2015,” he added.
This is apparently despite the best efforts of chancellor George Osborne, who tried to weaken the measures, according to media reports.
The Financial Times says that Osborne feared the budget would threaten his plans to develop 40 new gas-fired power stations over the next 15 years.
In effect, Osborne’s defeat means the UK must cut national emissions by 50% from 1990 levels by 2025. It should also give confidence to investors that renewable energy and energy efficiency projects are a safe bet for the future.
Since its confirmation, the news has been widely welcomed by business groups, industry bodies and campaigners.
“This decision puts independent expertise and long-term thinking ahead of the possible lure of political point scoring,” said Nina Skorupska, chief executive of the Renewable Energy Association.
“Across renewable power, heating and transport fuels, investors need certainty that when it comes to the low carbon economy, the government is in it for the long-term,” she added.
Nicola Walker, director for business environment at CBI, the UK’s leading business lobby, added, “It’s sensible to maintain the Fourth Carbon Budget at this point.”
In the months running up to today’s long-awaited announcement, investors, business leaders and even government advisors had urged ministers not to alter the crucial targets.
In November, the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) – set up by the Climate Change Act to advise the government – ruled there would be “no legal or economic basis” for changing the fourth budget.
In fact, a more recent study suggested the strict regulations imposed by the budget could benefit the UK economy, by creating opportunities in the sustainability sector.
The UK is expected to meet its second carbon budget, which covers 2013 to 2017, largely thanks to the decline in economic activity caused by the recession.
However, experts warn significant investment and effective policies will be needed to reach future targets.
Commenting on today’s announcement, David Nussbaum, chief executive of WWF-UK, said, “Looking ahead, we need the next government – of whatever political complexion – to ensure policies are in place to attract the significant investment in low-carbon infrastructure needed in the coming decade to meet the emission cuts set out in the budget.
“All parties must make this a priority in their general election manifestos.”
Photo: thewritingzone via Flickr
7 New Technologies That Could Radically Change Our Energy Consumption
Most of our focus on technological development to lessen our environmental impact has been focused on cleaner, more efficient methods of generating electricity. The cost of solar energy production, for example, is slated to fall more than 75 percent between 2010 and 2020.
This is a massive step forward, and it’s good that engineers and researchers are working for even more advancements in this area. But what about technologies that reduce the amount of energy we demand in the first place?
Though it doesn’t get as much attention in the press, we’re making tremendous progress in this area, too.
New Technologies to Watch
These are some of the top emerging technologies that have the power to reduce our energy demands:
- Self-driving cars. Self-driving cars are still in development, but they’re already being hailed as potential ways to eliminate a number of problems on the road, including the epidemic of distracted driving ironically driven by other new technologies. However, even autonomous vehicle proponents often miss the tremendous energy savings that self-driving cars could have on the world. With a fleet of autonomous vehicles at our beck and call, consumers will spend less time driving themselves and more time carpooling, dramatically reducing overall fuel consumption once it’s fully adopted.
- Magnetocaloric tech. The magnetocaloric effect isn’t exactly new—it was actually discovered in 1881—but it’s only recently being studied and applied to commercial appliances. Essentially, this technology relies on changing magnetic fields to produce a cooling effect, which could be used in refrigerators and air conditioners to significantly reduce the amount of electricity required.
- New types of insulation. Insulation is the best asset we have to keep our homes thermoregulated; they keep cold or warm air in (depending on the season) and keep warm or cold air out (again, depending on the season). New insulation technology has the power to improve this efficiency many times over, decreasing our need for heating and cooling entirely. For example, some new automated sealing technologies can seal gaps between 0.5 inches wide and the width of a human hair.
- Better lights. Fluorescent bulbs were a dramatic improvement over incandescent bulbs, and LEDs were a dramatic improvement over fluorescent bulbs—but the improvements may not end there. Scientists are currently researching even better types of light bulbs, and more efficient applications of LEDs while they’re at it.
- Better heat pumps. Heat pumps are built to transfer heat from one location to another, and can be used to efficiently manage temperatures—keeping homes warm while requiring less energy expenditure. For example, some heat pumps are built for residential heating and cooling, while others are being used to make more efficient appliances, like dryers.
- The internet of things. The internet of things and “smart” devices is another development that can significantly reduce our energy demands. For example, “smart” windows may be able to respond dynamically to changing light conditions to heat or cool the house more efficiently, and “smart” refrigerators may be able to respond dynamically to new conditions. There are several reasons for this improvement. First, smart devices automate things, so it’s easier to control your energy consumption. Second, they track your consumption patterns, so it’s easier to conceptualize your impact. Third, they’re often designed with efficiency in mind from the beginning, reducing energy demands, even without the high-tech interfaces.
- Machine learning. Machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) technologies have the power to improve almost every other item on this list. By studying consumer patterns and recommending new strategies, or automatically controlling certain features, machine learning algorithms have the power to fundamentally change how we use energy in our homes and businesses.
Making the Investment
All technologies need time, money, and consumer acceptance to be developed. Fortunately, a growing number of consumers are becoming enthusiastic about finding new ways to reduce their energy consumption and overall environmental impact. As long as we keep making the investment, our tools to create cleaner energy and demand less energy in the first place should have a massive positive effect on our environment—and even our daily lives.
Responsible Energy Investments Could Solve Retirement Funding Crisis
Retiring baby-boomers are facing a retirement cliff, at the same time as mother nature unleashes her fury with devastating storms tied to the impact of global warming. There could be a unique solution to the challenges associated with climate change – investments in clean energy from retirement funds.
Financial savings play a very important role in everyone’s life and one must start planning for it as soon as possible. It’s shocking how quickly seniors can burn through their nest egg – leaving many wondering, “How long your retirement savings will last?”
Let’s take a closer look at how seniors can take baby steps on the path to retiring with dignity, while helping to clean up our environment.
Tip #1: Focus & Determination
Like in other work, it is very important to focus and be determined. If retirement is around the corner, then make sure to start putting some money away for retirement. No one can ever achieve anything without dedication and focus – whether it’s saving the planet, or saving for retirement.
Tip #2: Minimize Spending
One of the most important things that you need to do is to minimize your expenditures. Reducing consumption is good for the planet too!
Tip #3: Visualize Your Goal
You can achieve more if you have a clearly defined goal in life. This about how your money can be used to better the planet – imagine cleaner air, water and a healthier environment to leave to your grandchildren.
Investing in Clean Energy
One of the hottest and most popular industries for investment today is the energy market – the trading of energy commodities. Clean energy commodities are traded alongside dirty energy supplies. You might be surprised to learn that clean energy is becoming much more competitive.
With green biz becoming more popular, it is quickly becoming a powerful tool for diversified retirement investing.
The Future of Green Biz
As far as the future is concerned, energy businesses are going to continue getting bigger and better. There are many leading energy companies in the market that already have very high stock prices, yet people are continuing to investing in them.
Green initiatives are impacting every industry. Go Green campaigns are a PR staple of every modern brand. For the energy-sector in the US, solar energy investments are considered to be the most accessible form of clean energy investment. Though investing in any energy business comes with some risks, the demand for energy isn’t going anywhere.
In conclusion, if you want to start saving for your retirement, then clean energy stocks and commodity trading are some of the best options for wallets and the planet. Investing in clean energy products, like solar power, is a more long-term investment. It’s quite stable and comes with a significant profit margin. And it’s amazing for the planet!