Running Public Consultation events: Heat and Energy Efficiency Strategies and Regulation of District Heating

Mags Tingey, Dave Hawkey, Ruth Bush and Jan Webb – Heat and the City Team researchers (University of Edinburgh), give their views on the Consultation on Heat & Energy Efficiency Strategies, and Regulation of District Heating.

We’ve been researching sustainable heat and local energy systems in Europe for eight years. As social science researchers, we strive to develop an objective view point, using evidence to inform our statements. Our data is derived from expert interviews, social surveys, ethnography and documentary analysis; hence we work closely with practitioners from across Scotland and the UK, as well as Denmark and Germany. Over the years, this has helped us gain a relatively well informed understanding on peoples’ thinking in the sector.

But when we were asked by Scottish Government to facilitate two consultation events around an area of policy so close to our research, we were intrigued to see how energy practitioners from across Scotland would react to these new, and potentially radical, proposals.

Our role in organising the consultation events continues our contribution to developing the proposed policy and regulatory framework. We have been members of the successive working groups and expert commissions which have fed in to the development of Scottish heat policy and the content of the consultation document. We also convened a series of workshops for the Scottish Heat Network Partnership (HNP) Practitioner Group between 2014 and 2016 on behalf of Scottish Government.

The proposals in brief:

The consultation concerned a high level policy scoping document, and sought views on a potential scenario for two related proposals:

  1. Statutory heat and energy efficiency planning at local government area level
  2. Regulation of district heating

Both of these areas would be significant new developments for Scottish Government and Local Authorities.

The proposals build on a number of policy developments, notably, Scotland’s new Energy Strategy – one of the 3 themes is ‘a smarter model of local energy provision’ (Scottish Government 2017). In addition, in 2015 energy efficiency was declared a National Infrastructure Priority in Scotland, the related Scottish Government Heat Policy Statement was published, and Scotland’s Energy Efficiency Programme was announced (Scottish Government, 2015).

In this blog we talk about views on the proposal for a statutory duty to be placed on local authorities to develop local heat and energy efficiency strategies.

Should a statutory duty be placed on Scottish local authorities to develop and implement local heat & energy efficiency strategies?

Some local authorities have already developed sustainable energy action plans for their areas. New statutory plans however, would likely involve more direct participation of Scottish government (for example, in setting out common socio-economic assessment methodologies to be used). The consultation also suggests that such strategies could identify zones within which support for specific low carbon heat technologies would be targeted.

Most consultation participants saw this proposal as something of a natural step for local authorities to be tasked with a role in planning and implementing area-based heat decarbonisation and energy efficiency. Existing climate and housing duties mean most local authorities have already done some relevant work. The Climate Change Act 2009 for instance, places duties of Scottish public bodies to contribute to emissions reduction targets. Local authorities also have a longer history of energy efficiency interventions, dating back at least to the Home Energy Conservation Act in the 1990s. More recently they’ve been involved in delivery of area-based Scottish housing energy efficiency programmes.

Equally Scottish local authorities are responsible for housing strategies, planning, economic development, and many have significant estates.

All of these interact with energy infrastructure and carbon emissions at locality scale, especially in buildings and transport.

Varied views and perspectives on a number of issues

A broad consensus on the value of local heat and energy efficiency strategies was however, accompanied by a variety of views about the details, notably:

  1. The most appropriate scale at which plans should be developed. Should they be produced by every local authority, or at regional scale with local authorities working together? Most participants suggested it would not be the most efficient use of resources to develop one strategy for every one of the 32 local authorities. But no clear consensus emerged around an alternative model. Some looked to regional approaches, while there was also interest in a publicly owned Scottish Energy Company, mooted in the main Energy Strategy consultation document , as a vehicle for developing and implementing strategies. The questions intersect with questions of resourcing, support, skills and expertise which were raised by many.


  1. Balancing heat decarbonisation on the one hand and energy efficiency on the other. Should the eventual policy prioritise integrated local heat and energy efficiency, with both aspects considered together? Or should there be a greater focus on energy efficiency than heat decarbonisation? There were views in support of both approaches.


  1. Some participants identified a conflict between ending fuel poverty and meeting decarbonisation How will both objectives be met when natural gas is calculated to be cheaper than renewable sources of heat but is not lowest carbon?


  1. Other participants focussed on what they identified as a related conflict between developing area based solutions and targeting fuel poverty. Will it prove difficult to link an area based scheme with other domestic (non fuel poor), and non-domestic, buildings in an area based approach?

Overall consensus on the importance of the proposals

Whatever participants’ views on the detail of local strategic planning, it was seen as critical, alongside district heating regulation, to meeting both Scotland’s new energy strategy and climate change targets. Local energy planning and district heating regulation have both been key to development in other European countries including Denmark, Norway and Sweden.

The need for greater public debate

In Scotland public debate on these issues has so far been within distinct cross-sector interest groups.

And whilst there seems to be an emerging consensus on many fundamental points in the consultation across energy, housing and public service practitioners in Scotland, what about civil society? Many communities of practice, and communities of place, (think small business owners, major local employers, local homeowners and renters, students, educators…the list goes on), surely will also need the opportunity to be involved in a public debate?

The potential gains are high – with more affordable and sustainable energy for households, businesses and public sector. In the words of Tom Burns, first Professor of Sociology at Edinburgh University, “It is the business of sociologists to conduct a critical debate with the public about its equipment of social institutions” (Burns’ 1965 Inaugural Lecture Sociological Explanation).

Taking heed of Burns means taking seriously that these discussions go beyond distinct cross-sector interest groups, and that an informed public debate is developed.

Some of the proposals discussed within the consultation represent a significant change from the status quo. How would people feel about local and national governments taking a more proactive role in energy provision and efficiency within buildings?

The draft Climate Change Plan proposes ambitious targets for low carbon heat (by 2032, 80% of domestic heat and 94% of services). Achieving these may involve far more disruption to daily life than the decarbonisation of electricity has so far. Such innovation is likely to require far more extensive public debate to build enduring support for interventions. Local heat and energy efficiency strategies could be a vehicle for that debate if structured appropriately.

Too early in policy development for conclusions

It is difficult to draw conclusions on the eventual form of policy, legislation and regulation. Not only is Scottish Government at a ‘policy scoping’ stage, but there will also be views submitted to the consultation that were not represented at the events we ran.

Further consultations and proposals will address the detail, so if you missed the 18th April deadline, there will be plenty of opportunity to contribute.

Feedback from the events will be published with the Scottish Government response to the consultation.

The consultation in full is available at:

Who’s who?

Professor Jan Webb  served as a member of the Short life Working Group on Regulation of District Heating, technical adviser to the Special Working Group on Regulation, and member of the Expert Commission on District Heating and DH Loan Fund Advisory Panel.

Dr Ruth Bush served as a technical advisor to the Special Working Group on Regulation and is now postdoctoral research fellow evaluating Scotland’s Energy Efficiency pilot Programme.

Dr Dave Hawkey served as facilitator for the Short life Working Group on Regulation of District Heating and co-convenor of the Scottish Heat Network Partnership (HNP) Practitioner Group. He was recently interviewed on You and Yours BBC radio 4 programme about district heating regulation and consumer protection. Listen to the broadcast on 28 April here .

Ms Mags Tingey served as co-convenor of the Scottish Heat Network Partnership (HNP) Practitioner Group.

Our own independent consultation response can be viewed here:

Posted in Energy & Society Network | Leave a comment

Energy systems modelling: models and the real world

By Dr. Chris Dent, School of Mathematics, University of Edinburgh

Introduction by Dr Mark Winskel, University of Edinburgh

Systems modelling has played an important role in the development of the Scottish Government’s draft Climate Change Plan and Energy Strategy, and is seen by the policymakers in Scotland as key enabler of its vision for policy integration. The kind of modelling adopted in Scotland has been used by many national governments, advisory bodies and international agencies in formulating response to energy policy challenges, especially climate change. Despite their widespread use, however, there are some basic analytic and pragmatic concerns, as Dr Chris Dent explores.

This article will discuss key methodological issues in energy systems modelling, with a little help from some well-known experts…

George Box: “All models are wrong, but some are useful”

This is probably the most famous quotation about statistics (which might demonstrate that there is no such thing as a famous quotation about statistics). Box meant by this simply that that no model represents the world perfectly, or provides outputs which are the whole truth about the world – one needs therefore to identify carefully the purposes for which a given model is useful and those for which it is not.

My overall thesis is thus that it is necessary when carrying out an applied modelling study to provide a clear statement about what the model is claimed to tell us regarding the real world, along with a logical argument to support that statement.

Ben Hobbs[1]: “Simple models for insight, complex models for quantification”

This statement, from a prominent researcher on the boundary of energy systems and operational research, summarises well a key issue in quantitative modelling. When it is necessary to take a decision involving a complex real world system, in order for a modelling study to have credibility for decision support, the model must sometimes be correspondingly complex – for instance detail of power generation operation or investment decisions depends on detail of the network as well as on the generation options alone. However, it can then be hard to understand how inputs and modelling assumptions feed through into model outputs.

On the other hand, while it is clearly easier to understand what features of data and assumptions are driving the results of simpler models, one must ensure that insights gained about the model are relevant to the real world rather than only being relevant to the model. This brings to mind the quote attributed (possibly incorrectly[2]) to Einstein that “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler”.

It remains the case, however, that for any model (simple or complex) a key part of making it useful (in Box’s term) is an honest assessment of its capabilities.

Niels Bohr: “Prediction is difficult, especially about the future”

This, to me, leads to several key issues.

  1. The nature of applied modelling. I would argue that any applied modelling study must be aiming to predict some feature of the real world – otherwise how can the study be called applied, or be of any use in supporting decision making? The word ‘predict’ is used here in a very general sense – for instance it might be about understanding at a qualitative level what the key issues are in determining a given real world outcome, or about reconstructing historic events at times or places where observations are not available.
  2. It is also important to recognise the nature of scientific prediction. It is not, in general, sufficient to make point predictions without quantification of uncertainty. There is a very great difference between a point prediction (i.e. the most likely value) of a future observation being 10, and being confident that it will be between 9 and 11 – and on the other hand making a point prediction of 10 but judging that the outcome could be anywhere between 1 and 100. Certainly any decisions based on that central prediction could be very different, depending on which of these quantifications of uncertainty is made.
  3. Issues in quantifying and managing uncertainty are very different on operational and planning timescales. For instance, when operating an engineering system one accrues relevant data for model calibration, or constructing statistics of forecast error, relatively rapidly. On longer planning timescales (where one might be looking years or decades ahead) many more uncertainties enter the picture including imperfect knowledge of system background and technology development, and one accrues relevant historic data much more slowly – indeed for many purposes one might not have directly relevant historic data at all, and then a substantial degree of expert judgment is inevitably required to determine model inputs and quantify uncertainty in real-world predictions.
  4. As a consequence of the uncertain relationship between model outputs and the world, conventional ideas of single optimal solutions do not apply when thinking about the real world on planning timescales – the equivalent is being confident that a policy or decision will perform well in the real world, along with a systematic argument to support this.

Darth Vader: “Don’t be too proud of this technological terror you’ve constructed”

This is a good reminder that as modellers we should take a realistic and honest view of the strengths and weaknesses of our work, and certainly not take an unrealistic salesperson’s perspective. In the original Star Wars film, Tarkin and Motti did not recognise the weaknesses of their Death Star, and the consequences for them were not good.

Specific issues to guard against in presenting one’s own work include justifying an approach as the best available or an industry standard (this does not necessarily mean that it is fit for the purpose at hand), and choosing performance metrics which unduly favour the chosen approach over others.

Juvenal: “Quis custodiet ipsos custodies” (“Who will watch the watchmen?”)

The Roman poet Juvenal probably was not thinking of peer review processes when writing this line in his Satires – but nevertheless this quotation is very apt. The reliability of any peer review process is strongly dependent on how well the reviewers are selected and managed, and on the way in which the authors of a document act upon their comments. In addition, even the most appropriate reviewers will occasionally miss something or otherwise make a mistake.

There are specific causes for concern in circumstances where the authors of a document or study (or their organisation) select the reviewers themselves (and sometimes pay them) – great integrity is then required on the part of all concerned, including willingness on the part of the organisation commissioning the review to regard a correctly negative review as being to their benefit. Another circumstance in which peer review can become unreliable is where a community is quite closed, and does not seek relevant expertise from other communities which have relevant knowledge.

As an individual looking to understand others’ modelling studies, the safe course of action is to take one’s own judgment, rather than trusting entirely the authors or reviewers – of course some authors or forms of publication will be more worthy of trust than others. One must also understand that over time knowledge develops, so what was deemed best practice some years ago might not remain thus.

In order for people to take their own judgment, a sufficient level of detail must be supplied to them by a study’s authors. This can be a serious issue in public policy debates, where sometimes quite limited detail of study methodology is placed in the public domain – it is then very hard for the modelling study to play a proper role in debate, as no one external to the organisation designing the study can critique it, and use of its conclusions by anyone external relies on a very high degree of trust.

Brian Clough[3]: “false confidence” and “true confidence”

This great football manager talked about taking away his players’ false confidence and giving them true confidence based on a proper understanding of their abilities. Unfortunately, many studies at some point implicitly rely on an unsupported assertion that their results can say something meaningful about the world, in which case confidence in their use may be false. True confidence can be gained by having logical arguments about what the study can say regarding the real world, as discussed above.


This article advocates an approach to energy systems modelling which is quite different from much current practice. The key, as noted above, is that where models are used in decision support it is necessary to have logical arguments regarding what the modelling says about the real world.

A key part of this is deciding an appropriate level of detail in a given modelling study. Additional detail is typically added with an aim of learning more about the world, and there may well be a minimal level of detail below which the model cannot say anything about the real system. On the other hand, as the complexity of a model increases, it can become harder to assess what it is saying about the world – for instance quantifying uncertainty in predictions typically requires multiple model runs, with greater complexity implying a need for more runs but also making each run take longer.

This necessary comprehensive analysis of model-real world relationship requires significant additional resource, and may also require quite different expertise from that needed to build a system model. In addition, it is necessary to confront explicitly the subjective judgments involved in determining model structure and model inputs. All this should be thought about right from the start of a modelling study, with the system modelling and uncertainty quantification being designed together, in order to maximise learning about the real world. Thus this analysis is not easy, but carrying it out will mean decisions can be based on the state of knowledge about the world, rather than about the model – and thus that better decisions based on modelling evidence are made.

The author thanks colleagues (H. Du, B. Hobbs, A. Wilson and M. Winskel) who have commented on drafts of this article, and acknowledges discussions with many further colleagues which have helped shape the thinking which it contains. The views expressed are the author’s own, and should not be assumed to represent those of any other person or organisation (including the Galactic Empire).

[1] This is not a direct quote, but rather a combination of ideas expressed by its author.

[2] See for a quite scarily exhaustive investigation of this point.

[3] Similarly to Ben Hobbs, this is not a direct quotation.


Posted in Energy & Society Network | Leave a comment

The analytical and political challenges of integrated energy policy making in Scotland

This is the first blog in the Energy & Society Network’s series responding to the Scottish Government’s Energy Strategy.

 By Dr Mark Winskel, Chancellor’s Research Fellow, School of Social and Political Science, University of Edinburgh.

We are in an intense period of consultation on the Scottish Government’s draft energy strategy, and it’s proving to be a testing time for those academics seeking to offer ‘independent’ advice (both  constructive and critical) to policymakers.

The publication of the draft Energy Strategy and Climate Change Plan mark significant steps in policy formation in Scotland. Even though energy policy is still largely a reserved matter for the UK Government, and energy infrastructures are largely integrated at the GB-scale (socially as well as technically) the Scottish Government has had ambitions for an ‘integrated’ energy policy for some time, working across power, heat, transport and industry. To support this, the Government recently commissioned a whole energy systems model, known as ‘Scottish TIMES’ (TIMES being a widely used model type for energy policy support).

While whole systems energy modelling is a departure for Scotland, it has a long track record in research and policy communities elsewhere. In the UK as a whole, for example, TIMES-type models have been used in research and policy groups for well over a decade, and were instrumental in analytical support for the UK Climate Change Act, through work carried out by the UK Committee on Climate Change (CCC) and the UK Energy Research Centre (UKERC), among others.

The track record of whole systems modelling for policy support is mixed. As the Scottish Government notes in its draft Climate Change Plan, whole systems models are valuable because they force systematic consideration of the most affordable way of meeting policy targets across different sectors. In principle this should promote a more transparent, robust and publicly accountable form of policy making, but the Scottish Government has been criticised by the Scottish Parliament for a lack of transparency and detailed analysis, even compared to earlier versions of its climate plans.

There are two big (and interrelated) problems here – one ‘technical and analytical’ and one ‘policy and political’. TIMES is the standard choice of energy policy support models because it combines breadth (economy-wide) and depth (it includes a detailed set of alternative technical options for meeting energy needs). This means it is also highly complex and difficult to understand, even for those closely involved. (I spent around three years working on a UKERC whole systems research project called ‘Energy 2050’ which used an earlier version of TIMES. Much of that time involved probing the inner-workings of energy system models and understanding the links between input assumptions and pathway outcomes).

The Scottish Government has had only around half that time, from receiving the model from the consultants commissioned to build it, to publishing its draft plan and strategy. It has also faced the additional policy and political challenges of gaining agreement on its plan and strategy across different parts of government and numerous sectoral interests each keen to minimise disruption and maximise benefit, and of reconciling climate policy ambitions with other imperatives (the draft energy strategy’s list of policy drivers are – in order – growth, security, affordability and decarbonisation).

Perhaps as a result the draft policy documents – while they affirm the Scottish Government’s high overall ambition on decarbonisation and low carbon technology deployment – are thin in terms of analytical detail and consideration of uncertainties and alternatives. The Climate Plan offers a single decarbonisation pathway to 2032, while the Energy Strategy wholly avoids integrated pathway analysis, instead highlighting ‘the range of technologies and fuels that will supply our energy needs over the coming decades’ (the focus here on supply-side technical matters is itself a stepping-back from a holistic view).

I wrote elsewhere about some of my more specific concerns about the Climate Change Plan. Here I note some more general challenges for independent researchers in seeking to contribute to energy policy debate and formation in Scotland. (By ‘independent’ here, I mean those of us working in the academic sector, whose research is supported mostly by public money; there are many other interest-groups feeding into the policy process, but as independent academics we have a particular role to consider the range and balance of evidence on difficult policy areas).

I often describe myself as an independent academic, and my main research organisation over the past decade, UKERC, defines itself as a centre for independent research, as does the CCC. Fulfilling that role has become harder recently, as energy policy has become increasingly contested and political consensus weakened in some countries. Offering an independent voice means being prepared to ask difficult questions to policy makers, and testing-out and challenging knowledge claims held by others seeking to influence policy. There is evidence that this challenge role is important for good governance, but alongside confident advocates of solutions it can feel like a pessimist’s version of the future. (Though a recent UK Parliament Committee pointed out the high cost of appraisal optimism in recent energy policymaking).

This all suggests the need to consider the institutional arrangements for research-policy exchange. Effective policy is unlikely to emerge from opaque deals – we need robust exchange and challenge, even on difficult areas. The UK Government currently stands accused of policy opacity, as energy policy seemingly becomes a branch of industrial strategy and clean growth, with a ‘policy gap’ between where an evidence-based energy policy should be and the reality, yet the CCC has proven a largely effective means of independent analysis and advice to government since 2008.

The CCC has a less formal advisory role in Scotland, and there is a lack of strong independent and integrative analytical capacity on energy and climate change in Scotland, despite recent efforts by ClimateXChange, among others. The draft Climate Change Plan suggests setting up a new expert advisory body. Evidence-based whole systems policymaking will always be frustrated by the realities of political and other interests, but as Scottish energy policy and research communities mature, a strengthened independent analytical base will be essential to meet the technical and political challenges ahead.

Posted in Energy & Society Network | Leave a comment

Disruption! Rethink the system

Susan McLaren, Senior Lecturer in Design & Technology, Moray House School of Education, University of Edinburgh and Fleur Ruckley, Project Director,  Scotland’s 2020 Climate Group

Disruption! Rethink the system

circular economy is one where “the goods of today become the resources of tomorrow at yesterday’s prices”. 

Economic Context: Scotland was the first nation to join Circular Economy 100.  In August 2013, Environment Secretary, Richard Lochhead, issued the statement: “Scotland’s economy will benefit from moving to a more circular model of production and consumption. Our Zero Waste Plan is already delivering important actions to make better use of resources, and we can accelerate progress if we join together with others on a global level.” By 2016, the Scottish Government issued Making Things LastA Circular Economy Strategy.

Using a Nature as Teacher where waste=food philosophy, the circular economy rests on three principles, each addressing several of the resource and system challenges. These are becoming increasingly more discussed and adopted, by large scale and SME businesses- aiming to disrupt ‘business as usual’ of the linear economy systems and encourage a rethinking of the status quo.

Continue reading

Posted in Environmental Education, Global Challenges, human-environment relations, impact, Interdiciplinary conversations, learning, moral purpose, research, resources, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Welcome to the Global Environment and Society Academy 2016-2017

Who are we?

The Global Environment and Society Academy (GESA) is a network of experts collaborating to develop innovative solutions for the world’s most challenging problems.Rachel Chisholm Academic Facilitator GESA

Led by Professor Dave Reay and Professor Elizabeth Bomberg GESA operates as one of four University of Edinburgh Academies, including Global Health, Global Justice and Global Development. The Academies were developed to find innovative solutions by bringing together experts from many different academic fields. An interdisciplinary network, we have faculty and student members with teaching responsibilities and research interests in environment and society from across Geosciences, Informatics, Law, Art, Landscape Architecture, Business and Education.

Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Come rain or shine

Catherine Barbour

Online MSc Carbon Management 2015-2016

Brazilians lack the British obsession with weather.  I often start conversations by commenting on how sunny it is, only to remember that every day is sunny in Brasilia.  Talking about water is perhaps the closest equivalent. Most Brazilians have an opinion on the subject – whether about the standing water that breeds zika- and dengue-spreading mosquitoes, regional droughts, or poor sanitation.

The subject hit the international headlines last year when Sao Paulo, a city of 20 million people, nearly ran out of water.  By the end of the dry season in September, the city’s main reservoir was running on dregs, or “volume morto”.  Water pressure was reduced and poor households frequently went hours without supply.  Thankfully, reserves have risen since then and the worst crisis was avoided. A strong El Nino has helped here (though not in southern states and nearby Uruguay and Paraguay, where 150,000 people were displaced by Christmas floods). Experts think Sao Paulo will probably need to use back-up supplies again this year nevertheless.

Blog 2 image 1

Cantareira Reservoir running low in 2015, photo by Evelson de Freitas, Estadão de São Paulo. Continue reading

Posted in Blue growth, carbon, Energy, policy, renewables, water | 1 Comment

Morocco’s path to solar energy

Morocco ratified the Climate Convention in 1996 and was the first African country to host a Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). In 2015, Morocco presented its INDC (Intended Nationally Determined Contribution under UNFCCC), where it is stated that Morocco’s main focus is on the energy sector and that it aims to reduce its GHG emissions by 32 % by 2030 compared to “business as usual” projected emissions, which translates into a projected cumulative reduction of 401 Mt CO2eq over the period 2020-2030. In practice, Morocco’s objective is to reach over 50 % of installed electricity production capacity from renewable sources by 2025.

Continue reading

Posted in Energy, Environmental Economics, Global Challenges, moral purpose, renewables | Leave a comment

What would Brexit mean for efforts to tackle climate change?

By Rick Lyons

Online MSc Carbon Management 2015-2016

If, as according to superstition, wood provides reassurance when touched, then the Climate Change Act 2008 performs the same consoling function when it comes to Brexit and UK climate policy. “We won’t be serious about tackling climate change without the guiding hand of the EU”, people may fret, only to contemplate the solid legal fact of the Act and find their fears subsiding. And yes it’s true that the Act, regardless of EU membership status, commits the country to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by 2050. But however ambitious this seems, the reassurance offered looks less and less solid the longer and harder you look.

For a start, although the 2050 goal seems to lock Britain in long-term, in the global context of achieving net zero emissions some time before 2100, it leaves fifty years unaccounted for. As Charlotte Burns of the University of York points out, one justification for the stringent carbon budgets in the Act was that the UK would be required to meet them anyway under EU law. Out of the EU, and outside its obligations, it follows that carbon legislation for post-2050 may not be so tough. Then there’s the possibility we don’t adhere to the Act in the period to 2050. Even within the EU there are concerns about whether we will meet our carbon budgets. Out of the EU this lack of commitment could transform into something much worse: a watering down of the Act or even, as UKIPand some Tories advocate, repeal. Continue reading

Posted in Brexit, carbon, climate change, climate negotiations, Climate Science, policy, renewables | Leave a comment

‘Brexit’ and Combating Climate Change in Scotland

By Joanna Wright

MSc Carbon Management 2015-2016



The front page of The Economist this week (February 27th-March 4th2016) proclaims “Brexit: Bad for Britain, Europe and the West”. Turn tothe Leader on page 9 and it is argued that not only would Brexit be damaging to the UK’s economy and security, it would also have wider European and global ramifications that “go beyond economics”.  Whilst examples of these wider impacts are given, the article makes no reference to Brexit and climate change.  There is, however, considerable debate, elsewhere.

Carbon Brief is a UK-based website currently tracking the opinions of key players in energy and climate change, in addition to other influential views that reference these topics in relation to the 23rd June vote. As of 27th February 2016, the tracker had twenty entries; four ‘leavers’ and sixteen arguing that Britain should stay in the EU.  Whilst the quotes from leavers focus on the perceived damage to the UK from EU energy policies, if challenged with regard to action on climate change, they may perhaps choose to focus on the fact that (in theory) the Climate Change Act 2008 commits the UK to reducing greenhouse gas emissions irrespective of EU membership status.

Continue reading

Posted in Brexit, climate change, climate negotiations, Climate Science, Environmental Economics, Environmental Ethics, impact, international law, resources, sustainability, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Low Carbon Travel


Claire Hamlett

Claire Hamlett

I woke up several times during the night last night. A few times because of the fluctuations in temperature: the heating couldn’t be turned up or down, so instead was being turned off and on again every once in a while when the carriage got too hot and then when it got too cold. Another time because I drooled on my neck pillow. And a final time when someone stepped on my bare toe with the heel of her shoe.

This is how I spend two nights a month: sprawled in a chair on the sleeper train between London and Edinburgh, part of a longer journey to get me from Nijmegen, the Netherlands, where my husband is a post-doc, to Edinburgh, where I’m doing my PhD. The rest of the trip involves a 3 hour train between Nijmegen and Brussels, changing in Roosendaal, and 2 hours on the Eurostar between Brussels and London. The whole lot takes about 12 hours door to door.

Continue reading

Posted in carbon, moral purpose, resources, sustainability, travel | 1 Comment