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
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.
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.
Since the first establishment of the scientific evidence for climate change, there has been a political focus on reducing GHG emissions to mitigate the problem. Increasingly however the realisation has come that the world is already committed to some level of climate change, which leads to the imperative of understanding climate change impacts and planning adaptation strategies to these impacts. The pathways along which governments pass in gathering scientific evidence and negotiating mitigation treaties is tortuous and riddled with potholes. Continue reading
Starting in Paris on 30 November 2015, COP21 is tasked to set the world on a path to
address the greatest challenge to ever face humankind, by adopting a new climate agreement.
The Paris agreement is expected to bring states out of the impasse that has long affected international climate governance. Eversince the adoption of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in 1992, states have attempted to agree on measures to stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent ‘dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system.’ The international scientific body entrusted to assess climate change, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), has indicated that such a level entails keeping below a 2° C increase in global annual average temperature compared with pre-industrial times.
Keeping the buzz on – interdisciplinary reflection on the protection of bees The controversial path: the prohibition of neonicotinoids
In 1994, French beekeepers started to blow the whistle on the abnormal behaviour and disappearance of their bee colonies foraging on sunflowers and maize. Quickly, beekeepers considered “Gaucho”, a new neonicotinoid authorised the same year for the treatment of sunflower and maize seeds, as the prime suspect.
Were these two events linked by a causal relation or purely coincidental? Neonicotinoids are chemicals which attack the nervous system of all insects, and thus can have a lethal impact on bees. They were nonetheless authorised, under the condition that they are not to be used over a dose previously identified by the industry, and accepted by the regulator, as being non-lethal for bees. However, french beekeepers observations questioned the scientific grounds of this decision. Was the non-lethal dose correctly identified? Furthermore, do neonicotinoid insecticides have chronic sub-lethal effects on bees which were not foreseen when they were authorised?