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Entries in Climate: Parliament (571)

Tuesday
May092017

Spirit of inquiry

I've been taking a look at the BEIS committee's report on the effects of Brexit on climate and energy policy, and in particular the section on investor confidence, which struck me as likely to be the most interesting. The section opens thus.

The decision to leave the EU should not distract from the Government’s policies to provide secure and affordable energy supply and to seek ambitious plans to decarbonise our energy system.203

The citation is to the submission from, erm, 38 Degrees. Which does rather make it look as if they are dictating the text. 

Reading on, I find that:

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Mar222016

Oh no! It's DECC!

 

In Parliament yesterday, energy minister Greg Hands explained that DECC is organising a modular nuclear reactor competition for the UK.

Following the announcement made at the Budget, the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) launched the first phase of a competition to identify the best value small modular reactor for the UK on the 17th March. This development builds on a previous announcement, made at Autumn Statement 2015, that DECC would conduct this competition to help pave the way towards building one of the world’s first small modular reactors in the UK.

Surely one of the most important advantages of small modular nuclear reactors is that you can have competition among many suppliers. Different niches, including "best value", can be found from the bottom up.

Why would we want a top-down process to find the best value modular reactor? And surely DECC are the last people on earth who you would want running it?

Tuesday
Mar152016

Virtue-signalling ministers

The problem with the modern politician is that everything important gets brushed aside in favour of mood music and virtue signalling. Witness energy minister Andrea Leadsom, who yesterday decided that an 80% cut in carbon dioxide levels was simply not ambitious enough and that we should put a target of zero emission in law.

Whether this is anything other than mood music or virtue signalling remains to be seen, but of course Ms Leadsom isn't going to be around to deal with the consequences anyway, so it's a win-win situation for her. 

Apart from the fact that a lot of people are going to wonder why, as the country faces a potential energy crisis, she is engaging in this kind of self-indulgence rather than trying to find a resolution. Most will conclude that she is just not very serious about the brief she has been handed.

Thursday
Mar032016

The parliamentary arm of Veolia

When Lord Deben stepped down as chairman of Veolia UK, I did wonder who would take on the role of company "spokesman" in Parliament. Today, Guido reveals that Laurence Robertson, the MP for Tewkesbury, has got himself into trouble for arranging a parliamentary pass for Veolia's PR people. 

How interesting.

Friday
Feb262016

High tide for the shale gas scare?

The Herald (£) is reporting that the Scottish LibDems have seen the writing on the wall and are about to reverse their policy on shale gas developments.

The party today reversed its policy on the issue, having voted in 2013 to back a temporary fracking ban. The decision was taken in light of a 2014 report on the topic, commissioned by the Scottish Government, which concluded that fracking could be carried out safely if robust regulation is in place.

You wonder what they have been thinking about for the last two years.

Given just how wedded the LibDems have been to the green yoke, this looks like a pretty significant development to me. It may have come too late for the guys at Dart, whose jobs were sacrificed to electoral expediency. It's probably also too late too allow Scotland to become the UK centre for shale gas expertise - it looks as though that will be in England. But the tide may be turning.

Monday
Feb152016

Obama and the climate change musical

Republicans in the US House of Representatives are currently trying to get a grip on one small part of the Washington bureaucracy by trying to get the National Science Foundation to concentrate on funding useful science. Lamar Smith, the Texas Congressman who is leading the charge, is firing off shots over NSF's funding for public necessities like a climate change themed musical, an effort that set the taxpayer back some $700,000. He wants standards set in place - things like "increasing the health and welfare of the public".

Reasonable enough? Apparently not. Entirely unembarrassed by their excesses, the bureaucrats and their chums are declaring their outrage. President Obama is even threatening a veto.

They work for you, I'm told.

Monday
Feb082016

Energy policy isn't working

When oil and gas prices were high, DECC used to publish an annual Energy Statement, which included an assessment of the impact of policy measures on prices. 

John Constable notes that now that fossil fuel prices have crashed, DECC has decided that the statement is no longer necessary. It's hard to see this as anything other than an attempt to hide the disastrous impact of the government's approach.

Apparently, in the last assessment it was said that in a "low-price" scenario, policy measures would be increasing prices by up to 77% for some users. Given that fossil fuel prices are far below those assumed in that scenario, that could easily be more than double.

 

Thursday
Jan282016

It pays not to be green

The latest opinion polls seem to show that greenery is slipping right off the political agenda. In fact there may even be a correlation between the direction of a party's poll ratings movement and the strength of its eco-urge.

The Greens and the LibDems are going hand-in-hand over the precipice, while Labour is hanging on by its fingertips. Meanwhile uber-baddies UKIP are on the up, as are the Conservatives, now that they are stepping back from the ecobrink.

Watch and enjoy.

Wednesday
Jan202016

Fifty shades of green

Peter Lilley's speech during the Energy Bill debate in the House of Commons on Monday is well worth a look. This is the text, lightly edited.

Mr Peter Lilley (Hitchin and Harpenden) (Con):

…Wherever we are on the spectrum on global warming, from sceptical to alarmist, we can surely all agree on one thing: that we should try to achieve the targets to which we are committed for reducing CO2 at the least cost to our constituents, - because it is ultimately they who bear it either through their [household] budgets or their jobs. So when the Secretary of State found that subsidies were proving unnecessarily generous to achieve our targets and we were achieving them ahead of time, so that without changing those targets she could reduce those subsidies, I assumed the whole House would be in universal agreement with what she was proposing; even I, for once, was on her side. But it was not so: there were calls from the green lobby and the Opposition to keep subsidies higher than necessary for longer than necessary to achieve the targets to which we are committed.

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Dec162015

The best laid plans of Westminster mice

  Do you remember the grid emergency the other day, when the grid was said to have accepted an offer of £2500 per MWh to supply power to the grid, a slight markup on the normal price of £40?  The Commons Energy and Climate Change Committee reckon there may have been some dodgy dealing going on and they have written to Ofgem asking for an investigation:

 

 The best laid plans o' Westminster mice gang aft into a rent-seeker's paradise. Perhaps it might have been a good idea to maintain higher safety margins on the grid?

Monday
Dec142015

Library manoeuvres

Updated on Dec 14, 2015 by Registered CommenterBishop Hill

The opposition have called a debate on the Cumbria floods tomorrow, and so the House of Commons Library has issued a briefing paper to MPs. There's lot to amuse. For example, I read with interest that:

...there is a general understanding that climate change is likely to be linked to increased winter rain in the UK.

I think it's fair to say that this is complete drivel. As Richard Betts has quite rightly noted, predictions of UK climate are incredibly difficult because of our geographical position. Most commentators also agree that GCMs are useless when it comes to rainfall. So predictions about UK rainfall are almost impossible to take seriously. The "increased winter rain" story is of course derived from the UKCP09 climate projections, which are so wrong they put even Lord Deben in the shade. The idea that there is a "general understanding" of anything based on this farce of a computer simulation is preposterous.

Click to read more ...

Monday
Dec072015

Dieter Helm on "misguided" Huhne, Davey and Miliband

Dieter Helm recently gave a lecture on energy policy at the Institution of Engineering and Technology, discussing the sheer scale of the disaster wrought by Ed Miliband, Chris Huhne and Ed Davey. Here's the blurb.

The falls in oil, gas and coal prices have confounded the peak oil advocates and the predictions of both ever higher prices and price volatility on which much of current energy policy is based.

Wholesale electricity prices are not going up as DECC predicted. They have been going down.

The existing renewables will now need permanent subsidies and nuclear has been adversely affected.

Carbon and energy policies will need to be recast. Disruptive new technologies are further undermining the “winners” politicians have been picking.

The lecture will set out the new key features of the new energy landscape, and the implications for energy policy in the UK and Europe, and the implications for the structure and competitiveness of the energy companies.

It will include recommendations for the reform of EMR, the UK Government's Energy Market policy and the key components of the EU’s Energy Union.

Thursday
Nov262015

A few recent headlines

UK climate diplomats face axe after COP21 Paris summit

UK scraps £1bn carbon capture and storage competition

Spending Review: Support for fracking and green energy, DECC budget slashed

You know that austerity is biting deep and hard when we can no longer afford battallions of climate diplomats to arrange showings of An Inconvenient Truth to the natives.

Tuesday
Nov242015

Security oversight

The Commons Energy and Climate Change Committee is going to be considering security of supply this morning from 10am (they are doing the Green Deal at time of writing). The are going to hear from:

  • Cordi O'Hara, Director, UK System Operator
  • Duncan Burt, Head, Operate the System
  • Ro Quinn, Head, Energy Strategy and Policy, National Grid.

With this latest incarnation of the committee, it's probably best not to hold any great expectations of penetrating questions being delivered.

Thursday
Nov192015

What's in a tax?

One of the most interesting parts of Amber Rudd's speech yesterday was the suggestion that renewables operators must pay for all the extra costs they bring to the system. Most people seem to be concluding that this means some kind of a tax on renewables.

This is all well and good, but the devil is in the details. So when the minister says:

In the same way generators should pay the cost of pollution, we also want intermittent generators to be responsible for the pressures they add to the system when the wind does not blow or the sun does not shine.

Does she mean that the rest of the grid is going to have to pick up the tab for connecting all those hundreds of wind turbines to the grid?

Watch this space.