Wednesday, August 29, 2007

LibDems save planet, or not

It looks as if there may is some quite bold and interesting stuff in Zero Carbon Britain: taking a global lead, a document put out yesterday by the Liberal Democrats (whose standing in the polls appears to be declining fast).

I haven't read it in full yet. Among things I will want to understand better are:

1. the implications of paragraph 2.1.5, which says:
In the short term, Liberal Democrats would seek to develop a post-2012 framework that allows different countries to participate according to their national circumstances through a ‘multi-stage’ approach. Each country would work towards the 2°C pathway, but the stringency of their commitments will depend on their economic, developmental and environmental circumstances. Industrialised country emissions would be allocated on a per capita basis, whereas developing countries will take on emission limitation targets or intensity targets or no commitments at all, depending on their level of development.
How do they know what the "2°C pathway" is and are they sure it is the right thing to look at (in the light of uncertainty around, e.g., tipping points?). [see footnote A]

If there still is a credible case for saying that there is such a thing as a "2°C pathway", can it be achieved without., e.g., a reduction in Chinese emissions in the "short term", and if so how?

2. the implications of paragraph 2.1.6, which says:
In the medium term, Liberal Democrats would seek an equitable allocation between countries of carbon emissions, with rights to emit allocated on a per capita basis.
What do they mean by "the medium term?"

Footnote A: See, for example, criticism of the 'naive realism' of this approach from David Stainforth et al as reported by Fred Pearce in New Scientist on 14 August, or my note on the Stainforth paper and its implications in The day after back on 8 July.

[P.S. 30 August: see Is a zero-carbon Britain possible? by Leo Hickman.]

1 comment:

Craig Simmons said...


Policies shared by Green Party & Lib Dems

LD: Reduce UK emissions to zero in longer term. Exceed the government's target of 60% by 2050
GP: Reduce emissions from fossil fuels to 10% of their 1990 levels by 2030.
(GP policy is stronger)

LD: Annual carbon budgets for the UK, with a legal duty on ministers to meet long-term targets.
GP: Annual carbon emissions reduction target of at least 9%, with effective mechanisms for getting back on track if a target is missed.
(GP policy is stronger)

LD: Per-capita emissions allocations to countries
GP: Adopt Contraction & Convergence framework
(similar policies)

LD: Target of 30% renewables (+ other "clean" sources) by 2020, 100% by 2050
GP: Target of 40% renewables by 2020
(GP policy is stronger in the short term)

LD: Reject Nuclear Power
GP: Reject Nuclear Power

LD: Set up a Cabinet Committee on Climate Change & a new Department of Environment, Energy and Transport
GP: Action on climate change will be government-wide, with a specific Cabinet-level post for co-ordinating policy across all departments
(GP policy is stronger)

LD: Reform the EU Emissions Trading System
GP: Reform the EU Emissions Trading System

LD: Carbon taxes, but cut income tax fuelling further carbon emissions
GP: Carbon taxes, balanced by green spending and VAT cuts; do not fuel carbon consumption by income tax cuts

LD: Link Fuel Duty to GDP Growth (?!)
GP: Reintroduce the fuel tax escalator over two years, increasing the price of a litre of petrol by about 20p in the first year. (As a transition to carbon quotas)
(GP policy is stronger)

LD: Development of new low carbon techologies
GP: Widespread investment in renewable energy sources. Divert the subsidies and R&D support currently supplied to the nuclear industry into

LD: Feed in Tariffs
GP: Feed in Tariffs

LD: New incentives for renewable heat technologies
GP: Expand the capital grants scheme for renewables

LD: Introduce "Green Mortgages" for domestic microgen & insulation, paid back through energy bill savings.
GP: Introduce a low-cost loan scheme for individuals and businesses.

LD: Stronger grading of Vehicle Excise Duty
Manditory average vehicle emissions targets leading to zero carbon by 2040
Invest in new rail improvements and extensions, funded by road freight taxes and domestic air flight taxes
GP: Reduce emissions from transport - reference to other policy section

Policies where Green Party & Lib Dems disagree

LD: Require 10% of vehicle fuel to come from renewables by 2015
GP: Remove fuel duty from waste vegetable oil used as bio-diesel, but generally oppose biofuels and biofuel targets.

Policies exclusive to Green Party
* Reference to Peak Oil as a policy driver
* Introduce Carbon Quotas
* Warmer Homes Act to reduce domestic energy demand by 30% within 10 years & insulate entire housing stock
* Smart Energy Councils: aiming for 45% reduction in harmful emissions by 2020
* Abolish standing charges on fuel bills and structure tarrifs to favour smaller consumers
* Explicit support for wind power, onshore and offshore
* Against the Severn Barrage
* Negotiate an emergency international agreement to stop global deforestation and restore drained peatlands
* Encourage bio-gas from sources such as agricultural and sewage waste
* require manufacturers to design out stand-by options on electrical goods