Climate policy

UK and Germany balk at coal exit plea

  • 19 Sep 2014, 16:25
  • Simon Evans

Earlier this week a major global report explained how the world could tackle climate change while growing the economy, at no extra cost.

One of its top recommendations was for rich countries to get out of coal as quickly as possible. It said these countries should immediately promise to stop building new coal plants and to accelerate the closure of old power stations.

That sounds like a pretty simple ask. So are the EU's major coal users like the UK and Germany up for an accelerated coal phase-out? Not exactly, it turns out.

Cut coal for growth and climate

The coal exit plea comes from the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate's New Climate Economy report. The UK government and others set up the commission to investigate whether the global economy could continue to grow while tackling the risks of climate change.

The report finds that most of the emissions cuts required to avoid dangerous warming could be made at no additional cost to the economy, if there is "strong and broad implementation" of its ten point plan. The findings were backed by UK climate secretary Ed Davey.

The report puts special emphasis on reducing coal emissions. Coal is the dirtiest of fossil fuels and is responsible for three-quarters of all power sector emissions despite only providing two-fifths of power. So getting out of coal is an "essential feature" of climate action, the report says, and it is "critical" to limit further coal expansion.


US hints at vision for a new global climate deal

  • 18 Sep 2014, 18:15
  • Mat Hope

UN general secretary Ban Ki-moon has summoned world leaders to a climate summit next week. Cue the international negotiations machine creaking into gear.

At the meeting, countries will be invited to clarify their visions for a new global climate deal, due to be agreed in 2015. To get the ball rolling, some big hitters are already announcing what they see as being the key elements of a new deal.

Last week, the UK released a document outlining its approach. Today, it's the US's turn.

In a  submission to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) which oversees the formal negotiations but isn't involved in the meeting next week, the US clarifies how it thinks a new agreement should work. Here's the key bits.

Uniform contributions

Countries are due to outline what they're willing to do to cut emissions by the end of March next year, known as intended nationally determined contributions (INDCs). The US thinks every country's INDC should at least look the same, even if their level of ambition differs.


Scotland decides: What independence could mean for the country’s climate and energy policies

  • 17 Sep 2014, 14:10
  • Simon Evans & Mat Hope

Scotland's voters are set to decide whether the country will separate from the rest of the UK.

Here's our guide to what independence might mean for the country's climate and energy policies.

Scotland would get the lion's share of North Sea oil and gas tax revenues, but might have to forego some of it to keep the sector going

One of the  largest economic prizes at stake in the referendum is North Sea oil and gas.

The Scottish government says Scotland would have a right to 90 per cent of future North sea oil and gas tax revenues. The UK government says it's more like  73-88 per cent.

The split largely depends on where the maritime border  would be drawn. The final boundary would have to be negotiated between an independent Scotland and the rest of the UK.

Screen Shot 2014-09-08 At 11.52.55Source: HM Government " Scotland analysis: Borders and citizenship"

It also depends on how much oil is worth in future and how much it costs to extract. In 2012/13 an 84 per cent share of North sea tax revenues was worth £5.6 billion. But future revenues are  highly uncertain.