Climate policy

Government holds first capacity market auction

  • 16 Dec 2014, 09:45
  • Mat Hope

Companies will today bid for government subsidies to ensure power plants are available at the flick of a switch, as part of the new capacity market. The market is designed to ensure the lights always stay on, even when demand is high and the weather means renewables aren't generating electricity.

Under the scheme, power providers are paid to be available when the National Grid needs them. But it's not yet clear which power stations will be included in the scheme. That's important, as it will determine how much coal, gas, or oil gets burned for power generation, and what the impact on the UK's emissions will be.

The capacity market's first auction begins this morning. We explain how the market works, and how it fits with the government's wider energy and climate change policy goals.

Making a market

Even though  electricity demand is gradually reducing, the UK's peak demand isn't shrinking much, and is set to remain at around 53 gigawatts.

The UK has lots of old coal, gas and nuclear power plants. As they age, they get more prone to breaking, so if the power companies don't want to invest millions in upgrading them they usually shut them down.


Good COP, bad COP: Winners and losers at the Lima climate conference

  • 15 Dec 2014, 12:24
  • Mat Hope

Representatives of 190 countries agreed the  Lima Call for Climate Action early on Sunday morning, recommitting countries to preventing temperatures rising by more than two degrees above pre-industrial levels.

None hailed the deal as a triumph, and no single actor came away feeling totally satisfied with what went on over the last two weeks, or what looks set to come over the next year. But there were small victories smattered throughout the text.

We review  the deal, and identify Lima's winners and losers.

Climate finance

Good COP for developed countries nervous about their short-term economic recovery.

Countries including the EU, US, and even Australia collectively  pledged a little over $10 billion to the UN's newest climate fund in run-up to the Lima negotiations. During the talks, it became clear that this is the limit of what they're willing to give, for now, as their economies struggle to recover from the recession.

Economists suggest that spending money to help developing countries pursue lower carbon development paths and become more resilient to climate change is a wise investment. They say that sacrificing  a fraction of one per cent of global GDP now could save the global economy trillions in the decades to come.

Bad COP for the Like-Minded Developing Countries (LMDC) bloc demanding financing assurances.

The LMDC group is made up of 26 developing nations. They made it clear  going into the negotiations that they wanted countries to ramp up their contributions to the UN's  multiple climate funds, and give greater assurances that such financing would be delivered.

Countries like Bangladesh argued that funds to help them adapt to climate change were  their "right" rather than a demand. But despite the strong language, the world's largest emitters wouldn't promise anything new.

Developing countries made it clear they wouldn't agree to more transparent financing processes, showing how the funds were spent, until new money was on the table. In the end, the Lima agreement settled for the worst of both worlds: less transparency and less funding.

GCF BKM meeting lima.jpg
Executives of the UN's Green Climate Fund meet secretary-general Ban Ki-moon at the Lima conference. Credit:  UN Photo



Briefing: Lima Call for Climate Action lays out policy options for new global deal

  • 14 Dec 2014, 12:00
  • Mat Hope

  • Lima Call for Climate Action outlines main aspects of a new global climate deal.
  • Keeps goal of limiting global warming to less than two degrees.
  • Contains reference to ensuring the world has net-zero emissions by 2050.
  • Doesn't clarify if a new deal will be legally binding.
  • Doesn't give countries the power to alter other country commitments
  • Doesn't offer new assurances on the flow of climate finance.
  • Leaves all options on the table regarding compensation for countries worst hit by climate change.

Hundreds of country negotiating teams have been meeting in Lima, Peru over the past two weeks for the latest round of international climate negotiations. The talks concluded in the early hours of Sunday morning with the meeting's chairs unveiling a 43 page document that lays the foundations for a new global climate deal.

The  Lima Call for Climate Action attempts to resolve some of the pressing issues ahead of a meeting in Paris in December 2015 that should agree a deal.

It appears to commit all countries to making emissions cuts, and reiterates the need to limit global temperature rise to less than two degrees celsius.

But the Lima agreement leaves the most controversial issues to be dealt with at a later date. As a consequence, some campaigners have branded the text weak and ineffectual.

We've analysed an  unedited version of the Lima text to explore what it may mean for a new global deal. This text appears to agree with the final agreed text, but we will update this briefing as required.