Many governments in the Western world have committed to “net zero” emissions of carbon in the near future. The US and UK both say they will deliver by 2050. It’s widely believed that wind and solar power can achieve this. This belief has led the US and British governments, among others, to promote and heavily subsidise wind and solar.
These plans have a single, fatal flaw: they are reliant on the pipe-dream that there is some affordable way to store surplus electricity at scale.
In the real world a wind farm’s output often drops below 10 per cent of its rated “capacity” for days at a time. Solar power disappears completely every night and drops by 50 per cent or more during cloudy days. “Capacity” being a largely meaningless figure for a wind or solar plant, about 3000 megawatts (MW) of wind and solar capacity is needed to replace a 1000 MW conventional power station in terms of energy over time: and in fact, as we shall see, the conventional power station or something very like it will still be needed frequently once the wind and solar are online.
SOUTHEND Council has ruled out ever signing up to a 15-minute city scheme which restricts residents’ ability to travel freely across the city.
Councils across the country are signing up to a net zero 2030 scheme and some are including plans for 15-minute cities where residents have everything they need within a 15-minute walk, cycle of public transport ride.
We are nearing a turning point for democratic support for environmentalism. Gordon Brown’s 2008 Climate Change Act legislated to slash CO2 emissions by 80 per cent by 2050, a seismic shift pushed through with little debate but much superficial public approval. Theresa May strengthened this to 100 per cent by 2050, the “net zero” target; again, the public liked the sound of this, if not of Mrs May. China will continue to increase its emissions by more than we cut ours, but our entire ruling class has signed up to this iron-clad legal framework, with no dissent tolerated.
Key messages in this report
• Behaviour change is essential for achieving climate and environment goals, and for delivering wider benefits.
• The Government’s current approach to enabling behaviour change to meet climate and environment goals is inadequate to meet the scale of the challenge.
• The public want clear leadership on the areas of behaviour change they should prioritise, and they want the Government to lead a coordinated approach to help them adapt by making change easier and fairer.
• Priority behaviour change policies are needed in the areas of travel, heating, diet and consumption to enable the public to adopt and use green technologies and products and reduce carbon-intensive consumption.
• There is a need for greater leadership and coordination across Government departments and with wider society on behaviour change for climate and environmental goals.
• The Government needs to provide a positive vision and clear narrative on how the public can help achieve climate and environment goals, and to lead by example.
• Information is not enough to change behaviour; the Government needs to play a stronger role in shaping the environment in which the public acts, through appropriately sequenced measures including regulation, taxation and development of infrastructure.
• Fairness is key to effective behaviour change.
• Businesses have a critical role to play in enabling behaviour change through increasing the affordability and availability of greener products and services, and engaging customers and employees.
• Government should also support and celebrate civil society organisations, faith communities and local authorities delivering local behaviour change projects.
• Government should learn from examples of where it has effectively enabled behaviour change, including during the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as from past failures.
While transport and buildings are the major drivers for emissions in cities, the share of individual emissions is significant.
Personal carbon allowance programs have had limited success due to a lack of awareness and fair mechanism for tracking emissions.
Yet there have been major developments in recent years that could help realise “My Carbon” initiatives.
Smart meters will reportedly undergo a massive change and automatically send suppliers updates every 30 minutes on customers’ power use starting from May, the Telegraph has revealed. In May, energy regulator Ofgem will be given the green light to change the way smart meters work, possibly paving the way for “time of use” tariffs.
This could see customers charged different rates for energy throughout the day depending on demand, industry experts have claimed.
Such a system could see households pay more to use electricity at peak times, however, energy bosses have insisted the move will be optional for customers and even stated it will save money.
The collaboration between a major UK broadcaster and the Nudge Unit to promote one of the most controversial policies today is deeply alarming. The report, The Power of TV: Nudging Viewers to Decarbonise their Lifestyles, jointly published by BIT and Sky, shows little regard for the obligation imposed on broadcasters by Ofcom’s Broadcasting Code to maintain “due impartiality” across all their output, particularly when it comes to news and current affairs. It also neglects the requirement that broadcasters expose viewers to a wide range of different views when it comes to “matters of major political and industrial controversy and major matters relating to current public policy”.
A government research paper recommending people “shift dietary habits” towards plant-based foods has been hastily deleted.
The paper focuses on changing public behaviour to hit climate targets and also suggests promoting domestic tourism and portraying business travel as an “immoral indulgence”.
…In a chapter in the deleted document titled “Applications to Net Zero Policy”, under the subheading “Diet Changes”, researchers recommend following the example of the sugar levy with a tax on producers or retailers of “high-carbon foods” to incentivise “reformulation and diversification” towards more plant-based and local food types.
A blueprint to change public behaviour to cut carbon emissions, which includes levies on high-carbon food and a reduction in frequent flying, was published alongside the government’s net zero strategy on Tuesday, before being withdrawn within a few hours.
“For instance, even with public criticism being high, many still perceived government approval as the yardstick for safe behaviour during COVID-19 ‘we’re allowed to do this now [so must be safe]…’. This reveals, for many, a deep set reverence for legitimate government authority, regardless of one’s personal political views.”Net Zero: principles for successful behaviour change initiatives, p.24
This research looks at UK and OECD government-led behaviour change initiatives over the last 70 years. It identifies 9 principles that can be applied to encourage the behaviour change needed to achieve Net Zero.
The research was carried out by the Behavioural Insights Team (BIT). It was commissioned by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS).
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The International Energy Agency (IEA) published a special report last week, setting out its proposals for achieving ‘Net Zero’ carbon emissions. One of its headline demands is that gas-fired domestic boilers should no longer be sold after 2025. This echoes one of the main policies in the UK government’s Net Zero plan. This is no coincidence. National governments, including the UK, draw all of their climate policies from faceless global agencies like the IEA (as well as domestic quangos like the Climate Change Committee). This process leaves out one important constituency: the public.