Sunday, 22 November 2009

Climate change to lash Britain with tropical storms

Jonathan Leake Environment Editor

BRITAIN should brace itself for more tropical-style deluges of the kind that wreaked havoc on Cockermouth, according to climate experts.
They warn that, although no single event can be attributed to climate change, the warming of the atmosphere caused by greenhouse gases means such disasters will become more frequent.
“We need to follow the example of tropical cities like Kuala Lumpur and Singapore where flooding is a regular event,” said Roger Falconer, professor of water management at Cardiff University.
“They have huge flood drains and roads, all designed to channel water away from danger areas. Britain must learn to think the same way.”

Such warnings are in line with recent studies into how Britain’s climate may change. They suggest summers will become drier and warmer, but winters will be marked by storms, strong winds and more deluges.
Some fear that is already happening. From the 1960s until the 1990s, floods were a rarity in Britain. It meant that when floods struck across the Midlands in 1998, the country was unprepared.
A subsequent government inquiry led by Peter Bye criticised the Environment Agency, then just two years old, and called on it to set up an early warning system.
That system was tested to the limit when floods struck again in 2000, hitting communities stretching from Sussex to Wales.
A further inquiry found that many of the flooded areas were linked to uncontrolled development on flood plains. That led to new planning controls.
There were more hard lessons in January 2005 when Carlisle was devastated by floods that killed three people and forced thousands from their homes.
That was followed by the 2007 floods that hit Tewkesbury, Hull and Doncaster, this time threatening power stations, water supplies and telecommunications.
What the 2005 and 2007 floods also showed was the human cost, with many Carlisle and Hull residents forced to leave their homes for months. Around Britain, some 5m people live in flood-prone areas.
What lies behind the spate of floods? Edmund Penning-Rowsell, professor of geography and director of Middlesex University’s flood hazard research centre, said it was clear that floods were getting more frequent.
He said: “The country has been through wet periods like this before so we still cannot be sure it is climate change, but it fits with the projections and we should expect it to continue.”
Dave Britton, a spokesman for the Met Office, said: “In the UK the projections do suggest this will happen more often. When the atmosphere is warmer it can evaporate more water from the sea and it can hold more moisture. The result is storms and heavy rainfall.”
Part of the answer could lie in huge civil engineering projects. The Royal Academy of Engineering held a conference on “extreme flooding” earlier this month at which it discussed ideas such as building huge storm drains under roads.
Others believe the scale of such events is so huge that Britain must rethink its entire attitude. That means accepting that some flooding is inevitable and putting more effort into educating people living in risk areas.
Cockermouth illustrates the point, with the Environment Agency spending £600,000 on new defences in 1999 and another £100,000 after floods in 2005. These defences were swamped last week.
Phil Rothwell, head of flood strategy at the Environment Agency, said the average cost of refurbishing a house after a flood was £28,000.
He said: “If climate predictions are right, we are going to have more of these heavy rainfall events inundating more areas. As a nation we have to get used to that and manage things differently.
“The future is not about hard engineering. We can’t stop these kinds of floods and, in any case, the nation doesn’t want us to turn its rivers into canals hidden behind huge embankments.”
The Cockermouth floods coincide with some major developments in flood planning. Next month sees the implementation of the EU floods directive which obliges all member countries to prepare for the growing flood risk associated with climate change.
In Britain, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs is trying to push the Flood and Water Management Bill through parliament before the next election.
The bill is based on Sir Michael Pitt’s review of the 2007 floods and obliges local authorities to deal with local flood risks, while putting the Environment Agency in charge of national strategy.
The Cumbrian floods could give that bill added impetus. Nick Herbert, the Conservative shadow environment secretary, this weekend said he would support government efforts to pass it into law before next May.
For the people of Cockermouth such measures will, however, seem largely irrelevant as they try to rebuild their lives and homes after the recent destruction.

Food waste to provide green gas for carbon-conscious consumers

Biogas sourced from food waste and sewage is to piped into British homes under a new 'green gas' tariff
Adam Vaughan
The Observer, Sunday 22 November 2009

Rotting leftovers, wilted salad and even sewage are to provide a new source of "green gas" to heat our homes.
From today, British householders will be able to register for Ecotricity's new tariff to buy green gas – commonly known as biogas – as a way of reducing their carbon footprint and cutting landfill waste. It will be a first for carbon-conscious consumers who have previously only been able to buy "green electricity" from suppliers.
Britain discards about 18 million tonnes of food waste a year, which Ecotricity said could generate enough biogas to heat 700,000 homes. The Conservative Party believes 50% of the UK's natural gas supply could be replaced by biogas .
Dale Vince, the company's founder, said: "We're the real British Gas now. We're kickstarting the market to move Britain from brown to green gas." He said natural gas sourced from countries such as Russia was expected to run out in 15-20 years.
Householders who sign up to Ecotricity's deal will be supplied from January, although initially their gas will come from conventional "brown" natural gas – a percentage of biogas will only be injected into the national grid later in the year. The company, which currently has about 30,000 electricity customers, said it wanted to eventually source 50% of its gas tariff from biogas and would match British Gas on dual-fuel pricing. Vince said he planned to invest about £50m to build two "green gas mills" to make the biogas, but would also look at buying in biogas from other sources, including suppliers in Holland.
Audrey Gallacher, energy expert for the government watchdog Consumer Focus, said she welcomed the idea, but warned that confusion could arise over what the green tariff will initially provide: "Green gas tariffs could be good news for customers who want to buy environmentally friendly energy. However, it must be made clear to any customer signing up that they are investing in creating a demand and supply of energy-efficient fuel for the future."
Biogas is generated in anaerobic digesters, where organic material is fed into tanks where microbes break down the material without oxygen and release methane and carbon dioxide, the main elements of biogas. The biogas can then be used to make electricity or, as Ecotricity plans, processed and injected into the pipes of the national gas network.
The raw material for digesters can come from a variety of sources, including food waste, sewage and farm waste, although Vince ruled out the latter. "We'd probably avoid agriculture waste because we don't want to support factory farming, and a properly run organic farm won't produce excess slurry," he said.
The National Grid said there was no technical reason why Ecotricity's plan wouldn't work and added that it supported using renewable gas to hit carbon-cutting targets. Extra momentum for UK biogas should arrive in 2011, when the government is due to introduce a renewable heat incentive, giving financial assistance to generators of heat from renewable sources, from householders using ground-source heat pumps to companies such as Ecotricity.

Barack Obama ready to offer target for cutting greenhouse gas emissions

Suzanne Goldenberg, Washington
The Observer, Sunday 22 November 2009

President Barack Obama is considering setting a provisional target for cutting America's huge greenhouse gas emissions, removing the greatest single obstacle to a landmark global agreement to fight climate change.
The Observer has learnt that administration officials have been consulting international negotiators and key players on Capitol Hill about signing up to a provisional target at the UN global warming summit in Copenhagen, now less than three weeks away.
Todd Stern, the state department climate change envoy, said the administration recognised that America had to come forward with a target for cutting its emissions. The US, which with China is responsible for 40% of the world's greenhouse gas emissions, is the only major developed nation yet to table an offer.
"What we are looking at is to see whether we could put down essentially a provisional number that would be contingent on our legislation," Stern said from Copenhagen, where he was meeting Danish officials. "We are looking at that, there are people we need to consult with."
A provisional target – if accepted by other nations – would solve Obama's dilemma. The Senate will not have passed a domestic law before Copenhagen, meaning that, if he makes an offer there, it could subsequently be rejected in Washington. But if he makes no offer, the deal is likely to crash anyway, and with it hopes of rapidly combating global warming.
Stern did not go into detail on the level of emissions cuts being considered, but it is thought likely that a provisional target would be a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions of 14-20% by 2020, compared with 2005 levels. The White House and state department have also discussed the idea of putting forward a range of targets rather than a specific figure.
"I think the president has several options," said Jonathan Lash, president of the World Resources Institute. "One which seems to be under discussions inside the administration is to offer a range: to say "here is what we hope to be able to propose" and that range might go from what the president has always committed to since his campaign – 14% – to the highest number in any pending legislation, which is 20% in the Senate."
The House of Representatives narrowly passed a bill in June that would cut US emissions by 17%. A proposal now before the Senate would cut emissions by 20%, but a number of key Democratic senators have said the target is too stringent.
Even at the higher end, such figures fall short of the emissions targets adopted by other industrialised countries in Europe and Japan, and recommended by scientists to avoid the worst ravages of climate change.
Many negotiators are frustrated with America – especially given the high expectations for the Obama presidency. "One could perhaps argue that this could have been a much higher priority and this should perhaps have been pushed before any of the other initiatives the administration has taken, particularly given the fact that there was a deadline of December for getting an agreement," said RK Pachauri, chairman of the intergovernment panel on climate change.
Obama and other world leaders have already conceded that Copenhagen will not produce a legally binding treaty. But the leaders are looking to the meeting to seal firm political agreement about specific action plans by the industrialised and rapidly emerging economies that can go into immediate effect.
But ensuring success at Copenhagen carries a risk that could ultimately defeat efforts to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions, Lash warned. Setting too strong a provisional target could provoke a backlash from Congress, which might damage efforts to pass climate change laws in the US.
"Without the US passing legislation, we can't move an overall agreement," Lash said. "My greatest concern is that the administration does nothing in Copenhagen, because that ultimately undercuts everybody's efforts to achieve an international agreement."
Democratic leaders in the Senate are growing increasingly wary about taking up a controversial climate change bill. The Senate majority leader, Harry Reid, said that leaders would not turn to a bill until March 2010 – but even that date is in doubt because of congressional elections in November.
On Thursday, John McCain, Obama's presidential opponent and a sponsor of past climate change legislation, said about the backers of the current bill: "Obviously, they're going nowhere."
Despite the paralysis in the Senate, Obama has been edging towards a concrete commitment to cutting America's emissions. During his summit in Beijing with China's Hu Jintao, Obama said America would come forward with emission reductions targets so long as China offered specific measures of its own.
But the administration is mindful of a re-run of the 1990s, when the Senate voted down ratification of the Kyoto treaty by 99-0, despite the US having already committed to it internationally.
Such concerns make it more likely that other nations would view favourably a more modest provisional target at Copenhagen. Stern said there was a generally positive reaction in the international community to the idea of a provisional target.
"On the one hand, people are keen on having the United States put a number down," Stern said. "On the other hand, people are extraordinarily keen on getting [US] legislation done and don't want us taking steps that will make that more difficult."

Climate scientists accused of 'manipulating global warming data'

Some of the world’s top climate scientists have been accused of manipulating data on global warming after hundreds of private emails were stolen by hackers and published online.

Published: 8:00AM GMT 21 Nov 2009
The material was taken from servers at the University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit – a world-renowned climate change research centre – before it was published on websites run by climate change sceptics.
It has been claimed that the emails show that scientists manipulated data to bolster their argument that global warming is genuine and is being caused by human actions.
One email seized upon by sceptics as supposed evidence of this, refers to a “trick” being employed to massage temperature statistics to “hide the decline”.
The university yesterday confirmed that research data had been stolen and published online and said it had reported the security breach to police.
A spokesman said: “We are aware that information from a server used for research information in one area of the university has been made available on public websites.
“Because of the volume of this information we cannot currently confirm that all this material is genuine.
“This information has been obtained and published without our permission and we took immediate action to remove the server in question from operation. We are undertaking a thorough internal investigation and have involved the police in this inquiry."
The files were apparently first uploaded on to a Russian server and then mirrored across the internet.
An anonymous statement accompanying the emails said: “We feel that climate science is too important to be kept under wraps. We hereby release a random selection of correspondence, code, and documents. Hopefully it will give some insight into the science and the people behind it.”
One of the emails under scrutiny, dated November 1999, reads: "I've just completed Mike's Nature [the science journal] trick of adding in the real temps to each series for the last 20 years (ie, from 1981 onwards) and from 1961 for Keith's to hide the decline."
Scientists who are alleged to be the authors of the emails in question have declined to comment on the matter.

Targets for copenhagen

We are just two weeks away from the political and NGO jamboree that is the Copenhagen summit.

By Kamal AHmedPublished: 6:00PM GMT 21 Nov 2009
Although it would, of course, be a cheap and churlish shot to highlight the vast environmental cost of flying all the delegates to Denmark's capital for a talkathon – so I won't – our report today on the number of businesses turning their back on the event should be of concern to all those who back the summit.
As the response on my Telegraph web page revealed when I asked readers on Thursday if business is only at Copenhagen to sign up to some warm words on global warming, many people don't see the point because they do not believe climate change is either happening or is man-made.
But putting that to one side, the important issue is our general use of resources. Environmentally efficient businesses should be economically efficient businesses as they do more work for less cost.
Whether you believe in climate change or not, that makes sense and should be the key driver to changing business behaviour.
What we need to see from Copenhagen is targets that business can understand in a timeframe that is deliverable. Anything else can be put to better use helping hot air balloons fly.

le or dark, it’s a green jobs bonanza

PaAt least 400,000 posts could be created if companies are willing to invest
Carly Chynoweth
If Gordon Brown is right, 1.3m people in Britain will be working in green jobs by 2017 — and at least 400,000 of these positions do not exist today. This is good news, particularly in a recession and with the UN climate change conference coming up next month in Copenhagen. Underneath the headline figures, however, there is debate about how to define green jobs and whether the British workforce has the skills required.
Under the most straightforward definition, green jobs produce some sort of green product or service — wind-powered turbines, for example, or cars with low emissions.
Sherry Coutu, an associate at the Cambridge University’s Judge Business School and an angel investor, said it will be entrepreneurs in these innovation industries who create most of the green jobs in Britain.
She believes they will come from small and medium-sized firms that are innovating and hiring faster than anyone else. “Jobs are driven by innovation, which is in turn driven by the demand for low-carbon products and energy efficiency,” she said.
Support for start-up businesses and investment in university science and engineering courses are needed, Coutu added.
However, many of the skills needed in a low-carbon economy already exist, according to a recent report from the Aldersgate Group, a coalition of businesses and environmental organisations.
“Although some entirely new jobs will be created and special training arrangements must be made for those, in many key jobs there are similarities between the skill sets that already exist and those that are needed in the low-carbon economy,” said John Edmonds, who chaired the Aldersgate report team.
Similarly, Jenny Bird, part of the climate change team at the Institute for Public Policy Research, a think-tank, argues that we need to start taking a broader view of what constitutes a green job.
“The risk is that we start seeing green jobs as just another subset of the economy. If we are to meet targets for reducing carbon, all companies and other employers will need to assess how these jobs will fit into their organisations,” she said.
“Gradually it will become more important for all businesses to be able to manage their own emissions and they will need people to do it.”
This is where government initiatives are already having an effect on employment, said Andy Cartland, managing director of Acre, a recruitment agency that specialises in green jobs. “The thing that really drives job markets, especially this one, is legislation,” he said. “For example, the Carbon Reduction Commitment (CRC), which comes into force next year, will require 5,000-6,000 businesses to monitor their carbon output. They will need carbon managers to measure this because, if they don’t, they will be burdened with additional costs.”
The CRC, which applies to organisations that use more than 6,000MWh of electricity a year through half-hourly meters, will begin with a three-year introductory phase next April.
Many companies are hiring energy efficiency managers to examine everything from staff behaviour — turning equipment off when not in use makes a difference — to manufacturing and supply chain processes, said Cartland.
Overall, he sees “dark green” jobs — those requiring qualifications in sustainability — remaining a small and specialised market. However, he estimates there could be 500,000 “pale green” jobs — lawyers, managers, carbon traders, sales people and engineers who are employed primarily for their professional skills but whose job prospects are underpinned by climate change issues.
Also, as small green technology companies expand, they are hiring managing directors and chief executives with sound commercial skills. “These are people who are more likely to have an MBA than a sustainability qualification,” said Cartland.
Specialist qualifications still have their place, especially at the technical end. Alastair Hutson, a director at Utilyx, an energy consultancy, said there was a shortage of graduates with financial and green skills.
Jonathan Lee, an engineering recruiter, wants to see more engineering graduates. “We need to focus on ensuring that enough graduates leave our universities with degrees in subjects such as emissions control, nuclear physics and materials science ... as well as more common engineering subjects such as mechanical and electrical engineering,” he said.
Coutu added: “Other countries are ploughing money into this. If we have the skills and create the companies, we will create the jobs. But if we do not do it, other countries will.”
Paul Jackson of the Engineering and Technology Board said: “The problem is not so much a shortage of graduates but of senior technicians, who tend to come through apprenticeships.” These are the people who will have to do everything from fitting solar panels to maintaining electric vehicles. “There are a lot of good things being done in apprenticeships but they have to be supported by employers,” he said.
Skills that are wanted now...
- Energy efficiency specialists — engineers, strategists and managers. Energy managers responsible for power usage across an entire organisation require experience in areas such as technology, behavioural change, compliance and procurement.
- Environmental managers are needed to ensure that organisations comply with legislation and other procedures.
- Supply chain experts are needed by large retailers to monitor and minimise the carbon footprint of all the goods they sell. Such specialists will become more important next year when the Carbon Reduction Commitment energy efficiency scheme begins.
- Renewable energy specialists are also being sought. Many will be mechanical and electrical engineers.
... and those needed in 2020
- Food security experts, including supply chain managers, agricultural scientists and crop geneticists.
- Water conservation specialists, including engineers to develop water-saving technology and managers to ensure that businesses minimise their use of water.
- Nuclear experts will be needed but demand will depend on whether the next government decides that nuclear power is needed to meet the country’s energy needs while minimising carbon emissions.
- Energy efficiency specialists and supply chain experts will become increasingly important to businesses as the price of carbon increases.
- There will be more renewable energy jobs as low-carbon businesses expand; low-carbon transport, both road and air, will be an important subsector here.

Armchair army to save the Amazon rainforest

Maurice Chittenden

SPEND a pound and save the rainforest. A conservation group led by a millionaire sports tycoon and a former Labour minister is launching an appeal today to recruit 100,000 green heroes to protect trees in the Amazon.
With less than three weeks to go before the United Nations climate change conference in Copenhagen, Cool Earth, which has already protected 125,000 acres of rainforest, is hoping armchair guardians will achieve something world leaders cannot agree upon.
As deforestation accounts for 17% of greenhouse gas emissions globally, it wants people to sponsor individual endangered South American trees for as little as £1 each and keep watch over them by means of satellite images. The idea is to “lock in” 3m tons of carbon before the end of the conference on December 18.
The “Tree for a £” campaign has identified 12 species of tree most prized by loggers. Protecting these will help save the biggest “breaths” in the Amazon, the world’s “lungs”. If the mahogany tree, so prized by loggers, is protected, this will also save other trees of low worth that grow near it, as loggers cut down huge swathes of forest just to get to the mahogany and the Andean walnut — used for veneers.

Johan Eliasch, the sports goods tycoon and co-founder of Cool Earth, has earmarked for preservation an area in Peru that is the habitat of jaguars. This area of forest, once controlled by Marxist guerrillas, is now a buffer to protect millions of acres of mahogany-rich land.
“It doesn’t take that much for people to get involved; this is low-cost entry,” Eliasch said.
“The area is now safe. We have not had to deal with guerrillas, but conflict zones such as the Congo have helped to save rainforests because even illegal loggers don’t want to go in. It is an unexpected upside from a deforestation point of view.”
Cool Earth was launched after Frank Field, the former Labour welfare minister, read in The Sunday Times in 2006 about a previous Eliasch initiative in Brazil. “Preserving the trees is one thing we can do to help beat climate change. Government won’t spend money in this area but individuals will. By helping communities protect their part of the rainforest, we build a firewall around even more of the forest because the loggers can’t get through,” Field said.
A Peruvian tribesman said: “Our environment minister wants to protect the trees, but other parts of my government want to exploit the forest.”
For more information go to

Greenhouse effects: Light bulbs

Tony Juniper
The vast majority of the 600m or so light bulbs in British homes are of the old-fashioned tungsten filament kind. This won’t be the case for long.
Recent legislation means that these bulbs, which are incredibly inefficient — only about 10% of the power used produces visible light, the rest is heat — will be consigned to the recycling bin. From September 2011, 60W clear incandescent bulbs will be outlawed, followed by a ban on all remaining incandescent bulbs in September 2012.
Instead, homeowners are using lower-wattage halogens, new compact fluorescents and, more recently, light-emitting diodes (LEDs), which all offer good energy-efficient alternatives.
LEDs are semiconductors that convert electrical energy directly into light. This means they require far less energy. The early generation of LED bulbs gave a low-intensity coloured light and were used in displays for calculators, televisions, watches and traffic lights. Now they are brighter and available in many colours, including high-intensity white light. They are compact and robust, light up fast, can be dimmed, produce little heat, and have long lives (more than 25 years for many).
That said, a report published last week by the Institution of Engineering and Technology found that the quality of light that energy-saving bulbs produce becomes significantly dimmer over time, losing up to 22% of their brightness. For more advice on what will suit you, visit The Energy Saving Trust ( for a rundown of the various types of energy-efficient bulbs, which can cut your electricity bill by as much as 20%.
We have replaced the 10 35W halogen bulbs in our kitchen ceiling with 3W LEDs, reducing the electricity used by more than 90%. While LED bulbs are much more expensive than regular bulbs, the cost should be recovered within two to three years.
In September, Philips launched a range of retrofit LED bulbs for the home ( These are designed to fit the most common bayonet and screw light fittings found in the home and are suitable for replacing old bulbs of up to 40W equivalent. We plan to install them in the rest of the house.
Tony Juniper is an environmental campaigner and former director of Friends of the Earth;

Is it possible to be an eco-friendly tourist?

Many travel firms claim to be environmentally sound, but are they just cashing in? Here's how not to be taken for a ride…

Lucy Siegle
The Observer, Sunday 22 November 2009

When you see some of the holidays masquerading as ecotourism you'd be forgiven for thinking the term "greenwash" was invented for the tourism industry. Oh, it was. In fact this pejoratively used hybrid was coined in the 1980s by American environmentalist Jay Westervelt, who was incensed by the way hotels put signs up pleading with guests to reuse their towels thus "saving the environment" when they were doing nothing to promote recycling elsewhere and really, he suspected, just wanted to save on laundry bills.
Since then things have improved, but there are still lots of trips wearing a bogus "ecotourism" tag. These include swimming with captive dolphins (the feature documentary The Cove on the annual dolphin slaughter in Japan is a reminder of the truth behind their capture and trade) and hunting holidays with "sustainable" quotas – Tanzania has received criticism for the sale of ancestral lands to monopolies for under the market price, leaving local tribes high and dry.
But often holidaymakers mistake sustainable ideas – such as lower-impact transport – with ecotourism. Incidentally research by the Heidelberger Institute for Energy and Environmental Research comparing the pollutant parameters and ecological effects of different holiday transport found coach travel to use six times less energy than planes. But this still doesn't make your coach trip ecotourism.
Making the distinction might sound like pedantry but it's crucial. Ecotourism doesn't have an enshrined legal definition, but bodies such as Nature Conservancy and the World Conservation Union agree on its parameters – that it is nature-based, educative towards the environment, managed sustainably and contributes to the protection of the natural site. Scale is also important. You should pick a project that is obviously small, manageable and which feeds directly back into the local economy.
But where do you go for the real thing? has long provided a sane counterpoint to the die- hard green message that you must never again set foot anywhere on account of carbon emissions. Their take is that there is a trade off between the emissions caused by flying, so it's the traveller's responsibility to fly less, switching to one holiday that generates income for the local community. A typical Responsible Travel holiday includes an introduction to the Amazon rainforests, staying in a lodge in Peru built using native materials and owned by the Infierno community.
In her very good book Ecotourism and Sustainable Development: Who Owns Paradise? Martha Honey argues that true ecotourism should involve a truthful conservation-led calculation as to how many tourists a habitat can sustain. Famously the Galapagos islands employ quotas, a move that flies in the face of the democratisation of spontaneous travel but might just save one of the world's most vulnerable habitats.★

Opec wants compensation if climate deal cuts oil use

Robin Pagnamenta, Energy Editor

The chief of the Opec oil cartel said that oil-producing countries should be compensated for lost revenues if UN climate talks in Copenhagen next month reach a deal that cuts the use of oil.
In an interview with The Times, Abdullah Salem al-Badri, of Libya, who is due to speak in Copenhagen, said that richer oil-consuming countries such as Britain and the US should acknowledge that historically they have created most carbon dioxide emissions and should not be allowed to block poorer countries from raising living standards for their own people.
“We are not emitting. Historically, it is the developed countries. The responsibility is on their shoulders,” he said. “If we want to keep temperatures from rising by more than two degrees [centigrade] we need a comprehensive and sophisticated approach.”
Developed countries should provide financial assistance to poorer oilproducing countries, he said, adding that such a pledge was part of the original Kyoto Protocol and that any attempt to drop it could be fatal for the Copenhagen summit. But he insisted that Opec wanted to reach a deal at Copenhagen, calling it a “noble goal”.

He said that carbon capture and storage technology was essential to cutting emissions while meeting global energy demand, which he said would remain reliant on fossil fuels for decades.
Speaking in Opec’s headquarters in Vienna, Mr al-Badri, 69, also accused City speculators of causing the recent surge in oil prices by holding 130 million barrels in tankers at sea, waiting for prices to rise. Mr al-Badri claimed that tougher regulation was needed in the London and New York financial markets and rejected claims that Opec had driven up prices by cutting production last year by 4.2 million barrels a day.
Crude prices recently rose to almost $80 a barrel, their highest since October lat year, and the average price of petrol in the UK has risen by 26 per cent this year. It is expected to be 110p a litre by the end of the year.

Skills shortage dents UK's green credentials

• Shortage threatens low-carbon targets, argues business group• Gap comes as demand for scientists and engineers increasing
Ashley Seager, Friday 20 November 2009 14.03 GMT
Britain lacks the skills or training facilities to make the successful transition to a low-carbon economy that its international commitments require, an influential group of businesses and non-governmental organisations warns today.
In a report that will dent Britain's image ahead of the Copenhagen climate conference, the Aldersgate Group says that in spite of the UK's pledge to meet a European Union 2020 target for carbon emissions, the government's skills strategy is inadequate to meet those needs.
The report, Mind the Gap – skills for the transition to a low carbon economy, says it is now imperative that ambition and delivery are accelerated.
John Edmonds, former TUC chief and Aldersgate Group Project chair for the report said: "The skills gap in the UK economy is well documented, with one in three firms already hampered by a shortage of skilled staff, from those needed to install new technology to scientists and engineers.
"Investment in low-carbon skills is vital if the UK is to build a more resilient and sustainable economy. In the next two years a commitment to green training will accelerate the growth of new jobs and help us out of recession."
The skills shortage comes at a time when demand for engineers for major infrastructure projects is increasing, as Britain attempts to address expansion in offshore and onshore wind, carbon capture and storage, nuclear power, flood defences, high-speed rail and upgrading the water infrastructure, the report says. "Many of the required skills identified in the report are not unique to a low-carbon economy – it is a shortage of precisely these skills that has held back the UK economy for decades. In this respect, reskilling for a low-carbon economy involves a policy of no regrets. The UK needs to fix these skill shortage problems in order to prosper in the modern world," Edmonds added.
The report says that the most significant driver for low-carbon skills is a robust industrial policy that encourages investment in low-carbon technology and resource efficiency.
Germany has shown how an active industrial and skills policy can help stimulate widespread economic growth and job creation. Responsibility for progress must be shared between government, businesses, trade unions, professional bodies and the workforce, it adds.
Germany, in the decade since it launched its "feed-in tariff" policy for boosting the take-up of renewable energy technology – has created at least 250,000 jobs in the sector – more than 10 times as many as exist in Britain.
Peter Young, chairman of the Aldersgate Group, said: "This report shows that our training institutions must be able to look beyond our current industrial and business structures and plan for the skill requirements of the future. Most of our recommendations are aimed at government because business members said they needed certainty from government if they are to invest."

Climate crunch

Unless they end in promises, and a treaty within months, Ed Miliband believes the Copenhagen talks will be a disaster. But can the British energy secretary, in Denmark for a frantic round of pre-summit diplomacy, win the argument?

John Harris
The Guardian, Saturday 21 November 2009

It's breakfast time in the biggest of Copenhagen's Scandic hotels. Over the obligatory croissants and coffee – and, for those who want it, an off-beam version of the English breakfast – 42 international delegations are preparing to go into a second day of talks. Phones tweet; hushed conversations within teams of negotiators form a low conversational hum.
Look closely, and some of the outlines of modern geopolitics are clear. This morning, the Chinese and Indian delegations are seated together, and locked in conversation. Elsewhere in the hotel, the UK's representatives are doing their thing at an early "EU co-ordination" meeting. In a corner of the restaurant, meanwhile, the US special envoy on climate change – an elusive, austere-looking man named Todd Stern – sits completely alone.
From 7-18 December, the Danish capital will fill up with an extra 20,000 people, there to play their part in what officialspeak calls the 15th Conference of the Parties (or Cop 15), but the rest of us know as the Copenhagen summit: the great global coming-together aimed at securing a much more ambitious successor to the Kyoto treaty, and thereby marking a turning point in the human race's fight against climate change. This week's event, organised by the Danish government under the title Pre-Cop Consultations, is much more low-key, though the guest list includes a huge array of energy and climate change ministers, their aides and negotiating teams – called here to compare notes, have brief and not-so-brief "bilaterals", and somehow inject a slow-moving process with some political momentum.
Among them is Britain's own Ed Miliband, who will turn 40 six days after the summit closes, and has the road-worn air of man who has been travelling far too much. In the build up to December, he has been to China, Brazil, India, Mexico, South Africa and Bangladesh, as well as Poland, Russia, and France (before anyone asks, he and his team offset their flights).
On the flight from London, he underlines the gravity of Copenhagen by alluding to past summits, and describing it as "Bretton Woods plus Yalta multiplied by Reykjavik". In Scandic's restaurant, where he sits for the interview, he comes up with an even more mind-boggling analogy: "Imagine if you knew 189 people, and you got them all together and said, 'Here's how we want you to run a significant part of your lives in the next 30 or 40 years – and by the way, you have to unanimously agree that that's how you want to do it.'"
Give or take sleep, and the closed-off proceedings in the main conference room, I shadow Miliband for around 40 hours. On his first morning here, I hear the stiffened small-talk at early-morning bilaterals, best illustrated by the opening exchange between him and his German counterpart Norbert Röttgen:
"Congratulations on your first presentation in the parliament. I heard some reports that it was a triumph."
"It was OK."
"You're being hailed as a great environmentalist, which is good for your first week in the job."
"Second week."
What really defines my time in Copenhagen, though, is a thrice-daily ritual whereby I collar Miliband as he emerges from the formal negotiations, and try – in vain, usually – to get a firm idea of where the conversation has been going. Usually, he wears a pretty much unreadable expression, though it doesn't take any great effort to understand how much work – somewhat worryingly – has still be done. At the end of Day One, for example, I manage to extract a few brief words from 55-year-old Jairam Ramesh, India's stoic minister of state for environment and forests, who audibly sighs, and will only tell me that "there is still a long way to go".
This week, the news media's understanding of what Copenhagen might achieve has pinballed between pessimism and qualified hope. On Monday, headlines confirmed what most insiders knew, when Barack Obama served notice that a legally binding agreement at Copenhagen was now beyond reach, and he was signing up to the Danish government's plan to exit 2009 with a "politically binding" deal, and follow it with a full treaty in the very near future. By Tuesday, rather more optimistic coverage greeted America and China's joint promise that December would see a "comprehensive" agreement, though plenty of voices still counselled caution and doubt: as far as one Greenpeace spokesperson was concerned, the Sino-American declaration was vague enough to suggest the possibility of both "a real ambitious climate rescue deal" and "another meaningless declaration".
There are two tracks to the build-up to Copenhagen. Politicians travel, and meet, and keep their eye on the stuff that will define the summit's headlines. Meanwhile, negotiators who are devoting their entire working lives to the pre-summit process must regularly congregate in some of the world's major cities, and try to push their way through the detail. Britain's chief negotiator is Jan Thompson, an official on loan from the Foreign Office who, in red patent leather biker boots, looks like anything but. She and Pete Betts – a genial, straight-to-the-point kind of operator, who described himself as "a career bureaucrat" – are known to Miliband as "the two degrees", a reference to the rise in average global temperatures that the world has now resolved to avoid. Miliband says he has long conversations with them at least once a week; on their second night in Denmark, they are still talking animatedly well past midnight.
There is, of course, no end of stuff to discuss. The negotiations' key theme is an ongoing and complex face-off between developed and developing countries (needless to say, post-imperial baggage is unavoidable). For countries already panicked by the effects of climate change – most notably, the 43-strong Alliance Of Small Island States – the prospect of a potentially indefinite delay to a legal deal is evidently causing no end of fear. Such rising powers as China, India and Brazil are watched closely, but the story regularly comes back to the US, whose uncertain stance is partly down to its cagy exit from what Miliband calls "20 wasted years", and the delicacy of America's political system: for a president to come to Europe and dish out commitments before the requisite legislation had passed the Senate would be risky, to say the least.
"What is the art of politics?" he wonders (like a lot of New Labour politicians of his generation, Miliband has a habit of asking himself questions). "It's to simplify, not complexify [sic]. Yes, this is complicated. But actually, in the end, it does boil down to some relatively simple things: how much you're going to cut your emissions, how much finance you're going to provide, what you're going to do about deforestation, and what you're going to about technology. I often think that when people say, 'Oh, this is so complicated,' it becomes an excuse. You get, 'Oh, this is all too complicated – it'll take another five years.'"
But how does he gauge success? "Well, you go on trips, and you have a series of dreadful and depressing meetings where you think nothing is moving. And then you have a really good meeting when you can visualise a breakthrough … in Brazil, I said to the foreign minister, 'Are you going to put 2020 numbers on the table for Copenhagen?' And he said, 'Yeah'. And we all looked at each other and said, 'Well, they've never said that before.' And you come out of the meeting and think, 'That was a pretty significant moment.'"
After the first day's talks, there's a dinner at the Royal Danish Playhouse, which ends with a solo ballet performance titled The Egg. But before those delights, he has to go to a Danish TV studio, do British TV and radio spots, frets about how quickly he talks, and tries to face down scepticism at home.
The script he performs for Channel 4 News and BBC Radio is reiterated to me, with additions, later that night. Despite the uncertainty now hanging over any legally binding deal, Miliband says he wants a full enforceable treaty "within months" of Copenhagen, and says that even the end of 2010 is too late. As one of his advisers frantically scribbles down her version of the conversation (the departmental MiniDisc recorder is kaput), he sets out a simple version of what first has to materialise in December: "a set of commitments from developed and developing countries that can show emissions peaking by about 2020."
He also talks endlessly about the importance of "numbers", by which he chiefly means pledges of specific cuts in emissions from all the major developed countries, and hardened commitments on the funding of "adaptation and mitigation" – where richer countries spending billions on poorer countries' defences against a radically altered climate, and the technology needed to curb their output of greenhouse gases.
Britain, via the EU, has already committed to cutting CO² emissions by 34% by 2020 on 1990 levels. EU governments have also promised €22bn-€50bn (£20bn-£45bn) a year for the developing world as part of a proposed €110bn global package, which, relative to claims that the total annual bill may be four times that, looks deeply disappointing. But right now that is not the main point: outside Europe, even if emissions targets are starting to come in, few developed countries have yet come up with figures for financial help for poorer ones – and in the case of the US, neither have been put on the table.
That fact alone makes one particular element of Miliband's rhetoric remarkable. "I'm willing to say to you, if we don't get any numbers at Copenhagen, it's a failure," he says.
I tell him that strikes me as a rather high-stakes position. "Yeah," he says. "But I don't think it would be successful if we haven't got numbers. What is it if we don't have numbers?"
The thing is, I suggest, politicians don't often say things like that. They tend to make a point of leaving wriggle room for themselves. "No," he says, sharply. "We're not leaving wriggle room. I recognise that fact. In the end, people are smart. They know when you've succeeded, and they know when you've failed. And I've known for many months that there's no point in going out and claiming Copenhagen is a miraculous triumph if there's no numbers."
There are, inevitably, aspects of the UK's policy and positioning that plenty of green voices do not like: a new enthusiasm for the uncertain technology known as "clean coal"; enthusiasm for funding half of Europe's post-Copenhagen commitment to the developing world via private-sector carbon trading; and the fact that the UK has so far only pledged £1bn a year in direct climate-related funding for poorer countries.
But here is the most striking thing. On the couple of occasions that I talk to British officials it is hard to avoid the conclusion that, relative to scores of countries, the UK is on the right side of the argument, and pushing hard. They talk about Copenhagen in the kind of dramatic terms that one perhaps wouldn't expect from civil servants. "If we can make this work," says a man from the Foreign Office, "multilateralism has a future. If not, multilateralism goes pear-shaped. And that will affect all kinds of things: food security, water security, energy security."
By early afternoon on the second day, a few delegations have started to peel away, and are preparing to return home. The hotel foyer is divided between an ever-increasing array of suitcases, the activities of a large number of Chinese journalists and ad hoc huddles of negotiators. Not long after 2pm, Miliband bids me goodbye and disappears into a bilateral with the Brazilians: his flight doesn't leave until six, which gives time for talks, and more talks.
Hovering near the negotiations' security barrier, I grab Kevin Conrad, the climate change envoy from Papua New Guinea. Conrad, a climate change star since 2007 when at the UN climate conference in Bali, he challenged the US: "If you are not willing to lead then leave it to the rest of us, get out of the way," looks urbane, preppy, but also visibly rattled. The previous afternoon, I had heard him vent his spleen to the British team as follows: "What can we do to re-energise this thing? It just feels like it's all going backwards."
"I remain frustrated," he tells me. "How do I put this? There's a calculated repositioning of aspirations, where it's being agreed that we're not going to anything that's binding, we're not gong to do anything substantive, and a lot of people blame everybody else for everything going too slow. And for a small island states like ours, that's very disconcerting." When would he like to see a legally-binding deal?
"We don't know why that can't happen now. And what gives us confidence that there won't be more excuses in a year? Or a year later? We are relocating people as we speak because their islands are now inhabitable … This is growing. It's not a theoretical problem."
He adds: "We want people to stick to the original objective – to come up with the substance of a global deal in Copenhagen. All the elements within the negotiations are moving forward, but we want those settled. We think politicians should come in and settle their differences, and close them off. What do we do? Do we just continue with the differences for another year?"
As if to make British hearts swell, however, when I ask him about his perception of Britain's role in Copenhagen, he says :"The UK, in my view, is one of the strongest and most articulate advocates for getting something done."
Having arrived back at home, I book in a call to a British official, which duly happens on Thursday afternoon, when they talk me through some of what was discussed: new moves from Brazil and South Korea, continued uncertainty about how progress on carbon emissions might be recorded, and whether Copenhagen's outcome might be a matter of one text, or "bits of text". Their closing verdict on two days in the Danish capital may be entirely innocuous, though to certain ears, they will only underline what a nervous moment this is. "No decisions," says the voice at the other end of the line. "But useful."

EPA Tangles With Texas in Battle Over Air Quality

Agency Takes Activist Stance on Pollution, Calling Local Rules Lax; State Officials Complain of 'Bureaucratic Meddling'
A more assertive Environmental Protection Agency is demanding that Texas tighten its pollution rules, drawing the ire of companies and some of the state's political leaders.
At the heart of the dispute is an EPA threat to void some of the state's air-quality regulations, which it says break federal law. The agency also is studying whether oil refineries -- of which Texas has many -- emit dangerous amounts of toxins.

Texas is the top carbon-dioxide-emitting state in the nation. State regulators say they have built a system that simplifies the permitting process, for example by regulating emissions from entire facilities, rather than smokestack by smokestack.
Environmental activists and city officials call the system too lax. But state officials say it has produced a cleaner environment, including a 22% drop between 2000 and 2008 in the level of ozone, which is blamed for respiratory problems. The state says its plan encourages industry to adopt greener technology.
"Our results speak louder than bureaucratic meddling," said Katherine Cesinger, a spokeswoman for Gov. Rick Perry, a Republican.
The EPA has emerged as one of the most aggressive regulatory agencies in the Obama administration. It has moved to regulate carbon-dioxide emissions, announced plans to set tougher limits on mercury emissions from coal- or oil-burning power plants and held up dozens of permit applications for coal-mining projects in Central Appalachia, citing concerns about water quality.
EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson has said the agency's moves will benefit the economy by improving public health and has pointed to the administration's support for tens of billions of dollars in government spending to subsidize electric vehicles and a modernized electric grid.
But business groups, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Mining Association, say the agency also is saddling companies with costly mandates and could drive jobs outside the U.S.
The EPA this month appointed Alfredo Armendariz to head the office that oversees Texas and four other states. While all states must follow the same federal rules, they are allowed to develop their own implementation strategies, which are subject to federal approval. Mr. Armendariz had previously called the state's regulations inadequate.
Air-quality fights are especially heated in Texas. Officials in the big cities complain the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, which enforces federal regulations, isn't strict enough. Dallas and Houston have been in violation of federal air-quality standards for years.
"The whole thing is wrong from start to finish," said state Rep. Lon Burnam, a Democrat who represents Fort Worth and serves on the environmental regulation committee at the Texas House of Representatives. "They permit almost anything."
Houston has been petitioning the federal government to toughen its standard for refinery emissions. In response, the EPA said last month it was withdrawing a rule signed at the end of the Bush administration that found the emissions posed no risk.
Environmentalists welcome the changes in EPA policies. "I've been waiting 15 years for this to happen," said Neil Carman, an air-quality specialist at the Sierra Club in Texas.
But companies are unhappy. Texas Industries Inc., a cement maker, recently cited changing EPA rules when it withdrew its request for a state permit to burn tires at one of its kilns, which it says would have reduced emissions.
Texas Industries is committed to clean air, said spokesman David Perkins. "The difficulties happen when the requirements go beyond that and get to a point when they cause problems for companies that ultimately don't result in any net benefit to the environment."
But others disagree with the company's assessment, said EPA spokesman David Gray, and there is no room for neighbors and community members to give feedback under current rules. "The Texas air permitting process needs to be transparent to the public," he said.
The energy industry hasn't spoken publicly on the appointment of Mr. Armendariz, an environmental engineer and an associate professor at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. He is the author of several scathing studies and memos on emissions from the cement and natural-gas industries, and has been a consultant to environmental groups fighting the companies.
He declined to comment on EPA policy issues until he completed the transition into his new job.
The Barnett Shale Energy Education Council, a group representing energy companies, has attacked Mr. Armendariz's past reports. Recently, executives at natural-gas producer Chesapeake Energy Corp. criticized Mr. Armendariz for producing what they said was misleading research.
Mr. Armendariz has said his work is based on government-issued data and his calculations are consistent with those of regional regulators.
Earlier this year, the EPA said it was seeking to invalidate the state's permitting system, contending that it allows companies to skirt federal rules under the Clean Air Act. The agency is expected to announce a decision on certain parts of the program by the end of this month.
"Our system is not broken," said Bryan Shaw, chairman of the Texas environmental commission. "It's just misunderstood."—Stephen Power and Ben Casselman contributed to this article.
Write to Ana Campoy at

Wave machine to power homes

Peter Jones

A hydroelectric wave-energy machine called the Oyster, which could revolutionise energy production in Scotland, was yesterday switched on to the National Grid by Alex Salmond, the First Minister.
The Oyster is already billed as the biggest machine of its type in the world, but following a series of tests at the European Marine Energy Centre, near Stromness, engineers hope that it will be the precursor of even larger, linked sets of machines, capable of delivering 2MW of power — enough to provide energy for about 1400 homes — by 2011.
Announcing £975,000 of Scottish Enterprise funding for the venture, Mr Salmond said that through such investments, the Scottish government was working to meet climate change targets and create green jobs. The Oyster, he said, was a milestone in renewable energy policy.
The machine was developed by Edinburgh-based Aquamarine Power, resulting from research at Queen’s University, Belfast. The company’s chief executive, Martin McAdam, said: “We have proved that wave energy can produce sustainable, zero-emission electricity.”

Scottish Enterprise has already invested heavily in the company, providing £2.4 million of £10 million raised to get the technology to this stage.
The Oyster floats close to the shore where waves drive pistons sending water at high pressure to an onshore hydro-electric turbine.
Aquamarine Power has already signed an agreement with Airtricity, a Scottish and Southern Energy subsidiary, to develop up to 1000MW of wave farms by 2020.

Wind power will make Britain the dirty old man of Europe

Onshore wind as an energy source is expensive, unreliable and will scar the landscape, says Charles Moore

By Charles Moore Published: 8:23PM GMT 20 Nov 2009

Wind turbines
About 30 days ago, the Prime Minister warned that there were "50 days to save the planet". The world had to reach agreement at the climate summit in Copenhagen next month, or else. Since then, the press has been briefed that there will not, in fact, be agreement in Copenhagen. So there would seem to be only 20 days left to save the world.
Don't worry too much. Mr Brown has been doing a bit of what is called "expectation management". Probably world leaders will come up ("just in time") with a "political agreement", ie one with no settled figures but lots of intentions. The world will survive, thanks to our saviour Gordon.
Most of us will not be as grateful as he thinks we should be. As the climate change argument has raged, we have grown weary of the tendency to prophesy. The Prince of Wales has chosen July 2017, for some reason, as the moment when we shall have "irretrievable climate and ecosystem collapse" unless we mend our ways now. Lord Stern, who reported on the economics of climate change, says that we will lose five per cent of GDP per year "now and forever". Flee From the Wrath to Come!
At the same time, oddly, that doom is predicted, so – often by the same people – is salvation. An EU directive requires 15 per cent of our final energy consumption to come from renewable resources by 2020. At present, only five per cent of our electricity comes from renewables, but by 2020, says Mr Brown, it will be 30 per cent. In Scotland, where the SNP's favourite sport is to claim to trump Labour, 50 per cent of electricity is supposed to be produced by renewables by 2031.
How will this miracle occur? There are various types of renewables – wave, tide, "anaerobic digestion" – but in Britain, the chosen method is chiefly onshore wind.
I mention Scotland because a disproportionate amount of the wind power would come from there. When I was in the Lammermuir hills near Edinburgh in the summer, I came across an interesting example of the great wind debate. The Lammermuirs are very beautiful, with lots of upland birds such as curlew, wheatear and golden plover. They are also unusual, because this wild space is extremely close to Edinburgh.
At Fallago Rig there, North British Windpower and the Duke of Roxburghe, who owns the land, want to put up 48 wind turbines, 120 metres high. Against the duke are all the local community councils, the Scottish Borders Council, Scottish Natural Heritage, and, piquantly, another duke, the Duke of Northumberland, who, like Roxburghe, has a grouse moor there. The Ministry of Defence also objected, because the wind farm would interfere with its radar, which defends the neighbouring Torness nuclear power station.
Last year, an inquiry found against the wind farm, but the Scottish executive refused to publish the inquiry's report. The objectors discovered, almost by accident, that the Reporter had sustained the objection about radar. The Scottish executive, desperate to push for its targets, put pressure on the MoD, and the objection was quietly withdrawn. The executive eventually agreed to have a reopened inquiry, but with the same Reporter, on the issue of radar alone, making approval of the wind farm inevitable.
This ploy has now failed. Under threat of judicial review, the Scottish executive has had to widen the scope of the inquiry to include environmental factors. Meanwhile, the Scottish Borders Council accuses Roxburghe Estates of starting to develop the site without waiting for permission, which they deny.
I do not know if the developers are indeed jumping the gun, but it would be rational for them to do so, because what emerges from this case – and from many others – is that, whatever the formal process of local objection, government is desperate for wind power. And what government wants, government usually gets.
When I talked to North British Windpower, they were eloquent on how the present generation had a duty to the next. Wind power, they said, will fill a gap of energy over the next 20 years while other forms of renewables are developed.
It is natural that they would think this way. Under the Renewable Obligations Certificates system (ROCs), they can sell their energy at a virtually guaranteed price. The electricity has value in its own right, and added value of about the same again because suppliers have to buy it to avoid fines from Ofgem, the energy watchdog.The extra money is paid by all of us on our electricity bills. It amounts to £1 billion a year, and Ofgem calculates that it will be about £4 billion by 2020. It is a tax, although it does not go through the Treasury.
But wind has some problems. The output of the turbines varies greatly from hour to hour, sometimes being near capacity, sometimes nothing at all (over the year, a 30 per cent "load factor" is considered good). As Jesus himself put it, "The wind bloweth where it listeth… but thou canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth." So thou canst not rely on it to put thy light on when thou flickest the switch. The system therefore needs a conventional capacity to fire it up, in case the wind drops when you need it most. The larger the wind capacity, the more costly and troublesome the fluctuations in the grid.
And the infrastructure needed is expensive, intrusive and energy-consuming. In Scotland, the proposed Beauly-Denny transmission line would send more than a hundred miles of new and enormous pylons through some of the most beautiful country there is. Near us in Sussex, when wind turbines were installed on Romney Marsh (overruling almost unanimous local objection, of course), each one required concrete foundations 116 feet deep. Concrete manufacture is the largest source of industrial carbon dioxide on the planet. According to the chief scientific adviser to the Department of Energy and Climate Change, if onshore wind were to produce just a fifth of the power used per Briton per day – the equivalent of us each driving a fossil-fuelled car 25km every day – we would take up 10 per cent of our landmass and double the entire world fleet of wind turbines.
The phrase "carbon footprint" is well known. If we go ahead with wind power, huge beasts, the technological equivalent of the dinosaurs, will plant their feet all over our remotest regions. Also like the dinosaurs, they will fascinate future generations, by their weird size, and by the fact that they have become extinct.
I began this column by questioning predictions. But now I shall be rash enough to make one. We shall not meet any of these targets. Within a few years, we shall have to seek EU derogations to allow our old coal-fired stations to stay open longer, just to keep the lights on. We shall not be the jolly green giant of Europe, but the dirty old man.