Category Archives: policy reports

Reports directed at policy makers and wider non-academic audiences (includes recorded parliamentary/government hearings, etc.).

Jan 2015. Evidence to the House of Lords on the resilience of the electricity grid to a changing climate

Video/YouTube: Anderson gives evidence on the ‘resilience of the UK’s Electricity network to a changing climate’, both in terms of low carbon energy supply and changes in energy demand.

The evidence is based, in part, on the research project Resilient Electricity Networks for Great Britain (RESNET); a collaboration between Manchester and Newcastle Universities and the National Grid. Amongst others, the House of Lords committee included reputable scientists, for example Martin Rees and Robert Winston, renown climate sceptic and previous Chair of Northern Rock, Mat Ridley, and climate sceptic/denier William Wade.

Aviation and shipping privileged – again? UK delays decision to act on emissions

Dec 2012  Aviation and shipping privileged – again? UK delays decision to act on emissions - Tyndall Briefing Note 47
Just a week on from the Prime Minister publicly declaring his “Government has the most incredibly green set of energy policies”DECC chooses to continue ignoring emissions from aviation and shipping. This note illustrates how in 2012 the government a) refused to set a 2030 ‘decarbonisation’ target for electricity generation; b) gave a green-light to shale gas exploitation (a high carbon fossil fuel comprising ~75% carbon); c) proposed up to 37GW of new gas-fired power stations; and d) reversed the decision to rule out a third runway at Heathrow. This note argues such decisions cannot be reconciled with the PM’s claim to lead the “greenest government ever”.

A one way ticket to high carbon lock-in please: the UK debate on aviation policy

Dec 2012  A one way ticket to high carbon lock-in please: the UK debate on aviation policy - Carbon Management
Following strident calls by senior UK politicians for the urgent expansion of aviation capacity, this commentary tests how their arguments stand up to the evidence on the role of aviation in climate change and economic reform. The article highlights how the presumption that further aviation growth is good for the economy is at best premature and may be dangerously misleading. On climate change the conclusion is unequivocal. Regardless of the EU ETS, aviation growth is incompatible with the UK’s commitments under the Copenhagen Accord, the Cancun Agreements and the 2012 G8 Camp David Declaration.

Dec 2012. Anderson gives evidence on shale gas to UK Parliamentary committee

Video: Anderson gives evidence on shale gas to UK Parliamentary committee
(Note: session starts at 10.37 on the podcast clock)

 In an hour of questioning at the UK parliamentary Energy and Climate Change Committee Anderson outlines how the development of shale gas in the UK is fundamentally incompatible with the UK’s international commitments on climate change (Copenhagen Accord and Cancun Agreement) as well its own national Low Carbon Transition Plan. If the UK wishes to renege on its stringent international commitments but abide by its weak carbon budgets there is a very small emission space for using shale-gas. However, the UK’s repeated commitments on 2C do not permit any such combustion of shale gas. He also draws attention to the glaring and internal inconsistency of a government that evokes the benefits of free markets then proceeding to explicitly choose winners – i.e. 37 GW of gas generation (as per Osbourne’s “Gas Strategy”)!

Has US shale gas reduced CO2 emissions?

Oct 2012  Has US shale gas reduced CO2 emissions? - A Tyndall Centre report

Since 2007, the production of shale gas in large volumes has substantially reduced the wholesale price of natural gas in the US. This report examines the emissions savings in the US power sector, influenced by shale gas, and the concurrent trends in coal exports that may increase emissions in Europe and Asia.

Electricity generated by the combustion of natural gas is generally considered to have a lower emissions intensity per unit electricity than that generated by burning coal. The relative lifecycle carbon footprint of gas produced by hydraulic fracturing is contested and at present there is a shortage of independent primary data. However, trends in the absolute quantities of CO2 emissions from combustion are less problematic and no less important when considering the implications of the US shale gas boom.

The calculations presented in this report suggest that more than half of the emissions avoided in the US power sector may have been exported as coal. In total, this export is equivalent to 340 MtCO2 emissions elsewhere in the world, i.e. 52% of the claimed 650 MtCO2 of potential emissions avoided within the US.

Shale gas: an updated assessment of environmental and climate change impacts

Nov 2011  Shale gas: … environmental & climate change impacts – A Tyndall Centre report

The analysis within this new report addresses two specific issues associated with the extraction and combustion of shale gas. Firstly, it explores the environmental risks and climate change implications arising from shale gas extraction. Secondly, it outlines potential UK and global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions arising from an updated range of scenarios built using the latest predictions of shale gas resources.

Despite these uncertainties, several clear conclusions arise and can be used to inform decisions on the appropriateness or otherwise of developing a shale gas industry within the UK. It is evident that shale gas extraction does not require the high energy and water inputs at the scale of other unconventional fuels, such as oil derived from tar sands. Nevertheless, there are several routes by which shale gas extraction may pose potentially significant risks to the environment. Concerns remain about the adequacy of current UK regulation of groundwater and surface water contamination and the assessment of environmental impact. Although amenable to stringent regulatory control, risks of contamination cannot be fully eliminated.

Turing to the climate change impacts, irrespective of whether UK shale gas substitutes for coal, renewables or imported gas, the industry’s latest reserve estimates for just one licence area could account for up to 15% of the UK’s emissions budget through to 2050. Therefore, emissions from a fully developed UK shale gas industry would likely be very substantial in their own right. If the UK Government is to respect its obligations under both the Copenhagen Accord and Low Carbon Transition Plan, shale gas offers no meaningful potential as even a transition fuel. Moreover, any significant and early development of the industry is likely to prove either economically unwise or risk jeopardising the UK’s international reputation on climate change. Against such a quantifiable and stark evaluation, it is difficult to conclude other than the UK needs to invest in very low carbon energy supply if it is to both abide by its international obligations and support economically sustainable technologies.

A 2°C target? Get real, because 4°C is on its way

Dec 2010  A 2°C target? Get real, because 4°C is on its way - Parliamentary Brief
“Whatever we choose we need to be clear and candid about the situation we have got ourselves into and plan accordingly. Currently, we’re heading for the worst of all worlds, aiming for 4°C whilst planning for 2°C. In 2010 and with the worlds great and good of climate change converging on Cancún, now is the time to acknowledge openly that the mitigation Emperor remains naked.”

Towards a 2°C future: emission reduction scenarios for Wales

Dec 2009  Towards a 2°C future: emission reduction scenarios for Wales
A report commissioned by the Climate Change Commission of the Welsh Assembly Government and undertaken by Calverley, Anderson and other Tyndall Manchester researchers. The report explores the scope for the Welsh Government to achieve 3%, 6% and 9% reductions in emissions across all sectors – but with more detailed focus on those areas where Wales had devolved powers.

Aviation emissions from England’s North West region

Nov 2009  Aviation in the North West (of England)
This report by Anderson, Bows, Wood et al develops a set of low carbon pathways for the North West region and uses these to explore three specific issues: 1) How can CO2 emissions from aviation be allocated to regional administrations and what contribution does aviation make to the North West’s total CO2 emissions? 2) How is the ‘demand’ for flying for work in the region constructed? and 3) What contribution does aviation make to the North West’s economy? The report, commissioned by the North West Development Agency, concludes with a suite of recommendations for the region’s policy makers on reconciling the North West’s emissions from aviation with the UK’s emission targets.

Climate Change in a myopic world

May 2009  Climate Change in a myopic world (economics & CC) - Tyndall Briefing Note
Anderson argues that the abject failure of economists and the economic hegemony to tackle carbon emissions, leaves no option but to “escape the financiers’ myopia” and return the problem to scientists, engineers, social scientists and civil society. He proceeds to suggest that “If we are prepared to exchange our current self delusion for a more honest recognition of the scale of the challenge, the message is one of hope not of despair, with a prosperous future measured, if at all, by a range of metrics of which money is just one.”

This is a modified version of an article previously published in “Science & Public Affairs” March 07