Managing in a Changing Environment

Cotswold International Airport

I took this photo this afternoon at Cotswold International Airport which is near Cirencester. Yes it does exist and as you will see 747s can land there. The reason for the photo today, is that it is roughly 12 months since Covid 19 started to take hold of our attention. Would any of us have thought it would have led to the grounding and taking out of service of 747s? I doubt it.

What Covid has shown us, is that coping with change, let alone planning for it, is difficult. That our politicians are not very good with change. That lots of people are not very good at change because its not business as usual.

The journey to a net zero carbon global economy involves a vast amount of change for all of us, individuals, businesses and political systems from the local council to national governments and beyond. What coping with Covid should teach us, is that lots of people are not skilled in dealing with change. That some deny what is going on. It is highly probable that changing to net zero will produce many of the same issues as covid. If anyone tells you this will be easy, they haven’t thought about it or they have a vested interest they are protecting or they are dissembling.

Don’t underestimate the change that a net zero carbon economy requires.

© Chris Lenon and http://www.zerocarbonourchoice.com  2020-2021. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Chris Lenon and www.zerocarbonourchoice.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

“Put a big fat price on carbon”: OECD chief bows out with climate rally cry.

Angel Gurria

This is the headline from a Guardian article. The article is an interesting spin on Gurria’s 15 years at the head of the OECD. I worked with him in BIAC from 2006 to 2012, he’s a nice person in my experience. But OECD hasn’t really taken the lead in pushing this agenda forward, perhaps constrained by the attitude of its biggest member, the US under both Obama and Trump.

I wrote a blog questioning why the OECD wasn’t working on the taxation of aviation and the tax subsidies which it enjoys.  “Why is the OECD not reviewing the taxation of aviation?” I’d asked insiders why the work wasn’t being done and they pointed to a lack of funding and “more important” projects.

The OECD is perfectly positioned to work on this subject. The zero rating of airline tickets and the exemption from fuel duty for airline fuel clearly sit within the OECD expertise. The issue of passenger duty also would fit. It is an obviously international issue in both tax and carbon.

So, if the OECD wants to “Put a big fat price on carbon”, why doesn’t it do this work on the taxing of a form of emissions which is often discretionary? On removing this carbon subsidy?

Instead that quote looks like a piece of greenwash. Do we want to put a big, fat price on all carbon? On domestic heating for instance? Or does the OECD lean towards taxation because it is part of their mandate, whereas regulation, which may be more suitable for some emissions, is more of a national competence.

© Chris Lenon and http://www.zerocarbonourchoice.com  2020-2021. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Chris Lenon and www.zerocarbonourchoice.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Welsh Ministers have laid regulations in the Senedd that formally commit Wales to legally binding targets designed to deliver net-zero carbon emissions within 30 years.

“The Welsh Government has also accepted the revised advice of the independent Climate Change Committee (CCC) that this goal is credible, feasible and – crucially – affordable.

Environment and energy minister Lesley Griffiths made it clear the administration would push to achieve zero-carbon sooner than 2050.

Latest analysis from the committee reveals that the most significant potential to accelerate emissions reductions in Wales is based on evidence suggesting greater abatement is possible in the industry and power sectors. This reflects the presence of a small number of high-emitting point sources in Wales, such as the Port Talbot steelworks.

However, the committee has also highlighted that the path to net-zero will be partly or fully driven by societal or behavioural changes.

“This means government, communities and businesses working together to change how we travel, shop, heat our homes, and switching to lower-carbon diets. In all cases, large reductions in the amount of energy and natural resources we use is necessary to achieve the targets,” said the government.

The committee assessment highlighted an accelerated shift in diets away from meat and dairy products, reductions in waste, slower growth in flights and reductions in demand for travel.

Improved energy and resource efficiency would be critical, stressed the committee. “By the early 2030s, all new cars and vans and all boiler replacements in homes and other buildings must be low-carbon – we expect largely electric.

“By 2040, all new heavy goods vehicles should be low-carbon. The South Wales industrial cluster (as well as other industrial sites in Wales) must either switch away from fossil fuels to low-carbon alternatives and/or install carbon capture and storage (CCS) at scale from the mid-2030s.”

Significant land use change will be involved, argued the committee. “A transformation is needed in Wales’s land while supporting Welsh farmers.”

By 2030, this should involve planting a cumulative 43,000 hectares of mixed woodland to remove CO2 from the atmosphere as they grow, increasing to a total of 180,000 hectares by 2050.

Another 56,000 hectares of agricultural land should shift to bioenergy production (including short rotation forestry) by 2050.

The committee’s report stressed that peatlands must be restored widely and managed sustainably. Low-carbon farming practices must be adopted widely while raising farm productivity.

Ministers have promised to set out how the government intends to deliver the country’s new net-zero ambition in its next All Wales Plan. This will be published in advance of the United Nations climate summit, COP26, which is being held in Glasgow later this year.

The Path to Net Zero and Progress on Reducing Emissions in Wales can be read on the Committee on Climate Change website. 

The themes in this analysis, echo those in “Zero Carbon Our Choice”, particularly “The committee assessment highlighted an accelerated shift in diets away from meat and dairy products, reductions in waste, slower growth in flights and reductions in demand for travel.

Improved energy and resource efficiency would be critical, stressed the committee. “By the early 2030s, all new cars and vans and all boiler replacements in homes and other buildings must be low-carbon – we expect largely electric.”

I hope that we can now begin an informed debate about how to achieve these goals which are demanding.

© Chris Lenon and http://www.zerocarbonourchoice.com  2020-2021. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Chris Lenon and www.zerocarbonourchoice.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Air Source Heat Pumps – viable carbon free domestic heating?

One of the larger contributors to UK emissions is domestic power use for heating, hot water, etc taking 15% of UK emissions. The main fuel source for heating in the UK is gas with 63% of the total. The primary option for zero carbon emission heating (based on used zero carbon electricity) is an air source heat pump. Hydrogen may be an option in due course, but it will require a significant investment in renewable power as currently over 90% of hydrogen is produced using carbon sources.

Source Ovo Energy

So, Air Source heat pumps or Ground Source heat pumps are the main option for carbon free residential heating and hot water (if they use non carbon electricity). This is simple technology, outdoor ambient heat is transferred to a coolant using a heat exchanger coil, this coolant is compressed and the temperature increased, this heated coolant transfers heat to the hot water store through a heat exchanger coil. A “standard” domestic air source heat pump can extract useful heat down to about −15 °C (5 °F).

I had an air source heat pump installed earlier this year. The main difference from conventional central heating is that it operates at a lower background temperature throughout 24 hours a day. Its sophistication is that based on sensors outdoors that will adjust the temperature of the water in the system.

The controls of the Unit .

My calculations are that it is competitive with gas and four times as efficient as an electric boiler. The investment cost is higher than a gas boiler, but the maintenance costs lower. The costs are further reduced if electricity generated from residential solar is used.

The issue for the UK is that a conventional plumber’s training is not sufficient for installing and maintaining air source heat pumps. As a result, there may be logistical issues in installing the over 20 million systems that would be needed in the UK. Only 207,000 systems had been installed in the UK by 2018 so the rate of installation would have to increase dramatically. There are UK producers of air source heat pumps, but most pumps fitted in the UK are imported.

My experience of the air source heat pump is favourable. It is known technology capable of mass rollout. The take up to date is disappointing despite the Renewable Heat Incentive support. While new homes will have to fit non carbon heating from from 2025, the question is will consumers switch to this heating? Zero carbon is our choice as consumers – will we make that choice?

© Chris Lenon and http://www.zerocarbonourchoice.com  2020. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Chris Lenon and www.zerocarbonourchoice.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Zero Carbon A Challenging Goal

 

I gave the attached presentation to students and staff at the University of Gloucestershire in March. I have given other presentations to amenity societies tailored to their interests.

What has been interesting is that people are unaware of how much their personal lifestyles will need to change to achieve zero carbon. As my subsequent post will show this is an indictment of politicians and advocates of carbon reduction who have failed to explain the consequences for ordinary people.

There is a real danger of a backlash against proposals a la yellow vests in France.

COP 26 needs to be honest with citizens about the changes as they affect them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Planning for net zero carbon

https://consult.rbkc.gov.uk/housing/draft-greening-supplementary-planning-document-spd/

RBKC in London is consulting on revising their planning guidelines to reach net zero carbon targets.

It is a fascinating, well written document and can be viewed through the link above. Here are some quotes from the document:

“We will aim to reduce the energy demand of new buildings. This will be done by optimising the design of buildings to take full benefit of sun orientation or natural ventilation for example. We are also setting high energy standards and will require ‘Net Zero carbon’ from all our major developments both residential and non-residential.”

“The Government’s recent Planning for net zero carbon Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution declares the phasing out of gas boilers. This section of the SPD provides guidance on using alternative means such as heat pumps and other forms 4 of renewable energy which are suitable in the Borough such as photo voltaic solar panels.”

“There is a clear recognition that development proposals need to consider the air quality given that the whole Borough is in an air quality management area. We will require Air Quality Assessments as part of major developments. Amongst other measures to improve air quality we support the provision of electric vehicle charging points. For all new developments where parking is proposed, applicants should seek to provide on-site charging points to accommodate the current and future requirements of the occupants. We also recognise the benefits of retrofitting charging points to existing parking spaces and support this.”

“Urban Greening: Urban greening describes the act of adding green infrastructure elements. Due to our dense built environment, green roofs, street trees, and additional vegetation are the most appropriate elements of green infrastructure. Urban Greening Factor: This is a land-use planning tool to help determine the amount of greening required in new developments.”

“Where an energy assessment demonstrates that the carbon savings required cannot be delivered on-site, the remaining regulated emissions will incur a charge in the form of a cash in lieu payment to the council’s carbon offset fund which will be secured through a legal agreement. The council has adopted the Mayor’s current carbon offset price. For all major developments the payment required is based on the nationally recognised ‘Zero Carbon Hub’ price per tonne of carbon dioxide of £60, offset over 30 years. At present, this gives an overall price of £1,800 (£60 x 30 years) per tonne of carbon to be offset. The tonnes of carbon that will need to be offset should be clearly set out in the applicant’s energy strategy.”

I think these quotes demonstrate how far we have come in a few years. The concepts and the type of framework described in the document needs to be adopted by all councils in the UK, and elsewhere. The consultation is about the built environment and infrastructure, but it demonstrates the changes needed in domestic heating and motor transport within this. Heat pumps and electric charging points will be key to this strategy.

I think these quotes demonstrate how far we have come in a few years. The concepts and the type of framework described in the document needs to be adopted by all councils in the UK, and elsewhere. The consultation is about the built environment and infrastructure, but it demonstrates the changes needed in domestic heating and motor transport within this. Heat pumps and electric charging points will be key to this strategy.

Business is responsible for less than 50% of UK emissions

Source : The Guardian

In “Zero Carbon Our Choice”, I argued that while many people think that achieving zero carbon is the responsibility of government and business, in fact it is impossible without a change to the choices which we as consumers make.

Using the 2018 final statistics as summarised in “2018 UK Greenhouse Gas Emissions, Final figures 4 February 2020 National Statistics” as the basis for this. “In 2018, 28% of net greenhouse gas emissions in the UK were estimated to be from the transport sector, 23% from energy supply, 18% from business, 15% from the residential sector and 10% from agriculture. The rest was attributable to the remaining sectors: waste management, industrial processes, and the public sector. The land use, land use change and forestry (LULUCF) sector acted as a net sink in 2018 so emissions were effectively negative.”

My argument is that we need to analyse these figures to look at who is responsible for the emissions by the choices they make?

On this basis, the emissions of energy supply (23%)  – mainly electricity generation – are decided by government decisions and regulations. It was government dictat which stopped coal use in power generation by imposing a cost penalty on coal burnt in power stations. These emissions are not business emissions as although business is an end user, like we the consumer, they do not determine the power mix of power generation, it is government regulation and pricing mechanisms which do.

18% from business is business’s responsibility.

28 % from transport. “Road transport is the most significant source of emissions in this sector, in particular passenger cars; and the changes which have been seen over the period were heavily influenced by this category. Figure 5 shows how the volume of traffic on the roads has changed over time in Great Britain, which reflects the trend seen for the UK. Motor vehicle traffic volumes have generally increased throughout this period, other than a fall seen between 2007 and 2012 following the recession.”

56% of transport emissions relate to passenger cars, so even if one assumes that all the other transport emissions are business then 12% of total UK emissions are business transport emissions but 16% are public emissions, from our choice to drive ICE vehicles.

15% from the residential sector “The residential sector consists of emissions from fuel combustion for heating and cooking, garden machinery, and fluorinated gases released from aerosols and metered dose inhalers. It is estimated to have been responsible for around 15% of UK greenhouse gas emissions in 2018, with carbon dioxide being the most prominent gas for this sector (96%). The main source of emissions from this sector is the use of natural gas for heating and cooking.”

These are not business emissions. Again, these are emissions from our choice to use carbon fuels in our homes. There are roughly 27 million homes in the UK, the government has a target to install 600,000 heat pump systems per annum. At this rate, we will still have carbon heating in 2066 and nearly 10 million UK homes will still have carbon heating by 2050. To put this in perspective in 2017, 20,000 heat pump systems were installed.

10% Agriculture. If one considers agriculture to be a business, then these emissions are business emissions. But half these emissions arise from the production of meat products. One can argue that again these emissions arise as a result of the choice which we the consumer makes to eat meat and therefore that “business emissions” in agriculture are 5% of the total.

2% from industrial processes is a business responsibility.

2% Public sector is not a business responsibility.

5% Waste management (mainly landfill). At least half of this is from food waste in landfill. So, I would suggest business is responsible for 2% of these emissions at most.

Land use is negative 2-3% mainly from forestry.

Using this basis, business is responsible for the emissions from total UK emissions of business 18%, business transport 12%, Industrial processes 2%, waste management 2% , a total of 34%. If agriculture is included this increase to either 39% or 44% (depending on how meat production emissions are treated).

Consumers are responsible for emissions from private transport 16%, residential 15%, waste 3%, a total of 34%.

Government is responsible for Energy supply 23% and public sector 2%, a total of 25%

This doesn’t allocate the negative land use of 2-3%.

Using these UK numbers, business is responsible for (and can control and reduce) under half of the UK emissions. It does not control the emissions of Energy Supply, (even if it is a part end user like consumers) nor of the public sector nor of consumers themselves.

A recent poll showed that 67% of UK respondents thought the government should do more about zero carbon. What these figures show is that those respondents need to do more about their own emissions if net zero carbon, is to be achieved. Buying electric cars, using non carbon heating for their homes, minimising food waste in land fill and probably eating a lot less meat are all decisions we need to make. And I haven’t included emissions from flying.

Net zero carbon is about our choices as well as government action.

© Chris Lenon and http://www.zerocarbonourchoice.com  2020-2021. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Chris Lenon and www.zerocarbonourchoice.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

The impact of Covid on government spending on zero carbon


Covid 19 and Zero Carbon both stretch government borrowing

“Why house prices may dip but will not crash” – Merryn Somerset Webb (FT January 15, 2021), contains the following sentence:

“In 2008, the UK spent 1.5% of gross domestic product to alleviate the global financial crisis; this time we have spent 26% of GDP.”

Just take a moment, 26% of GDP! This is breathtaking and the important point is that most of this money has been borrowed. The UK’s 2020 GDP is estimated by the World Bank at roughly $3 trillion (World Bank figures are US$ for comparative purposes). So, we have spent roughly $750 bn (£550bn) on Covid.

When it comes for additional government expenditure on achieving zero carbon this will inevitably have to be funded by additional borrowing in addition to this existing debt.

These numbers are enormous, my book came up with a figure of £1tn for the expenditure to achieve zero carbon in the UK and that is probably conservative. Financing this for government would have been a challenge, given the fiscal impact of Covid that challenge just got significantly greater.

© Chris Lenon and http://www.zerocarbonourchoice.com  2020-2021. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Chris Lenon and www.zerocarbonourchoice.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

New green deal and job losses (1)

Advocates of the new green deal claim large numbers of new jobs created by the new green economy, this is correct, there will be new jobs but most of them (outside of construction) will be more highly skilled due to the technology involved. What is not quantified, is the number of jobs which will be lost as carbon is removed from the economy and that a high proportion of those jobs are lower skilled jobs. A search on papers produced emphasis the new green jobs but do not quantify the distributive effects skilled vs lesser skilled.

What follows is the start of a discussion of the list of sectors and occupations that will be affected. A serious study of the numbers is needed.

Moving Carbon

Carbon goods (oil, coal and lpg) comprise 40% of total sea freight by volume. There are 7,400 carbon tanker ships compared to 5,150 container ships. The consequences of not shipping carbon on shipbuilding, port services and maritime employment will be significant on a global basis.

In addition, in country transport of carbon is a significant employer. Tanker lorries for oil, petrol and lpg and lorry and train transport of coal. Port facilities to handle carbon imports and exports. In a zero-carbon economy, all this investment will be redundant and its difficult to see alternative use. All these jobs will disappear.

13% of rail freight in the UK is oil or coal. 1500 road tankers in the UK distribute petrol and diesel. There are 8,385 petrol stations in the UK. All these jobs will disappear.

Flying

Much is being written about the need to tax airlines given the tax subsidy currently provided by zero fuel duty and zero vat. If airline fuel includes a carbon price as well, if the real carbon cost of flying is taxed, the cost of flying will increase and the numbers flying decrease.

To give some numbers, Heathrow is claimed to generate 76,000 to 190,000 jobs.

“Heathrow is already one of the UK’s largest single-site employers with more than 76,000 people directly employed on the site. In the surrounding area, Heathrow supports a total of 114,000 jobs and accounts for one in five (22%) of local jobs.” Source “The Promise of Heathrow”.

“Heathrow expansion will create more than 120,000 new jobs and has the potential to end youth unemployment in the five local Heathrow boroughs.”

“Based on figures from 2011, in Scotland, Glasgow and Edinburgh airports directly employ a combined total of around 7,500 people, whilst Birmingham employs 7,500 and Bristol 2,700. Manchester airport directly employs around 20,000 people across the north west. House of Commons answer.

The Air Transport Action Group claims “There are over 10 million women and men working within the industry to make sure 120,000 flights and 12 million passengers a day are guided safely through their journeys. The wider supply chain, flow-on impacts and jobs in tourism made possible by air transport show that at least 65.5 million jobs and 3.6% of global economic activity are supported by our industry.”

1,200,000 work in airports in the US.

 Let us assume that flying reduces by 25% (which is conservative) as ticket prices rise to reflect the carbon cost of flying. The impact on Heathrow could be roughly 50,000 jobs. Manchester 5,000, Scotland 1,875, Birmingham 1,875 and Bristol 675.  If we extrapolate globally and use the ATAG figures, then globally this is a loss of 2,500,000 jobs. In the US, it is 300,000 jobs.

Transparency

We need to transition to zero carbon given the environmental consequences of the alternative. But advocates need to be transparent about the costs of this transition, and in particular about the employment impacts. If the population is going to accept the transition, they need to understand the consequences.

I will write shortly about other sectors.

© Chris Lenon and http://www.zerocarbonourchoice.com  2020-2021. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Chris Lenon and www.zerocarbonourchoice.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Can the poor afford zero carbon?

A number of reports have come out claiming that zero carbon can be achieved at little cost, recently for the EU. Many of the advocates of the Green New Deal are on the left. I’m not sure that these advocates have resolved the dilemma of how the poor afford zero carbon technology. There is no magic money tree for new zero carbon technology, either the government funds it through taxation or borrowing, consumers pay or investors in the new technology receive lower returns to reduce the cost to the consumer.

A number of stories about the cost of green technology for the poor, question this. The Independent has reported that 1/3rd of UK adults have no savings, other reports show over 40% of UK adults have less than £1000 savings. So how are these people going to make the investment in an electric car or an air source heat pump? And if not they, who?

Although the price of green technology is falling, it is still a large capital outlay. So, financing this investment for the poorer half of the population is a big issue. A report by the RAC in November 2020, claimed that 30% of the UK population could not afford even the cheapest electric cars. This is regardless of the fact the running costs are lower, the barrier is buying the electric car.

When I posted on the zero carbon Britain Facebook group about air source heat pumps, more than half the comments were about them being too expensive, from a group which supports zero carbon! All this suggests that financing zero carbon technology is a major issue. This may be why the Finance Industry is such a strong advocate – they will make significant returns on the investment cost of zero carbon technology.

For domestic heating and hot water, this problem is aggravated for poorer 50% of the population, by their probable lack of control over their housing. They are more likely to be renting from social housing or private landlords. So, it is those landlords who will need to make the investment in zero carbon domestic heating. But will they without regulation?

The question is who will fund the investment in zero carbon technology for the poorer 50%? How will the landlords. letting to this group be persuaded to invest in zero carbon heating? What will be the effect on their returns? How will the acquisition of electric cars be affordable for the poorer 50%?

© Chris Lenon and http://www.zerocarbonourchoice.com  2020-2021. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Chris Lenon and www.zerocarbonourchoice.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

London Electric cabs – Investment Cost

London Electric cab charging – Source The Guardian

I talked to a London cab driver about his electric cab recently. It costs £60,000 compared to £40,000 for a diesel cab. He gets 70 mile range between charges and charges the cab at home and then in London as he drives around, but hopes the range will extend. He was very happy with it, and saw the environmental benefits of electric. He was considering solar panels to help the charging with green electricity.

The driver told me he was from Somalia originally. I thought that he could see issues that many of us do, but we don’t spend their own money on. I’ve recently written about air source heat pumps and receive a plethora of comments about the capital cost compared to a gas boiler. About how difficult it is to do this, to invest in an air source heat pump, from a forum which promotes Zero Carbon Britain. There is something wrong here, people advocate the change to zero carbon but they don’t think about how it is to be paid for, or they think that someone else will pay. Someone else won’t pay, there isn’t a money tree for these investments, we will pay even if the government provides financial support. Instead of assuming magic economics, we need a serious debate about how the investments to achieve zero carbon will be paid for and we all need to be transparent about the scale of the total investment.

How many of us will personally invest £60,000 in green infrastructure or have done? And yet a London cab driver, originally from Somalia, is prepared to – actions speak louder than words and the choices we make are key to a transition to zero carbon.

© Chris Lenon and http://www.zerocarbonourchoice.com  2020. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Chris Lenon and www.zerocarbonourchoice.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.