National Climate Pledges

These so called pledges clearly mean absolutely nothing since we know we need to cut carbon emissions by probably 50% by 2030, rather than the 25-30% everyone seems to be partial to. The entire point of the climate summit is to keep below 2 degrees c. So if they aren’t willing to increase their pledges dramatically, we might as well save the co2 and not hold the conference at all.

Where Does Climate Policy Go Following The Election?

The conservatives have won, but what are they going to do to tackle the climate crisis? Personally, I don’t believe they are the party of choice as far as climate change is concerned. When I checked their website in the run up to the election, I couldn’t find a single policy about the subject. The only thing that had any relevance to it was about protecting the green belt. A great thing, but nothing other parties weren’t offering, and a far cry from Lib Dem, Green or Labour policies.

My feeling is that the situation will continue to be left in the hands of the people. If you want to get solar panels, go for it. But you won’t be compensated for it. If you want an electric car, great. Just don’t expect the government to extend the £5k subsidy. This is especially the case now that the Liberal Democrats, the driving force for environmental policies in the coalition, are no longer in power.

I think eventually things will change through necessity. But we will have to reach a point where panic sets in for that to happen. Perhaps the Paris summit will be that point, but probably not.

Can The Guardian’s Keep it in the Ground Campaign Work?

I really respect The Guardian and Alan Rusbridger for what they’re trying to do with this project and accompanying “The Biggest Story in the World” podcast, but how much difference can they make? And how likely is it that we’ll be able to make the necessary global switch to clean energy before we use up the ‘carbon budget’ of 565 gigatons, which will last about 13-15 years.

Personally I find it hard to believe that we can work together for that type of incredibly fast change. I think if we all did put our own individual interests aside and truly worked together, we could get close. But to do that, we need to act immediately. The Paris summit is absolutely critical. We need to get a fixed amount of the remaining oil, coal and gas reserves that can be dug up in law.

As far as The Guardian’s other tactic of trying to encourage major companies and charitable trusts to divest from fossil fuel companies. I like the idea of a type of quiet boycott. The issue is that not many companies seem to agree so far, and even the ones who do in principle, believe that as soon as they share their stakes in these companies, someone else will immediately come in and buy the shares.

A tactic like this, as with all climate change action, requires collaboration between almost everyone to have any real impact. I don’t think that will happen in the short term. Perhaps if a landmark deal is reached in Paris that causes the world to take notice and generates massive momentum, then we might see this tactic start to work. Until then, I don’t see it.

There are other tactics that the campaign can look at using, including making noise in the run up to the general election and talking to car companies about investing more in electric cars and battery tech among other things. They need to explore every possible avenue.

Are hydrogen powered cars the future or the transition towards electric cars?

Hydrogen fuel cells have one major benefit over fully electric cars. You can fill them up in the same way you fill up your petrol or hybrid car. You don’t have to wait for them to charge.

The benefits probably end there though. They’re about half as efficient as fully electric, require a complicated process to create the highly pressurized hydrogen, which then needs to be transported around the world as petrol does. That doesn’t sound like an ideal solution.

The instant refilling is a huge benefit right now of course, but as battery technology improves over time, the situation won’t be clear cut. Hydrogen cars aren’t going to be mainstream any time soon, and in the meantime the world will be covered in fast charging stations, which will be constantly improving speeds. Not to mention the fact that the batteries themselves will increase dramatically in range. These advancements should render Hydrogen fuel cells as largely redundant.

The lack of infrastructure will ultimately hinder hydrogen adoption. Even though electric superchargers aren’t everywhere yet, everyone can charge their car at home whether it’s through a dedicated fast charger, or through the mains.

Even in a best case scenario in which Hyrdogen stations become commonplace worldwide, the production of the fuel and the fuel cells themselves become far more efficient, it will be hard to ever match pure EVs. But I’m excited to see how it pans out. Maybe they’ll prove me wrong.