12 November 2009

IMechE Report on UK Climate Policy

The Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE) in the UK has released a hard-hitting report on the state of the UK Climate Change Act. IMechE says:
To decarbonise the nation and achieve the 80% reduction in GHG output by 2050, the UK will need to undertake a monumental task at a scale it has never seen before, reducing carbon output per unit of GDP by over 5% annually until 2050. Between 2001 and 2006, we achieved an average of 1.3% annual reduction, but in more recent years, progress has been far more limited. Globally, while the UK, is one of the better performing nations. France has the most decarbonised economy among the large developed nations – through its move towards nuclear power as the predominant source of electricity generation.

For the UK to be on track to achieve the emission reductions required by the Climate Change Act, it would have to become as carbon efficient as France by about 2015; which magnitudinous challenge would require the equivalent of the UK constructing and putting into service about 30 new nuclear power stations in the next five years, while retiring an equal amount of coal-fired generation!

The report has been picked up by the UK media, which reports the following response from the Government:
"The Institute of Mechanical Engineer's can't do, won't do attitude is sending out a defeatist message ahead of the crucial climate change talks in Copenhagen. The truth is that if we act now we can not only beat climate change but gain from the green benefits that will flow in terms of jobs and investment from going low carbon."
If some of the numbers in the report sound familiar, it is because it relies a good deal on my analysis of UK climate policy:

Pielke, Jr., R. A., 2009. The British Climate Change Act: A Critical Evaluation and Proposed Alternative Approach, Environmental Research Letters, Vol. 4, No. 2.