News

20 May 2022

Tipping towards positive social change

What are the sensitive intervention points needed to make the green energy transition happen as quickly as possible?

2 May 2022

New appointments to the Climate Change Committee

Ben Caldecott joins the CCC’s Adaptation Committee

21 February 2022

Fossil fuel industry can’t rely on carbon capture and bioenergy to save its assets

New research led by Yangsiyu Lu

4 January 2022

New Year's Honour for Myles Allen

Myles Allen appointed CBE in recognition of his climate research work

1 December 2021

Clean energy transition: the faster we go, the cheaper it will be

Doyne Farmer and Eric Beinhocker talk to the Pitchfork Economics podcast

5 November 2021

COP26 and Europe’s green grand bargain

Alex Clark speaks to the World in 30 Minutes podcast

28 October 2021

Sustainability discussion guide for financial advisers

Ben Caldecott provides the forward to new guide

14 October 2021

Decarbonising the global energy system

Watch Doyne Farmer, Matthew Ives and Rupert Way's presentation to the Oxford Energy Network

15 September 2021

Should we pay to treat waste carbon?

Oil and gas companies should have to put the carbon they extract back underground

2 September 2021

The ship.energy podcast: contracts for difference

Listen to Alex Clark discussing contracts-for-difference

In this episode of the Hear This Idea podcast, Matthew Ives explains how Complexity Economics looks at the economy from a different perspective and doesn't rely on assumptions that are problematic for neoclassical economics - such as having to assume that we are always in some sort of equilibrium state. He explains how using Complexity Economics methodologies can better explain and predict the costs of the green energy transition.

30 June 2021

Podcast: Matthew Ives on solar power and experience curves

Matthew Ives talks to the Hear This Idea podcast

In his article for 'The Conversation', Myles Allen argues that the recent G7 summit in Cornwall ended with little cause for celebration from anyone worried about climate change. Most of the pledges were simply restating promises already made. 

And, again, the world’s richest democracies failed to mention (let alone agree) to new funding to help poorer parts of the world invest in green technology and adapt to extreme weather. The G7 countries are among those who have most contributed to climate change historically. But there is no way of accurately measuring who has actually contributed most. 

​Allen explains that this is largely due to the effects of climate change depending on how much we warm the planet overall, while the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) only requires countries to report their contributions to emissions. This method to report emissions reflects their effect on the balance between the energy the Earth absorbs from the Sun and the energy it emits back into space over the 100 years after the date of the emission. While this matters less for carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide, other pollutants, such as methane, it matters a lot.

Allen writes, "Any country contemplating setting up a fracking industry (notorious for leaking methane) can be quietly confident that it will be 100 years before the warming effect of their fugitive methane emissions will be accurately reflected in their reports to the UNFCCC."

The information we need to make accurate calculations does exist and would reveal that we do not simply need to stop global warming as soon as possible, we need to use methods such as carbon capture to try and reverse it.

15 June 2021

What the G7 leaders should have said at their summit

Myles Allen explains in The Conversation

Ben Caldecott is among the members of the Green Taxonomy Advisory Group (CTAG) launched by the UK government. The new expert group will support investors, consumers and businesses to make green financial decisions.

CTAG will advise on standards for green investment in an effort to provide clearer information to help companies and individuals make informed green choices and support investment in sustainable projects. The resulting framework will assist in identifying supposedly green investment products which make unsubstantiated or exaggerated claims about being environmentally friendly.

9 June 2021

New independent group to help tackle 'greenwashing'

Ben Caldecott is among members of the Green Taxonomy Advisory Group launched today

In their article in 'The Conversation', Thomas Hale, Steve Smith and Richard Black discuss why Net Zero targets are necessary despite fears of greenwashing.

​Many climate activists have reacted by pointing out the flaws in some net zero targets, focusing in particular on oil and gas companies that plan to pay for carbon offsets instead of dealing with the emissions caused by burning their products.

Others have concerns about the actual concept of net zero targets . Recently an article by three climate change academics including former IPCC chair Bob Watson described net zero as a “dangerous trap”, while Greta Thunberg said tweeted that “these distant targets” are about “making it seem like we’re acting without having to change.”

Activists are right to highlight the loose nature of some pledges, particularly from fossil fuel corporates. However, there are early indications that this is more than a theory. The UK, EU and US all recently set 2050 net zero targets and then upgraded their 2030 targets.

There is a need to differentiate serious targets from those set for greenwashing. Shareholders, voters and customers can demand organisations stick to their pledges, while accreditation mechanisms are evolving over time to follow the science. For example, the UN-backed Race to Zero recently published upgraded criteria.

Despite any flaws, widespread strengthening of net zero targets offers the most viable route to implementing the Paris Agreement and so preventing the most dangerous impacts of climate change.

10 May 2021

Net zero crucial for tackling climate change despite greenwashing fears

How to avoid greenwashing on the path to meeting emissions reductions

As the UK government prepares to announce a legally binding target of cutting UK emissions by 78 percent by 2035 compared with 1990 levels, one point of focus was the amount of CO2 resulting from the UK's aviation industry. The UK is the third highest producer of carbon dioxide emissions from aviation, behind only USA and China.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4's 'Today' programme, Myles Allen explained that the UK would need to move to a model where carbon dioxide is treated like any other waste product. He said "... if you are going to use a product, you should pay to clean up after yourself.
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By adding the cost of carbon dioxide disposal to the cost of a flight, a transatlantic air fare could rise by hundreds of pounds - meaning that people would decide to fly less. Myles continued, "It doesn't mean you have to ban flying entirely, it just means it will go back to costing what it did in the Seventies and Eighties."

Raising fare prices is not currently part of airline plans as the industry hopes to focus on more efficient aircraft, the use of sustainable aviation fuels and also carbon offsetting to reach net zero instead.

​

20 April 2021

Flight costs could return to 1970s prices to account for environmental impact​

Myles Allen speaks to BBC Radio 4's Today programme

West Cumbria council’s controversial approval of the Woodhouse Colliery, the first deep coal mine to open in the UK for over 30 years, is now being reconsidered “in light of new information on proposed greenhouse gas targets for the 2030s”. Scientists, climate policy experts and campaigners had argued the mine was inconsistent with the government’s own aim to reach net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

In their article in 'The Conversation' Myles Allen and Nathalie Seddon consider if there could be a way to transform this into a flagship project for the world’s net zero future.

​The Woodhouse Colliery would produce coking coal, which fuels the blast furnaces in steelworks. Unlike thermal coal (used to generate electricity), coal-based steel-making is still significantly cheaper than alternatives such as hydrogen. It may still make sense to use coking coal in blast furnaces in a world with net zero greenhouse gas emissions – provided, of course, they are fitted with robust carbon dioxide capture and storage technology.

Options might include storing the carbon in Cumbria’s peatlands or native forests. Restoring and protecting these natural carbon sinks is important for many reasons such as supporting biodiversity and alleviating flooding. It would also be much cheaper than injecting carbon dioxide below ground. But restoring and sustainably managing all the UK’s peatlands would take up only 60% of the carbon dioxide released by the Woodhouse Colliery’s coal by 2050. However, climate change could potentially turn these ecosystems into sources of emissions as soils warm and wildfires become more frequent. 

Another option would be for the colliery to work with customers, such as the British Steel plant in Scunthorpe, to capture the carbon dioxide produced by their blast furnaces and dispose of it under the North Sea through schemes such as the Zero Carbon Humber project.

​While the carbon capture projects may decrease profits initially, they would open the door to future possibilities and the creation of hundreds of jobs in the north of England.

10 February 2021

Is a net-zero compliant fossil fuel industry possible?

Myles Allen and Nathalie Seddon suggest it could be in their article in The Conversation

A new study by Galina Alova, Philipp Trotter and Alex Money has predicted that Africa's electricity production will rely largely on fossil fuels over the next decade. By considering power generation project failure rates, as well as country-level characteristics, the authors created a machine-learning model to predict the which energy projects currently being planned would be likely to succeed.

There has been a widely shared view that African countries could "leapfrog" directly to green energy but this study suggests that coal, oil and gas will continue to dominate the generation of electricity across 54 African countries, with less that 10% coming from renewable sources, with the exception of hydro power. 

Despite the poor outlook for renewables, the authors say that there are a number of factors that could shift the odds in favour of green energy over the next decade. The US, for example, is investing in natural gas plants in Africa. Redirecting these funds to non-fossil fuels could provide the kick start that the green technologies need. Unless a there is a large-scale cancellation of the fossil fuel plants currently in the pipeline, the study points to high carbon lock-in risks for Africa.

12 January 2021

Africa's green energy transition unlikely this decade

New study predics that less than 10% of new power generated on the continent will come from wind or solar

Sugandha Srivastav and Brian O'Callaghan describe why India's post-Covid recovery should be green in an article for 'The Times of India'.

India has been pursuing a model of growth which brings tradeoffs: coal energy production coal comes at the cost of harmful air pollution. Similarly, slow modernisation in agriculture has seen the continuance of stubble-burning, which further contributes further poor air quality. 

Just as clean air is a fundamental right, so is access to clean water and sanitation. Last year, Chennai experienced Day Zero of the water crisis, when there was almost no water left in the city. 
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The Indian government has earmarked Rs 22.5 trillion in fiscal stimulus to rescue and revive an economy battered by the pandemic. If funds are well spent, the Indian economy can pivot in a direction that not only reboots growth but which delivers a cleaner and safer environment while reducing inequalities.

11 November 2020

Make India's post Covid recovery green

Sugandha Srivastav and Brian O'Callaghan explain why in The Time of India

Countdown is a global initiative to champion and accelerate solutions to the climate crisis, powered by TED and Future Stewards, aiming to turn ideas into action by supporting a series of cross-sector projects. Each project will set specific goals and drive fresh commitments and action in the lead-up to the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) in 2021.

Myles Allen was among the leading thinkers at the virtual launch event on 10 October 2020. He suggests how oil and gas companies can progressively decarbonise themselves instead of a total ban on carbon-emitting fuels and still reaching net-zero emissions by 2050 by creating a carbon dioxide disposal industry that works for everyone.

15 October 2020

​Myles Allen joins the Countdown

TED and Future Stewards launch the Countdown initiative ahead of COP26

Writing in 'Responsible Investor', Ben Caldecott explains why financial institutions need to decarbonise the economy instead of focusing simply on the climate-related risks that could strand assets.  While climate risk management (CRM) can lead to better climate outcomes, it has different aims and often different results to alignment with climate outcomes (ACO). In fact, CRM can in some cases make little or no contribution to ACO.

​It has been five years since the G20 Financial Stability Board’s Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) was announced. It has in this time created a framework to help companies consistently measure, manage and report their climate-related risk exposures. Although TCFD does have undoubtedly have an important role to play in mitigating climate change, further measures need to taken - making net zero targets and transition plans mandatory for all financial institutions is the single most significant step to take.

The UK is ideally placed to influence the global financial system: as hosts of COP 26, new commitments on climate from financial institutions need to be significant; and as home of the world's largest financial centre, others will follow the City of London's lead. 

This is a sensitive intervention point, where a modest change can create disproportionate benefits for and non-linear growth in climate action. And exactly the sort of measure that the UK should be doing as a world-leader on climate change in the build-up to COP26.

29 July 2020

Time to make net zero mandatory for financial institutions

Ben Caldecott explains why the time is right to make financial institutions commit to net zero

A new report co-authored by Ben Caldecott shows that the environmental, social and governance (ESG) performance of companies can improve countries' economic growth. This research will have major implications for policymakers and central banks as they plan rescue packages for coronavirus-stricken economies.

The report shows that high ESG performance aligns with significant improvement in GDP and reduced unemployment for company's native country.

A growing number of green groups, scientists, politicians, businesses and economists have argued that a green recovery to the pandemic would not only benefit the economy, but also the climate and wider environment. This research provides the evidence that policymakers need.​

10 June 2020

Companies' ESG scores improve macroeconomic growth

New report aligns ESG scores with improved GDP and employment

Programme Director Cameron Hepburn has told 'China Daily' that China has the opportunity to accelerate the world's response to climate change after the pandemic. While the Chinese government's Work Report, delivered by Premier Li Keqiang last week, focuses on stabilising employment, Hepburn was encouraged by inclusion of elements of a green recovery. He believes that COVID-19 recovery packages can boost economic growth and also halt the progress of climate change if they are designed with environmental concerns in mind.

The International Energy Agency estimates that global emissions will fall by 8 percent this year as a result of actions taken to stem the COVID-19 pandemic. However, Hepburn warned that emissions may rebound and even surpass previous levels if governments do not make sustainability a key priority when making up for lost productivity. China has the opportunity now to reduce oil and coal use - and renewable energy can generate twice as many jobs as investment in fossil fuels as well as reducing air pollution and increasing public health.

Hepburn said, "The direction of China's economic recovery post-COVID-19 will shape the global response to climate change-China will recover earlier than other major economies, and has the potential to be a global leader on climate."

28 May 2020

China can lead a green recovery

Cameron Hepburn discusses green policies and post pandemic recovery in China Daily

21 May 2020

SIPs competition: and the winner is...

We are pleased to announce the winner of our Sensitive Intervention Points competition

New research by Cameron Hepburn, Brian O’Callaghan, Nicholas Stern, Joseph Stiglitz and Dimitri Zenghelis suggests that international economic recovery from COVID-19 must be environmentally-conscious.

Their analysis of possible COVID-19 economic recovery packages shows the potential for strong alignment between the economy and the environment.  They review evidence suggesting that green projects create more jobs, deliver higher short-term returns per dollar spend and lead to increased long-term cost savings, when compared to traditional stimulus packages.

Examples include spending on building efficiency retrofitting, clean R&D spending,  and investment in education and training to address immediate unemployment from COVID-19 alongside structural employment opportunities from de-carbonisation. Meanwhile, unconditional airline bailouts performed the most poorly in terms of size and speed of economic as well as climate metrics.

6 April 2020

A green COVID-19 recovery to save the climate and the economy

New research shows that green stimulus packages are the best option for the economy

14 March 2020

Five tough questions to ask about reaching net zero climate targets

Myles Allen and Thomas Hale are co-authors of this article in The Independent

10 January 2020

Ruminant methane, GWP* and global warming

Myles Allen talks to the Farm Gate podcast

At the 10th anniversary conference of TEDx Vienna on 19 October 2019, Cameron Hepburn discussed how renewables could really power the whole world, and the potential role of hydrogen and ammonia in the post-carbon transition.

21 October 2019

SIPs at TEDx Vienna

Cameron Hepburn explains how sensitive intervention points can lead to runaway change for a better world

In response to news that BP’s shareholders refused to support a second resolution demanding targets on emissions from its products, Myles Allen and Cameron Hepburn have written to the 'Financial Times'. They explain that to be credibly aligned with the Paris agreement, BP would need to recognise that consistency with the Paris agreement on climate change requires net-zero emissions globally. The company needs to set out a plausible and profitable business model for the company in a net-zero emissions world, and set out the steps it will take to get there.

24 May 2019

Every business must have a plan for when net emissions are zero

Myles Allen and Cameron Hepburn's letter published in the Financial Times.

19 May 2022

Can Europe keep the lights on without Russia?

Myles Allen talks to the Prospect Podcast

5 April 2022

Invasion of Ukraine and climate change

What will it mean for the IPCC's latest climate change report?

19 February 2022

Myles Allen speaks at Northern Ireland Climate Change Summit

Challenge to policymakers to engage with and not alienate famers

16 December 2021

Evidence against Brazilian president filed with ICC

Submissions say Jair Bolsonaro responsible for 1% of greenhouse gas emissions

15 November 2021

Energy transition and the far-reaching implications

Matthew Ives presents at COP26

3 November 2021

Government intervention needed to shape markets for clean energy innovation

New report from EEIST launched at COP26

27 October 2021

Carbon takeback obligation - can we afford not to act?

New report highlights a possible supply-side mitigation that could help us meeting Paris climate obligations

29 September 2021

Written evidence provided to Environmental Audit Committee

Strategies for the decarbonisation of international marine transport

14 September 2021

Rethink 'cost-benefit analysis' to tackle climate crisis

Policymakers need better tools to help them tackle the climate crisis

6 August 2021

Plastics, proteins and plants key to reaching net-zero emissions

How to tackle the final 25% of carbon emissions

A new study published in 'Nature Climate Change' shows that evidence provided in lawsuits lags far behind state-of-the-art climate science, impeding claims that greenhouse-gas emissions have caused the impacts suffered by the plaintiffs.

Lead author Rupert Stuart-Smith said, 'In recent weeks, successful lawsuits in the Netherlands, Germany, and elsewhere have seen courts demand countries and companies dramatically strengthen their climate targets. The power of climate litigation is increasingly clear.'

The study authors call for greater awareness and use of climate attribution science when bringing litigation. Not only will this provide better evidence and increase the likelihood of a successful outcome, but attribution science can inform the decision to pursue climate litigation cases with uncertainties around some types of events, such as droughts being much higher than others.

29 June 2021

Poor use of science jeopardises climate litigation

Study shows that using the most up to date scientific evidence is crucial to the success of climate lawsuits

Financial institutions with trillions of dollars in assets have pledged to achieve net zero portfolios and loanbooks by 2050, including meeting ambitious interim 2030 targets.

​However, new research by Ben Caldecott and Christian Wilson reveals that passive funds not only hold fossil fuel assets, but directly finance them by buying large quantities of new bonds issued by fossil fuel companies. 

Ben Caldecott said, 'Climate conscious financial institutions need to be much better at tracking primary market transactions that directly support fossil fuel companies. It is when new bonds or shares are issued in primary markets and bought that capital actually flows from the financial system to the real economy. Financial institutions need to know how they are contributing to capital flows that could help or hinder tackling climate change.'

14 June 2021

ETFs are financing fossil fuel companies at large scale

New research from Ben Caldecott and Christian Wilson

Writing in 'The Conversation', Cameron Hepburn and Steve Smith explain that to reach net zero emissions by 2050, global emissions must be cut faster and deeper than the world has yet managed. But even then, some hard-to-treat sources of pollution – in aviation, agriculture and cement making – may linger for longer than we would like. It will take time for clean alternatives to arrive and replace them.

That means the world also needs to find and improve CO₂ removal technologies to stabilise the climate. CO₂ can be captured by plants as they grow or absorbed by soils, minerals or chemicals, and locked up in the biosphere, oceans, underground, or even in long-lived products such as construction materials (including timber or aggregates). And new innovations and start-ups are emerging.

​So how do we make sure that we get carbon removal right without distracting from the critical task of reducing emissions?

28 May 2021

Priorities for pulling carbon out of the air

How can we get carbon removal right without distracting from the critical task of reducing emissions?

In his article in 'The European Sting', Thomas Hale discusses ideas in the December 2020 report he coauthored,  "Governance to support a global green deal: 11 ways to align global economic institutions with climate action in the next 12-36 months".

He also highlights the work of the Global Alliance for Trade Facilitation in helping governments in developing and least developed countries. As the COVID-19 pandemic impacts economies around the world, “build back better” has become an urgent mantra. While governments are committing trillions in emergency spending, delivering global climate goals – as well as broader aims of sustainable development and economic justice within and across countries – will require transformation as well as stimulus.

The report's recommendations develop the following ideas:
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- Support countries to best use policy space in current trade and investment rules
- Strengthen climate engagement at the World Trade Organization
- Coordinate national climate trade measures to increase effectiveness and fairness
- Develop climate-enhancing preferential trade and investment agreements
- Commit to net-zero trade finance
- Assert the legitimacy of green innovation and industrial policy with a political declaration
- Reform the Energy Charter Treaty
- Develop a climate-aligned “aid for trade” initiative
- Develop rules to support fossil fuel subsidy reform
- Ensure reform of investor-state dispute settlement advances climate goals
- Develop science-based climate standards in the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and beyond

4 May 2021

How to align global economic governance with a green new deal

What governance changes do we need to support a global green deal?

At the launch of their new report ‘A new perspective on decarbonising the global energy system’, Doyne Farmer and Matthew Ives drew on over a decade of research to explain why the more we deploy renewables, the faster their prices are likely to drop. For example, solar panels are 1,000 times cheaper than they were 50 years ago, with the International Energy Agency recently declaring that in many locations around the world solar is ‘the cheapest source of electricity in history.’ This has profound implications for the potential cost and optimal pace of our transition towards net zero.

At the event, Jiangwen Guo, Deputy Director of the Energy, Environment and Resources Programme at Chatham House, also discussed their engagement with the Chinese government on this new research.

19 April 2021

A new perspective on decarbonising the global energy system

Doyne Farmer and Matthew Ives speak at the report's launch event

In December 2020 the UK Climate Change Committee (CCC) published the Sixth Carbon Budget report, providing  ministers with advice on the volume of greenhouse gases the UK can emit during the period 2033-2037. This landmark report is based on an extensive programme of analysis, consultation and consideration by the CCC and its staff, building on the evidence published the previous year when advising on a new ‘Net Zero’ target for the UK.

In our annual lecture, CCC Chief Executive Chris Stark gave us an overview of the CCC's advice in this report, which sets out for the first time a detailed pathway to achieving Net Zero in the UK by 2050. The discussions included adoption of low-carbon solutions (such as electric vehicles and boiler replacements), plans for the expansion of low-carbon energy supplies (including for transportation and industry), and land use and greenhouse gas removals.

5 February 2021

Chris Stark on the path to net zero in the UK

Chris Stark provides an overview of the CCC's advice to the government in its landmark report

Doyne Farmer presented virtually at the Great Wall Renewables Energy Forum in China on the predictability of renewable technology trends and the potential for low cost renewables-based energy systems.

Coinciding with President Xi Jinping’s recent historic announcement that China will aim for carbon neutrality by 2060, Doyne’s presentation to the Forum is part of the outreach for the UK government sponsored EEIST project aimed at introducing new economic modelling to decision making around the energy transition to net zero.

4 December 2021

Great Wall Renewables Energy Forum

Doyne Farmer on how predicting technological progress can help solve climate change

4 November 2020

COP26: a letter to school strikers

Myles Allen writes an open letter to student activists in The Conversation

More than $10 trillion has already been spent on fiscal policy relief and to contain COVID-19 globally. New rounds of stimulus to support economic recovery are expected as but how can capital be directed towards a sustainable and resilient recovery? Cameron Hepburn is among panelists discussing potential measures and why going green makes sense at this World Economic Forum webinar.

15 September 2020

The great reset - financing a sustainable economy

Cameron Hepburn is among the speakers at theWorld Economic Forum's webinar

Writing in 'Nature', ​Milan Klöwer, Debbie Hopkins, Myles Allen and James Higham analyse how a variety of measures could decarbonise conference travel in a post pandemic world. Many academics are part of a hypermobile lifestyle, travelling to conferences, to conduct fieldwork, to visit collaborators and to give seminars and lectures.

The authors specifically looked at the Meeting of the American Geophysical Union, held in San Francisco in December 2019. They calculate that the 28,000 delegates traveled 285 million kilometres there and back, generating the equivalent of approximately 80,000 tonnes of CO2 - roughly 3 tonnes per delegate or the average weekly emissions of Edinburgh.

The coronavirus pandemic has meant that while many conference have been cancelled, others have been held virtually and have resulted in higher than normal participation. While face to face interaction will remain important, there are actions that can be taken that could reduce conference travel emissions by up to 90%.

22 July 2020

How to decarbonise conference travel after COVID-19

Calculating the impact of biennial events, regional hubs and virtual attendance in Nature

Cameron Hepburn spoke at the CBI's Daily Coronavirus Webinar on 2 June about how a green recovery from the pandemic is possible. 

While the Covid-19 crisis has shown that people's behaviour can change rapidly in response to a common change, Cameron stressed that extreme change on a large scale is not a sustainable way to bring about emissions reductions. Instead, the challenge is to create a thriving economy which is build on green foundations.​

4 June 2020

Preparing for a green recovery

Cameron Hepburn talks about how a post pandemic recovery should be green in the CBI's Daily Coronavirus Webinar

Rupert Stuart-Smith has been awarded the Alfred Steers Dissertation Prize by the Royal Geographical Society (with with the Institute of British Geographers).

Rupert's dissertation models the impact of climate change on Palcaraju glacier in the Cordillera Blanca mountains of Peru. The retreat of this glacier has led to the formation of Lake Palcacocha, which now threatens to burst on the city of Huaraz and is the subject of an ongoing court case in which a local farmer is attempting to hold RWE (the German energy company) legally responsible for part of the costs of protecting the city against this devastating flood, based on their contribution to climate change.
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Rupert's research, as well as his subsequent work on the glacier, has demonstrated that climate change has caused the retreat of this glacier, with potential implications for the legal responsibility of major emitters of greenhouse gases.

Since completing his dissertation, Rupert has developed his research in the Peruvian Andes into a journal article (presently in review) with Prof. Gerard Roe from the University of Washington, and Myles Allen & Sihan Li (ECI, Oxford). Rupert’s current research focuses on methodological developments in climate change attribution science and considers how scientific evidence can be mobilised most effectively in legal and policy contexts.

26 May 2020

Rupert Stuart-Smith is awarded Alfred Steers prize

The prize is awarded to the best undergraduate dissertation in a UK geography department.

20 May 2020

SIPs competition: the finalists

Seven suggested Sensitive Intervention Points have made the final shortlist

Research Fellow Ryan Rafaty has coauthored a new book in the World Bank's International Development in Focus series.
 
Technological revolutions have increased the world’s wealth but unevenly and in ways that have accelerated climate change. 'Technology Transfer and Innovation for Low-Carbon Development' argues that most of the emissions reductions required to achieve the Paris Agreement goals can be reached through the global deployment of existing and commercially proven low-carbon technologies (LCTs). High-income countries account for 80 percent of all LCT innovations while they are needed most in developing countries - both to meet climate targets and to achieve development goals. Two-thirds of the emissions reductions needed by 2030 can be achieved through the mass deployment of existing technology in just four sectors: energy, industry, transport, and buildings.

​Transferring technologies to developing countries will not be easy - this book provides evidence that it can be done.

28 April 2020

Technology transfer and innovation for low-carbon development

Ryan Rafaty co-authors new World Bank book

Speaking to Jim Al-Khalili on BBC Radio 4’s 'Life Scientifi'c programme on 18 February 2020, Myles Allen said the one institution in the world that has the capital, cash flow and engineering capability of solving the climate change problem is the global fossil fuel industry, which makes up 10% of the world’s economy. 

Allen said that he found it quite worrying that the focus on tackling climate change had been much more on individuals and not on the institutions that could actually solve the problem, although no single company could achieve this.

20 February 2020

Fossil fuel industry is the only global institution that can solve climate change

Listen to Myles Allen in conversation with Jim Al-Khalili on Radio 4

"Eleven years to save the world"reads a common sign at the global Fridays for Future climate strikes. But do we really have until just 2030 to avert climate catastrophe? In his article for 'Climate Home News, Oxford Martin Senior Fellow and Post-Carbon Transition Programme Research Lead Thomas Hale discusses what this means and what the implications are.

6 December 2019

We really may have just 11 years to save the climate

Thomas Hale comments in Climate Home News on the implications of the 2030 climate change deadline.

10 October 2019

Futuremakers podcasts on climate change

Our researchers discuss climate change in a series of podcasts

Myles Allen is concerned by use of the line “the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) says we have 12 years” before climate breakdown. Do slogan writers mean climate chaos will happen after 12 years, or that we have 12 years to stop it.

Writing in 'The Conversation', Allen states we should stop saying something globally bad is going to happen in 2030 - bad stuff is already happening and every half a degree of warming matters. But even if we don't manage to halve emissions by 2030, he points out that the IPCC is clear that, even reducing emissions as fast as possible, we can barely keep temperatures below 1.5°C.

20 April 2019

Protesters should be wary of '12 years to climate disaster' slogans

Myles Allen explains why in The Conversation.

6 May 2022

How to fix the carbon offset market

Thomas Hale explains in The Financial Times

22 March 2022

In a world on fire, stop burning things

The New Yorker profiles our "landmark" climate work

12 January 2021

Not all net zero promises are equal

Net zero tracker shows 80% of world economy aiming for net zero 

2 December 2021

Predictors of success in a greening world

New study published by the University of Oxford and Lombard Odier

12 November 2021

Mapping the world's solar panels

First global inventory of solar energy generating facilities

29 October 2021

Matthew Ives speaks to the Hainan Green Finance Research Institute

Decarbonising the global energy system 

21 October 2021

Win at the Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management Awards 2021

PCT members among the team winning CIEEM's Action 2030 award

23 September 2021

Going big and fast on renewables would save trillions in energy costs

Doyne Farmer, Cameron Hepburn and Eric Beinhocker write in Bloomberg

10 September 2021

European power companies at risk of huge debts due to climate inaction

Report shows large power companies need to act now or risk large debts

The transition to the green economy is teeming with opportunities but when it comes to navigating growth opportunities in the green economy, each country is different.

Using a Green Complexity Index (GCI), countries can be ranked in accordance with the number and complexity of green products they export competitively. Countries with a higher GCI have higher environmental patenting rates, lower CO2 emissions, and more stringent environmental policies. This approach can also be employed to uncover the Green Adjacent Possible (GAP), which represents the set of technologically related green products that a country could potentially become competitive in.

The Green Transition Navigator, supported in part by the Post-Carbon Transition Programme, identifies countries' current competitive strengths and maps out new export opportunities that both align with their existing productive capabilities, and offer advantages in terms of technological sophistication and greater potential to open up future diversification opportunities.

1 July 2021

Green Transition Navigator launched

New tool to help countries identify opportunities in the transition to the green economy

A new report from Oxford researchers shows that incentivising private investment is key to the scaling and adoption of clean fuels and technology by the shipping industry.

Pressure is growing from multiple directions for the shipping industry to decarbonise. Alternative fuels do exist to reduce or remove all emissions from fuel use, but they are not yet competitive with fossil fuels remaining prohibitively expensive. However the report shows that Contracts for Difference (CfDs) could allow the public sector to close the gap between the market price for a new technology or fuel and the price required to give the private sector a sufficient return. Effectively subsidising the private sector until production costs decline, CfDs have proven extremely successful at driving down the costs of renewable energy generation technologies, notably offshore wind power in the UK.

Matthew Ives, a co-author of the report, said "The spectacular cost declines in clean technologies such as solar and wind means that cost competitive clean fuels for shipping are on the horizon. Through the application of exciting new policy instruments such as contracts-for-difference, international shipping has the opportunity to play a major role in the green industrial revolution." 

The report concludes by providing two draft CfDs developed in conjunction with law firm Pinsent Masons.

28 June 2021

Incentives for zero-emissions shipping

A new report shows how contracts-for-difference could be to achieving the decarbonisation of the industry

11 June 2021

G7: the last chance for a green recovery

Myles Allen is among the academics explaining why in The Financial

A court in the Netherlands has ruled in a landmark case that the Royal Dutch Shell must reduce its emissions. The ruling stated that, by 2030, the company must cut its CO2 emissions by 45% compared to 2019 levels. Additionally, the Shell group is responsible for the emissions of its suppliers as well as its own. The ruling by the Dutch court cites a paper by Thomas Hale and Steve Smith on the mapping of current practices around net zero targets.

Thom Wetzer was quoted in the 'Financial Times', saying "Legally, economically and societally the ruling is significant. All companies in the energy industry and all heavy emitters will be put on notice and will have to accelerate their decarbonisation plans."

Growing numbers of lawsuits have been filed around the world aiming to secure compensation for the impacts of climate change or to compel governments to strengthen climate targets. An event featuring Rupert Stuart-Smith on 30 June will explore the different legal strategies being deployed to protect human rights from the impacts of climate change, and also present new research findings from the Oxford Sustainable Law Programme on the role of attribution-science evidence in climate litigation.

26 May 2021

Climate activists claim breakthrough victory against Shell

Dutch court orders Shell to accelerate emissions cuts

 

A new report ‘The energy transition and changing financing costs’, seeks to understand how financing costs across different energy technologies and markets has changed over the last twenty years. For decades, infrastructure for coal, oil, and gas was seen as a relatively safe investment while renewables barely attracted the private sector’s attention. However, the situation is now reversing, with the cost of financing new fossil-fuel infrastructure is rising while at the same time falling for new renewable technologies.

Particularly impacted is the coal industry, with loans to finance coal mines and coal fired power plants rising steeply. Oil and gas have so far only seen moderate rises in lending costs. This could be as a result of natural gas displacing coal. But Ben Caldecott, Director of the  Oxford Sustainable Finance Programme, says, "We don’t see anywhere near the same coherence or stringency of policy packages targeting oil and gas production or gas-fired power generation as we do with coal."

23 April 2021

Cost of financing new coal power has never been more expensive

New report published on "The energy transition and changing financing costs"

With funding from the National Environment Research Council and Innovate UK, the new UK Centre for Greening Finance & Investment (CGFI) will be launched in April 2021, ahead of the COP26 UN climate summit taking place in Glasgow later in the year.

​Access to scientifically robust data and analytics is currently patchy and unreliable. The CGFI, which will be led by Dr Ben Caldecott, aims to provide financial institutions around the world with the information needed to realise a more sustainable planet. 

This will help financial institutions shift money away from risky activities that harm the environment, such as coal-fired power and deforestation, and towards activities that are less harmful, such as renewable power and sustainable agriculture.

New physical hubs in Leeds and London will support companies and start-ups commercialise products that can green global finance, including tools that measure storm and flood risk facing properties or the pollution created by companies and the liabilities that result. The Centre will work with finance professions, such as the Chartered Bankers Institute and Chartered Financial Analysts UK, to ensure that every professional financial decision takes climate change into account.

The CGFI will deliver on commitments made in the UK Government's 2019 Green Finance Strategy, and the announcement signals the UK's commitment to using its global finance sector to support the transition to a net zero carbon and nature positive future.

Dr Ben Caldecott said:

"CGFI will allow financial institutions to access scientifically robust climate and environmental data for any point on planet earth now and projected into the future, and for every major sector of the global economy. Doing so will create public goods and unlock innovation. The UK is perfectly placed to transform the availability of climate and environmental data in finance. We have world-leading capabilities in all the various areas that need to come together to solve the problem."

"The market for ESG data, of which climate and environmental data is a large part, is expected to reach US$1bn in 2021 and grow annually by 20%. It is our view that this is actually a significant underestimate of future growth potential. The CGFI will support enterprises providing climate and environmental analytics and realise the opportunity for UK plc of being a world-leader in commercialising products that can green global finance."

16 February 2021

New UK Centre for Greening Finance & Investment

Ben Caldecott will lead the new CGFI launching ahead of this year's COP26 UN climate summit

For the first time, new research, led by Rupert Stuart-Smith, has shown that human-caused global warming is directly responsible for creating a critical threat of a devastating outburst flood from Lake Palcacocha in the Peruvian Andes. The resulting flood would trigger a deadly landslide putting around 120,000 people, living in the city of Huaraz, in danger.

​The study provides key new evidence for Lliuya v. RWE, a lawsuit in the German courts. Saúl Luciano Lliuya, a farmer from Huaraz, is suing RWE, Germany’s largest electricity producer, for the costs of preventing harms which would result from an outburst flood from Lake Palcacocha. The study’s establishment of a clear, linear causal chain between greenhouse gas emissions and severe outburst flood risk could help resolve critical outstanding questions in the case.

​Stuart-Smith said 'We found that human influence on climate – through greenhouse gas emissions – is responsible for virtually all of the warming that has been observed in the region. The study shows that warming has caused the retreat of the Palcaraju glacier which, in turn, has increased the flood risk. Crucially, this establishes a direct link between emissions and the need to implement protective measures now, as well as any damages caused by flooding in future.’

4 February 2021

Severe flood risk from glacial lake due to global warming

First report to prove human caused climate change is directly responsible for creating a critical risk from lake

The COVID-19 pandemic brings with it the opportunity to reimagine the world we live in - from adapting cities to be more resilient and sustainable, to preparing organisations for new digital business models. The World Economic Forum's Pioneers of Change summit is taking place on 16-20 November, bringing together leaders and innovators from around the world to showcase solutions and inspire change.

​The opening plenary of the summit focused on the role of business in driving the positive change needed, with Cameron Hepburn taking part along with European Central Bank president Christine Lagarde, Accenture CEO Julie Sweet, and members of the World Economic Forum including WEF president Børge Brende.

17 November 2020

Pioneers of Change Summit

Cameron Hepburn discusses how business can drive positive change at the opening plenary

The Institute of International Finance held its Annual Membership Meeting on 12 to 16 October. The key theme this year was financing a sustainable economy and examines a post-COVID-19 recovery as well as drivers for future growth.

Ben Caldecott took part in the discussion on building back better and greener. As the pandemic is highlighting connections between people and the planet, momentum is increasing on climate action together with the recognition that social inequality needs to be addressed at the same time as environmental goals. As governments and corporates are strengthening their commitments to net zero and the UN's sustainable development goals, there may be reason to be optimistic ahead of next year's COP26 climate talks.

16 October 2020

Building back greener - a critical year

Ben Caldecott on sustainability panel at the Institute of International Finance's members' meeting

Thomas Hale has been awarded one of four Fellowships to build scientific evidence and engage with the international climate negotiations in the run up to the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow in November 2021.

Thomas's focus will be on how local governments, businesses and non-state actors can contribute to and influence international climate policy.
​
The COP26 Fellowships are sponsored by UK Research and Innovation through the Economic and Social Research Council and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council and offered through the Place-Based Climate Action Network. The Fellowships will run until mid-November 2021. The other three Fellowships were awarded to Harriet Thew from the University of Leeds, Jessica Omukuti from the University of York and Rebecca Ford from the University of Strathclyde.

30 July 2020

Thomas Hale awarded prestigious COP26 Fellowship

Thomas Hale has been awarded one of four Fellowships in the run up to COP26 in November 2021

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the World Economic Forum has said that there is a historic opportunity to rethink the key tenets of our economic systems. In 'Government Inside'r, Ben Caldecott shares how governments can integrate climate risk into their finance decisions. There is an opportunity to build a world resilient to climate change but green finance initiatives from governments around the world are needed to be able to succeed.

This includes measures such as climate risk assessments for all new projects, policy decisions that align with green targets,  and holding companies to account if they fail to consider how their investments can harm the environment.

In the UK, the Government's Green Finance Strategy should ensure that risks and opportunities from climate and environmental factors are part of mainstream financial decision making. In Southeast Asia, meanwhile, Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam and Indonesia have already announcing plans to create new supervisory expectations for regulating firms.

Globally, the climate ambition of governments must be match by financial investments if economies are to grow back greener.

18 June 2020

Four ways for economies to grow back greener

Ben Caldecott explains why green finance is necessary for coping with climate change

The Fiduciary Investors Podcast Series from top1000funds.com examines the changing dynamics in the global economy, what a sustainable recovery looks like and how investors are positioning their portfolios.  In the second episode of the series, "The end of risk management: What finance can learn from climate science", PCT Programme Director Cameron Hepburn discusses innovation in the energy sector, unicorn technologies, SIPs and the importance of COP26.

31 May 2020

What finance can learn from climate science

Cameron Hepburn discusses green energy in the top1000funds.com podcast

Carbon offsets already play a role in some international agreements and government programmes but dubious offsetting measures have damaged the credibility of some schemes. Ben Caldecott explains in 'The Economist' that technology used to monitor offsets has improved greatly. Trading offsets could become as simple as online banking using a smartphone. Nascent "direct air capture" technology, which removes carbon from the air, could become another tool in emissions trading. If we are to move to a net-zero emission society, offsets will need to create genuine negative emissions.

22 May 2020

Carbon offsetting essential to tackle climate change

Ben Caldecott discusses carbon offset technology in The Economist

Aviation has been one of the sectors hit hardest by the coronavirus lockdowns. Brian O’Callaghan and Cameron Hepburn from the argue that any government bailout must be conditional on meeting climate targets in 'Environment Journal'.

The uncertainty of COVID-19 and a pandemic-induced recession of unknown duration means the short-term bankruptcy risk for many airlines is at a high. It is becoming increasingly difficult for airlines to source finance through traditional private debt and equity pathways. Many countries will do all they can to prevent the failure of a major airline, viewing mobility,  jobs and a competitive aerospace sector as essential. 

However, airline bailouts are an inefficient use of taxpayer money at a time when fiscal stimulus is much needed. We have the opportunity to ask much more of the industry in the medium and long term – nothing less than a collective net zero target. This is not a far fetched goal as several airlines have already committed to reaching it by 2050, through alternative power, efficiency opportunities and direct carbon offsets.

The impacts of COVID-19 on aviation are only just beginning to be felt. Governments should use bailouts to encourage innovation and get something for all of us, and the climate, in return.

8 May 2020

Destination: green airline bailouts

Academics argue that airline bailouts must be linked to climate targets

A new three year project on the Economics of Energy Innovation and System Transition (EEIST), funded by the UK’s Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation (CIFF) brings together leading experts in all fields of complexity science and innovation research with decision-makers around the world. 

A consortium of 16 institutions, including Oxford's PCT Programme, the University of Cambridge, UCL, and the University of Exeter, aims to transform decision-making processes around planning for decarbonisation in Brazil, China, India, the UK, and EU countries - aimed at building the necessary capacities of low-carbon technology to fulfil their emission reduction targets.

​The project will be divided into five stages.

EEIST will first implement an ambitious programme of co-creating modelling and analysis capabilities with experts and decision-makers in China, India, Brazil, the EU, and the UK to help promote prudent low-carbon innovation policy-making. This will provide for the development of new non-prescriptive and tailored approaches to policy appraisal relevant to the non-linear transformation of our energy systems that is required to meet the Paris goals.

The second stage will be to develop a new framework for transitions-compliant policy assessment that goes beyond a static, ‘perfect foresight’ frame of assessing costs and benefits, to analysing risks and opportunities. 

Next, an empirical evidence base will be developed to enable that all models are thoroughly calibrated and tested.

This data will be employed in new models, or adaptations of existing models, and tailored to the policy questions identified by the co-creation process. These models will be applied to generate evidence as part of the risk-opportunity framework to provide, evidence for decarbonisation policy-making.

Finally, the resulting analysis will be shared with stakeholders in order for these new methods to transform policy appraisal beyond the end of this project.

8 April 2020

Economics of energy innovation and system transition

New three year project to transform policy making

10 February 2020

Investing in green doesn’t equal greening the world

Ben Caldecott argues in IP&E that we need to be wary of greenwashing

The US Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CTFC) has established a new Climate-Related Market Risk Subcommittee (Climate Subcommittee) of the CFTC’s Market Risk Advisory Committee (MRAC). 

Oxford Martin Senior Fellow and Post-Carbon Transition Programme Research Lead Ben Caldecott has joined the new 35-member subcommittee, which is comprised of experts from the financial sector, agricultural and energy markets, data and intelligence service providers, the environmental and sustainability public interest sector, and academics focused on climate change, adaptation, public policy, and finance. 

The subcommittee has been established to provide a report examining climate related financial and market risks, including:

- challenges to evaluating and managing climate-related financial and market risks

- ways in which market participants can improve integration of climate related scenario analysis, stress testing, governance initiatives, and disclosures into risk assessments and reporting

- policy initiatives and best practices for risk management and disclosure of financial and market risks related to climate change that support financial stability

- possible methods by which market participants’ data and analyses can contribute to the assessment of climate-related financial and market risks and their potential impacts on a range of financial stability indicators.

1 December 2019

New CFTC Climate Subcommittee

Ben Caldecott has been appointed to a new US Commodity Futures Trading Commission subcommittee

In his article for 'Climate Home News', Oxford Martin Senior Fellow and Post-Carbon Transition Programme Research Lead Thomas Hale writes that since the first UN Climate Summit in 2014, the “groundswell” of climate action from cities, business, and other actors has reached massive scale. It is estimated that one in five people live in cities or regions taking climate action, and that the thousands of companies taking action have a combined annual revenue totaling over 40% of GDP.

​With the current arrangements for these "climate-action stakeholders" in the UN climate process expiring in 2020, Hale argues that it is vital that the mandate for these actors be extended to bolster the core architecture of the Paris Agreement by aligning it with dynamism of climate action on the ground.

9 October 2019

UN climate talks must include cities, businesses

As cities, regions and businesses helped deliver the Paris Agreement, their mandate should be extended