Tyndall Effect 2011: Our Latest Magazine Highlighting Research and Communication

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Highlighting research and communication at the Tyndall Centre
New Fudan Tyndall Centre in Shanghai
Flood Risk
Geoengineering Assessment
Sea Level
Tidal Energy
Public Perceptions
Water Emissions
Professor Corinne Le Quéré Director and Professor of Climate Change Science and Policy, UEA
Professor Robert Watson Director of Strategy and Professor of Environmental Sciences, UEA
Professor Kevin Anderson Deputy Director and Professor of Energy and Climate Change, University of Manchester
Professor Trevor Davies Deputy Director of International Activities and Pro-Vice Chancellor, UEA
New Directors of the Tyndall Centre
Professor Corinne Le Quéré is the new Director of the Tyndall Centre. Professor Bob Watson of UEA remains Director of Strategy, Seconded as Chief Scientific Adviser to the UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA). Former Acting Director Professor Kevin Anderson of Manchester University is now Deputy Director. Professor Trevor Davies of UEA is co-Director of the new Fudan University Tyndall Centre in Shanghai. Professor Jim Hall is now Director of Oxford’s Environmental Change Institute, having moved there from Newcastle University and Tyndall.
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Towards a new decade of climate change research
I became Director of the Tyndall Centre at the start of 2011. What an exciting job! I have inherited a vibrant research institute with an impressive legacy of agendasetting research and a highly respected internationally reputation. Tyndall’s measures of esteem are remarkable, with 419 peer-reviewed academic papers to date that have been cited nearly 10,000 times, a website consulted by over 5,000 individual users per month, and 2500 Twitter followers around the world. In its first decade of existence, Tyndall Centre’s researchers have broken new grounds on the wider aspects of climate change, and provided strong scientific evidence to identify the impacts and risks of climate change for society, the effective options for adaptation and mitigation, and informed the climate policy process. Tyndall researchers have also demonstrated the effectiveness of co-designing research with stakeholders, and invested much of their time in knowledge transfer activities. The stories highlighted in this issue of The Effect give a flavour of the work conducted by our researchers in the past year. April 2010 marked a new phase for the Tyndall Centre with the completion of a decade of core funding from the UK Research Councils, which led to a unique network of researchers from the scientific, engineering, social science and economic communities and to the development of several modelling capabilities. The Universities of East Anglia, Manchester and Newcastle recently recruited new lecturers to further strengthen the existing partnership with Cambridge, Oxford, Southampton, and Sussex Universities; Cardiff University joined, bringing new expertise on behaviour and risk. Newly won research projects have already started, and several more are under development. The expansion of the Centre to Fudan University in Shanghai this year figures among the most exciting developments to date. Fudan Tyndall brings onboard a range of expertise, from urban design to demography, air pollution and human health, and ecosystems. Such expertise will help understand more of the complex interactions between climate change and other important global challenges. Furthermore, China is in the process of becoming one of the world’s most powerful economies of the world, thus their development pathway will strongly influence the evolution of the climate landscape this century. Relationships between UK and Chinese researchers built at this important stage of China’s development could lead to a better understanding of the complex issues involved in the trans-boundary aspects of climate research and policy. As a new recruit to the Tyndall team, I bring my own expertise on the physical basis of climate change, strong international connections and a desire to accelerate the delivery of high-quality research for the benefit of society. I am a physicist by training, originally from
Canada. I have conducted research on the interactions between the carbon cycle and climate change in Princeton, Paris, Jena (Germany), and now at the University of East Anglia. I am also coChair of the Global Carbon Project and an author of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. I fully embrace the interdisciplinarity of the Tyndall Centre, and look forward to working with its world-class researchers on new cutting-edge projects. Our next step is to develop the 2012-2022 Vision and Research Strategy of the Centre, building on the strong legacy of research activities and expertise and embracing wider interactions with other global challenges. Stay tuned! Professor Corinne Le Quéré Director
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News in brief
The new Fudan Tyndall Centre in Shanghai is funded with a 15 year commitment by the Chinese central and the Shanghai City government (see page 11)
Government Hail Commander Advisors
Professor John Shepherd, former deputy director of the Tyndall Centre and Professor at the University of Southampton, was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list. John has been Principal Scientific Advisor to the UK government on marine fisheries, and a member of the UK Department of the Environment’s Science Advisory Council. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1999.
on Climate Change
Hail Fellow
The Tyndall Centre’s Director of Strategy, Professor Bob Watson, has been elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society. The title is bestowed on scientists from the UK and the Commonwealth who have made a substantial contribution to the improvement of natural knowledge. Bob has also recently been awarded the Blue Planet Prize, an international environmental award which is said to be Japan’s equivalent of the Nobel Prize.
Professor Nick Pidgeon of Cardiff University and Professor Jim Hall of Oxford University are advisors to the UK Government’s Climate Change Committee and Adaptation Sub-Committee, Professor Kevin Anderson of Tyndall Manchester and Lorraine Whitmarsh of Cardiff are members of the Welsh Government’s Climate Change Commission.
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Sustainable Futures Conference
An international conference assessing future sustainability was organised by doctoral students at the Tyndall Centre and the Sustainable Consumption Institute at the University of Manchester. It was an excellent example of enthusiastic young scientists taking the initiative to organise an international event, including fundraising, with a prize from Elsevier Science for the best conference presentation. www.ustream.tv/channel/manchesterbusiness-school
On Capitol Hill
Rachel Warren of UEA presented to US policy makers results from the Community Integrated Assessment System (CIAS) that show strong mitigation action avoids many, but not all, climate change impacts. Professor John Shepherd of Southampton University testified to the US House of Representatives Science & Technology Committee on Geoengineering, based upon his Chairmanship of The Royal Society report on the topic.
At UN Climate Summit
Tyndall UEA and Oxford hosted a successful event at Cancun on the proposed UN policy to avoid deforestation, one of the substantive technical topics of last year’s Summit. The event attracted national government delegates, practitioners and researchers, and was said to be the best-attended by a research organisation. Tyndall Briefing Notes were published to coincide with summit, including on Dengue Fever and Climate Change, and on the Co-benefits of Air Quality and Mitigation for Mexico.
Tyndall and the IPCC 5th Assessment
Researchers from the Tyndall Centre are once again making a major contribution to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) with the IPCC Fifth Assessment to be published in 2013. Tyndall is contributing across all three of the IPCC reports with seven Lead Authors from current staff. Professor Neil Adger of UEA is leading the first ever chapter on Human Security.
Books from aDaM
Cambridge University Press has published four books that synthesise the results of the Tyndall UEA coordinated ADAM Project. Including 26 research institutions from Europe and overseas, the ADAM Project contributes a better understanding of the trade-offs and conflicts between climate change mitigation and adaptation policies.
Tipping Points
Abrupt climate change and its economic implications were assessed in a report commissioned by WWF and Allianz Reinsurance from Tim Lenton and Anthony Footit (UEA). Their study explores the impacts of climate tipping points, including their implications for the insurance sector. www.allianzre.com/solutions/tipping_points. pdf
In addition to Fudan Tyndall Centre the partnership has expanded to the University of Cardiff
Tyndall Professors edit the world’s premier Environmental Change journal
The academic journal Global Environmental Change edited by Tyndall UEA Professors, Neil Adger, Kate Brown and Declan Conway, is now ranked the premier geography journal in the world, the premier environmental studies journal, and the 6th most important environmental sciences journal.
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emissions contributed to autumn 2000 flood risk
Greenhouse gas emissions increased the odds of the autumn 2000 flooding in England and Wales says research published in the journal Nature that included Tyndall Oxford authors Daíthí Stone and Myles Allen. They found a 2-in-3 chance that the odds were increased by about a factor of two or more, though they emphasise that the precise magnitude is uncertain. The study suggests that although these floods could have occurred in the absence of human influence on climate, greenhouse gas emissions can be blamed for increasing the odds of the floods occurring. The floods of autumn 2000 damaged nearly 10,000 properties, with insured losses estimated at £1.3 billion. The project team simulated the weather in Autumn 2000, both as it was, and as it might have been had there been no greenhouse gas emissions since the beginning of the 20th Century. This was then repeated thousands of times using climateprediction.net, a global volunteer network of personal computers participating in the project. The team then fed the output from these weather simulations into a flood model, and found that 20th-Century greenhouse gas emissions very likely increased the chances of floods occurring in Autumn 2000 by more than 20%; and likely by 90% or more. Professor Myles Allen, of Oxford University’s Department of Physics and School of Geography and the Environment, said: “whether or not a flood occurs in any given year is still an ‘Act of God’ but, with the help of thousands of climateprediction.net volunteers, we are beginning to see how human influence on climate may be starting to load God’s dice.”
©Ashley Cooper/SpecialistStock
Greenhouse gas emissions can be blamed for increasing the odds of the autumn 2000 floods in England and Wales
The research establishes a methodology that can answer the question about how the odds of particular weather events may be altering. It will also allow assessment of a specific weather event to detect if it has or has not been made more likely by climate change. The Tyndall partners at Cardiff University have been examining how experience of local flooding influences people’s perceptions of climate change (see page 7)
i Further reading
‘Anthropogenic greenhouse gas contribution to flood risk in England and Wales in autumn 2000’was published in the journal Nature on 17 February 2011. www.nature.com/nature/journal/v470/ n7334/full/nature09762.html http://weatherathome.org
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Geoengineering is not a quick fix
Geoengineering ideas do not remove the need to mitigate emissions, but additional carbon sinks would be needed for the equivalent of a pre-industrial atmosphere, conclude Naomi Vaughan of UEA and Tyndall and Professor Tim Lenton now at the University of Exeter. In the journal Climatic Change they have expanded their previous framework for evaluating climate geoengineering proposals with a more detailed and extensive analysis. In addition to categorising the cooling potential for each climate geoengineering option, they have added side effects, lifetime, timescales of development and deployment, and risks of reversibility and failure. Geoengineering is the term given to ideas for large scale interventions in the Earth system to counteract human induced climate change and is seen by some as a potential addition to strong reduction of CO2 emissions. Geoengineering options fall into two broad categories. An example of carbon geoengineering is large scale reforestation to absorb and store carbon, and an example of solar geoengineering is the injection of sulphate aerosols into the lower atmosphere to achieve a cooling effect. Carbon geoengineering is less risky than solar geoengineering because it acts directly on the primary cause of climate change, excess CO2 in the atmosphere. Both carbon and solar geoengineering measures are most effective when combined with strong reduction of carbon emissions. If solar geoengineering is implemented, it would have to be maintained for a very long time, to prevent a rapid reversal to higher temperatures if it failed or the intervention stopped. A new four year project has also begun, Integrated Assessment of Geoengineering Proposals (IAGP) to conduct an interdisciplinary assessment across a broad range of expertise and perspectives ranging from public perceptions to philosophy, engineering and climate modelling. The public perceptions work of the project is led by Tyndall Cardiff and is eliciting views of stakeholders from a broad range of fields beyond academia, including the public and private sectors and other communities. IAGP is funded by the UK’s Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council and the Natural Environment Research Council.
i Further reading
Vaughan, N.E. and Lenton, T. A ‘Review of climate geoengineering proposals’ is published in Climatic Change Lenton, T. And Vaughan, N. E. ‘The radiative forcing potential of different climate geoengineering options’ is published in Atmospheric Chemistry Physics The Royal Society report ‘Geoengineering the climate: Science, governance and uncertainty’ http://royalsociety.org/Geoengineering-theclimate www.iagp.ac.uk
Tyndall Cardiff is eliciting stakeholder views on assessing geoengineering
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water demands energy
In a study published in Nature Climate Change, Declan Conway and Sabrina Rothausen of the UEA School of International Development and Tyndall argue for a greater focus on the energy requirements of the water industry. To date, much attention has been given to the need for sustainable water resource management but far less to the water sector’s growing energy use and associated emissions. “The processes of abstraction, transport and treatment of fresh water and wastewater all demand energy. Adapting water management to meet increasing demand, regulatory standards and the effects of climate change will in many cases require greater energy use” said Professor Conway. In the study the authors define the need to further integrate energy use into water resource management and identify opportunities for the water sector to understand and describe more effectively its role in greenhouse gas emissions, through regulation and changes in behaviour. Water-related energy use in the US accounts for nearly 5% of total emissions. In the UK the proportion is even higher and is mostly associated with end uses such as heating. In countries where most water is used for irrigation, the energy used in extraction and transport is often considerable. Estimates for India suggest that emissions from lifting water for irrigation could be as much as 6% of total national emissions. The energy required to lift just 1m3 of water (roughly how much water it takes to produce 1kg wheat, equivalent to a loaf of bread) up 1m at 100% efficiency is 0.0027 kWh. Demand for water use, regulation of water quality, rising demand for food and biofuels and international trade threaten to drive expansion of cropland irrigation. Measures proposed to deal with the challenges, such as desalination, are often very energy intensive. Alternative water supply systems, treatment technologies or water allocation also have a tendency to overlook their carbon cost. “Despite some recent progress in the US and UK, we need to better understand the role of the water sector as an emitter of greenhouse gases. We need more comprehensive assessments of energy use with standardized methodologies for comparisons between different technologies and between regions and countries” said Professor Conway.
©Jeff Schultz/Alaska Stock/SpecialistStock
i Further reading
‘Greenhouse-gas emissions from energy use in the water sector’ was published in Nature Climate Change volume 1. For copies please contact s.rothausen@uea.ac.uk
Adapting water management to meet increasing demand, standards and climate change will in many cases require greater energy use
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Climate impacts motivates public
Direct experience of extreme weather events increases concern about climate change and willingness to engage in energy-saving behaviour, concluded research published by new Tyndall partners Cardiff University, in the first edition of Nature Climate Change. In particular, members of the British public are more prepared to take personal action and reduce their energy use when they perceive their local area has a greater vulnerability to flooding, according to research by Cardiff and Nottingham University. Psychologist Dr Alexa Spence, now at the University of Nottingham, said: “We know that many people tend to see climate change as distant, affecting other people and places. However experiences of extreme weather events like flooding have the potential to change the way people view climate change, by making it more real and tangible, and ultimately resulting in greater intentions to act in sustainable ways.” The research team and Ipsos-MORI surveyed members of the British public. Flooding experiences were linked to lower levels of uncertainty of climate change and preparedness to reduce energy use. Professor Nick Pidgeon, School of Psychology, who led the research team added: “We provide the first solid evidence that people’s local experience of climate related events such as flooding will promote higher awareness of the issue. It suggests new ways for engaging people with this most important and pressing of environmental issues.” The research was funded by the Economic and Social Research Council and the Leverhulme Trust with support from Horizon Digital Economy Research.
i Further reading
‘Perceptions of climate change and willingness to save energy related to climate change’ by Alexa Spence, Wouter Poortinga, Catherine Butler and Nick Pidgeon was published in the first edition of Nature Climate Change www.nature.com/nclimate/journal/v1/n1/ full/nclimate1059.html
Experiences of flooding were linked to preparedness to reduce energy use
©Adrian Arbib/Specialist Stock
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©Ashley Cooper/SpecialistStock
Assessing a world of 4 degrees and beyond
The Tyndall Centre, Oxford University and the UK Met Office produced a special edition ‘4 Degrees and Beyond’ of the Royal Society’s prestigious journal Philosophical Transactions A. The collection of papers by leading international scholars explores the likelihood of large climate changes of 4 degrees and the potential impacts of these changes. Since 2000 the growth in CO2 emissions has followed the upper end of the IPCC scenarios, presenting the global community with a stark challenge: either instigate immediate and radical reversal in existing emission trends or accept global temperature that could rise beyond 4°. Their collection of papers is the first to address the challenges involved in avoiding high levels of warming, as well as the challenges of adaptation should society fail to manage emissions. The papers stem from the first conference to analyse 4 degrees and beyond, held in Oxford in 2009. The special edition was released to coincide with the start of the 2010 UN climate change summit in Cancun, Mexico. To enable the widest dissemination to climate change policy makers and non-academics the papers were open access and free to download.
Humans might be concentrated in places sufficiently wet for economic prosperity
i Further reading
http://rsta.royalsocietypublishing.org/ site/2011/four_degrees.xhtml
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The 4 degrees special edition is the first to address the challenges involved in avoiding high levels of warming, as well as the challenges of adaptation should society fail to manage emissions
Emissions scenarios
With high emissions and strong climatecarbon cycle feedbacks, 4 degrees global warming could be reached in the early 2060s. over the century (up to 2.4% of global population). Protection is costly with up to 0.02% of global domestic product needed.
A greater temperature change might not only affect the magnitude of the associated population movements, but also – and above all – the characteristics of these movements.
With a 4 degrees warming, climate change is more important than population growth for determining whether a river basin suffers from water stress. If warming is limited to 2 degrees, the reverse is true.
Emissions targets
If the world met a cumulative emissions target, or a single budget between now and 2200, it would be more likely to limit global warming to two degrees than a 2020 or 2050 target.
Adapting to global warming of 4 degrees cannot be seen as a mere extrapolation of adaptation to 2degrees; it will be a more substantial, continuous and transformative process.
Results confirm some risk of forest retreat, (eastern Amazonia, Central America, parts of Africa), but also indicate a potential for expansion in other regions (Congo Basin). This potential increases if the positive impact of CO2 is considered. Other, more uncertain factors, notably higher temperature, may have a negative effect.
Climate projections
The greatest warming occurs in the Arctic, where December, January and February temperatures increase by 1216 degrees. Warming during June, July, August (6-8 degrees) occur over the USA, Mediterranean Europe, much of Africa and northern Australia.
In a four-plus degree world, food security will be more difficult to achieve because of commodity price increases and local production shortfalls.
©Ashley Cooper/SpecialistStock
Sea-level rise
A pragmatic estimate of sea-level rise by 2100 for a temperature rise of 4°C or more is between 0.5m to 2m. Without adaptation, this may result in the forced displacement of up to 187 million people
Agriculture, plants, and animals would need to move large distances to stay cool or wet and humans might be increasingly concentrated in places remaining sufficiently wet for economic prosperity.
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Planning the future of the UK’s interdependent infrastructure
A consortium of Tyndall Centre and UK Energy Research Centre partners has begun work on £4.5million grant by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council for a five year programme to research how the UK’s national infrastructure can adapt to future energy, demography and climate change. The project is led by Professor Jim Hall, Director of Oxford University’s Environmental Change Institute. The Infrastructure Transitions Research Consortium (ITRC) will develop new models to assess national infrastructure systems for future energy, transport, water, waste, information technology, and use
infrastructure. The ITRC is working closely with Infrastructure UK (the government Treasury body developing the National Infrastructure Plan) and with more than 50 other stakeholder partners in government and industry. It has also established productive links with research programmes on sustainable infrastructure in Europe, USA and Australia. ITRC is a daughter of the approaches used in the Tyndall Cities and Coasts programme that first developed the Tyndall Coastal Simulator (2001-2010) and then the Urban Integrated Assessment Facility for London (2006-2009). The Urban Integrated Assessment Facility is now in a new phase, called the ARACADIA project, which seeks to better understand the vulnerability and resilience of urban areas and their economies to further support tools to aid urban policies for adaptation. The ARCADIA project is led from the Environmental Change Institute in Oxford University and also involves Tyndall partners in Newcastle and Cambridge and UEA’s Climatic Research Unit in partnership with University College London and the UK Met Office.
these to explore planning and design of infrastructure. Tyndall partners involved include Cardiff, Newcastle, Oxford, and Southampton. Professor Robert Nicholls of Southampton University and Tyndall is leading the work on integrating the different parts of the research for a whole system analysis, based on his expertise from developing the Tyndall Coastal Simulator. The ambition of the Infrastructure Transitions Research Consortium is to research and demonstrate a new generation of practical decisions support tools in partnership with government and industry partners to enable a revolution in the strategic analysis of national
i Further reading
www.itrc.org.uk www.ukcip-arcc.org.uk/content/ view/628/517/
© Feuillu / Flickr
The Infrastructure Transitions Research Consortium is working closely with more than fifty stakeholder partners in government and industry
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The first detailed global analysis on sealevel rise impacts of mitigation policies has been published by a team from the EU-funded ClimateCost project, in which Tyndall Southampton is a partner. They reveal that a third of projected sea level rise could be avoided to the end of this century if global air temperature is stablised to an average of 2oC rise. Further analysis shows that by the end of the 21st century the 84 million people each year at risk of coastal flooding are reduced to 38 million per year at a 2oC stabilisation. Sea-level rise responds to warming on timescales of many decades to hundreds of years. “Because of the timescales of sea level rise, coastal sea defences are necessary to protect people even with
stringent global mitigation of two degrees” said Dr Sally Brown of Southampton University and the Tyndall Centre. Achieving 2oC requires strong mitigation and many scientists believe that 2oC will be exceeded and could even go beyond 4oC (see page 8). This analysis of sea level projection on coastal flooding uses a model called DIVA, the Dynamic Interactive Vulnerability Assessment, pioneered by a consortium of research organisations including the Tyndall team at the University of Southampton. The DIVA model projects rises in global sea level for regional coastland and quantifies damages and the subsequent financial costs. It can also consider adaptation responses, such as building sea walls or dikes which help to reduce costs.
Coastal sea defences are necessary to protect people even with stringent global mitigation of two degrees
i Further reading
‘Sea‐level rise and impacts projections under a future scenario with large greenhouse gas emission reductions ‘ is published in Geophysical Research Letters, volume 38 www.climatecost.cc
Fudan Tyndall Centre new in Shanghai
Work has already begun at the new Fudan Tyndall on three UK-China research projects
The Chinese hub of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research was launched at Fudan University in Shanghai. The British Prime Minister, David Cameron, spoke about the value of the Fudan Tyndall alliance when he led the biggest ever UK delegation to China. Fudan University is one of the ‘big three’ Universities in China. “We have been delighted at the support this initiative has received in China. It is an exciting opportunity for both countries to combine the interdisciplinary strengths of all the UK universities in the Tyndall Centre and the excellence of Fudan University” said Professor Trevor Davies, co-director of Fudan Tyndall Centre alongside Prof Yiqu Luo of Fudan University. Professor Davies is Pro-Vice Chancellor at UEA who initiated the Fudan collaboration. China is becoming the world’s most powerful economy and their growth pathway will strongly influence global climate change and the world’s food, energy and human security. These critical areas match the research priorities of Fudan Tyndall Centre: Transitioning to a low carbon economy; adapting people and places to the impacts of climate change; and securing supplies of food and water. Work has already begun on flagship projects looking at the societal role of high emitting groups, water security in China, and nitrogen emissions from intensive agriculture. Fudan Tyndall Centre is funded with a 15 year commitment by the Chinese central government and the Shanghai City government. Fudan brings new expertise to the Tyndall Centre in human demography, air pollution and human health, urban design, ecology and biodiversity. The UK launch of the Fudan Tyndall Centre alliance took place in Norwich last May when Professor Academician Yuliang Yang was awarded an Honorary Degree by the University of East Anglia.
i Further reading
Sea level savings
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The emerging tidal energy industry is on the cusp of significant developments according to experts working in the sector, concludes Dr Carly McLachlan of the University of Manchester and Tyndall. As part of her wider research into the policy dimensions of marine energy, Dr McLachlan carriedout indepth interviews from a range of relevant stakeholder organisations including trade associations, testing facilities, and government. There was much optimism over the future of the tidal energy sector, but respondents felt that they overpromise on what they can deliver, and that if this continues then financial support and public enthusiasm will decline. Tidal stream energy is similar to wind energy but extraction of energy is higher, requires smaller areas and lower speeds. Unlike wind and wave, tidal energy is predictably intermittent and reliable-enough to form part of the UK’s energy baseload needs. The Carbon Trust believes it could contribute up to 7% of the UK’s electricity.
The UK is perceived to be a world leader in tidal stream and marine energy but interviewees felt the position to be more at threat from international competition than ever before. Scotland has the advantage in the UK, due to a favourable system of Renewable Energy Obligation Certificates (ROCs). ROC is the government scheme to incentivise electricity companies to provide a proportion of renewable power.
operators, and so collaboration can be a challenge. Asked about next steps or future development, there was agreement that the industry needs to prove the reliability and efficiency of its technologies in sea conditions and over long time periods. There were different opinions on whether this was the responsibility of the industry or government. “These views require alternative policy frameworks from government because the industry needs very high levels of investment to start-up” said Dr McLachlan. In addition to being an insight into the potential of the tidal energy industry, the research forms a useful input to the public consultation on the UK’s Marine Action Plan.
The UK is perceived to be a world leader in tidal energy
Interviewees thought that making the necessary new connections to the National Grid was seen as a significant barrier, which is a problem consistent with other renewables such as wind power. There was enthusiasm for collaboration across organisations on applications for Grid connecting, data and monitoring and a deployment ship. Because of the convergence of type of design it is detail of operation that is the difference between
i Further reading
‘Tidal Stream Energy in the UK: Stakeholder perception study’ is currently published as Tyndall Centre Working Paper 144 www.tyndall.ac.uk/sites/default/files/ twp144.pdf
© London looks / Flickr
Future flows for tidal energy
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eU policy evaluation unsystematic
A new paper by researchers from Tyndall UEA shines light on the little studied but politically important practices of climate policy evaluation in the first systematic cataloguing of the emerging patterns of environment policy evaluation across the European Union. In the past decade many new environment targets and policies have been adopted, often after intense negotiation, but little is known about what is being done to check that the policies are delivering. The study reveals that the number of evaluations has grown with an eightfold increase in the number of evaluation reports produced, but the detailed practices of evaluation remain very uneven. For example, policies in the UK are much more intensively evaluated than those in Portugal and Poland. The majority of the 259 evaluations identified also adopt a relatively narrow selection of evaluation tools and lack stakeholder involvement. Crucially, over 80% are uncritical and take existing policy goals as given rather than exploring alternatives. “Whether climate governance is undertaken through the UN system or – as now seems more likely – via informal ‘pledge and review’ type processes, evaluation practices are absolutely crucial for fine tuning policy interventions and building and sustaining public trust” explained one of the lead authors of the research paper, Professor Andrew Jordan of UEA and the Tyndall Centre. The team were struck by how undeveloped and unsystematic are most current evaluation practices. Great efforts have been made to better inform and understand policy making procedures in Europe, but evaluation of those policies seem to be in an ad hoc and non-participatory fashion”. As the political pressure on policy makers to describe and explain what is being done to tackle climate change increases, calls will grow for evaluation to be undertaken in a more open and transparent fashion. At present, policy systems in Europe seem ill-prepared to rise to that challenge said Professor Jordan. The research is part of the flagship EU ADAM project, which ran between 2006 and 2009 and coordinated by UEA.
© FutureAtlas.com / Flickr
i Further reading
‘The evaluation of climate policy: theory and emerging practice in Europe’ is published in Policy Science, volume 44 www.adamproject.eu
The detailed practices of environmental policy evaluation remain uneven across the EU
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Assessing China’s low carbon leadership
©sinopictures/viewchina/Specialist Stock
Access to intellectual property rights is not a fundamental barrier for low carbon technology in China
Do claims that China is leading the race for clean technology stand up to analysis? And what lessons can be learned about the diffusion of clean energy technology? Research in China by Professor Jim Watson and colleagues of the University of Sussex and Tyndall and at Tsinghua University focuses on four case studies of low carbon innovation in China. They report that the Chinese government has played a central role in supporting deployment of low carbon innovation and technology and while China still faces many development challenges, unlike other countries it has significant resources and a large potential market for foreign suppliers. On this basis, China is unique and should not be used as a proxy for technology transfer in developing countries in general. Chinese firms and institutions are rapidly developing their capabilities, but significant gaps remain. These capabilities have been acquired through indigenous innovation and international technology transfer with limitations including access to advanced component technologies and knowledge, and some weaknesses in engineering and design skills. While often discussed in international climate negotiations, access to Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs) is not a fundamental barrier. This does not mean that IPR issues are unimportant, as Chinese firms do not yet have independent capabilities in some technologies. For example, China’s most efficient coal-fired power plant at Waigaoqiao was built using technology owned by two European firms. Professor Watson concludes “China is emerging as a major economic force, but some claims about technological leadership are premature. They serve as useful warnings to governments and firms in the OECD that the technological gap is closing fast. But they fail to account for the vast differences between the status of low-carbon technologies in China – in performance, capabilities and levels of investment.” Dr David Ockwell at Tyndall Sussex has advised the United Nation’s Expert Group on Technology Transfer about the uptake of clean technologies by developing countries. The resulting report was adopted as an official document by the UNFCCC at the Cancun Summit in December 2010, clear evidence of academic research achieving policy impact. Building upon this work, an edited book is underway about low carbon development.
i Further reading
‘UK-China collaborative study on low carbon technology transfer’ www.tyndall.uea.ac.uk/sites/default/files/ukchina_final_report_-_april_2011_0.pdf ‘An exploration of options and functions of climate technology centres and networks’ is published by the United Nations Environment Programme www.uneptie.org/energy/pdf/CTCN_UNEP20101118_final.pdf
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Exploring shale gas exploitation
Work by Tyndall Manchester and commissioned by The Co-operative to explore the environmental impacts of shale gas exploration recommended caution in its exploitation and the need for further research. Shale Gas fracking is a relatively new technique for mining previously unavailable gas through horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing to release gas that is trapped in fissures between rocks. Their recommendation was based upon evidence from the US, which suggests shale gas extraction brings a significant risk of groundwater contamination. Continued exploitation at a medium-scenario could see carbon dioxide levels rise globally by some five parts per million by 2050 in the absence of caps on global emissions. Three scenarios were prepared that suggested an increase in atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide ranging from 3 to 11 parts per million by 2050. Shale gas has emerged as a potential significant new source of unconventional gas. In the United States, production of shale gas expanded five-fold between 1990 and 2008 and it is predicted that production will expand further in the next 20 years. The report also looks at the explicit implications of exploiting shale gas within the UK which is likely to give rise to a range of additional challenges, including the likelihood that wells associated with shale gas extraction be relatively close to population centres, and potential problems with groundwater contamination and abstraction.
i Further reading
‘Shale gas: a provisional assessment of climate change and environmental impacts’ was commissioned by The Co-operative www.tyndall.ac.uk/sites/default/files/coop_ shale_gas_report_final_200111.pdf
Tyndall Manchester published a commissioned report for the Co-operative on shale gas exploration in the UK
©Jim Olive/Peter Arnold/Specialist Stock
theeffect 2011
Global economic recessions prevent long-term sustainable development
The economic volatility experienced in global recessions impede sustainable development and leads to higher depletion of natural resources, shows research by Dr Yongfu Huang at 4CMR, Cambridge University and Tyndall. These findings are some of the first to analyse the interaction between global financial markets and global sustainability. Dr Huang’s analysis shows that economic volatility has especially negative consequences for countries that have lower incomes, lower energy intensity, and lower shares of world trade. He reveals that a key mechanism for economic volatility to affect sustainable development was the liquid liability in the banking sector and that because financial markets are linked, volatility spread rapidly across borders. In contrast, little evidence exists to support private investment, energy intensity and energy consumption affect sustainability through volatility. Yongfu carried out his model study based on data for 128 countries between 1978 and 2008 and measured sustainability as Genuine Saving. Genuine Saving is the net saving in an economy for creating and maintaining wealth, taking into account the resource depletion, pollution damage and investment in human capital. Yongfu’s analysis assesses if economic volatility depletes natural resources. Yongfu believes that economic volatility can result in long-run development problems, especially for developing countries. In poorer countries it is likely that the ability to tackle volatility is constrained by weak institutions, an underdeveloped financial sector, and other political economy considerations. He concludes that governments of developing countries, in addition to good governance and strong institutions, should aim to liberalize financial sectors with adequate regulation and supervision and to strengthen capacities to manage financial resources and public services. The research also lends support to the idea that volatility is not increased by a country exposing itself to open trade, an area of debate among economists. “Any efforts by governments to strengthen energy-saving development mode and macroeconomic fundamentals could help lay the foundation for long-run sustainable development” said Dr Huang. “Economic development strategies should therefore take adequate account of the state of natural resources on which future growth is dependent.” Dr Yongfu Huang is also a Lead Author of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Fifth Assessment Report (IPCC AR5), contributing to the Chapter on crosscutting investment and finance issues.
Economic volatility can result in longrun development problems, especially for developing countries
i Further reading
‘Is economic volatility detrimental to global sustainability’ is published in the World Bank Economic Review and is a Tyndall Working Paper 142 www.tyndall.ac.uk/sites/default/files/ twp142_0.pdf
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