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Paris climate agreements (COP 21), sustainable energy and Britain

I'm happy that the Paris climate-change discussions seem to have had a positive outcome. Some telling quotes about it, with links to articles covering the Paris outcomes in more detail:

"This is an exciting moment in history. The debate is over and the vision of the future is low carbon." (New Scientist)

"By comparison to what it could have been, it’s a miracle. By comparison to what it should have been, it’s a disaster." (George Monbiot in The Guardian)

"The climate deal is at once both historic, important – and inadequate." (Simon Lewis in The Conversation)

and here's an analysis by CarbonBrief

An interesting aspect is the way countries have made commitments, and the agreement reifies a specific global target, while acknowledging that the countries' current commitments cannot actually meet that goal. Countries have to get together again in a few years to check on progress and hopefully to extend the ambition of their commitments, so that they eventually meet the overall target. That might sound like a cop-out but actually it strikes me as good politics/psychology. (However, I'm no expert. At least one observer, James Hansen, thinks it's all hot air without serious action on carbon taxation.)

I'd like to read about the UK's role in the negotiations, especially because the mind boggles on how they could have had much to say about reducing climate change while the current government has deliberately derailed the UK's burgeoning renewable energy industries. (Also for community energy schemes.) To be clear, the problem with what they did is not the fact of reducing subsidies - they were already scheduled to be gradually reduced - but changing the plan and reducing them suddenly, thus creating business uncertainty in that sector and making it a risky sector for investors in the medium term.

Renewable energy technologies are getting close to parity with fossil fuel generation, i.e. reaching a tipping point where people start to invest in them for simple financial reasons rather than altruism, and that could be the start of a really big acceleration. According to Simon Lewis (see above) the Paris agreement will help to accelerate the technologies' maturity, efficiency and profitability. I'd like to see British engineering play its part in this, and if the current UK government could only see which way the wind is blowing (ha!) and help British engineering to do this, that would be just great.

If you're interested in the technology/engineering/IT side of all this here are two excellent excellent things to read, which give lots of really concrete ideas:

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