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Climate and carbon round-up: carbon plan, emissions gap, consumption, cabbies, confidence

A round-up of recent sustainable development publications highlighted by our partner, the Sustainable Development Research Network (SDRN). For more news on sustainable development research and publications, join the network and receive regular SDRN mailings.

In this round-up:

Read about more recent publications and research in the latest SDRN bulletin…

UK Government publishes Carbon Plan (DECC)

The UK Government’s Carbon Plan was published in December 2011. It sets out how government’s proposals and policies for meeting the first four carbon budgets – legally binding limits on the amount of emissions that may be produced in successive five-year periods, beginning in 2008.

Notably, the Carbon Plan states that by 2020 government will complete the ‘easy wins’ including insulating all remaining cavity walls and lofts, continuing to roll out more efficient condensing boilers, closing most of the existing coal-fired power stations, and reducing emissions from all new cars by a third. In additions, the 2020s will require a step change in emissions reductions, with the emergence of new technologies including electric or hydrogen cars; up to around half of the heat in our building coming from air- or ground-source heat pumps; and the rollout of CCS, Nuclear power and renewables.

More from DECC…

Bridging the emissions gap (UNEP synthesis report)

Timed to coincide with the UN climate convention negotiations in South Africa, this study by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) argues that the world has the technological and economic solutions to avert climate change.

The report, entitled ‘Bridging the Emissions Gap’, is the second of three being released by UNEP in advance of the Durban convention. It examines the scientific evidence on the gap between the pledges that countries have made to cut their GHG emissions and what will be needed to achieve the 2-degree target by 2020 and suggests that the gap can be bridged by making realistic changes in the energy system, in particular the accelerated uptake of renewable energies, fuel switching and energy efficiency improvements. It also outlines more pessimistic scenarios including ‘business as usual’.

More from UNEP

Climate change and sustainable consumption: What do the public think is fair? (JRF report)

This research, through a series of focus groups, explores ways that people’s sense of fairness around sustainable consumption and climate change could be used to build public support for behaviour change and sustainability policies.

The report asks if people can look at climate change and sustainable consumption in terms of fairness; explores the basis of views about fairness in this context and investigates the types of information required for people to look at the issue in this way; considers the extent to which looking at climate change in terms of fairness can motivate support for behaviour change; and examines what people think is fair in actions to reduce household CO2 emissions.

More from JRF…

Cabbies and Climate Change (RSA report)

In this interesting research project, the RSA sought to help twenty taxi drivers turn helpful information about fuel-efficient behaviour into enduring dispositions.

This exploratory study is part of RSA’s more ambitious attempt to understand how to make positive behaviour habitual, performed without conscious thought, and contagious, through which positive behaviour spreads through social diffusion between individuals and groups. The researchers worked with the cabbies to design four modifications to the cab ‘habitat’ (including a silk money bag to prime the idea of smooth driving) as well as providing expert advice on fuel-saving and car maintenance, entry into a competition, and continual comparative online feedback. On average, the cabbies drove 20% more efficiently – a saving of £1146 per year for each cabbie.

More from RSA…

Climatic Change Special Issue: Guidance for Characterizing and Communicating Uncertainty and Confidence in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (journal)

The journal ‘Climatic Change’ has produced a special issue on how the IPCC communicates uncertainty and confidence.

Since its inception in 1988, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has worked with the recognition that uncertainty is pervasive in our understanding of the climate system: what drives climate change, what will determine its future course, and what influence it will have on important social and ecological aspects of our world. Since 2000, guidance has been provided to IPCC authors to help them describe uncertainties and to judge the confidence with which it can offer its major conclusions.

This special issue aims to provide a wide-ranging discussion on the IPCC’s past and possible future approaches to the evaluation, characterisation and communication of uncertainty. A range of authors have contributed; some of whom produced guidance for the IPCC; others who are currently playing key roles in technical support committees for the IPCC; and some who are external authors who articulate the strengths and weaknesses of current IPCC guidance from an external perspective.

More from SpringerLink… Note: some articles are open access, but others require institutional subscription to view.

The Sustainable Development Research Network (SDRN) is an initiative funded by both Defra and the Department for Transport, and is coordinated by the Policy Studies Institute in London.

SDRN aims to facilitate and strengthen the links between providers of research and policymakers across government, in order to improve evidence-based policymaking to deliver the UK government’s objectives for sustainable development.


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