Wednesday, 28 November 2007

Call for Evidence

The Committee on Climate Change (CCC) will be established as a new independent, statutory, advisory Non-Departmental Public Body (NDPB) following Royal Assent of the UK Climate Change Bill, expected in 2008. The Committee is required to formulate high-quality advice on three five-year 'carbon budgets', setting caps on UK emissions for 2008 - 2022, by 1 September 2008. To enable this deadline to be met effectively, a 'shadow' secretariat has been established. The shadow secretariat of the Committee has published a call for evidence, inviting organisations and individuals to submit information on specific questions related to the planned tasks of the CCC. Submissions are required by 18 January 2008.

Environmental Audit Committee Launches New Inquiry

The Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) has today launched a new inquiry into climate change and local, regional and devolved government. With a vital role to play in reducing emissions , all levels of government should work to mitigate the effects of, and generate strategies to adapt to, climate change. Recent evidence to the Committee suggests a lack of cohesion between the various levels of government in the UK with respect to engagement in this area. Written evidence to the Committee from organisations and members of the public is invited by 3 January 2008.

UN Launch Annual Human Development Report

The UN launched its annual Human Development Report in Brazil on 27 November. The report, 'Fighting Climate Change: Human Solidarity in a Divided World,' is critical of all developed countries for their performance so far in cutting emissions. The report states that radical new policies are needed if Britain is to meet its target to cut carbon dioxide emissions by 26-32% by 2020, including higher vehicle excise duties for high-polluting cars and carbon taxes. The UK should also phase out highly polluting power stations and increase its use of renewable energy sources, particularly wind and tidal.

"In a divided but ecologically interdependent world, [the report] challenges all people to reflect upon how we manage the environment of the one thing that we share in common: planet Earth"

Tuesday, 27 November 2007

China and the EU could lead the low carbon economy

"Changing Climates: Interdependencies on Energy and Climate Security for China and Europe" , a report from Chatham House published today, suggests that by working together, the EU and China could lead the low carbon economy. China and the EU together account for 30% of both global energy consumption and global emissions, with both facing similar challenges to energy and climate security.

The report offers a number of options to assist policy makers in mapping the future of a low carbon economy, including:

  • the formation of a joint consultative committee to define aggressive standards for energy efficiency and low carbon goods to drive progress in both markets
  • pioneering sectoral approaches to climate change
  • establishing a high level joint commission on renewables to address bottlenecks and advance progress towards renewables targets
  • Increasing energy efficiency and low carbon technology co-operation, with suggestions around combining EU and Chinese public R&D budgets in strategic areas and the creation of an EU-China climate technologies prize fund.

IMoSEB Consultation

The International Steering Committee of the consultative process towards an International Mechanism of Scientific Expertise on Biodiversity (IMoSEB) met for the final time in Montpellier, France on 15- 17 November to discuss establishing an intergovernmental panel to address biodiversity loss - intended to be similar to the IPCC. The Statement from the Committee recommends:

"Further and urgent consideration of the establishment of a means and enhancement of existing institutions to provide an objective source of information about biodiversity change and its impact on ecosystem services and human well-being, employing high scientific and technical standards and reflecting a range of views, expertise and wide geographic coverage. "

The Committee has invited the Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme, Achim Steiner, to convene an intergovernmental meeting to consider establishing a science-policy interface to promote regular global and sub-global assessments of the state and trends in biodiversity and ecosystem services.

Urging businesses to tackle climate change

A report by the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) published on 26 November, pledges that industry will do "what it takes" to fight climate change. The authors, chief executives of big business, including Tesco, British Airways, Shell and Ford which between them emit 370m tonnes of carbon per year, say UK industry must take climate change seriously and fundamentally change its approach to reflect green concerns.

Friday, 23 November 2007

Blog Survey

Please take the time to complete the BES Blog Survey to help us improve the Blog for all users. There will be a prize draw once we've received 100 responses, with the chance to win fantastic BES merchandise.

We value your input on how we can develop the Blog and assess how useful it is to improve the relationship between science and policy. There are only ten questions: the Survey will take only a couple of minutes to complete.

Tuesday, 20 November 2007

Scotland Science Advisory Council

The Scottish Government wants new members for its Science Advisory Council. The Committee provides independent advice to Scottish Government Ministers on strategic scientific issues, including science strategy, science policy and science priorities. The deadline for applications is 30 November 2007.

IPCC Synthesis Report

The IPCC has published its Synthesis Report which completes its 4th Assessment Report. The IPCC conclude that it is necessary in both the short and long term that adaptation and mitigation complement each other to combat the risks of climate change. The report states that:

  • An increase of temperature between 1.5C to 2.5C will put 20-30% of species at an increased risk of extinction
  • An increased risk of extreme weather events would cause droughts, flash floods and storms, especially affecting low lying land and small islands
  • Oceans have become more acidic due to an increased uptake of anthropogenic carbon, thus having a negative impact on marine-shell forming organisms and their dependant species
  • The risk of sea level rise from the melting of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets may be larger than once thought.

PM Speech on Climate Change

On Monday, the Prime Minister gave a speech on climate change and energy. He announced the Government's position on a post-2012 agreement to meet the challenges posed by climate change. He committed to increase the amount of electricity produced from offshore wind farms and to continue discussions regarding other renewable energy sources such as the Severn Barrage. He is committed to keeping in line with the EU agreement of ensuring that global temperatures do not increase above 2C.

Thursday, 15 November 2007

Scottish Budget Spending Review

The Scottish Government released their spending plans for the next three years. £566.2 million will be spent over the next three years on delivering the Scottish Rural Development Programme which focuses on improving rural business production, climate change, water quality and landscape and biodiversity. £44.5 million will be invested into protecting Scotland's marine environment and establishing a Scottish Marine Management Partnership. £70million per annum will be spent on research to support decisions made by policymakers and practitioners and a further £2million a year will be invested in climate change research.

Environmental Science Strategy

The Natural Environment Research Council launched Next Generation Science for Planet Earth, their new science strategy. NERC’s strategic goal is to deliver world-leading environmental research at the frontiers of knowledge:

  • enabling society to respond urgently to global climate change and the increasing
    pressures on natural resources
  • contributing to UK leadership in predicting the regional and local impacts of environmental change from days to decades
  • creating and supporting vibrant, integrated research communities.

Wednesday, 14 November 2007

Adapting to Climate Change Study

The Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution wants your views to help set the scope of its next study on Adapting the UK to Climate Change. The issues the RCEP is considering include biodiversity, disease, invasive species and land use. The RCEP would like input before 25 January 2008. The BES will be responding.

Science and Society

Ian Pearson MP, Minister for Science, has called for a new vision for science and society. His suggestion is:

A Society that is excited about science, values its importance to our economic and social well-being, feels confident in its use, and supports a representative, well-qualified scientific workforce.

The DIUS (old DTI page on BERR website) would like views and ideas about developing its new vision before 24 December 2007. The DIUS aims to publish a refreshed vision and strategy for action, which can be published for consultation during National Science & Engineering Week in March 2008.

Friday, 9 November 2007

Control of Invasive Non-Native Species

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs is consulting on proposed revisions to Schedule 9 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act and ban on the sale of certain non-native species. Defra has proposals to both add and remove species from Schedule 9, which aims to control the release of invasive non-native species into the wild. The consultation also proposes that a number of non-native species should not be allowed to be sold in the UK, because of the economic and environmental damage they cause. Defra would like to have comments on the list of species recommended for inclusion/exclusion on the relevant lists. The consultation closes on 31 January 2008.

Thursday, 8 November 2007

Science & Technology Committee's Report

The House of Common's Select Committee on Science and Technology has been replaced by the Innovation, Universities and Skills Committee. The Science and Technology Committee has published its Last Report. The Committee recommended that the House of Commons should consider creating a Science and Technology Committee at the end of the 2007-2008 session. It recommended that the new Innovation, Universities and Skills Committee should:

  • change its title to include science, as should the DIUS;
  • look at cross-departmental science policy issues;
  • consider how it will scrutinize the work of Research Councils;
  • continue the Science Question Time, which improved ministerial scrutiny;
  • consider how 'evidence' is used by select committees.

Wednesday, 7 November 2007

New Parliamentary Select Committees

Changes to Parliamentary Select Committees have been put in place following changes to Government Departments. These changes will affect how science and education policy are scrutinised by Parliament.
  • The new Innovation, Universities and Skills Committee will be responsible for examining the work of DIUS which includes further education, higher education and skills and the Government Office of Science. The members of the Committee are Adam Afriyie, Nadine Dorries, Dr Ian Gibson, Dr Evan Harris, Dr Brian Iddon, Graham Stringer, Dr Desmond Turner, Gordon Marsden, Bob Spink, Ian Stewart, Ian Cawsey, Phil Willis, Rob Wilson and Dr Roberta Blackman-Woods.
  • The Children, Schools and Families Committee replaces the former Education and Skills Committee. The new committee will analyse the administration, expenditure and policy of the DCFS, including educational curriculum. The members of the committee are Barry Sheerman, Douglas Carswell, David Chaytor, Fiona Mactaggart, Andrew Pelling, Graham Stuart, Dawn Butler, Annette Brooke, John Heppell, Maria Miller, Joan Ryan, Andy Slaughter, Lynda Waltho and Stephen Williams.

Queen's Speech

The Queen's Speech included the Climate Change Bill and the draft Marine Bill (not mentioned in the speech).