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Category Archives: Politics & Public Policy

Could the UK Green Investment Bank become a victim of its own success?

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In 2008, with the passing of the Climate Change Act, the UK government set the target of reducing CO2 emissions by 80% of the 1990 baseline by 2050. The setting of this target, coupled with targets set at the European level, furthered the need for new, innovative approaches to the reduction of CO2 emissions that […]

How would a ‘clustered’ European Commission impact EU environmental policy?

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Every five years the European Union changes the composition of its Commission. While this year’s discussions have mostly focused on who will be appointed to the Commission, two other issues, repeatedly pushed for by the Netherlands and France, loom large on the political agenda: the Commission’s political programme, and the need to  restructure the Commission [1]. […]

EU Stakeholders Divided over Reforming the EU Emissions Trading System

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The European Union Emissions Trading System (EU ETS) is currently the world’s largest market-based policy for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Operating since 2005, the EU ETS sets a steadily-decreasing cap on the greenhouse gases that installations can emit in 31 countries.[1] “Emission allowances”, tradable permits to emit one ton of greenhouse gases[2], are allocated for […]

What has the EU ever done for the UK environment?

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In Monty Python’s Life of Brian, Reg, a character played by John Cleese, famously asks what the Romans have ever done for the people of Judaea. That no one had asked this question before may have been because Roman rule had become taken for granted. But after a moment’s reflection, his fellow freedom fighters quickly […]

Does the European Parliament “make a difference”?

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Yesterday morning on BBC radio 4 Prof Michael Sandel animated an episode of the Public Philosopher on the thorny issue of “Why vote?” in the context of Thursday’s local and European elections.  The episode opened with Sandel asking members of the public why they would not vote in the forthcoming election. Expecting answers based on […]

UKIP and Britain’s influence in the EU: a vicious circle

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In a debate organised last Thursday by the University of East Anglia’s Student Union, Geoffrey van Orden (Conservative Member of the European Parliament [MEP]) asked “If Nigel Farage thinks all laws are being made in Brussels why is he so desperate to get into Westminster?”. This can be understood as a comment on the UK Independence […]

Why the UK needs the EU (and vice versa)

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Making the case that the United Kingdom (UK) needs the European Union (EU) and vice versa is at the forefront of current electoral debates in the UK. During a passionate electoral hustings event at the University of East Anglia last night, candidates clashed over visions for a federal European Union (Andrew Duff, MEP, Lib Dem), […]

The European Parliament: An Environmental Champion Now and in the Future?

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If you care about climate change and the environment, you may find yourself wondering who will champion environmental issues in the EU after the upcoming elections in May. So far, the European Parliament (EP) has often been perceived as the EU’s ‘Green Champion’, i.e. its greenest institution. In this blog post, we shed some light […]

Rethinking British attacks on EU red tape

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In the last 15 months since David Cameron’s speech on Europe, the issue of EU red tape (i.e. EU rules imposing unnecessary costs on businesses) has featured prominently on political and media agendas. Initiatives such as the “Cut EU red tape” report by the Business Taskforce in October 2013,[1] and the ongoing balance of competence […]

Does the European Commission’s Climate Change Department Make a Difference?

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In my earlier blog post last week,[1] I argued that the creation of DG Clima—the European Commission’s climate change department—was a conscious political choice by Commission President Barroso in 2009. At the time, commentators and policy-makers disagreed on the potential impact of DG Clima on climate policy: some, such as Professor Reinhilde Veugelers from the […]

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