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A ‘Green New Deal’: politics and prospects 

Samuel Teale Chadwick 

Inflation in the price of natural gas is set to increase the average household energy bill by hundreds of pounds in the spring. A ‘Green New Deal’ has the potential to increase domestic energy capacity and affordability, as well as achieving the government’s target of sourcing all electricity from renewable and nuclear sources by 2035. However, a long term plan appears absent from the political agenda.

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Carboeconomics, ESG Investments, Green Finance: A Cocoon of Confusion and Implementation Challenges

Shresth Goel and Talvin Bath

Introduction

Sustainable investing is being prioritized by financial institutions across the world following international agreements on the urgency of addressing climate change. Finance executives have been at the forefront of getting creative with green financing through the utilization of financial instruments, both new and old. Inevitably, market sensitivity to green technology has increased quickly, but with cautious skepticism from some. 

Our focus is on the implementation challenges of these methods and their macroeconomic impacts. Generally speaking, the issue at hand is one of excess capital in a relatively young market without the levels of scrutiny received by previous landmark shifts in the market. This problem is exacerbated by a supply-demand mismatch in terms of market investors and reliable investment opportunities. With multiple competitive firms operating in the same sphere – chasing the same resources – failure of some is inevitable. Overbidding on a select few reliable opportunities may lead to underwhelming (but realistic) returns, leading to broad market corrections in the future, with drastic short and long-term effects. [1] [2]

Green enterprises are also heavily reliant on fossil fuels to develop green infrastructure in the first place. The ongoing energy shortage suggests delays in meeting time-bound climate goals, thus indicating potential problems with the timely realization of economic returns. 

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Net Zero 2050: How the UK can get Oil & Gas on Track

David Vergara Schleich, Tanya Lim, and Jenny Su

Introduction and Current Policies

In preparation for the 2021 COP 26 Conference in Glasgow, the United Kingdom (UK) published an ambitious white paper entitled “Net Zero Strategy: Build Back Greener” in which it outlines policies to achieve a greenhouse gas (GHG) neutral economy by 2050.1 This makes the UK the first country to implement a legally binding timeline. In line with this strategy, the Government aims to mobilize up to £270 billion in public and private sector funds to transition the Power and Energy sector.2 Crucially, instead of viewing the Oil and Gas sector as an impediment to GHG neutrality, the Government envisions the sector to play a leading role in the energy transition .4 As part of the Net Zero Strategy, the relevant UK regulatory body , the Oil and Gas Authority (OGA), has echoed the urgency to achieve GHG neutrality. In its “Revised Strategy”, the OGA warned that it would exercise its punitive powers should companies fail to comply with the timeline.5 Thus, the objectives of the government’s Net Zero Strategy are two-fold: in political-environmental terms, it is to achieve GHG neutrality to curb climate change and position the UK as a global paragon in environmental governance; secondly, it seeks to walk the fine line between incentivizing and coercing the Oil and Gas sector to accelerate its transition towards carbon neutrality and beyond 2050, towards renewable energies. 

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What role can International Organisations play in cultivating a greener economy for developing nations?

Alainah Amer, Anahita Roy and Taqi Shah

Introduction

Establishing a greener economy within developing nations is an up and coming topic in policymaking, environment, and economics. The natural foundations that many developing economies possess could be utilised to produce economic benefits is appealing. But before introducing the potential benefits as well as potential drawbacks of encouraging green growth in these countries, it is important to define what a green economy is. Essentially a green economy possesses healthy characteristics such as “low carbon, resource efficient, and socially inclusive” environment (United Nations Environment Programme, 2018, p.1). A green economy contributes to an increase in employment and revenue as a result of investment from both the public and private sectors into economic activities that allow for reduced carbon emissions, green and efficient energy, preservation of biodiversity and the ecosystem as a whole (United Nations Environment Programme, 2018, p.1). 

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T-Levels: a much-needed step forward in the British education system

It has been a long-standing view that the UK’s provision of technical courses falls far short of European alternatives. Rishi Sunak’s Autumn Budget Review revealed the government’s revitalised intention to invest in upskilling, an increase of 42% (£2.8bn). Included in this figure are T-Levels – a new qualification set to provide an alternative route to the current dichotomy of A-Levels and apprenticeships.

T-Levels are 2-year courses entailing an 80:20 mixture of classroom and industrial placement, respectively. They were first introduced in the Careers Strategy in 2018, and were launched in September 2020. The planned trajectory of courses available is auspicious: digital production, health, construction, and education, shifting to industries such as finance, media, and law by mid-2023.

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History Repeating Itself: The Consequences of Poland’s De Facto Abortion Ban

The consequences of Poland’s recent near-total abortion ban are becoming increasingly clear after a 30-year-old pregnant woman, named Izabela, died in a hospital in Pszczyna in southern Poland after being denied a possibly life-saving abortion. In October 2020, Poland’s Constitutional Tribunal ruled that abortions will only be legal in cases of rape, incest, and when a mother’s life is endangered, while terminating a pregnancy with fetal defects is against the Polish Constitution. Izabela’s is the first death publicly linked to the ban. Although Izabela died in September 2021, the story was only made public in early November.

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People or Pawns? The case of refugees at the crux of Greece-Turkey relations

The narrative regarding refugees and migrants has often been couched in negative terms, which has led in turn to the isolation of such individuals. This is partly a cause of the criminalisation of migrants perpetuated in the media, leading to xenophobia and racism, or top-down policies that do not take into account lived realities. This is clearly evident in the case of the EU-Turkey deal of 2016 – an agreement to discourage refugees from seeking asylum in Europe. It allowed Greece to send incoming ‘irregular migrants’ to Turkey instead – the latter would increase measures to stop illegal migration and would in exchange receive €6 billion in aid from the EU for its migrant communities; the agreement also included the possibility of resettling of one Syrian refugee in the EU for every one that Turkey let in. It is clear that this agreement is a political strategy benefiting EU countries at the expense of refugees’ rights, and despite being heavily criticised as such, it was still pushed forward. 

Turkey had essentially taken on the heavy burden of becoming Europe’s new buffer zone. The toll of this was not fully realised until February 2020 when Turkish authorities announced the reopening of the border shared with Greece amid accusations that the EU had not provided Turkey with the promised funding to support 3.6 million refugees within its borders. Following this, hundreds of refugee communities in the country rushed towards the border with the hopes of gaining entry into Europe, and according to interviews conducted on the ground by Amnesty International representatives, there were free buses ready to transport them to the border region. This political move to pressure the EU into more cooperation once again came at the expense of these migrants flooding the border, where they were pushed back violently by the Greek border security. 

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How the “Energy Crisis” could hinder European economic recovery

Europe is undergoing an energy crisis as a result of supply-side issues and a dependence on unreliable imports. The key commodity in question is natural gas, heavily utilised by many European countries as they work to reduce their reliance on coal and thus reduce their carbon emissions. However, prices for gas in the UK have increased four-fold over the past year and continue to break record trading prices. Many stakeholders in the UK and continental Europe stand to face significant losses in during the post-pandemic recovery as a result of this energy crisis. Households could face unprecedented gas bills as winter approaches, firms could see an enormous rise in operating costs while governments risk large budgetary strains as they seek to assist at-risk individuals and households while maintaining the operational integrity of their economies. All this, while the post-pandemic recovery continues to flounder around the world.  

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Strengthening Climate Policy in China’s Private Sector

At the UN conference in September 2020, President Xi Jinping announced that China will “have CO2 emissions peak before 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality before 2060”. Details of how this target will be achieved will probably not be released until the 14th Five-Year Plan (FYP) is announced. Nonetheless, if China fully implements a strategy to reach this goal, it will have massive implications for reaching the global 1.5 degrees Celsius target. This is because China accounts for the highest percentage of CO2 emissions worldwide, with Chinese power plants burning 25% of the world’s coal reserves and with renewable energy output only accounting for 9% of the country’s total energy [1]. Paradoxically, despite its massive energy consumption, it is also the largest producer of solar and wind energy and the leading investor in clean energy technologies worldwide [2]. Not only does China have 47% of all electric cars in the global market [3], it also refines four-fifths of the world’s supply of cobalt, an essential component in lithium ion batteries, the most common storage of clean electricity [4]. In addition to investment and manufacturing of sustainable energy technology and following several regional pilot emissions trading schemes (ETS), the Chinese government implemented a National Emissions Trading Scheme (NETS) in 2017 and enforced it in 2020, initially covering 2,267 power plants [5]. 

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