Energy and environmental policies have been a regular talking-point during the period in office of this coalition government. Most of the public will have heard of David Cameron’s ambition that his should be the “greenest government ever”, while few speeches from Ed Miliband have grabbed the spotlight in the manner his “price freeze" party conference speech did in September 2013. Subjects which used to live in the world of policy and markets wonks - the link between wholesale and retail prices, the impact of energy efficiency measures, the cost of renewables, Russian gas pipelines, not to mention the controversies generated by fracking - have become almost mainstream topics.
The technology sector has rightly become a source of optimism for all UK politicians in recent years. Rapid growth, job creation and sustained investment have become the norm. Recently published statistics from Tech City UK in its Tech Nation report indicate that digital job growth in the UK will outperform all other occupation categories by 2020. In addition, 1.46 million people - 7.5% of the entire UK workforce - are already employed in the digital industries. Importantly, the report found that 74% of digital companies in the UK operate outside of London, with significant clusters of activity in areas such as Greater Manchester, Brighton and Hove, Belfast and South Wales. The supply side is clearly getting stronger with the presence of not just a thriving tech start-up scene, but also a significant number of established and global tech players operating, and investing, across the UK. On the flip side, the demand side is becoming more demanding. Businesses and consumers increasingly expect digital, and not analogue, to be the default. This, of course, is both a great challenge and opportunity for the sector.
If last autumn was the settling-in period, the New Year is the time for the new European Commission to get moving on its priorities. The European Parliament elected last May has now bedded in, the Committees have established a work programme, and the parliamentarians will be keen to start making an impact on policy-making and regulatory measures. The next few months are therefore likely to see a lot of activity. As energy policy - and its multiple linkages with the wider European economy - has already been highlighted by Juncker and his senior lieutenants as one of the most important issues on the agenda, Commission officials in DG Clima and DG Energy are going to be busy, as will the ENVI (Environment) and ITRE (Industry, Trade and Energy) Committees in the Parliament. This piece analyses the key themes and what may merge in terms of concrete policy or legislative proposals.
In our recent analysis piece about the future regulation of remotely piloted aircraft systems (RPAS), we provided some insight into the main EU institutions and agencies involved in the creation of harmonised rules across Europe. Since then, the 2016 deadline the European Commission had initially set for new regulations to be approved has been removed, and not replaced.
In Lima, at the beginning of this week, after two weeks of the usual tortuous negotiations, the 196 parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) emerged with the Lima Call for Climate Action. This sets out the main priority issues for the parties in relation to the landmark COP 21 in Paris in December 2015 - the deadline for an international agreement on climate change - and attaches a 39-page document (a “non-paper”) containing various options for different elements of a draft negotiating text.
This note analyses Lima’s outcomes and the prospects for an international climate agreement in Paris 12 months away.
The battles lines ahead of next year’s general election have well and truly been set out by the UK Chancellor, George Osborne, who, in the last Autumn Statement of this Parliament, unveiled a series of policies designed to neuter his political opponents. With key deficit reduction targets continuing to be missed and questions about where the public spending axe will fall, the Chancellor faced a potentially difficult afternoon. Balancing the books clearly remains a formidable task.
On 1 December representatives of the 196 parties (member countries) to the United Nations Framework on Climate Change (UNFCCC) will gather in Lima for the annual Conference of the Parties (COP) international meeting. The climate negotiations have in recent years - especially since the conspicuous failure of parties at Copenhagen in 2009 to agree an international treaty - tended to be regarded as a non-event, an interminable discussion from which nothing material ever emerges. Will Lima, COP 20, be any different?
This article follows up a recent piece I wrote on the importance of agreeing a 2030 climate and energy framework at last month’s European Council. Following that agreement in Brussels, this article analyses some of the interesting (and surprising) elements of the agreement, and looks ahead to how the agreement will be followed up over the next few months.
According to a recent report, the total global spend on advertising will reach £320.5bn over the course of this year, boosted by 17.1% growth in internet advertising. The growth of the “adtech” industry is dramatically changing the way that advertisers, publishers and consumers interact. This article will look at a key technological driver of this growth, known as real-time bidding (RTB), and explore what we can expect from this in the next decade.
This Thursday and Friday, 23 and 24 October, at the European Council in Brussels, EU Heads of Government will take their most significant decision on climate change and energy policy for nearly six years, i.e. since the 2020 framework was passed into legislation. On the agenda this week is a prospective political agreement on the policy framework for climate and energy up to 2030, setting relevant targets to deliver that framework. Energy security is also on the agenda, with the Council reverting to its discussions in June on the European Commission report on how to reduce dependence on Russian gas.
Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS), more commonly referred to as ‘civil drones’ or ‘unmanned aerial vehicles’ (UAVs), can perform tasks that manned systems are sometimes unable to perform. They can be useful for surveillance purposes, border control, agriculture, firefighting, or media and entertainment, amongst other applications. The EU and some of its Member States have in recent years acknowledged the benefits of this new technology. The latter have, in certain cases, introduced new regulations that enable the industry to flourish, whilst minimising potential issues that may arise within their territory.
The issue of deforestation and forest degradation, as explained in our previous analysis piece, has to be addressed urgently by donor and tropical forest countries alike. At present, these governments face the challenge of creating new regulatory frameworks to protect the world’s tropical forests. This, however, cannot be achieved without the collaboration of the private sector, a non-state actor which will play a key role in this process.
With the news on Monday that the UK Government has announced an independent sharing economy review, to be led by Love Home Swap CEO Debbie Wosskow, and also the recommendation last week from Labour Digital in its Number One in Digital report that the Government should “conduct a review the rules and regulations surrounding the sharing economy”, it is evident that this issue is becoming increasingly a topic at the forefront of politicians’ thinking. Given these developments, as well as the recent publication of reports from Nesta and PwC, it proved a timely moment for Inline to gather leading thinkers, business representatives and policy makers at both the Labour and Conservative Party conferences to discuss what this all means for the UK.
Following on from our event on Tuesday 23 September at the Labour Party conference, we have assembled another panel of leading thinkers on the sharing economy for an event at the Conservative Party conference on Monday 29 September. We will be discussing a number of issues such as the economic opportunity for the UK, and some of the emerging regulatory themes in the sharing economy.
We are delighted to be hosting fringe events at both the Labour and Conservative Party Conferences this year. We have assembled a panel of leading thinkers on the sharing economy to discuss everything from the economic opportunity for the UK, to some of the emerging regulatory trends. Panellists and event details for the Labour Party fringe event can be found below. The full Conservative Party fringe line-up will be announced early next week.
Deforestation, the “direct, human-induced conversion of forested land to non-forested land”, as defined by the UNFCCC, and forest degradation, are one of the greatest challenges of our time. As the Global Canopy Programme (GCP) reports, tropical forests cover approximately 7% of global land area and provide habitat for at least half of the world’s biodiversity. However, they are currently experiencing a net loss of 1.4 billion tonnes of carbon every year.
It has become increasingly common for individuals to find their partners online, a trend which started around 1997. Back then, not everyone acknowledged the benefits of this activity, which was perceived as a rather impersonal way of finding love. In recent years, a new generation of tech savvy individuals has emerged, which regularly uses devices to keep in touch with their friends and relatives, as well as for access to online dating sites or apps. In addition, older adults have also discovered the benefits of online dating services to connect with other people; and today they represent a significant segment of the online dating market. Why struggle to find someone special in a crowded bar when you can do it more easily and effectively from the comfort of your own home?
The temperatures are falling; the mornings and nights are getting a little darker; it feels like autumn is just around the corner - it’s back to school time! This particularly applies to the politicians and civil servants who ply their trade in Brussels on EU policies and regulation. The new European Parliament barely had time to convene before it departed for the summer break. At the European Commission, all eyes are on new President Jean-Claude Juncker as the horse-trading between him and member states for the top political jobs in Brussels, including Commissioner portfolios, reaches its climax over the next two weeks.
The concept of mobile payments (“m-payments”) has been around since the late 1990s, but original predictions of rapid growth turned out to be overly optimistic. A lack of interoperability between different services, combined with a lack of consumer trust in these new forms of payment, hindered widespread adoption of m-payment services.
On 28 July, the British Government announced its first licensing round for six years for companies who wish to prospect for onshore oil and gas. The announcement was top of the news agenda, and there was no mistaking the excitement in UK ministerial (and Conservative) voices as they claimed that the speeding-up of exploration for shale could boost jobs, economic growth and national energy security.
But a deeper analysis suggests that it would be wise to temper this enthusiasm with some realistic appraisal of the obstacles that will have to be addressed before we reach the ‘promised land’.