UCL Institute for Sustainable Resources


Blogpost: Tales from foreign parts

27 November 2013


Foreign travel, especially air travel, is bad for the climate, so that at ISR I think carefully about invitations that involve it. But sometimes, in this globalised world, it is just necessary to get the word out and share perspectives with colleagues in other countries.

In this past year I have been chairing the UCL Green Economy Policy Commission and all three of the speaking engagements described here are very relevant to that.

The first was a keynote speech on environmental taxation and emissions trading at the 14th Global Conference on Environmental Taxation in Kyoto, Japan, in October. There is huge interest in Asia on carbon pricing, with a carbon tax recently implemented in Japan, a carbon trading scheme being planned in South Korea, and a number of pilot trading schemes set up in China. This speech was an opportunity to share European experiences, including positive UK innovations such as the Carbon Price Floor, with an Asian, and indeed global audience.

Then it was on to Tokyo, for a second presentation in Japan, this time to the Global Environmental Action Conference (details of this year’s will be posted therein due course). The topic for this event was a broader focus on the green economy, previewing some of the ideas from the UCL Green Economy Policy Commission that will be published early in 2014. Japan and its economy have still far from recovered from the devastating tsunami of 2011, and there was a small typhoon in the Tokyo area shortly before my visit, which served to underline the core message of the presentation of the need to move to a low-carbon economy, a message that was tragically much more powerfully emphasised by the much larger typhoon that has recently devastated the central Philippines.

Closer to home, the green economy was also the subject of a seminar I gave in November to the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC) at Ispra, in northern Italy.  The Institute for Environmental Sustainability there does excellent scientific work across a range of environmental themes and resources, and is looking for opportunities to integrate this work into a wider focus on the green economy. The upshot of the seminar seems likely to be a Memorandum of Understanding between JRC and UCL ISR, which will hopefully lead to extensive mutually beneficial collaboration and joint projects.