The thoughts that count - the best of global thought leadership (May 2022)

What will the public services we use look like in the future? The Serco Institute’s monthly digest – The Thoughts That Count – pulls together some of the best thinking on public services policy from across the world.

Public services & policy

5 Key Public Service Bills from the Queen’s Speech – Serco Institute

The Serco Institute digs through the Queen’s Speech of May 10 and analyses five key bills and what implications these will have for public services in the UK. These are: the Levelling Up & Regeneration Bill; the Transport Bill; the Procurement Bill; the Public Order Bill; and the Bill of Rights.

PPIC Statewide Survey: Californians and Their Government – Public Policy Institute of California (US)

Ahead of primary elections on June 7, California voters have named inflation, jobs and the economy as the three biggest issues facing the state. 30% feel the US is heading in the right direction, and 22% expect the country to experience good financial times in the coming year – however, 37% say they are worse off than they were one year ago.

Only 11% of Brits say Westminster politics will be biggest factor in determining their local election vote – Serco Institute

Published on the day of the UK’s local elections on May 5, this article by the Serco Institute finds that local issues were deemed by British voters the most important factor driving their vote: 21% of respondents identified by local issues as having the biggest role in determining how they voted, followed by public services (14%) and Westminster politics (11%).

Policy by committee – Menzies Research Centre (Australia)

One of the worst legacies of the pandemic is the dismal trend of outsourcing decisions to faceless bureaucrats. Expect to see more of it from Labor, writes Nick Cater.

Do Budget Deficits Matter? Essays on the Implications of Government Deficits and Debt – Fraser Institute (Canada)

Ottawa has recorded budget deficits since 2007/08, and is projected to continue to do so for at least five more fiscal years. This has led to perceptions among some Canadians that budget deficits do not matter. However, this collection of essays reminds readers that deficits and debt do matter and have a cost, and calls upon Canadian public authorities to be more responsible with public finances.

Beyond the verbal smokescreens – Maxim Institute (New Zealand)

This note comments on the mixture of delight and displeasure drawn from the recent Wellbeing budget issued by the New Zealand Government. Two key areas of the budget include a NZ$2.9b package for the first Emissions Reduction draft legislation and NZ$13.2bn in additional funding for health over four years. However, concerns remain over investment into education as understaffing and high children to teacher ratios remain problematic.

The House Passed a Strong, Progressive Revenue Package – Now It’s Time for the Senate to Act – Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (US)

This post goes over three of the main areas of revenue change in the reconciliation bill passed by the House of Representatives in late December 2021, and makes recommendations for reforms for the Senate to adopt in its own reconciliation bill. These include: a new surtax on high-income individuals; a new 15% minimum tax rate on the largest multinationals; and a tax policy reversal to collect more legally owed taxes, particularly from wealthy individuals.

Actually European!? – Heinrich Böll Stiftung (Germany)

In the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, this study evaluates how the German public views the actions of their country’s government and that of the EU in the new age. Key findings: 50% of Germans see their government as being active in the EU; 72% would like to see Germany take a more active role in the EU; 72% feel the EU’s response to the Russian invasion is proportionate; and 67% feel ensuring European energy independence from Russia is the EU’s most urgent policy priority.

Cost of living

Back on target – Resolution Foundation (UK)

This snap analysis of the UK Chancellor’s emergency ‘cost of living’ package announced on 26 May paints the intervention in a positive light, indicating that it is both of a decent scale, as well as being effectively targeted.

IFS response to government cost of living support package – Institute for Fiscal Studies (UK)

The IFS’s analysis of the UK Chancellor’s policies to address the cost of living crisis in the UK concludes that the scale of the package is significant and is focussed on the right areas. However, it warns of a significant “fiscal cost” that will need to be repaid, and criticises the Chancellor for how he portrayed the windfall tax on energy companies.

The Scottish Resource Spending Review: will the government choose axing or taxing? – Institute for Fiscal Studies (UK)

Published ahead of the Scottish Government’s ‘Resource Spending Review’ – setting out spending plans for day-to-day spending – the IFS says that slower than expected growth alongside significant policy commitments means Holyrood ministers will have to either “take the axe to certain areas of spending, signal higher levels of taxation – or ignore the issue for now, hoping for extra funding or borrowing powers from the UK Government.”

Health & social care

Will the Coverage Buck Ever Stop Somewhere Else? – American Enterprise Institute (US)

This blog makes several recommendations to reform employee-sponsored health insurance, including: curbing anti-competitive contracting practices; loosening medical licencing; and more promotion of interstate competition in healthcare services.

Supporting patient engagement with digital health care innovations: Lessons from the Care City test bed – Nuffield Trust (UK)

This summary provides “a set of lessons for ensuring digital health innovations are applied in optimal ways for the people using them”. The findings are based on a large-scale evaluation of digital technologies being implemented in health and social care in East London.

Improving and Expanding Programs to Support a Diverse Health Care Workforce: Recommendations for Policy and Practice – Urban Institute (US)

This report draws upon interviews and findings from focus groups to examine the barriers faced by systematically and structurally excluded groups, such as black or Hispanic Americans, and includes recommendations for state and federal policymakers; leaders at higher education and health system institutions; and philanthropies to encourage and support students from these groups and build a diverse healthcare workforce.

Repeat Prescription? The NHS and four decades of privatisation paranoia – Institute of Economic Affairs (UK)

This report by the IEA argues that the ‘threat’ of NHS privatisation has been overblown for many decades. The author argues that these ‘conspiracy theories’ and ‘moral panics’ crowd out any “sensible discussion of health reform”.

End the Tax Exclusion for Employer-Sponsored Health Insurance – Cato Institute (US)

The ‘tax exclusion’ for employer-sponsored health insurance shields US workers from having to pay income or payroll taxes on such benefits. However, the Cato Institute argues that the tax exclusion denies workers the ability to make many of their own health decisions by obliging them to allow employers to control a large share of their earnings. As such, this article calls for the $1 trillion currently controlled by employers to be returned to workers, and to reform the exclusion.

Devolve to evolve? – Policy Exchange (UK)

This report examines specialised services in the UK’s NHS, which typically care for small numbers of patients with rare or complex conditions. This one part of the NHS now receives more taxpayer funding than providing police services and fighting crime. The authors outline a series of recommendations including a call for NHS England to change how these services are planned, with power and responsibility being devolved down to new Integrated Care Boards.

What Will Happen to Health Care Spending If the American Rescue Plan Act Premium Tax Credits Expire? – Urban Institute (US)

The 2021 American Rescue Plan Act increased premium tax credits (PTCs) for Marketplace health coverage and greatly expanded eligibility for these PTCs – consequently, Marketplace enrolment reached record highs. However, this report finds that if the PTC enhancements are allowed to expire on schedule after 2022, healthcare spending would decline by $50.5 billion in 2023. Furthermore, it estimates that three million would become uninsured, receive less healthcare and experience greater morbidity and financial insecurity.

Support at the end of life: The role of hospice services across the UK – Nuffield Trust (UK)

This new analysis draws on a nationwide survey of hospices conducted by Hospice UK to address a large gap in our understanding of the services that the hospice sector provides across the UK, including how the Covid-19 pandemic has impacted those services.

Health Premiums Will Rise Steeply for Millions if Rescue Plan Tax Credits Expire – Center for Budget and Policy Priorities (US)

The Center for Budget and Policy Priorities finds that if Congress does not act to preserve the enhanced tax credits under the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), most of the 14.5 million who gained Marketplace coverage under ARPA provisions will lose insurance or pay much higher premiums in 2023.

Polling Canadians’ Support for New Federal Government Programs – Fraser Institute (Canada)

This report finds that public support in Canada for several programmes announced in this year’s federal budget declines sharply if the programmes are paid for by a rise in GST (VAT) instead of by borrowing. For instance, while large majorities of Canadians support universal national pharmacare and a national dental care programme (79% and 72% respectively), these proportions decline precipitously to 40% and 42% respectively if these were to be funded by a rise in GST.

Addressing the Shortage of Behavioural Health Clinicians: Lessons from the Military Health System – RAND Corporation (US)

This blog post discusses the barriers to mental health services in the US system, due in part to the shortage of licenced mental health providers (MHPs). For solutions, RAND looks to the US military, where the behavioural health workforce consists both of licenced MHPs and of behavioural health technicians (BHTs), enlisted servicemembers who are trained to work alongside licenced MHPs and provide a variety of support roles and services.

Problem to program to public policy: How outcomes-based financing strengthened England’s health system – Brookings Institution (US)

This case study examines the efforts of the Elton John AIDS Foundation to expand access to HIV care in the UK. Using focus groups with residents of Lambeth, South London, the Foundation identified practical and social barriers preventing people from testing, designed a ‘Zero HIV’ Social Impact Bond (SIB) for investors to provide short-term funding, and financed expanded HIV testing efforts at emergency departments (EDs), clinics, and primary care offices to ensure patients did not encounter the practical and social barriers the Foundation had identified in its focus groups. The Brookings Institution concludes that the Zero HIV SIB’s experience shows the importance of identifying the problem and putting it first, tailoring services specifically, then selecting a programme model and partners for a sustained and long-term impact.

Covid-19

Working with Covid: Insecure jobs, sick pay and public health – Australia Institute (Australia)

Almost one in five Australians (and a higher proportion of young workers) acknowledge working with potential Covid symptoms over the course of the pandemic, according to new opinion research published by the Centre for Future Work. The research confirms the public health dangers of Australia’s existing patchwork system of sick leave and related entitlements.

Working life in the COVID-19 pandemic 2021 – Eurofound (Europe)

This publication consists of individual country reports of working life in 2021 from 28 countries – the 27 EU member states and Norway. The paper reports on policy responses by national governments and their social partners to cushion the socioeconomic impacts of the pandemic and a focus on new policy areas relating to the pandemic and the return to work.

Fail of the century – Menzies Research Centre (Australia)

 The sledgehammer approach to Covid-19 which shut down global economies for months is one of the biggest mistakes of the 21st century, argues former White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney in a watercooler conversation hosted by Nick Cater.

Immigration

DHS Won’t Say Why It’s Trashing H-2B Visas during a Labor Shortage – Cato Institute (US)

In the midst of the worst labour shortage the US has seen in living memory, the Cato Institute calls for the Department of Homeland Security to ‘stop wasting’ H-2B visas already authorised by Congress and to exempt returning workers from the cap on issuing H-2B visas to allow more workers into the country.

Migrants in the Australian workforce: A guidebook for policy makers – Grattan Institute (Australia)

The Covid crisis highlights how important migrant workers are to the Australian economy, yet the role migrants play in the jobs market is poorly understood. This guidebook seeks to fill that knowledge gap so policymakers can reform the system to supercharge the economic benefits of migration to Australians.

Homes for Afghans – More in Common / British Future (UK)

This paper argues that the Homes for Ukraine scheme – which allowed UK residents to apply to house refugees feeling the war in eastern Europe – and its popularity amongst Britons show the appetite from the public for initiatives which would see direct community support for immigrants. The authors argue that the Homes for Ukraine scheme should be extended to cover other groups of people, specifically the people fleeing Afghanistan following the takeover of the country by the Taliban.

The Title 42 Exclusion Policy Does Nothing To Prevent the Spread of COVID-19 – Center for American Progress (US)

Between March 2020 and March 2022, 1.8 million people were expelled from the US under the Title 42 order, under which federal officials could bar individuals or goods from entering the country if this was deemed not to be in the interest of public health. However, the Center for American Progress finds there is no relationship to suggest that Title 42 has had any suppressive effect on Covid case rates in the United States.

Covid border opening, immigration, MIQ announcements a confusing mix – New Zealand Initiative (New Zealand)

In this article, the author makes the case that New Zealand’s border settings continue to confound. In November last year, even the cautious Ministry of Health advised the Government that MIQ no longer served any useful purpose. He asserts that with the after-effects of the pandemic and now the war in Ukraine buffeting the economy, the country needs urgency at the border, rather than half-measures and muddled thinking.

Employment, skills & welfare

California’s Unemployment Gaps Have Narrowed during the Pandemic – Public Policy Institute of California (US)

California had, as of March 2022, recovered 89% of the jobs lost when the pandemic first struck in the spring of 2020. Historically, spikes in unemployment during recessions have tended to disproportionately affect black and Hispanic Americans, as well as residents of inland California. However, California’s strong jobs recovery has seen unemployment gaps narrow across racial and ethnic groups.

Working Together: The case for universal employment support – Demos (UK)

This Demos paper argues that a new “Universal Work Service” is needed to improve outcomes by strengthening relationships, providing joined up services for individuals and employers, and supporting the UK economy to adapt to demographic and technological change.

Understanding the Changing Ratio of Working-Age Canadians to Seniors and its Consequences – Fraser Institute (Canada)

Canada’s working-age population is steadily shrinking, while the country’s population aged 65 and over is growing. While in 1966 there were 7.7 working-age individuals for every senior, in 2022 this figure stands at 3.4, and will fall to 3.0 by 2027. This is projected to bring greater strain to public finances as there will be fewer working taxpayers to help fund cash transfers to seniors and increasing healthcare costs brought about by an ageing population.

Child Tax Credit Recipients Experienced a Larger Decline in Food Insecurity and a Similar Change in Employment as Nonrecipients between 2020 and 2021 – Urban Institute (US)

The temporary extension of the child tax credit under the American Rescue Plan Act saw monthly payments made to most families with children between July and December 2021. Using the Urban Institute’s Well-Being and Basic Needs Survey, this report finds the share of adults who received the payments and reported food insecurity declined more relative to the share of adults who did not receive the payments. Furthermore, the report finds no significant change as to employment between adults who did receive payments and adults who did not between December 2020 and December 2021.

Finding a NEET Solution – EDSK (UK)

A young person being ‘Not in Education, Employment or Training’ (NEET) are often ‘scarred’ by this experience, according to this report, as demonstrated by the fact that their health, employment prospects and wellbeing are generally lower over the long term. It says slow progress on addressing the number of young NEET people in the UK needs to be addressed through three measures: shifting policy to focus on prevention rather than cure; a move away from a bias for ‘academic subjects’ in classrooms; and better career advice for young people.

Is the workforce ready for the jobs of the future? Data-informed skills and training foresight – Bruegel (Europe)

In many emerging jobs, workers and firms find themselves unable to apply precise occupation taxonomies and training lags behind the needs of the workforce. This report shows how data can enable useful foresight about skill requirements and training needs, even when that data has not been collected for this purpose.

No one left behind: Why Australia should lock in full employment – Grattan Institute (Australia)

This report asserts that Australia should shoot for full employment after the Covid crisis. Australians who lose their job suffer large falls in their income that persist well after they find another job. Workers who otherwise have good work histories will still have an 11 per cent lower labour income five years after the typical three-month spell of unemployment. The Grattan Institute argues that Labor should make sustaining full employment a baked-in national priority, and that Australians should not settle for anything less.

Fulfilling its potential? How well does the careers information, advice and guidance serve the people it is meant to support in England? – Social Market Foundation (UK)

This SMF report looks at school leavers and adult learners’ experiences of careers information, advice and guidance (IAG) in England. Using focus groups with school leavers, adult learners and parents, plus discussions with experts and practitioners, it outlines new evidence on the way that people engage with IAG. The report’s policy recommendations focus on increasing the personalisation, accountability, and accessibility of IAG.

Economy & taxation

How central banking lost its way – New Zealand Initiative (New Zealand)

In this article Dr Oliver Hartwich looks at whether investors need not worry about climate risk; a stance made by HSBC’s head of responsible investing Stuart Kirk. Kirk pointed out that economic growth allows countries to deal with the negative effects of climate change. He also accused central banks and regulators of spending too much time on regulations related to climate change while neglecting their core tasks relating to financial stability. Has this stability truly been lost?

5% Pay rise would still see big business more profitable next year – Australia Institute (Australia)

Research released today reveals that companies like Woolworths and the Commonwealth Bank are under no pressure to pass on a 5% increase in the minimum wage as a 5% increase in their prices. The research finds that boosting workers’ wages by 5% would lead to an increase in prices across the economy of less than 2%.

Defence & national security

Protecting Our Nation’s Back Door: Improving Patent Policy for National Security – Hudson Institute (US)

This blog calls for the US and other Western countries, such as the UK and Germany, to improve upon their ‘back doors’ so as not to allow telecommunications companies such as Huawei from gaining access to mobile phone networks. One way to do this is to ensure US companies are leaders in these important technology areas and be active in standards development organisations (SDOs) in the way that Chinese nationals and companies are.

Lessons from the Ajax Programme – RUSI (UK)

The project to build the next generation of the British Army’s armoured vehicles, the Ajax, has been dogged by problems and delays. This ‘interim review’ examines how the programme failed to meet its objectives. It includes a number of recommendations, many focussed on the relationship between suppliers in the defence industry and the Government.

The EU’s Civilian Headquarters – European Union Institute for Security Studies (Europe)

This paper chronicles the development of the Civilian Planning and Conduct Capability (CPCC) since its inception in 2007, how the CPCC has responded to growing needs for civilian Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) deployments, higher levels of ambition from the Civilian CSDP Compact and Strategic Compass, and other geopolitical pressures and shocks in a multipolar world.

Communities and local government 

If it makes you happy… What role does subjective wellbeing play in Levelling Up? – Social Market Foundation (UK)

The UK Government promised to make a legal commitment to increasing wellbeing and reducing wellbeing disparities across the UK. This paper considers how subjective wellbeing – i.e. how people indicate their wellbeing levels in surveys – fits with the rest of the UK Government’s flagship economic and development plan, the Levelling Up Strategy. It looks especially at places that are prosperous, healthy and well educated, but nevertheless have low wellbeing.

Florida’s anti-Disney law is poised to hurt surrounding communities – Brookings Institution (US)

The Governor and state legislature of Florida recently rescinded Disney’s self-governing authority in Florida and dissolved the Disney-owned Reedy Creek Improvement District, with effect from June 1, 2023. The Brookings Institution notes that this has broader consequences. Special districts, such as Reedy Creek, are distinct forms of local government which sit alongside municipalities and townships and are designated for providing specific services (e.g. housing, fire protection, water management) – they are the fastest-growing form of local government in the US. Not only will the counties neighbouring Reedy Creek now have to provide for its services and shoulder its debt, Florida’s anti-Disney law sets a precedent meaning that local government structures which provide essential services are no longer insulated from political battles or culture wars.

Terminal Problem? The case for a market-based airport slot allocation system – Institute of Economic Affairs (UK)

The liberalisation of the aviation sector in the UK since the 1980s has been a success, the IEA argues. However, two major components have bucked that overall liberalisation trend: airport capacity, and the allocation of take-off and landing slots. This report makes a number of recommendations in relation to the latter, including the use of periodic slot auctions, under which slots go to the highest bidder.

Why Choose Britain? – Centre for Policy Studies (UK)

Based on interviews with over 100 founders, funders, CEOs, entrepreneurs and other senior figures, this CPS study asks, ‘Why choose Britain?’ The research finds that investors are not only worried about the UK’s trajectory, but concerned that the Government is not as focused on the problem as it should be. The report concludes with a 10-point plan aimed at making Britain “dramatically more investment-friendly and business-friendly”.

Will the levelling up missions help reduce regional inequality? – Institute for Government (UK)

The UK Government has published 12 ‘Levelling-up Missions’ – targets which aim to focus policy and spending on regional investment and improvement across the country. The Institute for Government analyses these 12 missions and concludes that five of them are not ambitious enough; three are too ambitious; four of them do not define what success really looks like; two of the missions have too narrow a focus, and risk diverting attention and resources away from other outcomes that would contribute to levelling up; and one mission (on R&D spending) does not align with the overall objective of levelling up to reduce regional disparities. 

Crime & justice

Right time, right place: improving access to civil justice – Social Market Foundation (UK)

This paper discusses access to civil justice in England and Wales using new survey data, and makes a number of recommendations, including: reversing cuts to civil Legal Aid and co-locating legal advice clinics with hospitals or GP surgeries.

Transgenderism and policy capture in the criminal justice system – Policy Exchange (UK)

This report authored by solicitor Maureen O’Hara argues that criminal justice policy needs to prioritise biological sex over ‘gender identity’. O’Hara claims that self-declaration of ‘gender identity’ has been adopted as policy by all of the key criminal justice institutions, despite the fact that this is not aligned with the law and that this has led to increasingly negative outcomes in criminal justice.

Move on Upstream: Crime, prevention and relationships – Demos (UK)

The UK Government has a plan to hire 20,000 new police officers. This new report by Demos argues that such a recruitment drive will “do little to tackle Britain’s real crime problems.” The authors cite ONS figures showing that the majority of crimes in England and Wales are not reported to the police, and only 7% of the crimes that the police record result in a charge or summons. The report proposes a new approach, one which focuses on prevention in order to reduce crime to levels current police numbers can reasonably deal with.

Transport

Miles Ahead: Road pricing as a fairer form of motoring taxation – Social Market Foundation (UK)

The transition towards electric vehicles in the UK, which don’t incur fuel duty, means the Treasury faces a loss of £30bn each year in taxes. This report explores the case for introducing a nationwide road pricing system in the UK and sets out “a model that is fairer than fuel duty, replaces lost tax revenue, and reduces the burden on low-income households”.

Post-Covid Recovery of Air Traffic in Saudi Arabia – King Abdullah Petroleum Studies and Research Center (Saudi Arabia)

This paper examines what impact the huge drop in air passenger traffic due to the Covid-19 pandemic and related travel restrictions has had on the aviation sector of Saudi Arabia and all around the world.

Changing Track – Centre for Policy Studies (UK)

The CPS argues that customers’ use of the rail network since the Covid pandemic has become “far more flexible, with an increased focus on long-distance leisure commuting”. The report warns that unless UK rail is radically overhauled, and able to respond to new passenger demands for freedom and flexibility, it will be “plagued by a future of decline and underinvestment that will necessitate either an extra penny raised on income tax to cover a taxpayer subsidy to the annual tune of £6bn”.

The future of rail funding in the UK – Trades Union Congress (UK)

This paper from the overarching body for trade unions in the UK calls for full public ownership of the railways and the reuniting of track and train services into one organisation.

Education

Understanding the Effects of School Funding – Public Policy Institute of California (US)

This report makes recommendations for how funding for California’s schools can best be distributed to secure best outcomes for schoolchildren. The research finds that: several years of sustained spending improve student outcomes; how spending is distributed can matter for the outcomes for lower-income, black and Hispanic students; the labour market for educators may constrain spending policies; and cost pressures in California’s schools affect the efficiency of funding.

Report Card: Reforming the Department for Education – Adam Smith Institute (UK)

The Adam Smith Institute’s latest discussion paper proposes a number of reforms to improve the efficiency and value for money of the Department for Education, including: the merging of a number of ‘arm’s length bodies’, changes to the funding model, and student loan reforms.

Education system needs solutions – Maxim Institute (New Zealand)

This article looks at reports of declining literacy and numeracy levels among 15-year-olds that have recently resurfaced. According to the latest PISA report, the educational achievement levels of New Zealand's Year 11 students in science, literacy, and numeracy have been declining over the past 18 years. New Zealand students have dropped in the ranks for all three subjects, particularly noticeable in maths: dropping from 4 out of 41 countries, to 27 out of 78 countries. The author calls for those in charge of New Zealand’s compulsory education sector to start thinking outside of bureaucratic parameters. 

Seen and unseen effects of COVID-19 school disruptions – Brookings Institution (US)

The Brookings Institution examines how we can measure the impact two years of Covid-19 school shutdowns have impacted the learning of students, something which the World Bank Group President has described as ‘the worst education crisis in a century’. It also references a World Bank paper which, using the Gulf War of 1990-91 as a case study of a severely education-disrupting crisis, estimates that Kuwaiti boys affected by current pandemic-related school closures who go on to work for the Kuwaiti civil service could see their incomes reduced by $40,000 over their lifetimes, while for Kuwaiti girls this figure could stand at $21,000.

Environment & net zero

Passing the Net Zero Test – Institute for Government (UK)

The authors of this Institute for Government report highlight a series of decisions where UK ministers “seem to have undermined their own climate objectives, including on the Cumbria coal mine, roadbuilding, cutting air passenger duty on domestic flights, and boosting UK oil and gas production.” It recommends that the UK Government apply a new net-zero test during its policy development process.

The 9th Summit of the Americas is an Opportunity to Centre Climate Action in Regional Security – Center for American Progress (US)

Ahead of the ninth Summit of the Americas taking place in Los Angeles in June, the Center for American Progress makes several policies for President Biden to prioritise. These include: mobilising commitments and financing to facilitate the green energy transition; prioritising climate action in supply chains; elevating climate migration in the regional security narrative; leveraging subnational and non-state support for climate action.

REPowerEU: will EU countries really make it work? – Bruegel (Europe)

This blog post discusses whether REPowerEU, the EU’s plan to phase out Russian gas by 2027 while accelerating its green energy transition, is in fact feasible. National governments will need to make compromises, but Bruegel calls upon them to cooperate to safeguard energy security and competitiveness. A fragmented response would undermine the EU’s ability to take a hard stance towards Russia.

How to Mitigate Transportation Emissions in Saudi Arabia? The Role of Energy Price Governance – King Abdullah Petroleum Studies and Research Center (Saudi Arabia)

In light of Saudi Arabia’s recent energy-pricing reform strategy, this discussion paper investigates the main drivers of carbon emissions in the Saudi transport sector.

Green finance hub – Civic Exchange (Hong Kong)

This article comments on how the recent success of Hong Kong’s green bond investment scheme is a clear indicator that it has the ability to be a green finance hub. The Retail Green Bond was 1.2 oversubscribed and the offering was increased from HK$15 billion to HK$20 billion. Whilst its financing method of schemes designed to combat climate change are innovative, the article expresses concerns that its schemes don’t share this innovation. Projects that should be funded with this money include developing wind, solar, energy storage or large-scale afforestation projects key to decarbonisation.

COP29 in Australia – Australia Institute (Australia)

The Australia Institute argues that, as Australia has never hosted a United Nations climate conference (COP), the recent proposal from the Labor Party to bid for the 2024 COP in partnership with the Pacific could shift Australia’s reputation from climate laggard to regional leader. This shift should be accompanied by substantive changes to Australia’s climate policy, including on Australia’s climate aid and re-joining the UN Green Climate Fund. 

Have we missed something interesting? Let us know by getting in touch through info@sercoinstitute.com

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