Domestic energy policy in the UK over the past 30 years has been disastrous, and we are now witnessing the result of the failure to develop a coherent strategy.
It is fruitless to blame Russia for selling us overpriced gas. The country should have invested in new nuclear plants over the years, and shale. We would be in a better position to withstand shocks in foreign energy prices.
All parties are to blame. The Conservatives abandoned the nuclear programme proposed by the Thatcher government in a 'dash for gas'. Then Labour loaded costs onto energy production on environmental grounds, which were continued by the coalition government. The Conservatives supported this approach which has now been followed up by carbon reduction targets. About 20% of energy bills now consists of social and green levies.
Is the country now prepared to pay for net zero now that it's becoming clear that it will do nothing to combat climate change for as long as the world's biggest CO2 producers refuse to change their own practices?*
The Chancellor has had to intervene to lessen the impact of energy bills going up by an average of about £700 per year. He has announced a package worth about £350 to most households, but has decided not to remove VAT on energy, whihch would reduce each bill by about £250.
Mr. Sunak's intervention would not have been necessary if successive governments had not handled energy so badly. The truth is that there are 650 MPs in Westminster yet last time I counted there were only three with science degrees. That is why energy policy has been handled incompetently.
It has been a thirty-year shambles: the refusal to exploit shale gas; the neglect of nuclear power; the refusal to allow continued gas and oil exploration in the North Sea whilst importing both from abroad. Lending billions to energy companies is not the answer.
Ministers are blaming everyone but themselves, but the truth is that government policies are the root cause: the Climate Change Act, the pursuit of Net Zero instead of energy security, and the failure to take critical decisions when they were needed. The crisis is not the result of outside forces; it is home grown. The fault and the solution lies with our politicians.
(Based on the leading article in the Daily Telegraph, 4 Feb 2022)
*CO2 isn't the driver in any case, but that's another story - Ed.
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