The hypocrisy of the UK’s climate policy

As I’ve pointed out before, there is huge hypocrisy when it comes to the UK’s energy policy. Like many vaguely sane countries, the UK is legally committed to taking action on climate change. Laws have been passed in parliament and the UK has signed into EU legislation which sets targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The UK has also signed international agreements, with legally binding targets.

However despite all this, the UK government is intent on promoting fracking for yet more fossil fuels, even though falling oil and gas prices hardly give any obvious justification for this policy. This in itself would be bad enough, if it weren’t for the fact that the Government have been actively working against the deployment of renewables, as well as energy saving measures which would allow people to lower their energy bills while at the same time cutting carbon emissions.

Take for example the town of Balcombe at the centre of the Fracking debate. Tory plans to change the tax laws governing community owned energy schemes threaten to undermine the attempts by locals to build community funded (and locally supported) renewables….while down the road they attempt to steamroller over local opposition to fracking, even thought the are basically reneging on multiple international treaties and violating the law of the land to do so. Needless to say it makes a mockery of Cameron’s “big society” propaganda.

And of course, this promotion of shale gas continues despite falling fossil fuel prices, which likely to led to cirb the ethausiasm of many companies for fracking. The reasons for this price drop are I fear not fully understood. Contrary to media reports, the drops in price are almost certainly not related to fracking or other unconventional sources, as these only represent a tiny fraction of global output (a little less than 5% in fact). Changes in supply and demand factors and improvements in EOR (Enhanced Oil Recovery) seem a more likely explanation.

However the drop in prices has, along with expanding renewable energy, led to much lower wholesale electricity costs. Although despite this there have been few if any significant drops in the price of electricity by the major producers. Consumer magazine Which? recently estimated (prior to recent wholesale price drops) bills could be on average £145 cheaper.

So you may ask, where is the regulator in all this, after all Ofgem are legally required to take action at this point. And what has been Ofgem’s response? Suggest that people should save energy by eating a packed lunch? And what next? If a pensioner is sure they are going to die of hypothermia this winter will they suggest that they should burn the house down to save on the energy needed to defrost your frozen corpse?

One is quickly forced to the conclusion that the Tory party is beholden to their cronies within the energy industry. Community owned energy schemes were central to the large increases in renewable energy use in Germany, as well as threatening to break the monopoly power of the the big six energy firms. So its obvious why the Tories are so anxious to kill them off, lest more people work out there are alternatives to taking a shafting every quarter from you’re utility. Promoting fracking has little to do with lowering bills and everything to do with some back door cash handouts and tax breaks. In much the same way that Cameron’s assault on “Green crap” had nothing to do with lowering bills and everything to do to helping the energy giants pocket yet more cash.

And the massive subsidy to nuclear, which as I recently pointed out on my energy blog, works out at a subsidy rate per kWh of roughly 68% over the 50 year lifetime of the plant, versus a subsidy rate of at most 13% for wind (over 10 years) and 25% for solar (over 35 years), is clearly so blatantly excessive its true purpose is merely to provide a slush fund to fuel the profits of many energy firms, many of them foreign owned I might add, for decades to come.

Let us be clear, this is corruption of the highest level, little different from G. W. Bush and his war for oil. Climate change after all, will have a dramatic impact on some parts of the world, wiping out certain low lying countries. The only difference is that they’ve found a way to do it without having to invade a foreign country first and getting us to foot the bill!


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