Thursday, 14 October 2021

THE CLIMATE DEBATE

 I am reproducing the post below, as I think it is interesting in that it involves a discussion between myself and a reader of the blog. I would welcome any other readers comments. 

 My position is that there is a modest amount of global warming, which, as the IPCC report says, is about 1.1 degrees C since around 1850, which was at the end of the Little Ice Age. (I don’t think anyone would think that this was an ideal climate!) Some of this warming is natural – most of that before 1950 and about half of that post 1950 is what scientists have estimated. So approximately half a degree C can be attributed to man. That is very modest and cannot by any means be called an emergency.     The problem is that politics has taken over from the science and this issue has now been captured by extremists, such as Extinction Rebellion and, unfortunately, the government has listened to these extremists and they are now fully embarking on a very costly policy of trying to eliminate fossil fuels, regardless of the fact that other major industrial nations, such as China and India, are increasing their fossil fuel usage which means our costly efforts will be wiped out.  Unilateral action is pointless, just as with nuclear disarmament.   The language now being used is very extreme with terms like “climate emergency” being used as an everyday phrase.  It is the use of this extreme language, along with almost daily clips of extreme weather events on our main news channels which is designed to convince a sceptical public that the vast expense of decarbonisation (government estimate is £1.4 trillion up to 2050) is justified. Extreme weather has always occurred and the data show it has not increased in either severity or quantity when measured over the long term.   I am very concerned for the residents of the UK who will have to pay heavily for this and so I believe it is very important to speak up as a voice of reason. 
1 – 4 of 4
Blogger I.Walker said...

Hi,
I'm struggling to follow your logic.

The IPCC report says "Human-induced global warming has already caused multiple observed changes in the climate system (high confidence). Changes include increases in both land and ocean temperatures, as well as more frequent heatwaves in most land regions (high confidence). There is also (high confidence) global warming has resulted in an increase in the frequency and duration of marine heatwaves. Further, there is substantial evidence that human-induced global warming has led to an increase in the frequency, intensity and/or amount of heavy precipitation events at the global scale (medium confidence), as well as an increased risk of drought in the Mediterranean region (medium confidence)."

This appears to contradict your opinion that there is no emergency. Are you contesting the credibility of the IPCC's report?

17 September 2021 at 17:38

 Delete
Blogger Derek Tipp said...

As I wrote, the global rise in temperature caused by humans is only about 0.5 degrees C. The rest is natural, so is it credible that this tiny change could cause the changes in climate being claimed? Also note that 1850 was the end of the Little Ice Age. If we go back to the Medieval Warm Period, there is good evidence that temperatures were warmer than today. For example Greenland was able to have a human settlement which farmed the land. It was then vacated as temperatures dropped. At several locations evidence of forests have been found beneath the retreating glaciers which have been dated as only a thousand years old. Again indicating higher temperatures within that time span. What you need to note is that the IPCC is a political organisation, not an independent scientific body. What we have is a man-made emergency driven by political expediency

17 September 2021 at 21:30

 Delete
Blogger I.Walker said...

The IPCC’s role is to analyse the science, they use levels of ‘confidence’ not shape it to a political ideology. In any case, NASA also agrees with the conclusions (that the rise in temperature is driven by man, not nature), as do most scientists. To suggest that the temperature rise is normal puts your opinion in opposing to mainstream scientific understanding. What qualification or credible source do you use to justify this position, other than your personal, subjective opinion?

1 October 2021 at 16:57

 Delete
Blogger Derek Tipp said...

The IPCC's role is to identify and quantify the human role in changing the climate, which, unsurprisingly it does. - If it did not then it would not be justifying its existence. There can be no doubt that this subject has now become a highly political one and it is quite impossible to separate the science from the politics. The actual science proving that the temperature rise is mainly down to CO2 is very weak, as there are many other factors that are simply not understood. For example the role of clouds. Research into this is simply ignored because it throws doubt over the whole CO2 driven hypothesis. My views are shared by a number of highly qualified experts on the subject. You need to read more widely on the subject and get informed on the very credible alternative hypotheses. Have a look at the Global Warming Policy Foundation website.

14 October 2021 at 11:38

 

FREEDOM OF SPEECH DEALT ANOTHER BLOW IN PETER RIDD CASE VERDICT

 Morgan Begg: Ruling against Ridd shines light on cancel culture

The Australian, 13 October 2021
 
The High Court of Australia’s verdict in favour of James Cook University’s right to sack one of its employees, a professor of physics, for questioning the science of climate change is an endorsement of the culture of censorship suffocating Australian life and further confirms that the nation’s universities are in crisis.
 
The unanimous judgment handed down by the High Court on Wednesday was the culmination of a nearly six-year fight by Peter Ridd against JCU, which terminated his employment in May 2018.
 
Before his dismissal Ridd was subject to a series of disciplinary proceedings in relation to his public criticism of the scientific evidence on which rested claims that climate change was killing the Great Barrier Reef.
 
In a publication of the Institute of Public Affairs, Climate Change: The Facts 2017, Ridd wrote, for instance, that “the serious problems with quality assurance in many areas of science” mean “we can be sceptical of claims the Great Barrier Reef is in peril”.
 
Ridd was first investigated and charged with serious misconduct in 2016 for emailing a journalist to express his criticisms of prominent reef science.
 
The High Court found that in this instance Ridd’s comments were protected by the provisions in his enterprise agreement in force at the time that protected intellectual freedom. To prove that nothing a person says before the word “but” really counts, the court’s lip service to academic freedom ultimately was undone by its finding that breaches of confidentiality directions were not protected and hence the termination of his employment in May 2018 was lawful.

The implication seems to be that the university could launch an unlawful investigation against an employee, but it would be entirely lawful to force the employee to keep secret the investigation.
 
This would mean that an investigated party who wanted to challenge an unlawful investigation would not be able to raise funds to do so or seek outside help. It also would mean that the direction to Ridd to maintain secrecy even from his own wife was also lawful.
 
The endorsement of the university’s star chamber disciplinary system is a staggering rejection of natural justice.

The court agreed that the university could make secrecy orders. This reveals, as Justice Darryl Rangiah noted in his dissenting judgment when this case was heard in the Federal Court, “a Kafkaesque scenario of a person secretly accused and secretly found guilty of a disciplinary offence but unable to reveal, under threat of further secret charges being brought, that he or she had ever been charged and found guilty”.
 
That the High Court bench as a group could fail to identify the clear problems of this manifestly absurd interpretation obviously reveals a problem in our judicial and legal culture.
 
The High Court’s failure to act also reveals that the cancellation of Ridd is not just a problem of a few rogue administrators, or even a crisis in our universities, but the symptom of a much wider problem in Australian society.
It is increasingly evident the ideology that has captured government, universities and corporate Australia is one that is designed to control what Australians are allowed to say and what information they are allowed to hear and read.
 
No matter what you believe about climate change or what is happening to the Great Barrier Reef, these cannot be settled subjects. The scientific method means more than just declaring a hypothesis as an incontrovertible fact. It means challenging a hypothesis to observe whether it stands up to scrutiny. The scientific method is a process of rigorous scepticism across time to find reliable results.
 
It does not mean, as JCU believes, that you can just ignore criticism. To this day, JCU has not responded to Ridd’s criticism of quality assurance in science.
 
In deciding to vindicate JCU’s authoritarian tactics to shut down what it considered heretical beliefs, the High Court shines a spotlight on the insidious cancel culture permeating Australia’s institutions. It is an important reminder that real science still exists but it is something that needs to be fought for if we are to have an honest debate about the future of the country.
 
Morgan Begg is director of the legal rights program at the Institute of Public Affairs.

NET ZERO POLICY - A GIFT TO CHINA

 London, 13 October – The Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF) is today publishing a major intervention in the international debate around the Net Zero agenda in the run-up to COP26.





The author, Professor Jun Arima of the University of Tokyo, is one of Japan’s most experienced climate policy diplomats, having represented the Government of Japan at fifteen previous Conferences, including several as a senior negotiator.

Professor Arima argues that the Net Zero agenda now being urged upon the world fatally damages the pragmatic and fragile consensus achieved at Paris, setting the West against the developing world, with the only beneficiary being the Chinese Communist Party.

Professor Arima said:

“The Net Zero climate policies are creating a divided and acrimonious international environment that will permit China to greatly enhance its global economic presence and political influence while the developed, democratic world becomes weaker in every way. Is that the world we want?”

Dr Benny Peiser, GWPF’s director, said:

“The astronomical cost of Net Zero are crippling Western economies at a crucial and alarming time in our relations with China. If we want to protect our freedom we need to put our economies and our national security first. That is the only way to deliver a stable and long-term climate policy, otherwise greenhouse gas emissions may be the least of our worries.”

Notes for journalists

Jun Arima is an economist, a former civil servant in Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, and is now a Professor in the University of Tokyo. He has represented the Government of Japan in the Conferences of the Parties to the UN FCC on numerous occasions, and as one of the chief negotiators at COP16 in Cancun, he announced that Japan would not join Kyoto 2 under any condition or circumstances. He is also a Lead Author of the IPCC’s Sixth Assessment Report.

His study, Eco-Fundamentalism as grist for China’s mill (pdf) is published today by the Global Warming Policy Foundation in London.

Contact

Global Warming Policy Foundation
e: info@thegwpf.org
tel: 44 2073406038

Wednesday, 13 October 2021

UTTER FUTILITY OF UK GREEN POLICY LAID BARE IN DAILY MAIL

Two excellent articles in the widely read Daily Mail highlight the pointless and very damaging policies of the UK government, as we face multiple economic crises, made worse by the very policies adopted to reach net zero. Here is a short excerpt: 

"It is coal that has enabled China to establish global dominance in vital, energy-intensive industries — steel, aluminium, plastics and cement, to name a few — where UK production has plummeted thanks to high energy costs.

Now another sector needs to be added to that list — renewable technology. Just as it once stole ‘ordinary’ industrial jobs from other countries, China is now stealing green ones, too, on a formidable scale.

So we are importing more and more green technology made as a result of burning coal from the country with the highest CO2 emissions on the planet. And sacrificing British jobs as we do so.

Renewables advocates love to brag that the cost of building wind farms is falling. One reason, it is clear, is that manufacturing them has gone to places with much lower costs, such as China." 

China makes a mockery of climate targets as it plans to build more coal power stations | Daily Mail Online


How China made a mockery of Boris Johnson's great green jobs boast | Daily Mail Online

Saturday, 9 October 2021

GOVERNMENT REFUSES TO GIVE PERMITS FOR GAS EXTRACTION AS SHORTAGES FORCE HIGH PRICES

 London, 8 October - The Global Warming Policy Forum (GWPF) has criticised the government’s decision to halt further natural gas development in the North Sea, in the middle of a worsening energy and gas cost crisis, as bizarre and irrational.

 
According to media reports, the UK government’s Offshore Petroleum Regulator for Environment and Decommissioning (OPRED) had refused permission for Royal Dutch Shell to further develop the Jackdaw gas field in the North Sea.
 
Government has yet to issue a statement and it is not clear why OPRED rejected Royal Dutch Shell’s proposal on the Jackdaw field, which could have supplied up to 10% of annual consumption of natural gas in the UK. This would be equal to about 15% of consumption by UK households.

It is suspected that the UK government was reluctant to be seen consenting fossil fuels in the run-up to COP 26, the UN climate conference to be held in Glasgow this November, and which the UK is chairing.

The refusal of the Shell Jackdaw proposal is all the more confusing since natural gas is an essential component in the government’s Net Zero proposals.

Natural gas guarantees security of supply on the electricity grid during periods of low wind and solar power output. It is also the source of the about 80% of the hydrogen that government requires to decarbonise otherwise impossible sectors such as marine transport, Heavy Goods Vehicles, agricultural traction, and crucial elements of domestic heating in the drive for Net Zero (See GWPF’s paper on Hydrogen: The Once and Future Fuel for details of the government plans).

Since natural gas is so important to the government’s very own policy goals it is essential that UK national resources should be developed to prevent the over-dependence on international markets that is driving the current gas crisis. This entails facilitating further development in the North Sea, amongst other sources.

Dr John Constable, GWPF’s energy editor said:
 
"Refusing permission for national gas production in the middle of gas import crisis is a bizarre decision, and seems to be driven by the short-term optics of COP26 rather than the public interest and a rational approach to low-cost decarbonisation. Energy policy is too important to be distorted by virtue signalling. Natural gas is essential from many perspectives, and domestic natural gas production should be strongly encouraged."

Dr Benny Peiser, the GWPF’s director, said:
 
"In face of a worsening energy crisis, Boris Johnson should encourage, as a matter of urgency, the exploration and further development of Britain’s vast natural gas resources, including shale gas, which would bring down energy costs and enhance energy security significantly."

Friday, 8 October 2021

WOOD BURNING POWER PLANT IS UK's BIGGEST CO2 EMITTER

 This article- Drax’s renewable energy plant is UK’s biggest CO2 emitter, analysis claims | NOT A LOT OF PEOPLE KNOW THAT (wordpress.com)  gives the details. It makes sense that the burning of the wood occurs much more quickly than the growth of the new trees that replaces it. Therefore there is an immediate release of extra CO2 into the atmosphere. If the CO2 cuts were really essential to be reduced by 2050 as the IPCC maintain then burning biomass would not be permitted, but that would be very inconvenient for the government, so they choose to believe what suits them rather than what is logical.

Wednesday, 6 October 2021

UK RENEWABLE ENERGY PLANS ARE A SECURITY THREAT

 London, 6 October – As France is threatening to cut energy supplies to Britain, Boris Johnson is warned that his renewable energy plans pose a severe and growing danger to national security and grid stability.



short note published by the Global Warming Policy Forum (GWPF) today highlights these serious dangers to national security resulting from the Prime Ministers’ blinkered commitment to still more wind farms that rely heavily on backup power from interconnectors with Europe.
 
The Prime Minister will today give his conference keynote speech, the contents of which have been widely anticipated in a series of interviews with the press. Mr Johnson is expected to repeat his pledge that “we can get to complete clean energy production by 2035”, and his claim that “this Government is going to fix [the energy crisis] for the long-term by making investments in renewable power that we can rely on in this country.”
 
The unreliability of weather-dependent renewables is, of course, a by-word, but the dangers of over-reliance on these technologies has been put into the spotlight by recent events in Ireland. On the 9th of September, low wind power in the Republic of Ireland took the Irish system to the brink of blackouts, which were only prevented by the provision of emergency power over the East West interconnector from the UK at a huge cost.
 
This is the reality of interconnection. The UK was fortunate in this instance to be on the right side of the problem; in future, when it is deeply dependent on supplies from the European network, it may not be so lucky.
 
As the latest threat by the French government demonstrates, the risk of political leverage and blackmail is real and should be a major concern.
 
Dr John Constable, GWPF’s energy editor, said:

“The extraordinary naivety of the Prime Minister’s plans for still more renewables by 2035 confirms growing fears that his weak grasp of the economic and technical aspects of energy now presents a risk to national security.”
 

For more details see: Boris Johnson’s renewables fantasies are a national security problem

Monday, 4 October 2021

GREEN TAXES MUST BE CANCELLED SAYS GWPF

 

London, 4 October — The Global Warming Policy Forum (GWPF) has warned Boris Johnson that government plans to allow energy companies to delay handing over the green levies they collect from consumers would be a disastrous mistake if government does not also move to relieve electricity consumers of the multi-billion pound green subsidy burden in the long term.

According to reports in the Sunday Telegraph, the government is about to allow energy companies to halt the payments they have to make to renewable electricity generators under the Renewables Obligation. The move is seen as a desperate measure to stem the tide of supplier bankruptcies.

But it is not just suppliers that find the cost of the green levies impossible to manage. The British consumer, who  ultimately pays all these costs, is severely burdened, with the total cost of green levies now well over £10 billion a year and still rising.

On top of the direct subsidies, the growing unreliability of renewables increases the cost of stabilising the national grid, which consumers must pay for in Balancing Services (BSUoS) charges, now amounting to nearly £2 billion a year, and showing an alarming rising trend.

Dr John Constable, GWPF’s energy editor, said:

“It is time for the government to recognise that the renewable energy policy has been an all-but unmitigated disaster for the British people, with over-priced emissions savings, destabilised markets and a fragile electricity grid. It’s time to give everyone a break.

Mr Kwarteng is worried about suppliers because high-profile bankruptcies are deeply embarrassing to government, but a little compassion for the millions of household consumers struggling in silence would do him more credit.”

Thursday, 30 September 2021

HEATING TAX ON GAS WOULD SPELL DISASTER

 London, 30 September - Boris Johnson has been warned that the government's proposed tax on home heating would almost certainly trigger a social and political disaster.


Press reports today confirm rumours in circulation for some weeks that the government is proposing to tax home heating with natural gas to support the cost of Net Zero.

This move would switch a large part of the still rising £10 billion a year subsidy cost of green electricity on to domestic natural gas supplies, which is the source of warmth for over 90% of the UK’s 26 million households.

Government is also said to be considering burdening gas consumers with other green levy costs, for example to support the use of hydrogen and electric vehicles. This comes on top of already rising gas prices.

The government expects that this huge tax burden will force households to switch to air source and ground source heat pumps, which are extremely expensive to install and likely to be ineffective in most older houses.

Dr John Constable, the GWPF energy editor, said:

“The proposed Net Zero gas tax is one of the worst energy policy ideas to come out of the government in the last decade - and it has a lot competition. Loading the Net Zero costs on to home heating would cause a dramatic increase fuel poverty and  deep and justified political resentment.

"Public trust in government competence, particularly on energy, is at an all-time low. This foolish proposal confirms those doubts. The Prime Minister needs to get a grip.”

Contact

Dr John Constable
e: john.constable@thegwpf.com 

Tuesday, 28 September 2021

IPCC CLIMATE CHANGE REPORT SAYS THINGS ARE BETTER THAN IN THE LAST REPORT

 Yes, unbelievably that is the finding from the new report if you read right through the hundreds of pages, according to this piece:  

Holman Jenkins Jr: The media can’t handle the climate truth (thegwpf.com)

Of course the media don't want to highlight this good news and neither do the government who are desperately trying to sell their very expensive climate change policy. The only bit that ever gets reported is the Summary for Policy Makers, which is agreed line by line by politicians. 

Here are some key findings:

The dire emissions scenario it promoted for two decades should be regarded as highly unlikely, with more plausible projections at least a third lower.

 The best estimate of the “transient climate response” this century is about 2.7 degrees. This is for a doubling of CO2, which would be from the level at 1850 of 280ppm up to 560ppm. 



Monday, 27 September 2021

UK PARLIAMENT MISLED BY THEIR OWN COMMITTEE ON THE COST OF NET ZERO

Read the report at this link:

Climate Change Committee misled Parliament about the cost of Net Zero - The Global Warming Policy Forum (thegwpf.com)

It is surely clear by now that this whole net zero policy is already causing large cost rises for the public and this is set to continue for the foreseeable future. Once the people realise this there will be a backlash against the government who will have to u-turn or get a hiding at the next election.

Sunday, 26 September 2021

CHINA'S MASSIVE COAL USE HIGHLIGHTED IN THE MAIL

 Read this: China's dirtiest secret: 1,000 coal-fired power stations and climbing | Daily Mail Online

Now explain how the UK can make any meaningful difference to the world's output of CO2 let alone any effect on the climate. 

This double page spread (and then on to the following page) in our best selling daily paper is just the first in a series of articles that should make a lot of people think about why the UK and other Western governments are dead set on making us all poorer and desperately trying to convince us that it will make a difference. Read this small exerpt:

Far from carbon emissions slowing down in China, they are increasing ever more rapidly.

This is a country with a mind-boggling pace of development. Between 2011 and 2013, China used more cement than the U.S. did in the entire 20th century. It produces almost 60 per cent of the world’s steel and its oil refinery capacity has tripled since 2000.

Even though it promised last week to stop building coal power stations abroad, China continues to do just that at home. Last year, its coal-powered capacity rose by 38 gigawatts, while the rest of the world cut capacity by 17 gigawatts.

China has a further 105 gigawatts of new coal capacity in the construction pipeline — more than the entire generating capacity of the UK from all sources, including nuclear and renewables.

Last month, the Workers’ Daily reported that in coal-rich Inner Mongolia, 38 mothballed coal mines have been reopened, with an annual production of 60 million tonnes. Last year, Inner Mongolia dug up more than a billion tonnes of coal — and this did not even make it China’s biggest coal province: that honour belonged to Shanxi.

"While China obfuscates, we in Britain are cutting carbon emissions to the bone, inflicting deep harm on our economy. 

The dizzying rise in household bills, and the bankruptcy of so many gas companies, is part of the price we are paying for giving up coal in our rush towards green energy. 

As this newspaper reported last month, while we do our bit to slow climate change, it is estimated the cost of our transition to Net Zero will run into trillions of pounds.

"Yet even though Britain accounts for less than 1 per cent of global emissions — one 28th as much as China — we still treat the regime with kid gloves, arguing that China deserves leeway because it is still a ‘developing’ country.

Even the eco-protesters blocking our motorways pay no attention to the fact China is pumping out pollution on an unprecedented scale. 

Last week, when a BBC reporter asked the group that spawned them, Extinction Rebellion, why they were not demonstrating outside the Chinese embassy, he was accused of ‘perpetuating anti-Chinese racist stereotypes’."

UK NEEDS TO U-TURN AND GET FRACKING

 Rob Lyon: Fracking could have saved us from this energy crisis

Spiked, 23 September 2021
 
The UK has vast gas reserves that Boris Johnson is refusing to exploit.

Rising prices and dwindling supplies of natural gas have sparked fears of an energy crisis. Energy bills are shooting upwards. The government is even having to step in to support the production of fertiliser – and its vital byproduct, carbon dioxide – which relies on affordable gas supplies. If only the UK had a bountiful supply of natural gas of its own…. Well, it does – but thanks to eco-warriors and spineless ministers, we’re not exploiting it.

For decades, thanks to the rich gas fields of the North Sea, the UK was self-sufficient in natural gas. But supplies have been in decline for years, down from 107.8 billion cubic metres (bcm) in 2003 to just 39.6 bcm in 2019. Now just 48 per cent of UK gas comes from the UK continental shelf, according to the government. In 2018, 72 per cent of our imports came through pipelines from Norway. Gas prices in the UK are also influenced by happenings in the wider world market, particularly the market for liquefied natural gas from Qatar and Russia.
 
Offshore gas supplies may have declined. But we could increase domestic gas production markedly if we would only take advantage of our vast, onshore shale-gas deposits. According to the Grantham Institute at the London School of Economics, estimates of UK shale-gas reserves range from 2.8 to 39.9 trillion cubic metres (tcm). In 2013, then prime minister David Cameron said that if just 10 per cent of known reserves could be extracted, it would provide the equivalent of the UK’s total gas needs for 51 years. The way to extract this gas is to replicate what the US has successfully done, by combining horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing – aka, fracking.

The trouble is that there has been a moratorium on fracking in England since November 2019 because of worries about earth tremors. Concerns intensified after a tremor in Lancashire measured 2.9 on the Richter scale. This ‘quake’, as the Guardian hyperbolically referred to it, could be felt in neighbouring towns.

What terrible catastrophe resulted? One resident of nearby Lytham St Annes, quoted by the Guardian, said there was a ‘very loud rumbling’, the ‘whole house shook’ and a ‘picture fell off a shelf’. It was ‘quite scary’, apparently. In the history of seismic events, this registered low on the Does Anybody Really Care scale.
 
As Cuadrilla, the company which ran the fracking site, pointed out, the rumble caused only a third of the ground motion that is allowed by law for construction projects. A report commissioned by the government, published in December 2020, suggested that a tremor of similar magnitude to that in Lancashire ‘may cause sparse cases of low superficial damage’.

In other words, a potentially important industry – one that might have even saved us from the current gas crisis – has been banned for relatively trivial reasons. To get things into perspective, one study found that 25 per cent of the earthquakes in the UK during the 1980s and 1990s were caused by mining. Yet the risk of tremors was never a serious consideration in determining whether mining should be allowed – and these quakes certainly didn’t inspire the kind of panic-mongering that fracking has.

Let’s be honest. The eco-protesters who have made fracking difficult in the UK are not really concerned about such minor subterranean movements. What they really want to do is to stop companies from extracting and burning fossil fuels. They will exploit any issue to scare people into rejecting gas production. And the UK government, obsessed with cutting greenhouse-gas emissions and fearful of localised protests, has bowed down to them.

Instead of being fairly self-sufficient in gas – with the lucrative possibilities of exporting our surplus, too – we have become dependent on imported sources of energy. Many commentators have been raising the alarm about this situation for years. Now we are facing big rises in energy bills both for households and for industry. While the business secretary, Kwasi Kwarteng, tweeted that the ‘security’ of our gas supply is ‘not a cause for immediate concern’, there are plenty of people who are far from reassured. A particularly cold winter, a continuing lull in wind generation or some other unforeseen circumstance could put UK energy supplies in real jeopardy.

The government should put energy prices and security at the forefront of its energy policies. Instead, we have made it impossible to make the most of an abundant energy source beneath our feet. The ban on fracking could turn out to be a very expensive mistake this winter.
 

Saturday, 25 September 2021

GOVERNMENT INTERFERENCE IN THE ENERGY MARKET HAS CAUSED THE PRESENT CRISIS

 Editorial: How the Tories have fuelled Britain’s energy crisis

The Spectator, 25 September 2021
 
The Prime Minister has high hopes for the COP26 summit but he should be prepared for other countries to see, in his energy policy, an example of what not to do.

Britain is caught in an energy crisis of the government’s own making. It is true that gas prices have spiked all over the world — but Britain is suffering more than most. Energy suppliers are going out of business, thanks to the government’s price cap. Even fertiliser companies are going bust, with serious knock-on effects for the food industry: the British Meat Processors Association says shortages could hit within a fortnight.

The trigger for this crisis has been the sudden surge in demand for gas as the global economy recovers from the Covid lockdowns. Gas prices have doubled in the United States, for example. In Britain, however, prices are five times higher. Why? Because America exploited fracking technology and capitalised on its huge inland gas reserves. Britain passed up the fracking opportunity, in spite of vast reserves found in Lancashire and Yorkshire. We are living with the consequences.

While the UK government is right to phase out the burning of coal (easily the dirtiest form of energy, emitting around twice as much carbon dioxide as gas plants), it is also running down our gas infrastructure without providing a viable alternative. In 2017, the Rough storage facility off the Yorkshire coast, which accounted for two-thirds of our gas capacity, was closed and not replaced.

Every country has gas reserves in the event of widespread shortages. France has 14 weeks’ worth, Germany has eight weeks, Italy has 11 weeks, while Britain has just four days. That is virtually no buffer at all when a supply crisis strikes.

There is plenty that can go wrong with gas: a fire knocked out a major power cable linking Britain with France last week, for example. Britain’s reserve hope now lies in shipments of liquified shale gas produced abroad — supplies of which are currently being diverted to Asia, where demand is strongest.

Renewables can produce impressive quantities of energy. Yet Britain has created a huge wind and solar sector without overcoming the obvious problem: how to store the energy generated on sunny and windy days so it can be used on still and overcast ones. It is unfortunate that the surge in global gas prices has coincided with a period of light winds over Britain, but that should have been anticipated. Many observers outside government saw the problem coming.

Today Britain presents itself as a great example to other nations when it comes to handling energy policy and tackling climate change. Indeed, Boris Johnson has spent this week in New York asking why so few countries have followed Britain in making a legally binding commitment to hit net zero carbon emissions by 2050. The polite answer is that countries also have a duty to secure affordable energy for their citizens. When the COP26 summit convenes in Glasgow in a few weeks’ time, Britain could be in the middle of an energy crisis. The UK government might have to bail out almost-bankrupt fossil-fuel companies in a desperate attempt to keep the lights on. That would hardly be a great advertisement to the world.

For years it has suited ministers to accuse energy companies of overcharging their customers because it has helped divert attention from another reason for rising bills: green energy subsidies and other social levies, which, according to Ofgem, account for 25p in every £1 charged on domestic electricity bills. And as is now clear, with several of the smaller energy companies going bust or on the point of doing so, it has long been a cut-throat market where challenger companies have tried to compete by insuring themselves against price spikes.

Like the banks who lent long and borrowed short, the folly of this has come to a head. But the problem has been hugely exacerbated by the energy price cap which, while popular with the public, has prevented energy companies from raising prices in response to a sharp increase in wholesale prices. The government is doing with failing energy companies what it did with failing banks: bailing them out with taxpayers’ money, thereby ensuring that they will repeat their reckless behaviour.

Much as the government would love to be able to deliver secure energy supplies and low prices in tandem with zero carbon emissions, the technology simply does not yet exist to make it possible. The Tories, ever keen to capture the green zeitgeist, had the chance to establish energy security — or diversity of supply. They did neither, and went all-out for decarbonisation instead. We are now seeing the consequences.

Energy security and economic growth should be the first priorities. As things stand, they are treated as an afterthought. We have caught a glimpse of the results this week. The Prime Minister has high hopes for the COP26 summit but he should be prepared for other countries to see, in his energy policy, an example of what not to do.