Tuesday, June 18, 2024
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A few questions for you


DO you know why the price of your domestic gas and electricity has just gone up by over 50 per cent and will rise again in the autumn? The war in Ukraine, perhaps? No. The Covid effect on world trade and energy? No. Brexit? Of course not. I’ll explain in a minute.

Are you worried that you may have to choose between eating and heating? (If not now, certainly by next winter.) Are you delighted that to cover the £700-odd energy cost rise, the Government is giving most of us £150 off our council tax bills even though they have gone up by an average of £70, and is graciously lending us another £200 in the autumn to be paid back later? Meanwhile inflation rages all around in food prices, petrol, diesel and everything else.

Does it concern you that the latest plan for thousands of onshore wind turbines will not come along in time to offer the slightest help in your eating/heating quandary? Has it worried you that our leaders do not seem to realise that the wind does not always blow? That there have been (and will be in the future) weeks of peak demand in the middle of winter when the wind dies down, hard frost grips the country and the sun is too feeble to produce any solar energy? There was a time last month, for instance, when wind generated only 3 per cent of the power we needed.

Have you read about the vast reserves of coal, oil and gas the UK has underneath our land and sea? Did you know that Russia, China, the USA and India are all mining, fracking and drilling to make sure that their populations have access to cheap energy, and they export any left over?

Did you realise that the UK could have been totally independent from world prices if only successive governments had not been obsessively pursuing an unrealistic and unreachable zero-carbon target?

Are you happy to support the drive to zero-carbon energy generation as part of the fight against climate change? Was it ever made plain to you what it would mean? (Has it ever occurred to the government?)

Did you realise it would mean importing very expensive gas and oil, and relying on the notoriously erratic output from solar panels and wind turbines, until an all-nuclear solution might come along in 30 years? (There would be protests even about that.)

Do you understand that our current domestic energy crisis (and possibly another one in the autumn) is a direct result of the UK’s attempt to reduce our tiny proportion of the world’s emissions? Do you ask yourself why China, Russia, India and the USA are not fighting the climate change problem in quite the same way?

Have you wondered why the forecast climate of 2050 and beyond is considered to be a more important problem than providing domestic energy at a price we all can afford? More important, in fact, than being self-sufficient with our own energy thereby shielding us from soaring world prices?

To answer that initial question: global energy prices have of course risen because of Covid, Ukraine, and other uncertainties. But our UK gas and electricity charges could have been completely independent of external ups and downs.

Isn’t it time someone pointed out to the Prime Minister that he has been sadly misled by his advisers if they thought that we would gladly freeze or starve while he conducts the Great Climate Change War? In his pursuit of difficult and crippling zero-carbon targets he apparently forgot to ask whether any other major global economy was doing anything. Wouldn’t you think it might be better for the world to act all together on the same side if it wants to do something useful?

Unfortunately the world is very bad at acting together, as you can see from websites and newspapers every day.

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Ivor Williams
Ivor Williams
Ivor Williams is a freelance writer and has been a fellow of the Royal Meteorological Society since 1984.

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