Wednesday, July 28, 2010

When Can We Stop Digging?


We are leading the world

As you will know, the man now in charge of Britain's energy supplies is one of our most notorious eco-hippies. But since we can't improve on Christopher Booker's brilliant Huhne demolition we needn't go on about that.

What we'd really like to know is when can we stop digging the huge black eco hole our grandstanding politicos have dumped us into?

We all surely understand the score by now. Our political class have presented us with a cataclysmic energy gap in the shape of closing coal-fired power stations with no practical replacement available. Common sense says we'd better delay the closures as long as technically possible, crack on with the new nukes for the long-term, and build a few Chinese style coal-fired stations for the short-term. Either that, or watch the few remaining bits of British industry leave for places that can still supply power... like China.

Some of us had somehow hoped that the new government would return us to sanity, despite Cam's personal wind turbine. But no such luck. Huhne is quite happy to continue digging just where the last lot left off, boasting yesterday:

"Britain is the first country in the world to set legally binding ‘carbon budgets’, aiming to cut UK emissions by 34% by 2020 and at least 80% by 2050 through investment in energy efficiency and clean energy technologies such as renewables, nuclear and carbon capture and storage."
Look, out here, we don't want to be the first (ie the only) country in the world to dig our own economic grave, thank you very much.

But at least the costs of this madness are now becoming apparent to everyone. Even Huhne's department admits that everyone's domestic fuel bills are set to rack up substantially. Over the next decade, they expect
"The impact of climate change and energy policies on energy prices [will be to increase them by] 18% and 33% on gas and electricity prices respectively for domestic consumers and 24% and 43% respectively, for medium-sized nondomestic consumers."
Which for an average UK household translates into an annual increase of around £300. And for a typical small manufacturing firm will likely be the straw that breaks them.

According to the department of course, it won't be like that. That's because we'll all cut our energy consumption to offset the increase in prices. So we'll all be just as well off, but the planet will be that much greener (reality check - a 25% cut in our total energy consumption would reduce global greenhouse gas emissions by at the very most 0.5%... and that's assuming we don't simply export our remaining CO2 generating industries to China, which is what actually happens in the real world).

So the question is when will our anger at rising energy prices mount sufficiently to force a halt to the digging?

Step one is to make sure everyone understands just what it's costing us all. Step two will doubtless take care of itself when the lights start going out later this decade.

PS Hilarious contrast between the BBC/C4 coverage of the current US defence leak and the Climategate leak. Whereas the leaker/hacker responsible for the Climategate leak was branded a sneaky criminal - or possibly Russian black ops - the leakers of the defence material have been presented as courageous heroes. Yesterday's Newsnight featured Kirstie positively drooling over the Wikileaks man, even asking if he was Jason Bourne.

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