What is most revealing is what is missing – a gaping wide hole on energy efficiency and demand reduction
Let’s start with the broader picture. Today’s economically and environmentally illiterate Energy Security Strategy represents one very small step forward and several giant leaps back.
It proposes new North Sea oil & gas fields, which do absolutely nothing to lower household bills; a review to lift the ban on climate-wrecking fracking; and a swathe of painfully slow to construct and vastly expensive nuclear reactors.
But what is most revealing about this document is what is missing – a gaping wide hole on energy efficiency and demand reduction. And it includes absolutely no new money at all.
Oil refinery plant at night
This is baffling, considering the Tory 2019 manifesto said: “We will help lower energy bills by investing £9.2 billion in the energy efficiency of homes, schools, and hospitals.” Yet only £4 billion has materialised. On the media round this morning, the business secretary struggled to explain why energy efficiency plans were omitted almost entirely from the Strategy. We know it’s because the chancellor obstinately refuses to loosen the purse strings.
Clearly Boris Johnson, Rishi Sunak and Kwasi Kwarteng are not all singing from the same hymn sheet on this. And it’s resulted in a Strategy which doesn’t deserve the name – it’s riddled with mixed messages, ill-judged priorities, and a lack of focus on the immediate issues we face. A genuine Strategy requires a clear diagnosis of the problem; a vision to overcome it, backed up by solid evidence; then the necessary actions to achieve it.