Monday 18 July 2022

Environment Monday - Should the UK stick to its net carbon zero target


We need carbon neutral, clean developments

Did you see the Conservative Leadership debate last night, where the candidates were asked whether they would stick to their net carbon zero target. You would think that being asked this the day before the UK had it's hottest day on record may have lead to a degree of caution. Strangely it seemed to inspire them to even more stupid responses. Apparently we can afford tax cuts, but we can't afford to try and save the planet. There was a time when Conservatives were supposed to be sensible and cautious. That seems to be a thing of history. The problem with the UK is that if a costly policy can be postponed it will be, if there is the slightest politcally expedient reason to do it. 

The truth is, one which the gutless fools refused to acknowledge, is that the reason our energy costs are going through the roof is because the UK has chosen to have no long term plan for energy security. If we'd started to decarbonise in an orderly fashion 40 years ago, when it was clear that there was a problem, we'd not be in the position we find ourselves in. If we'd changed planning laws to make new homes energy efficient and well insulated, with solar panels, then we wouldn't be sitting in our homes boiling. If we'd had a sensible strategy to move away from petrol and diesel cars, we'd have less exposure to hikes in oil prices. If we'd moved new homes to heat pump technology, we'd not be caught up in the mess of spiralling oil prices. 

What Truss, Sunak, Moradaunt and the other two forgot to say is that all of this will only get worse. By dropping our targets, we are exposing ourselves to the ever wilder fluctuations in prices. For a nation to be truly independent, we simply cannot afford to be at the long term whim of other nations. We should not only be investing in new green technologies, we should have a plan that means we know where our supplies will come from and what the costs will be. The country needs massive investment in energy storage, so the excess electricity produced by solar arrays today can be used when the sun isn't shining. We should be looking at hydrogen cell technology, which produces clean energy. 

The problem we have is that the schemes we have introduced are ones which penalise people who are least able to afford it. I installed solar panels when there were incentives to do so. I could do this as I am reasonably well off. Now I am paying nothing for my electricity when the sun shines. With the ever rising cost of electricity, I am doing OK out of this deal. If the government made it a planning condition that all new homes were well insulated and had solar panels, then those in new social housing would get some benefits. As it is it is only those who could afford to who have benefitted. 

What was shocking to me was that none of the candidates had anything positive to say about any sort of energy security plan, let alone a green one. The way to secure familes futures against spiralling enrgy costs is to ensure our supplies are reliable and the costs are fixed long term. 

Sadly we all know that there will climate change commentators claiming that there has always been hot weather. How many temperature records do we have to break before they admit there may be a problem. You can be sure that ion January when it is -5, they will say "Look there is no such thing as climate change". It will not be temperature records that ultimately force us to grasp the nettle. It will be the fact we need a reliable energy supply at a predictable cost, to allow businesses to plan. You'd think that Conservatives would get that?

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