The U.K. is having a rough time of it at the moment. The pound hit record lows today (although sterling has bounced back a bit as I write), partly as an adverse reaction to a (mini) budget intended to be part of a series of badly needed supply-side reforms long neglected by the Tories. The panicked reaction ought, over time, to go into reverse, so long, that is, as the Conservatives move beyond tax cuts to broader deregulatory reform. To do that, the new prime minister, Liz Truss, will have, at the very least, to reset Britain’s net-zero (greenhouse-gas) targets in a fashion that renders them compatible with growth, prosperity, and a modern economy. And in calculating how that compatibility will be achieved, Johnsonian delusions of a green-jobs bonanza should be treated as the nonsense they always were.
The U.K. needs to develop an energy supply system that is no longer so unhealthily dependent on either the vagaries of the weather (the sun doesn’t always shine, the wind doesn’t always blow) or the whims of unreliable authoritarian regimes. The long-term answer will have to be based on an expansion of nuclear energy. The shorter-term answers include expansion of domestic natural-gas production, including fracking. The extent of the U.K.’s potential fracking reserves is disputed, to put it mildly. They may well amount to not very much, but it would be irresponsible, in the current environment, not to see what can be developed.
However (via The Daily Telegraph):
Liz Truss’s net zero adviser has risked a clash with Liz Truss after he warned fracking will be a “non-starter”.
Conservative MP Chris Skidmore said he thought the practice was “not an opportunity for Britain” compared to emerging renewable technologies.
His comments appear at odds with the Prime Minister and her Government, who have talked up the prospects of fracking as it lifts the ban on the practice as part of a rush to shore up domestic supplies of energy.
Fracking, which involves blasting sand and water underground to release gas trapped between rocks, was in its infancy in the UK when it was banned in 2019 due to concerns about earthquake risk.
Lifting the ban last week, Jacob Rees-Mogg, the business secretary, said the UK needed to “explore all avenues available” to boost energy security.
“It’s right that we’ve lifted the pause to realise any potential sources of domestic gas,” he added.
Mr Skidmore has been appointed by Ms Truss to lead a review into how to meet the UK’s legally binding target of net zero carbon emissions by 2050.
He said he did not plan to look at fracking in the review as it was “not an opportunity for Britain”.
He added: “I want to be looking at how we can focus on all these technologies that are going to deliver enormous growth.
The fact that Skidmore, a climate fundamentalist, was appointed to this job by Truss was, to say the least, dispiriting, and the fact that Skidmore is still peddling that ol’ green snake oil is embarrassing. Technologies! Enormous growth!
None of this is to say that money should not be invested on developing new technologies, or complementary technologies that can increase the usefulness of renewables, but hope is not going to power Britain away from the mess that greenery has made of its energy policy.
The Daily Telegraph:
Mr Skidmore’s net zero review was officially launched on Monday and will look at how the goal can be reached while delivering economic growth, energy security, and minimising costs.
Good luck with that.
Mr Skidmore, a former energy minister who supports the next zero target, said: “I don’t want net zero to be seen as something that’s done to people, that’s been sort of forced on people.
Given the coercion that comes with net zero, banning this, and forcing the installation of that, this may be an uphill struggle.
Time for Skidmore to go, I think.