Theresa May needs an energy policy adviser. I hasten to add that this is not a job application – but someone is needed to pull together the necessary reforms and to help the UK prime minister avoid self-destructive mistakes such as an attempt to take charge of fixing energy prices. The predominant view in Whitehall – from the Treasury to the business department which is now responsible for energy – is that current policies are mistaken and require radical reform. Those policies take no account of the structural fall in energy prices; the failure of new nuclear to live up to its promise; the changing pattern of demand; and, most important of all, the transformation in the global energy market being brought about by a range of new technologies. Each of those factors requires some adjustment in policy but taken together they justify a complete reset. Reform, however, is very difficult. There are numerous vested interests and an army of lobbyists. Given the preoccupation with Brexit, and a host of other problems on the government’s agenda, it is perhaps not surprising that changing energy policy is seen as too difficult. There is a noticeable absence of any rousing endorsement of the current policies but equally there is no sign of any serious change. The House of Lords economics committee produced a sensible and practical set of proposals two months ago but the government has not yet responded. It may well agree with the thrust of the report but cannot say so because there is no will to implement the changes proposed. In these circumstances, the obvious response to grumbling about the way things are is to find someone else to blame. Mrs May seems to have been led into the familiar territory of blaming the energy companies – in this case the retailers of gas and electricity for charging “high” prices – and has threatened to impose some so far ill-defined form of price control.
FT 17th April 2017 read more »
Ministers are reportedly preparing to scrap the European Union’s green energy targets after Britain’s exit from the bloc. Government sources told The Daily Telegraph the target – under the EU’s Renewable Energy Directive – is likely to be binned after Brexit. It requires the EU to fulfil at least 20 per cent of its total energy needs with renewables by the end of the decade through the attainment of individual national targets.
Independent 15th April 2017 read more »
Leading environmental campaigners have warned the government against scaling back on commitments to tackle climate change and end the illegal market in wildlife in order to secure post-Brexit trade deals. Greenpeace, WWF, Friends of the Earth and high-profile figures including Andy Murray and Will Young are among those who have signed a joint letter to the prime minister urging Theresa May not to engage in an “environmental race to the bottom” after withdrawal from the EU. The campaigners said they feared international green commitments could be watered down in return for lucrative bilateral trade agreements. The letter said: “W e are alarmed by recent media reports suggesting that the UK’s commitments to tackling climate change and ending the illegal wildlife trade could be watered down to secure post-Brexit trade deals.
Guardian 16th April 2017 read more »