Conservatives have spent a decade putting fossil fuel profits first. Now we are all paying the price | Max Wakefield

aThe full horror of the accumulated energy crisis is taking shape and the austerity party is preparing Borrow 150 billion pounds Just to pay the bills, government ministers are desperate that you remember one thing: It’s Vladimir Putin’s fault. Although the frightening rise in gas prices is driven by Putin’s economic war on Europe, the emergency we are facing this winter is not just a product of those high prices. It is also the product of successive conservative governments who willfully reject policies that would diminish ours dependence on gas in the first place.

Take, for example, the insulation of houses and buildings. The past decade has been a period of dismal neglect of one of the most economically obvious policies. Report after report, campaign after campaign, year after year, governments have been reminded of the wisdom of investing to make our buildings cheaper and cleaner to heat. Direct grants to low-income people, financial support to families and private businesses, and properly funded public sector schemes could have ended the UK’s reign as a The least isolated country in Western Europe. Adoption of these policies will have Costs less than £5 billionand returned money to the Treasury over time through myriad economic benefits, even before gas prices skyrocketed.

However, it seemed that not a single minister would listen. They ignored the recommendations of the Climate Change Committee (official advisors to the government), NGOs, the National Infrastructure Committee and the opposition. The result was amazing 85% decline in home insulation installations between 2012 and 2019. Under current plans, it will take 700 years To modernize Britain’s homes for low-carbon heating. After a decade of inaction, we are now paying the price for staying dependent on gas.

Successive governments have also ignored the benefits of cheap renewable energy. It’s not news that wind and solar power are cheap. That was already the case in 2015, when David Cameron’s government banned new onshore wind farms and pulled the rug out from under the solar industry. In absolute terms, the cost of solar energy has decreased by 88% Since 2010 onshore winds have decreased by 57%, although both have been intentionally frozen from the new spread. Relatively speaking, the numbers are staggering now: building a new solar farm or wind farm is now Nine times cheaper from just Management Existing gas power plant.

The government should be given credit for supporting the extraordinary success of offshore wind in recent years. But nothing was stopping the rapid spread of onshore wind and solar energy at the same time. Had this happened, we would have had much more cheap, clean, and localized energy now available to weather this storm. If conservatives hadn’t “cut the green bullshit” over the past decade, families would be saving now Average £220 on their annual energy bills. This number will likely rise further as gas prices are doing the same. Imagine what a real commitment to energy transformation could achieve.

Instead, the wrong solutions won the lookout. One of the most important of these processes was hydraulic fracturing. Despite low levels of public support and repeated warnings from experts that the UK hydraulic fracturing industry will do Nothing to lower the bills, hydraulic fracturing has retained legendary status among conservative departments. The relentless pursuit of an industry that has gone nowhere has wasted valuable time and obscured the real solutions at hand.

The obsession with getting the latest oil and gas industry spill in the North Sea has repeated disastrous logic among Conservative ministers. The North Sea fields are deteriorating for a very simple reason – we did it It is extracted, sold and burned Most of what was there. Pursuing what is left will do nothing to lower our gas bills because our reserves are declining in the vicinity of world gas prices. Continuing to crack regardless, as Liz Truss intends to do, will not lower energy bills – it will only undermine the UK’s ability to lead on climate action.

Then there is nuclear power. Nuclear power produces carbon-free electricity, but it is very slow and relatively expensive. Hinkley Point C, the first in a supposed new generation of nuclear power plants in the UK, will not open (at best) for another four years. will be a minimum of 5 billion pounds over budget. If gas prices don’t return to pre-2021 levels, Hinkley won’t look like a terrible deal to consumers. But we still have the current situation to deal with. If Hinckley’s political enthusiasm was directed instead at cheap renewables and insulation, the benefits would already be felt.

There is a frustratingly stressful story behind these failures: the power of vested interests. The arrival of sterilizers and excavators to the highest levels of the Conservative Party since 2010 has left us with an irrational energy policy. Instead of reducing our energy consumption through insulation, and servicing our needs with cheap, local renewables that run on sun and wind, British energy policies sought to secure corporate profits. These power companies are not interested in achieving a truly modern, clean and reliable power system that we can all rely on.

Borrowing just £150bn to put an end to energy bills at already historic levels – most of which goes to oil and gas producers – is just the beginning of the pain. We are governed by a party that thinks the answer to the fossil fuel crisis is more fossil fuels. He is not able to control the basis of any economy – the energy system.

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