Stopping political ideologies and logical fallaciesWatch
"Last week the House of Lords' Economic Affairs committee revealed that appalling confusion and complexity is deterring vital investment in Britain's energy industry. Today Lord Lawson of Blaby, who sits on that committee, tells The Times the coalition is not merely misguided on energy but "doesn't have an energy policy" at all.
His remarks will irritate ministers, as wellaimed criticism often does. For years now, this and previous governments have postponed the tough decisions needed to secure Britain's energy supply for the future and make it affordable for business as well as domestic customers.
What passes for a coalition energy policy is in fact a tangle of regulations, subsidies and incentives that is delaying investment, driving up prices over the long term and making blackouts a real possibility by as soon as next year. Britain's lack of a coherent energy strategy is an emergency that will not go away just because of a short-term outlook of warm weather and long summer evenings. It is, as Dieter Helm, of Oxford University, told the Lords' committee, a "very slow-motion car crash" that is already happening.
Like Heathrow airport, Britain's power generation system is operating at close to capacity. The country has a capacity margin of just 2 per cent.
Ofgem warns this could shrink to zero by the winter of 2015-16 if predicted gains in the efficiency of power usage are not realised.
With zero margin for error, power cuts are virtually inevitable. Britons are in fact becoming more efficient in their use of energy. Overall consumption has fallen slightly since the 1970s and markedly since 2005. A crisis looms despite this trend because of steadily declining North Sea output and the planned obsolescence of ageing power stations.
Estimates from Ofgem and elsewhere suggest that the UK needs between £100 billion and £200 billion in investment in new generating capacity and "smart grid" technology by 2030 to keep the lights on and minimise dependence on unreliable energy suppliers, such as Russia.
This investment has ground to a halt. Work has begun on just one new gas-fired power station in the past 18 months. British and foreign investors are deciding not to risk capital in what should be one of the world's safest energy markets partly because of uncertainty caused by Labour's pledge to freeze retail prices should it win the general election next year. The coalition is to blame, too. It has sown confusion with its varying commitment to expensive renewables subsidies, which have a direct effect on household bills but also on industry's appetite for investment in new gas-powered generating capacity. It has given the competition and markets authority far too long (two years) to report on the pricing strategies of the big six domestic energy suppliers. Above all, it has failed to recognise the potential of shale gas.
America's shale gas revolution has delivered gas prices two thirds cheaper than those paid by British consumers. British shale gas output may never approach America's, but the Bowland basin with Sheffield at its centre is one of the world's largest reserves of its type. Even so, not one new fracking application was received by the Environment Agency in the year after the government's decision to allow the process to proceed. The reasons are clear. A screen of red tape deterring commercial fracking has been created by multiple agencies, chief among them the department for energy and climate change, the health and safety executive and the environment agency.
Scientists are working on energy sources that leave no soot and cool the planet. In the meantime there is gas, the "inescapable" transitional fuel, as Professor Helm has called it. Britain has it in abundance. What it lacks is politicians with the courage and vision to embrace it.
- Political Ambassador
Yes, I can. But what is your take on it? It's a bit hit-and-run, posting an article like that. Also, it's best to provide a link, so that people can have a look at the article for themselves.
I'd like to hear your opinion instead.
Not sure about any specific logical fallacies, but would this be the same Lord Lawson (Nigel Lawson) who has financial interests in the fossil fuel industry? Possibly a bit biased. He also runs a charity that opposes action to reduce emissions, which has refused to reveal where it gets most of its funding from, again raising the issue of possible bias and conflicts of interest.
As for political ideologies, the right wing tends to be in favour of reducing regulations they consider "unnecessary" (of course what's necessary is subjective), and leaving more things for the market to decide instead of having the government decide everything.
Stuff like this quote below is quite right wing - talking about "a tangle of regulations" that is "delaying investment", which seems to be a common theme throughout this article. This person/people seem to think that they should reduce regulations and let the market have more influence on energy policy, rather than having the government influence it with subsides.
"What passes for a coalition energy policy is in fact a tangle of regulations, subsidies and incentives that is delaying investment, driving up prices over the long term and making blackouts a real possibility"