Friday, September 16, 2022

UK: Liz Truss ditches the environment

That's not how she would put it but I think that is the essence of it. She could be another Thatcher

The Government’s Energy Bill is set to be paused or ditched completely as Liz Truss focuses on capping customers’ bills and reforming the UK’s electricity market, i has been told.

Jacob Rees-Mogg, the new Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, told officials on Monday that he planned to effectively put on hold the Energy Bill currently going through the House of Lords, multiple sources said.

The legislation, part of Boris Johnson’s last Queen’s Speech, was wide-ranging and would have overhauled everything from carbon dioxide transport to carbon capture and civil nuclear power production.

But the bill, which is still at an early stage of its parliamentary process, now faces being scrapped or dramatically reworked after Downing Street stressed the Prime Minister wanted to prioritise capped bills and urgent reform of electricity markets.

No 10 is understood to be pushing for two big reforms. First, decoupling electricity prices from the global gas price – not least as renewable energy is now nine times cheaper than gas. Secondly, introducing “locational pricing” to incentivise the private sector to build extra capacity, a change that would boost wind and solar power.

When he was Business Secretary, Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng launched a consultation on both changes in July but the process could be fast-tracked to produce legislation as soon as possible.

Abandoning parts of the Energy Bill could mean ditching a landmark reform, the creation of the “future systems operator” arm of the National Grid that Mr Johnson hoped would secure renewable energy to hit the UK target of net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

In the coming weeks, Ms Truss will continue to prioritise the economic crisis. The Office for National Statistics announced on Wednesday that inflation had eased slightly but at 9.9 per cent it remains near its highest level since the 70s.

The Resolution Foundation warned that the poorest households are still experiencing double-digit inflation because they are more exposed to swings in the price of staples such as food.

And the Institute of Economic Affairs, a free-market think-tank seen as closely aligned with the new Prime Minister, predicted that the Bank of England would have to continue raising interest rates, a move which risks tipping the UK’s economy into a recession.


The Great Leap Backwards: Mao-style climate cultists must be stopped

IN 1958, the Chinese leader Mao Zedong launched the Great Leap Forward, a crash programme of economic modernisation that he hoped would lead the country to the promised land of communism.

The intention was to transform the Middle Kingdom, the world’s most populous country, from a largely agrarian society into an industrial and economic superpower in just a few years.

It was decreed that scrap metal be transformed into steel in backyard furnaces to be set up across the country. The country was denuded of trees to fuel the furnaces and workers were transferred from productive activity elsewhere in order to man them. The results were almost worthless, but dissenters were ruthlessly purged.

In similar fashion, vast irrigation projects were undertaken using forced labourers, hundreds of thousands of whom died as a result. But this was nothing compared to the results of the programme of agricultural reform, which caused a collapse of the food supply. Estimates of the death toll range from 15million to as high as 55million.

It was a disaster of historic proportions. The Great Leap Forward was an astonishing example of unchecked ideology – a secular religion with no rationality, no humanity, and which tolerated no dissent.

Does any of this sound familiar? We are setting out to transform the most extraordinary society, in which wealth and abundance have spread across the world, into … what? An agrarian society of the kind Mao and his followers were trying to escape?

We might look back in astonishment at the irrationality of the Great Leap Forward, but is what we are doing any more rational? We have mandated decarbonised electricity systems, with no idea of how to deal with the intermittency of renewables – we are literally crossing our fingers and hoping someone invents something.

We install solar panels in places where the sun barely shines. We have suppressed the fossil fuel industry in the full knowledge that we have no way to replace its output in many applications.

With households unable to afford to heat their homes, we are introducing a ban on house coal. We are restricting fertiliser use on our farms, in the full knowledge that this will cause yields to collapse.

This is a Great Leap Forward, but a green one rather than a red one. And just as the horrible reality of what Mao had unleashed eventually became clear, the next few months will make it clear that we have been fatally misled by the ravings of a bizarre anti-human cult.

Our energy systems have been made so frail that power cuts and rationing seem unavoidable. While the Government has shown itself willing to print money to keep the costs for consumers down, businesses will be hung out to dry in the spring. Unless we return to rationality quickly, we can expect economic chaos and even societal meltdown to ensue.

That return to rationality needs to be put in place quickly, and Professor Gordon Hughes and I have just published a short plan that shows that dramatic reductions in energy prices can be achieved in the short term. But only if the Government is radical enough. And unfortunately that seems unlikely to be the case.

The Parliamentary Conservative Party seems still to be in the grip of the climate cult, and that means that even if she wants to, Liz Truss will find it impossible to take the necessary steps.

The termination of the fracking ban seems to have been little more than a sop to the rational rump of the party; the continuation of the preposterous rules that govern shale operations shows that the cult remains in control, and means that the industry will remain little more than a pipedream. So expect more money-printing and more dallying with renewables, which will only make things worse.

If rationality is going to be restored, the climate cultists will have to be removed from the corridors of power and positions of influence. That will happen eventually, of that there can be no doubt; the only questions are how long it will take, and how much of our abundant society will be left by the time they are gone.


UK: Electric car charging cost hits record £1 per kWh milestone as energy price crisis hits sector

Osprey has become the first charge point operator in the UK to raise its prices to a record £1 per kWh as the soaring cost of electricity pushes the electric car charging sector into crisis.

The firm’s chief executive, Ian Johnston, has announced that all Osprey rapid chargers will now cost £1 per kWh to use, up from 66p per kWh previously and well above its competitors’ prices.

Osprey operates hundreds of chargers across the UK. Its price rise means charging a VW ID.3 from 10 per cent to 80 per cent – a typical charging session – will now cost £40, up from £16 a year ago.

It is the latest sign of the pressure EV chargepoint operators are under amid the energy price crisis.

Mr Johnston said he “had no choice” but to increase prices, given “sky high” wholesale energy prices and no support to date from government.

Last week the new Prime Minister Liz Truss announced plans to cap the price of electricity and gas for households as part of a £150bn package to tackle the energy crisis.

But businesses, which are also facing huge increases in the cost of gas and electricity, are still waiting for details of their support scheme.

“Until we know more about the government support scheme, we have no choice but to increase our prices,” Mr Johnston said in a video message. “Of course, we want to reduce these prices, if we are able to do so.”

Industry experts have been warning for weeks that EV charge point operators are struggling with rocketing energy prices. Almost every operator has already increased prices at least once this year, and some have bumped their prices four times.

Osprey is for now by far the most expensive public charging network, with the next most expensive rapid chargers Ionity at 69p per kWh, followed by Instavolt at 66p per kWh. But cheaper charging is also available, with some supermarkets still offering free slower-rate charging for customers.

Yet experts warn that without further support, more charge point operators will be forced to raise their prices to the £1 per kWh threshold over the coming months. That could dent severely dent consumer demand for switching to electric motoring, threatening the UK’s net zero goals.

“This is a huge charging price hike from Osprey, but more companies will follow suit,” said Ginny Buckley, chief executive and founder of

She called for action from government and energy providers to tackle the problem: “I’d like to see the Government take decisive action to address this by reducing the 20 per cent VAT rate currently imposed on public charging to five per cent,” she told i.

“Energy providers also need to play their part and introduce more cheaper off-peak tariffs at public charge points to help balance the supply grid and support those without access to home charging.”


Australia's love of pickups and SUVs is slowing down the country's efforts to reduce carbon emissions

Sales of electric vehicles nearly tripled in Australia last year but average emissions from new cars only decreased by two per cent.

The commission's report, released on Thursday, said that was partly due to increasing sales of SUVs and utes where there were fewer cleaner vehicles options.

More than 43,000 utes were sold in Australia between 2020 and 2021, while large SUV sales rose by about 25,000.

Many of those vehicles emit more than 210 grams of CO2 per kilometre.

Australia is falling behind other countries when it comes to its average vehicle emissions, the report states, with 45 per cent of new cars sold emitting 160 grams or less of CO2 per kilometre. That's compared to 90 per cent of all new cars sold in Europe.

More needs to be done to encourage Australians to purchase electric vehicles, the commission said in its report. "Increasing investment in public recharging stations, preferential tax arrangements and other incentives, and the adoption of emissions standards can lead to significant uptake in greener vehicles," the report states.

Battery and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles represent just 0.23 per cent of Australia's 18.4 million vehicles. About 2.8 per cent of Australia's 2021 car sales were electric.

That's compared to 17 per cent in Europe, 16 per cent in China, five per cent in the United States and 4.4 per cent in New Zealand.

"The National Transport Commission continues to collaborate with governments and industry to develop the data needed to support the commitment of all jurisdictions to transition to a zero emissions fleet," the report said.




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