The UK’s ambition to become net-zero by 2050 is looking shaky, as the energy crisis pushes prime ministerial hopeful Liz Truss towards policies that will end with Britain relying on fossil-fuels for years to come.
The ongoing leadership contest, which will most likely end next week withTruss being Britain’s prime minister, has seen alarming policies being thrown around to keep Tory members onside.
Truss and Rishi Sunak, her rival in leadership, have not yet come up with concrete policies to address soaring inflation or rising energy costs.
Truss’s comments during the contest reveal that she and potential new Cabinet ministers believe the idea of the UK becoming net-zero by 2025 is part of the reason why the country is in spiralling energy prices, and economic ruin.
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Truss is expected ask Lord David Frost for a high-ranking ministerial post. Frost recently urged the Government not to continue with its current policy of achieving net zero carbon emissions and ending the ban on fracking. Kwasi Kwarteng (current business secretary) is also supportive of removing restrictions in an effort to ease the energy crisis.
Frost has also supported Truss’s reported keenness to sign off on a push for more oil drilling in the North Sea, which could see 130 new drilling licenses given to companies. She is also against using land for solar farms, telling the Conservative crowd in Exeter earlier this month that “farms shouldn’t be full of solar panels and I will change the rules.”
It is becoming clear that this new negative attitude towards renewable energy is simply a knee-jerk reaction to a crisis Truss or her supportive ministers don’t know how to solve.
The current energy crisis has nothing whatsoever to do with renewable energy. It was caused in part by Russia cutting off gas supply from Europe following western sanctions. The Government has also made matters worse by privatizing energy companies as well as failing to store enough gas when it was available.
Secondly, simply ramping up production and use of fossil fuels is not going to fix the current energy crisis, as Truss’s plan to just drill for more oil and gas, as well as ending the ban on fracking, won’t lead to extra energy supply- ora drop in prices – for decades.
Boris Johnson, the former prime minister, is scheduled to deliver a speech to this week asking the next Conservative leader not just to abandon green energy investment but also to prioritize short-term solutions to the cost of living crisis.
Johnson is correct on this occasion. Truss, it seems, is using the energy crisis to push anti-net zero rhetoric that will see the UK’s decarbonisation hopes go up in smoke.
And it isn’t like there aren’t real-world examples of what will happen if Britain fails to do its part to halt climate change: Pakistan is suffering from massive floods, which has so-far killed over 1,000 people, and Europe is going through its worst drought in five hundred years. Britain is also feeling the effects of climate change. Temperatures reached 42° Celsius earlier this month and there has been no rain, which means that the reservoirs are empty.
Scientists agree that almost all fossil fuel resources must remain in the ground if the world is to avoid catastrophic climate change. If the incoming government abandons its net-zero ambitions for the long-term, the current energy crisis will get worse and the UK will be a fossil fuel pariah in an increasingly green world.