Boris at COP26 Square

UK energy independence must not be sacrificed for cheap headlines

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FOR THE PAST two weeks, as we approached the COP26 Climate Summit and throughout its duration, the Government’s preaching about commitments to help lower the UK’s contribution to ‘Climate Change’ has reached fever pitch. Whether it’s relating to heating our homes, utilising public transport more or powering the country, the Government has shown there is no sector of the economy – or our lives – it is not willing to sacrifice in order to boost its so-called ‘Green Credentials’.

This apparent mad panic to find ways to cut UK emissions and appear ‘greener’ simply cannot continue in the current way if the Government does not want to severely damage the UK’s economy in the short and long term.

Instead of taking a time-efficient plane journey, the Prime Minister travelled 5 hours by rail each way to Glasgow and back on Wednesday, simply to make a press statement at COP26 – which incidentally many members of the press missed as his timing was off. Was the train early for a change? I would have thought the Prime Minister’s time could have been used more efficiently than 10 hours on a train – but of course the PM was intent on pushing the COP26 agenda down our throats at every opportunity.

One particular area where our ‘Green Credentials’ are apparently so important is our energy supplies, where the Government again seems to have no foresight or cohesive plan, other than rapidly cutting out traditional fuel sources from the UK as quickly as possible, to meet climate targets.

For example, despite having to rely on UK gas power stations in the recent shortage over the summer, the Government is still set on closing power stations in the UK, stating that in another emergency we will simply import additional energy from abroad. You couldn’t make it up it you tried!  Even if you could make an argument about cutting our own emissions here, importing fossil fuels like gas from abroad would create even more pollution. This really is cutting off your nose to spite your face!

In addition, importing this additional energy in an emergency would make the UK reliant on foreign powers – not just for physical energy resources, but also the means of getting this energy to the UK. Can we really say with confidence that countries like Russia – which provides so much of Europe’s gas energy – will not simply hike up the price or even reject our requests? Likewise, we have already seen President Macron threaten to cut off electricity to the UK and seize Covid-19 vaccines in an emergency scenario. I for one am sure the French President would try something similar again in a crisis, as the UK is relying on power cables which run through France and then under the English Channel!

Why is the Government so insistent on trying to keep the UK vulnerable to blackmail from around the world on vital issues like this in the name of ‘cooperation’, instead of putting our own interests first and making us more independent where it matters?

I am not suggesting the Government undoes the work which has already been done to move away from fossil fuels like coal, but why are we closing domestic coal and gas power stations (causing unemployment in the process), simply to import more fossil fuels from as far away as China and Australia at great expense? We would be far better served by keeping some of these power stations open, whilst also focusing on newer technologies like Hydrogen and Nuclear Power – including pushing for Nuclear Fusion Reactors, which would revolutionise our future by providing a nearly limitless supply of ‘clean’ energy. Not only would we be able to build these power plants in the UK, reducing our dependency on foreign powers for key energy supplies and boosting the reputation of the UK science sector in the process, these power sources would provide real long-term and reliable ways to provide power for our country, as opposed to current temperamental renewable energy sources like solar and wind energy.

There are some rays of hope though. The Government has made limited investment in innovative plans from private British businesses, including proposals by JCB for hydrogen-powered vehicles; and recent plans from Rolls Royce to build mini-nuclear reactors. However, on both counts the Government’s investment totals under £600 million – mere loose change when compared to the investment the Government has doled out for other projects under the ‘Net-Zero’ agenda, which reach into the billions – with a lot more to come.

Under current Government plans, total costs for reaching ‘Net-Zero’ by 2050 will hit over £3 trillion!

What we have seen consistently from this Government is a singular focus on achieving a low domestic carbon dioxide score from ‘Climate Change’ advocates – whatever the cost. Instead, what should be happening is the Government putting the interests of this country first and enacting policy which will ensure a high level of energy independence, together with affordable prices for the people of this country.

If the PM really wants to lead a ‘Global Britain’ out into the world, then we must be able to reliably stand on our own two feet, when necessary, instead of running around like headless chickens, going from ‘Climate Emergency’ to ‘Climate Emergency’.

It is about time Prime Minister Boris Johnson used all this time he is spending on train travel to greater advantage, advocating for a more considered approach with a really effective strategy behind it, focusing on innovation and security for our future as an independent sovereign nation.

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Photo by UK Prime Minister’s Office: https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/pm-address-at-cop26-world-leaders-summit-opening-ceremony, OGL 3, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=112224974

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