The Conservative flirtation with environmentalism was never much more than a branding exercise. Now it is over. Today David Cameron wants to ‘cut the green crap’. Perhaps the Prime Minister has been influenced by David Rose’s cover piece in last week’s Spectator — which encouraged the government to repeal the Climate Change Act, abolish its targets, and stop the Energy Bill coming into force.
Strong stuff. But let’s suppose the government really were to follow Rose’s strategy, what would happen? A shale gas revolution? Don’t bet on it. As the energy company Cuadrilla has admitted, domestic fracking would have an ‘insignificant‘ impact on prices. The US, which has seen prices fall, is currently a closed market. But any UK production would be sold to the highest bidder on the international markets.
That is, of course, if drilling even went ahead. Local protesters up and down the country would, as in Balcombe and Blackpool, oppose hydraulic fracturing and the 1,000 plus trucks of water and chemicals necessary to get a well going.
And whatever happened with fracking, Britain would remain at the mercy of international gas prices, which DECC expects to rise by 16 per cent between now and 2030.
Second, global efforts to tackle climate change would grind to a halt as rapidly growing countries such as China saw that Britain, and therefore Europe, were not serious about their carbon commitments. According to the overwhelming view of the scientific community, this could have catastrophic consequences for the UK including extreme weather, volatile food and commodity prices, as well as bigger demands on British aid from our overseas territories.
Rather than repealing the green levies, Britain should instead press ahead with efforts to increase energy efficiency – the only long-term route to tackling energy bills – and diversify away from fossil fuels.