Energy crisis

Does Britain care more about pubs than schools?

Politics is about priorities: what do we consider to be important? I worry that Britain doesn’t attach enough importance to children and their education. As the first lockdown eased in the summer of 2020, I was unhappy that pubs reopened before schools. I thought that said something about our priorities as a nation An interview by Liz Truss in New York gives me no reason to change that gloomy view. During the interview, atop the Empire State Building, the PM was naturally keen to talk up the benefits of the energy price support package to be set out on Friday. That package, she was keen to say, will cover not

Japan’s nuclear renaissance

Japan is reversing its avowedly anti-nuclear stance, restarting idled plants and looking to develop a new generation of reactors, announced Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on Wednesday. This major policy shift from the world’s third biggest economic power underlines both the seriousness of the global energy crisis and points to the most likely way ahead. This announcement would have seemed unimaginable a decade ago in the wake of the Fukushima nuclear disaster, which saw the plant flooded and led to three separate hydrogen explosions. Then prime minister Naoto ordered those living within a 12-mile radius of the plant to be evacuated as the Fukushima area was designated a contaminated wasteland. I well remember the

How Britain’s fracking industry was regulated into irrelevance

This week the fracking company Cuadrilla announced that it was permanently closing its two shale mines in Lancashire, after the Oil and Gas Authority (OGA) declared that shale gas companies must seal up the wells they had drilled and return the land to nature. It is, on the face of it, a very strange step to take at this time. The wells have not been producing any gas for some years, of course, ever since environmentalists launched their scare campaign against the industry. It was a campaign that was astonishing in its brazenness. Tiny earth tremors recorded near the wells, of a scale that is entirely normal in, say, the

Rishi Sunak’s cost of living gamble

The Chancellor is lending £200 this year to anyone who pays an energy bill in their own name. That’s 28 million people at an upfront cost to the government of £5.5 billion. The £5.5 billion will go directly to the companies this year, and will be knocked off bills from October. It will count as public spending. However, we will all have to repay that £200, in five equal annual instalments of £40 from 2023. Or to put it another way, our energy bills will be £40 a year higher than would otherwise have been the case until 2028. In a way, Rishi Sunak has given most of us an

Is this Boris’s ‘Crisis, what crisis?’ moment?

Will it turn out to be Boris Johnson’s Jim Callaghan moment? Briefing reporters on his plane to the US on Sunday, the current PM tried to play down the energy crisis, saying:  ‘It’s like everybody going back to put the kettle on at the end of a TV programme, you’re seeing huge stresses on the world supply systems.’  The gas price spike would be over just as soon as it occurred, he implied, and was caused by nothing more than the global economy rebounding after many months on the Covid couch. It all had faint overtones of the moment during the Winter of Discontent 42 years ago when the then