Hot on the heels of the Prime Minister's speech to the UN General Assembly this week, Charles Moore assesses the government's blind faith in renewables as the only route to sustainability and their failure to plan for all contingencies should these prove insufficient:
"It remains stubbornly the case that wind (and sun) varies. The resulting intermittency has to be made up by other means to keep electricity flowing – in our case, generation by gas. Otherwise we have no security of supply. Because we have allowed ourselves to be so exposed to short-term variations in gas prices, with so little storage, this is blindingly expensive, and we are nearly 50 per cent gas import-dependent. Britain has a policy of buying in distress and so is in no position to get a good price.
The politics of climate change is equally tricky and needs to be handled with care:
"Most people want cleaner energy, and are at least moderately worried about climate change: it would be strange if this were not so. But if Western leaders express this, as Boris was doing, in the language of blame, they set up a dangerous antithesis between virtue and prosperity.
Our history tells us that our prosperity was, broadly, virtuous. It made us freer: it gradually liberated the poor from menial labour, improving housing, transport, medicine, drains. Don’t trash it.
Surely the political trick to play is to commit to greener technology rather than inflicting punishment. If consumers come to believe that net zero exposes them to punitive cost or insecurity of supply, they will rightly reject it. The mantra “If it isn’t hurting, it isn’t working” (first used by John Major about interest rates) is exactly wrong. If it hurts to any serious extent, it can’t work.
"If net zero starts to hurt badly while Boris is still prime minister, he will be – if such carbon production is still allowed – toast."