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Your granny dies so polar bears may live? I don’t think that’s the real choice. Your granny is collateral damage in a battle for subsidies built on outdated theories. We have old people dying so that billionaires can assuage their guilt over their carbon footprint? That is simply obscene.

At yesterday’s National Grid Future Energy event in London the verdict from a slide from Peter Atherton of Citi on the future of UK Energy Policy was clear. There won’t be one.  Not sure if there will be a copy of the presentation somewhere, but that’s what cameras are for:

  • What About Electricity Market Review?
  • Huge transfer of risk to the the consumer/tax payer
  • Government is taking a massive bet on certain technologies/fuel types – exceptionally unlikely they’ll get this right.
  • Government is taking a massive economic bet that fossil fuel prices rise for ever
  • Further re-nationalisation of investment decisions
  • Does litle to solve affordability  problem – could make it worse

Shale is relevant in the UK government’s view of fossil fuel price rising for ever.  That is a key plank from plonkers like the bearded one and the outdated Peak Oil theorists who had their zenith in 2009’s Ofgem Project Discovery (!) which forecast a permanent upward spiral of oil and gas prices.  Today any rational foundation for both Peak Oil or UK energy policy has been completely taken away by events, dear boy, events.  Instead of changing opinions when the facts change as more rational people might expect, today’s strategy is to throw good money after bad in a publicity campaign that seems to think that if you  ignore gas it  will go away or never turn up or poison someone or go bust etc etc.  Branson has already made his millions, he can afford to throw more down the toilet in order to assuage his guilt as he flies off to Necker Island or Davos or wherever.

But Citi, unlikely a supporter of the labouring classes it may be, has hit the economic – and political problem – on the head.  It’s affordability stupid

Figures show a huge rise in UK households in fuel poverty, even before expected rises in the price of gas and electricity, and charities predicted that this winter would see millions more people struggling to keep warm at home.

The Department of Energy and Climate Change statistics show 700,000 more UK families fell into fuel poverty in 2009, bringing the total to 5.5 million — one in five of all households. In the UK, fuel poverty is when a household needs to spend more than 10% of its income on fuel in order to heat its home to an adequate standard, and have hot water and run lights and appliances.

Interestingly The Guardian story doesn’t mention the role of their pet causes in pushing up prices as Citi had noticed.

This is where I put my UK Department of Health experience in not only energy matters but those medical:

Gillian Guy of Citizens Advice said the figures meant at least 5.5 million people in the UK were already living in freezing conditions through self-rationing and disconnection – with private tenants among those at highest risk of fuel poverty.

Living in a cold home has a devastating impact on people’s physical and mental health,” she said, while others pointed out that the NHS spent £859m each year treating cold-related illnesses due to poorly insulated homes.

Your granny dies so polar bears may live?  I don’t think that’s the real choice.  Your granny is collateral damage in a battle for subsidies built on outdated theories. We have old people dying so that billiionaires can assuage their guilt over their carbon footprint?  That is simply obscene.  I rarely link to the UK Daily Mail, but this one is good:

Obvious question: how much of this is driven by rich man’s guilt?
‘I wouldn’t say it’s guilt,’ he says. ‘I don’t feel guilty for being in my position because I was born into it. This is all I know. And I wouldn’t say I feel a responsibility, because so many people in my position don’t give a damn.
‘But yes, we know air travel contributes to global warming. It would be inhuman not to feel any guilt. If Virgin stopped flying planes, BA or someone else would take their place. At least my father is reinvesting all the profits from planes into clean fuels.’

Let me underline this to outraged Guardian readers and climate change skeptics alike:  I’m the left-wing progressive here.  Support for a rational energy policy that cuts carbon and costs is not something that belong exclusively to right or left.