The newly announced Energy Security Strategy, which gave the government a chance to drive green energy forward to deal with the immediate cost of living crisis and tackle the climate emergency, has been roundly rejected by environmentalists and opposition parties.
The strategy is part of Boris Johnson’s plan to reduce the UK’s reliance on fossil fuels from overseas, as the country wrestles with high energy prices
Nuclear power plants are at the heart of the new ‘Energy Security Strategy’, which was announced this week, with Johnson bragging “nuclear is coming home.” Hailing its plan as ‘ambitious’, the government promises a “quicker expansion of nuclear, wind, solar, hydrogen, oil and gas, including delivering the equivalent to one nuclear reactor a year instead of one a decade.”
Energy secretary Kwasi Kwarteng admitted the plan was likely to do nothing to reduce skyrocketing energy bills for at least four years.
The strategy has also been criticised for failing to support insulation, considered as vital in the push to reduce energy use and cut bills.
The delayed energy policy immediately came under fire from environmental groups and the opposition, condemned as a ‘recipe for failure.’
‘Bowing to backbenchers’
Writing for the Independent, shadow business and energy secretary and Labour MP for Doncaster North Ed Miliband, accuses Boris Johnson of bowing to his backbenchers, “who are obsessed with fighting yesterday’s battles rather than building tomorrow’s energy system.”
Referring to the 12-page energy strategy document, Miliband says it offers nothing to tackle the cost of living crisis people face and fails on “all counts.”
The Labour MP alludes to David Cameron’s promise in 2015 to “cut the green crap” and how, despite wind and solar being the “cheapest, cleanest, and quickest forms of power we have,” only 20 wind turbines have been built in the last five years, as the Tories has “destroyed the onshore wind industry.” While the solar industry, Miliband notes, has faced a 95% drop in installations.
The shadow energy secretary continues that Johnson has caved to the false suggestion that onshore wind is unpopular, despite polling, which Miliband says, shows the vast majority of the public support such projects.
Greenpeace, WWF, Friends of Earth (FoE) Scotland, and Uplift, who are committed to supporting and energising the movement for a fossil-free future, have ripped apart the plans, saying they fail to line up with net zero targets.
Despite multiple warnings that the further exploration or production of oil and gas could accelerate the climate emergency, the government’s energy strategy includes “supporting the production of domestic oil and gas in the nearer term.”
In having the backing of a number of industry leaders and CEOs including from Shell, SSE, EDF, Rolls Royce and Equinor, activists are accusing the government of “prioritising the interest” of the energy industry over consumers.
Caroline Rance, climate and energy campaigner for Friends of Earth Scotland, said the strategy is “riddled with inconsistencies.”
“It is unbelievably reckless for the UK Government to put its foot down on the accelerator and expand production of the oil and gas that is speeding us towards further climate devastation,” said Rance,
The climate activist added that while the announcement on offshore wind was a “positive step” it was “fatally undermined” by the oil and gas expansion.
“By doubling down on oil and gas they are keeping us locked in an unaffordable and destructive energy system that is only delivering billions in profits for oil companies whilst millions of people are forced to choose between heating and eating,” she said.
Tessa Khan, director of Uplift, said that the strategy was a “betrayal” to families struggling to cope with rising energy bills.
“Instead of supporting them with a drive to insulate homes and boost our access to cheap, clean renewable energy, the government has sided with oil and gas companies, who offer no solutions to our energy affordability crisis.
“Instead, those companies are making billions in profit, giving their shareholders a pay-day, and failing to invest in the energy transition we need,” Khan said.
Caroline Lucas, Green MP for Brighton Pavilion and former leader and co-leader of the Green Party, shared her contempt for the highly anticipated strategy, tweeting:
“Such a criminally wasted opportunity. A new Energy Security Strategy which isn’t strategic and won’t deliver energy security. Nuclear is far too costly and too slow. And there’s a giant hole at heart of the ‘plan’ where mass home installation should be. #Fail.”
Gabrielle Pickard-Whitehead is a contributing editor to Left Foot Forward
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