Britain will “do whatever it takes to avoid being threatened by people like (Russian President) Vladimir Putin,” said Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who visited the Hingley Point nuclear power plant in the south-west of the United Kingdom. One under construction in the country, with many years of delays and billions in additional costs.
London, the world leader in offshore wind power, aims to increase its solar production to almost half of its energy capacity by 2030 and encourage it to restart its nuclear power by building eight new plants.
But the British government has argued that the turmoil in the markets caused by sanctions against Russia, the world’s leading extractor of hydrocarbons, has prompted it to temporarily reconsider its own production of fossil fuels, along with new licenses to extract oil and gas. North Sea.
Proposing himself a leader in the fight against global warming, the Minister of Energy assured that reducing the UK’s climate responsibility, which co-hosted the international conference COP26 in November with the United Nations, was “not a question of any kind”. Quasi Quarteng.
But since then, widespread inflation and sanctions on Russian hydrocarbons have changed the situation.
“Considering what is happening in the world (…) we are also working to ensure the return of energy freedom,” Quarteng justified in Sky News reports.
In response to the invasion of Ukraine, the British government initially announced a gradual reduction in Russian oil imports. But on Wednesday he promised to stop imports of coal and crude oil by the end of the year and to stop natural gas “as soon as possible”.
Although Russia is less dependent on hydrocarbons than other European countries such as Germany, oil and gas still represent 75% of the British energy matrix.
The Johnson administration has written into law the goal of achieving carbon neutrality by 2050.
– “Moral and economic madness” –
According to Nick Irene, an energy and climate policy expert at Oxford University, this “energy conservation strategy focuses on costly and slow delivery technologies”, “which are not well thought out and do not get what it needs”.
The IPCC report, submitted this week by UN climate experts, underlined that “energy demand can be halved by 2050 and our quality of life can be improved,” while Alex Weach, chairman of the Chamber of Commerce, condemned the move. The project does not encourage energy efficiency activities.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, during a presentation on the IPCC report on Monday, described the high investment in fossil fuels as “moral and economic madness”.
He warned in his 3,000 pages that when the demand for fossil fuels declines in the coming decades, countries risk ending up with trillions of worth of valuable assets such as beaches and pipelines.
Quarteng acknowledged that large-scale drilling domestically would not lower gas prices, following in the footsteps of the international market.
“So we need to generate more electricity in the UK through renewable energy and nuclear power,” he stressed.
But Andy Meyer, an economist who supports free trade, said public subsidies would be needed to control spending on the British government’s new nuclear programs.
“With an invoice of 24 to 63 billion pounds ($ 31 to 82 billion) per transaction and 13 to 17 years of delivery time,” he points out, “there will be better, cheaper and faster options.”
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