Publication date: Tuesday 19 December 2023
The British government has set ambitious net zero targets. But it remains unclear whether renewable energy can, on its own, power a modern digital economy, high-speed rail, and the many other demands on energy supplies. Is it possible to transition to a net zero economy and keep the lights on? Can that happen without wrecking the UK’s economy. Powering Britain – The UK’s Future Energy Mix, Politeia’s latest publication, explores the options and charts the dangers faced by policy makers.
Click here to download the full publication: –
Politeia’s next publication, Powering Britain – The UK’s Future Energy Mix, edited by Professor Syed (Lord) Kamall, Professor of Politics and International Relations at St Mary’s University, Twickenham,and co-authored by economists, energy specialists and politicians, warns of the pitfalls of following the wrong energy policy. They explain that:
- Government’ aims cannot be achieved by heavy-handed state subsidies or regulation in pursuit of environmental goals.
- Not only do politicians and their officials know too little to make the right choices. They cannot keep abreast of rapidly developing research in the diverse energy fields.
- Government should acknowledge its own limitations. Rather than impose complicated regulations or pay taxpayer funded expensive subsidies, it should allow the market to work.
- A transparent tax on greenhouse gas emissions can instead be used on the principle that pollution is a hidden cost imposed by the polluters on others, for which the polluters should be made to pay.
In particular the authors propose: –
- Market mechanisms are more likely than government policies and intervention to lead to the realisation of sensible goals. (Bjørnskov)
- As much attention should be paid to encouraging decarbonisation of transport and heat as to low carbon power generation. (Prior)
- A simpler and more effective Net Zero policy should replace the heavy-handed regulations and complex fiscal penalties: this should treat greenhouse gas emissions as a ‘negative externality’ on which a Pigouvian carbon tax is levied. (Whyte)
- Instead of promoting electric vehicles over alternatives, biofuels that can be used with existing diesel vehicles may be an alternative source of clean energy in the short and medium term. (Keites)
- Hydrogen may prove to be cleaner and better for energy storage than batteries. Hydrogen-ready boilers are cheaper andsimilar to current gas boilers, compared to expensive and less tested heat pumps. (Stafford)
- Nuclear energy is a clear alternative to fossil fuels and smaller modular reactors (SMRs) are far more likely to attract private investment than the giant reactors, such as that at Sizewell. (Howell)
All in all, concludes the editor, Syed Kamall, the evidence from a range of case studies shows how so often well-intentioned environmental policies make things worse not better. Governments and companies should ensure they are equipped to change policy and behaviour once any negative unintended consequences become apparent.
Notes to Editors
- Powering Britain – The UK’s Future EnergyMix by S. Kamall (ed), C.Bjørnskov, B.Prior, J.Whyte, J. Keiters, A.Stafford, D. Howell, will be published by Politeia, 55 Tufton Street, London, SW1P 3QL on Tuesday, 19 Dec 2023.
- Syed Kamall (Lord Kamall) is Professor of Politics and International Relations at St Mary’s University, Twickenham and a life peer since 2021. He has been minister for Technology, Innovation and Life Sciences at the Department of Health and Social Care and at the Department forDigital, Culture, Media and Sport, having previously been an MEP.
- Christian Bjørnskov is Professor of Economics at the Department of Economics at Aarhus University inAarhus, Denmark, and affiliated researcher at the Research Institute of Industrial Economics (IFN) in Stockholm.
- Bruno Prior is a Director of Summerleaze Ltd, which has over four decades invested and innovated in renewable energy as part of its widerinterests in construction materials, property, waste management and energy.
- Jamie Whyte is a philosopher whose career has been in academic and business life.
- Julian Keites is Director of Sustainability at Green Biofuels Limited UK having worked in the energy sector over three decades as a geologistat Schlumberger, Director of Energy Derivatives at Cargill and World Fuel
- Alexander Stafford is the Member of Parliament for Rother Valley and Chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on
- David Howell (Lord Howell of Guildford) is Chairman of the Windsor Energy Group & a former Member of Parliament for Guildford, when he served as Secretary of State for Energy and Secretary of State for Transport.
- Established in 1995, Politeia is an independent, non-partisan think-tank providing a forum to discuss economic, constitutional and social policy with a particular focus on the role of the state in people’s lives.