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The switch to secure, green energy must bring voters in from the cold

Are we ready? As Europe moves to a war base in reducing its dependence on Russian gas, and the US and UK ban Russian oil, it is still unclear how our countries will make the huge adjustments required. Voters have no idea what is going to hit them: it could even end in energy rationing.

Within two short weeks, Vladimir Putin had caused a historic rise in Germany’s military spending, imposed financial sanctions on a scale not seen since 1914, and reshaped energy independence from a vague goal to security orders. The invasion of Ukraine has exposed the West’s daring dependence on tyrannical regimes to run our economies.

To defeat the Nazis, the United States and Britain joined the Soviet Union. To defeat Putin, we turn to oil for Venezuela, Iran and Saudi Arabia.

The road to energetic independence has never been smooth, but now the difficult choices lie ahead. The sure rhetoric of national leaders obscures the fact that this may indeed be a very difficult journey.

In 2022, Europe imported about 155 bcm of gas from Russia. The EU’s hastily assembled strategy aims to replace 100 bcm this year – but it relies heavily on imports of peak amounts of liquefied natural gas, which will put Europe ahead of buyers like Japan and China. Even if it achieves its goals, and demand falls as a result of high gas prices, there will still be a supply / demand gap of 20-40 bcm, according to the latest assessment by the Roigel think tank. This gap will have to be filled with climate-unfriendly coal and perhaps, in the countries most exposed to Russian gas, factories will have to close. Brueghel’s colleague, Simon Tagliapiatra, says it will be “a kind of programmed and limited industrial energy lock.”

The breaks, even when planned, are far from the experience of most Western voters. And even to achieve these EU goals will require unprecedented coordination between governments: otherwise they will end up in tenders against each other for gas, just as they did for the PPE during the epidemic.

The other challenge is the threat that high prices and volatile supply pose to the careers of individual politicians. In the better part of the 20th century, keeping the lights on was the 101st for political survival.

So far, it seems that citizens are thinking of seeing Russia’s disengagement as a patriotic duty. Most British voters will be ready Pay higher energy bills if it will help undermine Russia’s war on Ukraine. The moorings in Kent have Refused to unload Russian tankers. If these sentiments continue, Boris Johnson will be able to face the Conservatives’ “zero-zero control group,” which has campaigned to dilute the green targets. The abolition of former Okip leader Nigel Farage is planned “Non-Poverty Power” rally. Against zero-net policy, it appears that it will be possible to prepare the stage for a political rapprochement between environmentalists and those concerned about the rising cost of living.

But that’s only if leaders can spend enough to protect poorer families from freezing. And listen to the demands of Insulate Britain’s campaign to do what successive governments have unfortunately failed to do: isolate Britain’s damp and moldy homes, which consume over a third of all our gas.

Until now, some of our efforts to deal with climate change have left people right outside in the cold. The right response is to go big. The West needs to redouble its efforts to improve the storage and transmission of renewable electricity, which is currently limiting its efficiency. We must stop more houses being built without solar panels – and stick to the bureaucratic obstacles we have placed in the way of those with a civil mind.

Last month I received a newsletter from my local council encouraging me to reunite with neighbors to install solar panels. I registered. Some awkward phone calls later, it seems there have been no changes in planning rules in the decade since we moved. If you live in a conservation area or registered building, and if the sunny part of your roof faces the street, like ours. , The planners are still in favor of Putin.

In today’s UK, a wind farm on land can be vetoed by one opponent. The government heat pump grant was obtained Less than one-sixth of his target. Meanwhile in Finland, a third of all homes already have heat pumps.

Rapid progress is possible. In 2012, the UK installed energy efficiency measures such as loft insulation and walls in homes of 2.3 million. And an intriguing experiment is now underway, to see if households will budget their electricity consumption in peak times. Led by Octopus Energy and the national grid, 1.4 million households are paid to consume less electricity at certain times during the day. If the results are positive, it could indicate that voters are willing to make small changes that add up to something significant.

The language of national security is much stronger than prosaic lectures on energy efficiency. It is worth remembering how President Eisenhower promised public support for the construction of interstate highways across America in 1956. He described them as not only an easier way to travel, but essential to the national interest: his roads would allow quick evacuation of citizens from the cities. Of nuclear attack.

Leaders can take a page out of his book, and at the same time also put the hard yards to narrow the gap between supply and demand. The protection of freedom has a price. Putin downplayed the West’s value of receiving economic pain. It must not be justified.

camilla.cavendish@ft.com

The switch to secure, green energy must bring voters in from the cold Source link The switch to secure, green energy must bring voters in from the cold

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