It’s that time of year again, when I pour myself a single malt and pull on my creative writing boots. For my 2019 New Year piece I was inspired by Gil Scott-Heron, of “The Future Will Not Be Televised” fame. If you’re not familiar with it, probably best listen to him reading it first.
This week, as delegates from nearly 200 nations congregate in Katowice for COP24, the 24th annual UNFCCC conference on climate change, ‘tis the season to take stock of the state of climate politics around the world. Spoiler alert, it’s not a particularly jolly read.
The world is facing a number of very grave threats – climate change, air and ocean pollution, organised crime, cyber-threats, antibiotic resistance, pandemics, cancer, dementia, road deaths, persistent poverty and so on – all of which demand some form of intervention and leadership by the state. What is at issue is the way in which the state should intervene.
Not if low-carbon transformation is at the heart of the government’s industrial strategy.
History will judge Theresa May harshly for not killing this train-wreck of a project when she had the chance
Assuming its unions have not succeeded in stopping it, the board of EDF is today expected to wave through a decision on Hinkley C, the first new nuclear power station in the UK for 20 years and, at £18bn, the world’s most expensive power station.
In the energy sphere, the UK should be looking for three things as part of the renegotiation of its relationship with Europe: for the EU to complete the single market; for the EU to stop meddling in decisions better taken at UK level; and for root-and-branch reform of the EU-ETS carbon trading scheme.
For too long the left has been allowed to claim ownership of the environment. The right has implicitly accepted that protecting the environment is in opposition to a prosperous and free society. Now, as clean energy becomes competitive with fossil fuels, a new battlefield opens up. The solutions offered by the left are stifling competition and slowing down the uptake of clean energy. Only by releasing a maelstrom of entrepreneurial and competitive activity will the world be able to build a high-performing clean energy system without driving costs to unacceptable levels. And only by leading the process will the right find its natural voice on energy and the environment.