The response in the UK to the price spike in gas prices has been somewhat perverse. The spike, it is said, demonstrates that our dependence on dirtypollutinguglyfossildugupstupidfuels is a cardinal mistake. Instead, we should develop freerenewablereliablegoodhonourableunicorn energy.

Meanwhile, Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng has said that by decarbonising the UK’s power supply, the country will protect customers from volatile fossil fuel prices.

“The UK so far, as many of you know, has made great progress in diversifying our energy mix. But we are still very dependent, perhaps too dependent, on fossil fuels and their volatile prices,” he told a conference organised by trade body Energy UK.

He said that the government’s recent pledge to decarbonise the electricity grid by 2035 – 15 years ahead of the previous target – would help. “Our homes and businesses will be powered by affordable, clean and secure electricity generated here in the UK, for people in the UK,” Mr Kwarteng said.

BBC, 7th October 2021

So we are too dependent on volatile fossil fuel prices according to our Business Sec. Here’s what the head of the IEA’s Fatih Birol said to the BBC (as reported by Mark in the “Through the Looking Glass” thread):

A failure to invest sufficiently in green energy means “we may well see more and more turbulence in the energy markets”, the head of the International Energy Agency has told the BBC. IEA’s annual World Energy Outlook warns clean energy and infrastructure need a $4 trillion a year investment.

[The BBC article is illustrated by some workmen dragging solar panels onto a lake. I suppose it is too late to warn them that if a significant proportion of the water is covered, this is likely to cause anoxic conditions which will in turn kill most things in the water.]

From the same article, an interview with an activist:

Failing to invest in renewable energy make [sic] little economic sense according to May Boeve, executive director of the international climate campaign group “What is expensive is paying for disasters that are caused by climate change. What is expensive is cities paying the bill for floods and fires.”

Utter tripe, nonsense, gobbledigook, and incomprehensible that the BBC should find it newsworthy to report it. They might as well have interviewed a poached egg about what it means to be white on the outside and yellow on the inside. As to Birol, here is a man who is supposed to know something about energy, but seems not to know his a55 from a hole in the ground, as Randy Newman would say. To May Boeve we might timorously mention that once she has destroyed hydrocarbon-based civilization, the floods and fires she speaks of will still occur, but will cause more damage, and the repairs will be less and less affordable.

Now, here is the figure that the BBC used a couple of days back to illustrate the problem (and has used on multiple occasions over the last few weeks, updated as they go):

The BBC’s figure is lacking a little context. Here’s another view of the same data from the Economist:

(Note the different axes: 1 million btu = 10 therms ish. Also this version ends earlier.)

Something similar, but covering the last 12 years, can be seen at Manhattan Contrarian here.

Now suddenly we begin to see that there might be something more to this story than too much reliance fossil fuels. Why has the US not seen the same increase in prices as we have? Maybe it’s because they no longer rely on fossil fuels, and have built out an energy system based 100% on renewables instead? I think we know the answer to that question.

Yes folks: it looks like the malaise has spread so far that our own ministers are gaslighting us. Our national broadcaster prefers to present an entirely partial view, and interviews bovine activists whose opinions should not have detained them or us for a picosecond. The question remains: how bad do things have to get before the façade cracks?

[Edited for a typo.]


  1. JIT. In this article I perceive you getting more and more angry and intolerant with those reporting energy matters or contemplating policy. As indeed you should.


  2. >”Meanwhile, Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng has said that by decarbonising the UK’s power supply, the country will protect customers from volatile fossil fuel prices.”

    ‘Volatile’. Now there’s an interesting word. The Cambridge Dictionary defines it thus:

    >”likely to change suddenly and unexpectedly, especially by getting worse.”

    Most interesting, however, is the example usage that it offers:

    >”Food and fuel prices are very volatile in a war situation.”

    There again, in its thesaurus it offers ‘changeable’ as an alternative. For ‘changeable’, the example usage on offer is:

    >”British weather is notoriously changeable.”

    That sounds a lot better. For our energy security, let’s not rely upon the volatile when one can rely instead upon the changeable. Orwell, of course, understood the power of language.


  3. From another place:

    ‘freerenewablereliablegoodhonourableunicorn’ energy is the same as ‘non-renewable renewable energy-harvesting technologies’ (NRREHTs)

    Liked by 1 person

  4. What a difference a couple of years makes.

    “Lowest European Gas Prices in 10 Years

    Natural gas prices in Europe have plummeted thanks to a rising gas export war between Russia and the US, much to the delight of European consumers.
    European natural gas prices are at a historical low and below the cost of shipping gas from the US to Europe. In May, prices remained just above this floor, fetching around $4.20 per million British thermal units (MMBtu). But this floor seems to be crumbling, if not collapsing, now that the Dutch front month gas price (TTF) has hit a fresh low of $3.20 per MMBtu – the lowest price since the TTF began trading on the Dutch market in March 2010, according to Rystad Energy.”

    Liked by 1 person

  5. “The question remains: how bad do things have to get before the façade cracks?”

    I’ve opined on this before. The facade probably won’t crack in Parliament (unless the men in grey suits oust Boris after COP 26 and Sunak makes a bid for the top job), but among the public. The public aren’t as stupid as our politicians and many of those working in the world of the media. We are constantly being told that renewables represent some sort of nirvana – saving the planet while reducing our bills – yet with rising energy prices, after years, if not decades, of subsidies and increasing reliance on renewables, it will become obvious that the line we have been fed does not represent the truth. Add to rising energy prices significantly higher inflation just when benefits are being cut and now it seems interest rates in the UK are about to start going up, and I suspect the public won’t put up with it for much longer.

    At least that’s what I tell myself to keep cheerful as we head down into the dark days of winter. 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

  6. MARK

    I suspect the public won’t put up with it for much longer. At least that’s what I tell myself..

    That’s been my political creed al my life. Hope springs eternal..

    The government’s façade may surely crack, and the men in grey suits or white coats may do for Boris, but the green façade is indestructible – being renewable and eternally recyclable. Who puts up petrol prices if not Big Oil? Coal is the fault of Trump and Xi and the rebellious Poles; gas is the fault of Trump and Putin. Instead of the rationality of energy demand and supply imposing itself on the politics of fantasy, the green fantasy is invading politics, colouring our attitudes to international relations. All the worst warmongering traits of the conservative Atlanticists, with their threats of war against Russia, China, Iran, Venezuela – name any country with fossil fuels to sell – are now supported by the far left. It could turn round in a trice if people get fed up with the green preaching, but who will lead the movement politically? A coalition Government to Keep the Lights On under Lord Lawson and Graham Stringer? We can dream…


  7. Quote: ” The public aren’t as stupid as our politicians and many of those working in the world of the media.”

    If only that were true. The events of the last 17 months or so, and the way people have docilely allowed themselves to be treated during that time, rather puts that assertion in doubt.

    Unless of course we are a nation of sleeping lions, to borrow some mixed-up Churchilian rhetoric.


  8. I disagree Mike. The two situations are different. Hope of the kind Mark and Geoff are discussing is better grounded in that fact. We have enough to contend with in the ‘climate crisis’ case.


  9. Very helpful commentary by Shellenberger, thanks dfhunter. The vast costs of climate activism are already in, even as they scream for more.



    “Soaring gas prices force Nigerians back to using charcoal and firewood”

    People in Nigeria are being left with no choice but to go back to burning charcoal and wood despite its devastating effects on their health and the environment.

    Boris Johnson himself has attributed the climb [in gas prices] to ‘everybody going to put the kettle on at the end of a TV programme’.

    Ironically, Nigeria has a surpless of natural resources. It is Africa’s largest oil producer and has loads of gas reserves.

    But the country does not have the infastructure to take advantage of these things, leaving it to import about 70% of its gas supply.

    No comment from me.


  11. Add a [sic] after the “surpless”. My spelling is getting worse as time goes by. I often recount how I scored 99/100 in a school spelling test. The reason it stayed with me was because the teacher did not believe my score (I talked too much, and he may have believed me but took the opportunity to take me down a peg, which I no doubt deserved). The prize went to someone scoring 96 or something. Anyway, the point is: even though my spelling is getting worse over time, it is still not at “surpless” level.


  12. I have started to ask the “faithful” how long will it be before you start warning about either depletion of rare earths, lithium etc or wailing about the environmental damage caused by extraction and refining – to separate individual rare earths takes a number of very noxious chemicals and processes, for example. What will we do then? Retreat to our Iron Age encampments, I suppose, if English heritage would permit us. I suppose I could also ask what they will use for hair gel, phone cases etc once oil is no longer produced. I never seem to get a reply

    Liked by 2 people

  13. Two months ago when I wrote this, the gas price given by the BBC was £2.34/therm. That was bad enough, up from £0.40/therm a year before.

    Yesterday, according to Trading Economics, the UK natural gas price capped out at £3.59/therm, up from £0.48/therm a year before. (Yes: a 7 fold increase in a year.)

    The question that occurs is: what are the prices in EU and US? From the same website:
    EU: 141.2 Euros/MWh = 141.2 Euros/34 therms = £120/34 therms = £3.53/therm
    US: $3.60/million BTU = $0.36/therm = £0.27/therm

    Unless my maths is off (the different units do not make comparisons elementary), we’re paying 13X as much for our gas as the US is.


  14. Jit says:

    “Unless my maths is off (the different units do not make comparisons elementary), we’re paying 13X as much for our gas as the US is.”

    Yep, it’s the price we’ve paid for letting Gazprom run the anti-fracking campaign.


  15. This is as much fun as watching the covid stats. Today’s price: £3.93/ therm, an 8X increase over a year ago.


  16. Scrapping VAT would have only saved households £90, Sunak says

    The chancellor responds to Labour’s statement, saying that scrapping VAT would have saved only £90 per household, compared with the £150 saving being delivered through council tax.

    He says it is clear that the price rises are caused by global factors. “No British chancellor can change what is going on in Asia or stop a nuclear power plant going offline in Germany,” he says.

    But he says he is proud of the government’s record in helping the most vulnerable.


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