No, I’m not referring to the song by Lou Reed and the Velvet Undergroundi, but to this:

Energy supply and investment inquiry launched by Economic Affairs Committeeii.

Despite the prosaic nature of the inquiry’s title, it offers up a vanishingly small hope that maybe – just maybe – some Parliamentarians are starting to wake up to the realities of current geopolitical developments, especially in the context of the UK’s energy security.

Unfortunately, Rome wasn’t built in a day, and “net zero” remains a preoccupation – perhaps even a fixation – of politicians, who seem to be unaware that their three main policy aims are mutually incompatible:

The Committee wishes to assess whether the Government’s energy strategy is delivering investment in an energy supply that is resilient, affordable and in line with achieving net zero emissions. The focus of this inquiry is on long-term energy policy and trends in the energy market.

As things stand, it seems to me that resilience has been well and truly stuffed by an obsession with unreliable renewable energy, and a requirement to virtue signal, which has seen us importing fossil fuels rather than using our own. Affordability has fallen at the same hurdle. If we want resilience and affordability, then the third part of the formula (net zero) will have to be dropped.

The Chair of the Economic Affairs Committee is Lord Bridges of Headley. His Wikipedia entryiii doesn’t tell us much other than that he comes from what to most people would be a very privileged background (educated at Rokeby Preparatory School, Eton and Oxford University) and that he seems to be a career politician whose career to date apparently peaked at the exalted heights of Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Department for Exiting the European Union. He is one of 243 life peers created by David Cameroniv.

The Parliamentary website introducing the Committe Inquiry to us offers up a quote from Lord Bridges which, to be honest, doesn’t fill me with confidence:

Our prosperity and growth depend in part on access to secure and affordable energy. Recent energy price rises show just how important this [is] for every home and business. As we make the transition to net zero, it is therefore critical that the Government’s energy strategy secures sufficient investment in our energy supply, so that it is reliable, affordable and in line with achieving net zero ambitions. This inquiry will examine these long term challenges and opportunities; the Government’s strategy; and the role that financial services and their regulators are playing in the transition.

Still, apparently, absolutely no recognition of the futility of net zero targets given the behaviour of major players like India, Russia and China. Still, self-evidently, absolutely no recognition that net zero targets are an obstacle in the way of reliable and affordable energy supply in the UK.

I’m a bit late in bringing the Inquiry to readers’ attention, since it seems to have been launched on 10th February 2022. I am, however, underwhelmed by the fact that just 29 days have been allowed for the submission of written evidence, with the deadline being 11th March 2022. If you want to make a submission to try to persuade our political leaders that they need to wake up to reality, and that the world has changed in the last ten days, then you’d better get your skates on.

Postscript

The Committee poses nine questions. Given Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, an event which took place after the Inquiry was announced, the submissions in response to the third question should be a bit more robust and pointed than might have been anticipated. Here’s question three:

What are the main international and geopolitical factors and risks affecting the security and affordability of the UK’s energy supply? How should the Government work with international partners on energy policy and respond to greater international competition for energy supply?

Three of the Committee’s questions explicitly refer to net zero (though without querying the validity or wisdom of the policy). One refers to “reduc[ing] demand for energy”.The Parliamentary website page introducing the Inquiry has a picture of an offshore wind farm as its header.

Beginning to see the light? Perhaps not. It’s a bit difficult to see the light when you’re wearing a blindfold.

Endnotes

i From their third album, also called “The Velvet Underground”.

ii https://committees.parliament.uk/committee/175/economic-affairs-committee/news/160936/energy-supply-and-investment-inquiry-launched-by-economic-affairs-committee/

iii https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Bridges%2C_Baron_Bridges_of_Headley

iv https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Life_peer

3 Comments

  1. As we make the transition to net zero

    As long as everything else is predicated on this, then everything else will necessarily be rainbows and unicorns. The plan does not have to be deliverable – it does not even have to be plausible. All that matters is that there is an answer that will defer the inevitable collision with reality. “We’ll have 190 GW of wind power,” for example. Unfortunately this is like promising to develop the capacity for flight, while sitting on a branch and progressively sawing through it.

    A stronger technology would displace a weaker naturally. A weaker technology can only displace a stronger by the dictates of stupid government, and will win and win right up until the branch snaps.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. I’m sorry to sound like a stuck record, but my background colours the way I think about these things. Consequently, the best I can offer here is to repeat what I said in my most recent article. Amongst the many basic risk management errors that are being made, there is the following:

    “A failure to understand that the robust decision is not the one that leads to the greatest reduction in risk, it will be the one that remains valid for the widest range of possible futures. It is all about minimising the regret function and, in this regard, it is sometimes the sufficient that is more important than the optimal.”

    There is no sign that the UK government has adopted the concept of robust decision making. Had they done so, we would not now be seeing the regret function skyrocketing in the face of the Ukraine invasion. Even now, the only regret in the minds of the likes of Lord Bridges of Headley is that we cannot achieve net zero by teatime.

    Liked by 1 person

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