A secure UK gas supply is meaningless, minister, if no one can pay their bills | Gas

At first glance, the government’s much-delayed attempt to break Britain’s decades of reliance on gas heating is at the right time as the nation prepares for a winter energy crisis.

Within months, the gas supply crisis is expected to plunge hundreds of thousands of households into fuel poverty for the first time, result in dozen of energy utilities going bust, shutting down factories and breaking the economy as the UK seeks a post-pandemic recovery. As a leading company in the energy industry put it last month: “There is really no part of the current energy crisis that would not be better if we were less dependent on fossil fuels.”

It is therefore welcome news that ministers can come up with plans this week for a system that will pay households to scrap their gas boilers in favor of a low-carbon alternative as part of the long-awaited “heat and buildings”. Climate strategy.

The program, which reportedly could offer £ 5,000 to households ready to shake off their dependence on fossil fuels, could prove an enticing prospect for homes currently experiencing one of the steepest rises in energy costs in the gas market due to record highs Winters are facing across the globe.

It is certainly an attractive opportunity for government ministers in the weeks leading up to the Cop26 climate talks, after a series of deeply unhelpful climate policy mistakes that threaten to undermine the UK’s credibility as a host.

In addition to plans to develop hydrogen as an alternative to fossil fuels for heavy industry and transportation, the latest strategy would reduce overall UK demand for gas, which in turn would mean that future market prices for it are unlikely to hit recent highs and would have less of an impact on the economy even if they did.

But make no mistake: the die has been cast for the coming winter. Scrapping gas boilers can help prevent this winter’s impending energy crisis from recurring in the medium to long term, but it will be cold consolation for households on tight budgets or the troubled energy companies struggling to stay afloat since they will deliver the breathtakingly expensive gas and electricity in the next few months.

In the short term, the government will appear to be relying on stupid luck. Economy Minister Kwasi Kwarteng told energy companies last week to welcome early proposals from the Met Office that the coming winter could be a milder one. He later denied that the plan was keeping fingers crossed for the government, but the comment nonetheless underscores their deliberately dull approach to the crisis.

A mild winter would certainly help, but only to prevent energy market prices from escalating further. It would do little to reduce the current market price for gas, which is more than six times what it was last year at this time.

Kwarteng has also insisted that the government’s energy price cap will protect homes from the worst of the rise in energy bills and that the economy will continue to have a secure supply of gas and electricity. These claims are true – but only if you ignore the issue of affordability, a luxury denied to most in the country.

There may be a cap to keep households out of greed and enough gas molecules to get into the pipelines to meet needs, but if you can’t afford to pay your bills, the gas is as good as unavailable. The government’s move to secure the country’s energy future is laudable, albeit belated. But ignoring the pressing concerns of this developing crisis is complacency at worst.

The government evades the high wage principle on the first turn

One of the few arguments in favor of Brexit that convinced progressives was that the lowest paid could benefit from it; that too many UK workers had underwent wages for the benefit of employers. The Prime Minister has understood this in the last few weeks when the truck driver shortage emptied the shelves and petrol stations ran empty. Boris Johnson, who despised seriously addressing the crises he led, insisted that wage increases for drivers would be a good thing.

However, the government’s decision to relax cabotage rules for foreign hauliers suggests that this principle demonstration was hardly worth a festive pig in the blanket. After the extension of the legal driving times, the easing of the test requirements and the issuing of temporary visas, the government has committed itself to cabotage – so foreign companies can undertake additional deliveries abroad.

These rules were already a minor defeat in the transitional agreement: Great Britain had admitted that its hauliers were only given one additional job abroad, compared to two for EU trucks delivering to Great Britain. Now major European hauliers can send their drivers on unlimited additional deliveries within two weeks.

Freight forwarding associations here and in Europe are clear who will benefit from this: multinational corporations that have campaigned for change and are already tying down cheap labor from the eastern fringes of the EU to work in the West at the lowest statutory wages and under poor conditions.

Here, too, Brexit has not leveled the playing field: in fact, it has hampered the competitiveness of British companies and burdens them with bureaucracy. And now the ministers are opening the game to those who play with different rules. As a knee-jerk reaction to the driver shortage, it’s not edifying; If it stays that way, it suggests that Brexit was not harsh, but permeable – and completely self-destructive.

It’s scary how much good Frankenfoods will do for all of us

The climate agenda these days focuses on electric cars and renewable energy, but what about the food we eat? Global food production is responsible for a third of all greenhouse gases emitted by human activity, with animals raised for meat causing twice the pollution than the production of plant-based foods.

Meat and dairy substitute sales are booming in the UK as consumers prefer vegan burgers with bleeding and no chicken nuggets. The latest trend is fake fish, with KitKat maker Nestlé adding Vrimp – essentially a shrimp with no shrimp – to a pantry that already contains Vuna (a substitute for tuna) as well as alternative meats.

At the launch earlier this month, Nestlé CEO Mark Schneider said the company hit peak carbon a few years ago and is now on its way down. The main challenge in reducing the environmental damage it causes is greenhouse gas emissions from agricultural raw materials, including beef and dairy products, which are found in their products and account for two thirds of the total.

It is estimated that a group of around 10 food companies and retailers, including Nestlé, have a profound impact on around 40% of Europe’s agricultural land. A shift towards selling more plant-based foods can only be good news.

With their crazy-sounding names and sometimes crazy ingredients, alternative meat and dairy products can be written off as “Frankenfoods” – in fact there are ultra-processed and high-calorie examples – but it’s also an area filled with startups working hard to create tasty alternatives to your favorite meats – or to create a fish dish.

Schneider: “If everyone out there has changed their diet a bit – enjoy your steak when it is really important to you, but opt ​​for the plant-based alternative if you are just as well – then when I think we already have it We are doing our health and the environment a huge favor. “

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