Conservative Diary

« Gove considering voucherisation of education funding, with headteachers running school budgets | Main | Labour moves ahead in YouGov poll and disapproval of Coalition's performance reaches 47% »

Chris Huhne should worry about warming gran's house, he can't do anything about global warming

Tim Montgomerie

"If ministers are shrewd they will send a message to the energy giants this winter that it is time for the rip-off to end."

So screams The Independent, this morning. The Daily Mail isn't far behind:

"British Gas argues the wholesale price of energy is rising (though only slightly, and it is still only around half its 2008 peak). But customers will note that the company made £585million in the first six months of 2010 — up by 98% on the same period last year. Of course, in tough conditions, a British company recording such healthy profits should be applauded. However, these must not be achieved on the back of customers who are already suffering their own economic hardships."

I don't want to get into the rights and wrongs of British Gas' pricing policy (Mike Denham at Burning Our Money does a good job of that) but I do want to say that it's important that the government doesn't make energy inflation worse.

1992double_whammy Remember the 1992 'double whammy' poster? Well, we're back to an era where taxes (eg VAT) and prices are heading upwards. Higher mortgage repayments are likely soon, too, making it a triple whammy. The economic crash - long academic for those in work - is about to become real.

The Coalition must mothball all green policies that are likely to raise energy prices. Matthew Sinclair of the TaxPayers' Alliance has documented the ways in which higher energy prices are regressive, disproportionately falling on the poor, the elderly, the north, and manufacturing industry. High energy prices could, otherwise, become a big political issue (although, as with the EU and prisons policy, all major parties have the same declared worldview).

By massive margins, Tory members have long believed that energy prices, not climate change, will be voters' top priority. They have been vindicated. There is going to be no progress on combating climate change for the foreseeable future. The climate change lobby was badly wounded at Copenhagen, late last year. Last week, because of the US mid-terms and the election of a sceptical Republican Congress, the lobby is close to death. Yes, we should continue to do green things that have other benefits (eg energy conservation). Yes, we should invest in clean technologies (but Dalibor Rohac sounds a warning on this). But no, we should not be doing anything that pointlessly hurts energy consumers, handicaps UK manufacturing and which does nothing to stop China, India and other energy-poor countries from increasing the world's carbon footprint.

We need to do what Lord Lawson has long recommended. Get richer so we can afford to adapt. A richer world can then afford to invest in resilence against extreme weather events. In the meantime Chris Huhne should we worried about warming Aunt Mabel's house. He can't do anything about global warming.


You must be logged in using Intense Debate, Wordpress, Twitter or Facebook to comment.