Russian sanctions have created energy dilemmas for UK

The dangers represented by climate change across the world have not gone away.

Some might believe they had, listening to people talking about the energy crisis in light of the Ukraine war.

The need to sanction the country that much of the world, including the UK, has become at least partially dependent on for energy, Russia, has created dilemmas.

The Government’s answer appears to be to move from dependency on one pariah state to another, Saudi Arabia, for oil supplies.

But the framing of the debate is telling. In one news program the opening question was can the UK continue with its goal of hitting zero carbon emissions by 2050 when faced with energy security issues?

This betrays that the destruction of the climate remains a back burner issue, something that can be dealt with when affordable and convenient.

Arguably had successive governments over the past ten years not so systematically undermined efforts to roll out comprehensive renewable energy solutions, the UK would have less dependency and more energy security.

The phasing out of the Feed in Tariff scheme, brought in by the last Labour government, which made individual houses into micro generators via the panels on their roofs is a case in point.

Not that everything the present government has done in this area is bad. The commitments on phasing out fossil fuel supplied vehicles and gas boilers are admirable. Though whether the targets of the next ten years are achievable depends on priority and resourcing.

The real issue is whether such solutions are viewed as part of the energy security equation or a luxury that can be continually delayed.

In a perverse sort of way, the effects of the war in Ukraine in pushing up fuel prices can lead to more people switching to electric vehicles, heat pumps and solar and photovoltaic panel systems.

The problem will be that without a mobilisation of wealth and support from government to make these switches possible for everyone, rather than just the wealthy few, the contribution will continue to be minimal.

So the present crisis raises many issues leading to greater dependence on pariah states like Saudi Arabia. Or a crisis that provides an opportunity to accelerate cleaner more renewable ways of living.

It will be interesting to see what direction the country takes – the future of the planet could depend on it.

Paul Donovan is a Redbridge Labour councillor for Wanstead village and blogger. See

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