Costing the earth?


This week, as we all know, sees the start of an increase in all our domestic energy bills to join the increases we have already seen in petrol, diesel and our daily and weekly shopping and, of course, the totally unnecessary increase in national insurance.

We are told that all this is due to a) covering the costs of Covid, b) the world waking up after Covid and c) the Russo-Ukraine war.

A lot of this may indeed be correct: the country’s economy certainly suffered a downturn during the pandemic and the chancellor had to borrow monumental amounts of money which has to be repaid. With industry getting back into its stride, demand for energy and raw materials begins to increase and as everything depends, to a greater or lesser degree on energy for manufacturing or processing or transport, increased costs here are reflected in almost everything we buy or use.

But does this have to be the case? Do we have to be paying through the nose to fill up our cars, heat our homes or cook our food? The answer surely is no.

In this country we are fortunate enough to have abundant supplies of the raw material for our energy requirements. In addition to the increasing number and size of wind farms around our coast, those same waters contain more than enough oil and gas to supply all our needs until carbon neutral energy sources can replace them.

I know that the green lobby will throw up their hands in horror at the thought of using even an ounce more oil or natural gas and they would prefer us all to travel no further than we can walk, live in unheated homes and dress in clothes made from grass, but unlike them, most of us have to live a rather more practical life.

Of course the ‘zero carbon’ target is a good target to have and we should certainly pursue it, but not to the point where the less well off in our society are deprived of the basic essentials of life. Carbon emissions from the UK are reducing, and increasing technology in carbon capture and the way fossil fuels are used will accelerate this. We CAN afford to extract more from the North Sea or from fracking (and, no, we are not going to suffer from earthquakes – fracking technology, too, is evolving) in the short term without accelerating global warming and while we develop greener power sources (including nuclear) to take over in due course.

This would also bring down costs. If we, as a country, are producing more fuel than we need, open market prices will reduce, and why should we in the UK then pay open market prices anyway? What is wrong with having one price for home consumption and another for everyone else? With increased production the chancellor could also reduce the amount of tax per unit of gas or oil and still increase his overall revenue. And not reduce just by the insulting 5p per litre of petrol (for which we are all supposed to be so grateful).

Nor, in this price spiral, must we forget the effect of the war in Ukraine. That country is a major supplier of the world’s wheat and sunflower seeds and therefore sunflower oil. The harvest for the coming year, and possibly the next two years, is going to be dramatically reduced (tanks, mines and artillery tend not to mix well with growing crops), so the price of many staples will rise further. The poor, both here and elsewhere in the world, will, as always, feel it most, while the comfortably-off, green-virtue-signalling chattering classes will see little effect on their lives.

Target a greener world, certainly, but right now let’s concentrate on the immediate problem of allowing people to be able to afford to provide for themselves and their families.

Image Credits: Annie Dawkins .

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  1. I do not agree with much of this article but it is largely a sensible and realistic article so it is very sad to read the cheap and nasty shot at the green lobby in paragraph 6. If we had listened to them 30 years ago we would not be in this mess now.

  2. Thanks to Tony Blair and his Labour government who put all his eggs in one basket on wind farms and solar, and forced us off the gas to nuclear energy, this has left us dependent on these unreliable sources, fracking is the way forward, sadly the Nimbys around us will not agree,they will be the first to moan,when our light’s go out.

    • Funny how this government has continued with the green policy for the past 12 years? No government has ever had a proper energy policy or strategy. Perhaps if Thatcher hadn’t sold off all the utilities and energy suppliers we’d have something that resembles an energy strategy. Only now this government are clutching at nuclear power which will take 20 years to agree. develop and build before a watt is generated.

    • Far from ‘all his [Tony Blair’s] eggs in one basket’, Mr Tolhurst rapidly reels off three different ‘eggs’ in quick succession – wind farms, solar and nuclear. That sounds like the beginnings of a rounded and diverse national energy policy.

    • John, you are spreading false news here. You always have an axe to grind with Labour or people who supported remaining in the EU but it would be more useful to look at facts rather than fantasies. Please keep in mind the Conservatives have been in full control of the country for over a decade. Our energy and environmental crisis needs to be much better addressed by the current party in power. They have failed us tremendously in regards to lack of energy planning. This country has no energy policy. None. We desperately need an increase in wind turbines on and off shore ( double the current site in Kent for starters). Turbines come in all shapes and sizes and there are so many different options we should be considering. Require, as Germany does, that all new builds have solar panels, for example. Continue the ban on fracking, a disastrous way of creating new energy. And yes, possibly but temporarily increase oil and gas production until more environmentally safer energy sources can fill the gap. But, keep in mind, the more we use fossil fuels the more we are limiting the options future generations will have. There needs to be cross party consensus on how the UK will respond to the crisis we are in. It’s an emergency and if we care at all for those being born this year and in the years to come, we all have to act now.

  3. No mention here of quicker / easier / less intrusive approach to Energy Security.

    1. National Programme to insulate homes.
    2. Solar panels installed on all new builds.

    These offer quicker short term solutions to a crisis that is here now.

  4. I do agree with much of this article. It’s time we applied some common sense to the supply of energy in this country. The more oil and gas we extract from our own sources, the less we have to import from far away countries at considerable environmental cost. Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) has to be refrigerated at its port of departure (the Middle East or America), transported a considerable distance and then reheated at its port of arrival – it’s too cold to be allowed to warm up on its own since the vessel would be port-bound for ages.

    The average emission intensity kgCO2e/boe (Barrels of Oil Equivalent) for domestic gas production is 22kg; for pipeline it is 18kg and for LNG it is 59kg, roughly three times domestic production. (www,

  5. If we do as Johns Minter and Tolhurst suggest, we retain our position as fossil fuel addicts. Do they and others not realise this will destroy us and everything around us on our planet? Have they not noticed the effects of global warming, caused by the release of Co2? The Government’s so-called new energy policy, published yesterday, does not give any quick answers to our current problems. The obvious solution is to encourage us to insulate our homes and workplaces to save energy and reduce our bills. How many times does this have to be said, as it is a win win for all concerned?

  6. “I know that the green lobby will throw up their hands in horror at the thought of using even an ounce more oil or natural gas and they would prefer us all to travel no further than we can walk, live in unheated homes and dress in clothes made from grass, but unlike them, most of us have to live a rather more practical life . . . right now let’s concentrate on the immediate problem of allowing people to be able to afford to provide for themselves and their families.”

    Concentrating on the immediate problem *is* the problem. We’re throwing our children’s and grandchildren’s future under the bus so that we can live comfortably now. Dressing it up as concern for low-income families doesn’t fool anyone. All I’m hearing is a plea to keep plundering the earth so we can continue to have cheap food, 2+ cars per household, low energy bills, holidays in the sun, and lots of shiny new things.

  7. So many reasons not to further the destroy the planet and line the pockets of fuel company directors, politicians, bankers, decision makers who have a vested interest in keeping fossil fuels going.
    I am not sure where John sourced his information – my following points are taken from Friends of the Earth (yes green lobby!)

    There are already more than 200 oil and gas fields in the North sea operating close to capacity so limited potential to increase oil and gas production from existing fields.
    Opening new oil and gas fields is an incredibly slow process. As well as the damage it wreaks on the planet a newly discovered field takes 28 years on average to start producing gas and oil – so only likely to start extracting around 2050, the year the UK has pledged to reach zero carbon emissions. Oil and gas in UK and Wales are owned by companies, not the UK, who can sell to the highest bidder – so increased production won’t significantly impact on our energy bills. Most fields contain oil rather than gas and as we export 80% of our oil there is little demand from British refineries.

    Insulating a home can reduce gas consumption by 20% – we need a plan to insulate millions of homes in the next few years. We need to protect people from soaring energy bills by introducing a windfall tax on oil and gas companies that have profited hugely from the crisis.
    We need to ramp up renewable energy capacity in the UK which would also reduce our gas consumption and imports. There are over 600 wind and solar projects in the UK that already have planning permission, so could be built quickly.

    I agree with Jane’s comment we have to greatly reduce stuff, flying etc…..we can’t maintain the status quo.
    And …why are we still installing gas central heating? – only to be ripped out soon. Homes still being built with inadequate insulation. Massive rooves on industrial estates etc without solar panels. We have known about climate change for years and yet we are clinging on to the old ways that clearly aren’t working….

  8. One has to smile at the green lobby,how many have been causing mayham on our roads and at petrol depots,how many arrived at these places by transport, how many have cars, how many have gas cental heating,and others have polluting wood burners,and how many fly abroad for their holidays, this government has worked hard to combat the carbon footprint, how many other countries can say the same, we all wish our children and grandchildren a healthy future, but wind farms will not keep the lights on,when the wind is not blowing, or solar panels working, when the sun doesn’t shine,sadly the hypocritical blame game from some,has reached no bounds, and yes successive governments have been too slow to react,but the only answer for the future if fossil fuels are ruled out, is hydro electric, as we are surrounded by the sea, but of course that will not suit some, who will the first too shout,when the lights go out.

  9. “How many have been causing mayham on our roads and at petrol depots,how many arrived at these places by transport, how many have cars, how many have gas cental heating,and others have polluting wood burners,and how many fly abroad for their holidays…”
    I give up, how many, John?
    Stereotyping a class of people and imputing a behaviour that appeals to our prejudices never moves the conversation forward very much.
    So many excellent points have been made, I’d just add a couple. Fracking isn’t a quick fix for the immediate problems. Not only are you looking at a decade of drilling before we even start production, the gas then has to be sold at market prices. The real answer is not how to get more, but how to use less.
    If the glaringly obvious imperative of global warming weren’t enough to put us off gas and oil, let’s look at the regimes peddling fossil fuels and ask, do we really want to be beholden to them?
    Look at the cost of the petro-wars and conflicts since the 1940s and 50s all the way to the present day. Millions of deaths, trillions and trillions of dollars, displacement, migration, terrorism, injustice… And that’s before you even consider the environmental impact… I dare say we’ll be competing over rare metals and other commodities in coming years, but oil really was a poisonous substance.

  10. Of course we are all experts on here regarding green matters and climate change, quick fixes regarding wind turbines that when need replacing in 20 to 30 years time, will end up in landfill, as these toxin composite cannot be recycled, plus these turbine blades kill thousands of birds each year. Enough Said.

      • Cats kill between 27 and 55 million birds annually in the UK, according to the RSPB and BBC Science Focus.

        Wind farms kill between 10,000 and 100,000 birds each year.

        I think I’d have to vote for more wind farms and fewer cats.

        • Mr Wilson’s figures need some context.
          On the RSPB website from a page titled “How Many Birds do Cats Kill”, the same page where the 27 million estimate appears (which comes from the Mammal Society and not the RSPB) the RSPB go on to state:
          “Despite the large numbers of birds killed by cats in gardens, there is no clear scientific evidence that such mortality is causing bird populations to decline. This may be surprising, but many millions of birds die naturally every year, mainly through starvation, disease or other forms of predation. There is evidence that cats tend to take weak or sickly birds.”
          “It is likely that most of the birds killed by cats would have died anyway from other causes before the next breeding season, so cats are unlikely to have a major impact on populations. If their predation was additional to these other causes of mortality, this might have a serious impact on bird populations.”
          Of course cats do kill birds, but it’s not the damning statistic it may appear.

  11. Interesting opinions, diverse which is good, Jane M. Well put points as some others but my point is: Words and images they bring up are very important like ‘war’ is happening in Ukraine
    Can we please say what is really happening in Ukraine. It is not two warring countries, it is an agressive invasion by Russia, unprovoked into another peaceful country which is trying to defend itself.
    It may be unimportant in the scheme of things, future existence of people and the earth but Words in the media are important none the less.

  12. One has to smile at Paul Camics comments that I hate the labour party, and the Remainers, who voted to stay in their beloved European Union, if only the other parties had not reneged on their promises, to all honour the referendum result, perphaps they would not have been Annihilated at the last general election, and by the way Paul I was an avid Labour supporter for years, until Comrade Corbyn ruined a party,that was good opposition, to whoever was in Government, as for the horrible wind turbines, that blot the Rye landscape,and will eventually end up in landfill, surely hydro power is the way forward, as our little island is surrounded by the sea.

    • The referendum vote was honoured and we’ve left the EU. Starmer there is no possibility of little England rejoining, as if the EU want us anyway. It’s a new dawn of hope with trade deals around the world isn’t it ? We have Rees-Mogg looking into the benefits of Brexit, the only one he seems to favour is reintroducing the the imperial unit system.

      I’m not really sure what your point is other than recommending hydro power and continually going on about Jeremy Corbyn. As for energy, the only options is build Nuclear Power stations which this government supports and why the French are only having a small rise in energy bills.


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