The government has been accused of “incoherence” and “missed opportunities” in its Energy Security Strategy, by environmentalists who say it contradicts climate targets and overlooks cheaper, greener and faster alternatives.

Policy experts, scientists, fuel poverty groups and campaigners have all picked out energy efficiency as the “missing piece” of the plans, with many pointing to the fact the cheapest, greenest form of energy is that which is currently wasted.

Tessa Khan, director of campaign group Uplift, described the plans as a “betrayal of the millions of families across the UK… being pushed to the brink” by the cost of living crisis.

Government advisers on the Climate Change Committee called it “disappointing”, but acknowledged difficulties in implementing policy quickly.

Britain’s homes are among the worst insulated in Europe, and improving them would both warm homes and lower bills.

The government says its “bold strategy” will drive down bills in the long term, and energy secretary Kwasi Kwarteng today told Sky News the strategy was “more of a medium-term three, four, five year answer”.

Boris Johnson pledges to ‘do more’ on cost of living crisis as he defends energy strategy

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Chancellor Rishi Sunak had reportedly blocked an extension of energy efficiency schemes in an attempt to stick to his spending agreements.

So the strategy’s core focus on expanding nuclear power, which is slow and one of the most expensive forms of energy by far, raised some eyebrows.

By prioritising technologies that will deliver for several years, the government has “both failed to meet the moment, and failed to read the mood of the nation,” said Juliet Phillips from thinktank E3G.

The strategy was launched just after Russia invaded Ukraine, but it is not expected to rid the UK of the 4% of gas it gets from Russia for at least this year.

According to Ed Matthew, from green think tank E3G, the plan unveiled today “isn’t an energy security strategy… it is a national security threat and the person who will be happiest with it is Vladimir Putin.”

The government says the plans will reduce Britain’s “exposure to volatile international prices” and “increase self-reliance”. It had already planned to hand 28m households up to £350 in a bill rebate package, and offer some homes £150 back from council tax.

North Sea oil and gas

North Sea oil and gas production is set to increase, on the grounds it would increase energy security and lower the carbon footprint compared with imports.

Conservative Environment Network member David Duguid, MP for Banff and Buchan, said the energy crisis “underlines why we must continue to support investment in our North Sea oil and gas sector to reduce our reliance on imports”.

But the fuels from new sites would take several to tens of years to come on stream, and be sold on international markets to the highest bidder, thus “doing nothing” to improve the cost of living, Dr Simon Cran-McGreehin from energy think tank ECIU told Sky News.

The strategy was revealed days after the United Nations called it “moral and economic madness” to invest in new fossil fuel infrastructure, as its landmark report warned oil and gas projects were likely to become stranded assets by around 2050.

The problem is, according to report author Prof Michael Grubb UCL, that the “incoherent” strategy “doesn’t know what problem it is trying to solve – and thus fails to solve any”.

‘Cowardly failure’

Meanwhile, increased targets for offshore wind and solar power generation – in attempt to get 95% of electricity from domestic low-carbon sources by 2030 – have been widely welcomed.

Existing renewable energy sources have already somewhat sheltered consumers from bill increases driven by the gas crisis.

The aim to double low carbon hydrogen was also broadly hailed as a positive step.

“The UK will need green hydrogen to decarbonise sectors that are difficult to electrify including heavy transport, heating and industry,” said Prof Peter Childs from the Energy Futures Lab at Imperial College London.

He welcomed the step, “given that green hydrogen can be produced using wind, solar and tidal power, all of which are in ample supply in the UK”.

However, the government held back on onshore wind, which is far cheaper and quicker than offshore and has enjoyed improving public support, committing only to consult on “developing partnerships with a limited number of supportive communities” that wish to host wind farms in return for cheaper bills.

Prof Grubb said onshore wind was the “most stunning and cowardly failure in the Strategy”.


Commissioning an “impartial” review of fracking for shale gas has infuriated some campaigners, who point to the small amounts stored in British soils, the risk of tremors, and the fact it would be sold on international markets anyway.

The phrase “Lancashire is not Texas” has emerged, referring to the UK’s limited supply and the fact sites would be very close to towns, with the process very unpopular among members of the public.

But the review may have been intended simply to appease the small but vocal group of around 18 MPs from the right of the Conservative party, who have been urging the government to reconsider the current moratorium on fracking.

The review “does look a bit like looking into the long grass,” said Dr Simon Cran-McGreehin.

But “it just doesn’t make economic sense, it’s remarkably unpopular with the public… it would not work the same in the UK as it has in the US. I just don’t understand the logic of people who support fracking.

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