Subsidising Global Warming

We hear much about the large subsidies paid for renewable energy. In Many countries a feed in tariff system have been developed to subsidise the production of electricity from photovoltaic panels and large subsidies are paid to landowners and electricity generators who install wind turbines. Both PV and wind turbines do produce electricity but what they produce cannot be stored easily and the production is intermittent. Nevertheless governments, who regard energy as electricity, are happy to spend taxpayers’ money on these measures, rather than on measures, such as solar water heating, which can produce renewable heat at a cheap cost; unlike electricity heat can be stored.

Subsidies come in different guises. In essence any measure or favourable tax treatment which distorts the market or provides an un-level playing field is a subsidy. The Overseas Development Institute thinks that as a whole the governments of the world spend half a trillion dollars in subsidising…fossil fuel! Continue reading

a budget that will harm the environment and those who need to live in it

George Osborne made his annual budget statement in the House of Commons yesterday on the equinox. Days will get longer from now on but following the budget i doubt if they will get brighter.  These are difficult economic times, but they are also difficult times for the environment. While trying to remedy the difficult economy Mr Osborne has taken the opportunity to completely ignore that part of the economy which centres on renewable energy.

While there is less tax to pay for petrol and diesel and various subsidies for fracking shale gas and for EDF’s proposed nuclear power plant at Hinckley (these subsidies being disguised as incentives or contracts) there was nothing for the environment; Mr Osborne’s comment that he would continue to support the Carbon Capture and Storage experimentation was just more of the same, pretending to be a new measure.

The most worrying comment was that “I want Britain to tap into new sources of low cost energy like shale gas. Shale gas is part of the future. And we will make it happen.”

He will be rudely awoken in due course. In Britain shale gas will not be a source of low cost energy. It will be a source of high cost energy, notwithstanding that the shale gas companies will get very generous tax breaks which those in renewable energy can only dream of.

Once again short term takes precedence over the long term, and our descendants will be left to clear up the mess, if they can. It is a budget that will harm the environment and those who need to live in it.