Energy price rise to push poverty deaths 'through the roof'
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Shadow business secretary Jonathan Reynolds argued that the UK should follow Germany’s lead in considering rationing oil and gas while prices soar and the security of supplies has come into question amid the Ukraine war. He said fuel rationing “should be an extreme option,” adding that the UK should be “making those plans and the Government should be preparing”. It comes after the energy price cap rose to £2,000 on April 1 for millions of households, with worrying predictions that this could even skyrocket to £3,000 in October.
But while EU nations like Germany, the Netherlands, and Austria look poised to implement an energy rationing plan, Britain only gets around five percent of its gas from Russia.
The EU, meanwhile, gets 40 percent, making it far more dependent on Russian imports than the UK.
The calls have faced backlash from critics.
@tyglobal tweeted: “Disgraceful response from Labour. Rationing oil and gas is the wrong response.
“They should call to stop the war, increase oil, gas output, build strategic reserves, speed up mini nuclear plants as part of a comprehensive energy security policy.”
Shirley Williamson said: “Bluster and more bluster…now you’re calling for energy rationing, how forward-thinking. Back to the bad old days of power cuts. Typical Labour, nothing but negativity.”
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps also poured cold water on Labour’s plan, saying that he “can” completely rule out energy rationing as a response to the energy crisis.
He said: “We don’t see rationing being part of our approach to this, and nor should it be.”
Instead, Mr Shapps proposed ramping up offshore wind capacity, although appeared to backtrack on the target of doubling the amount of onshore wind power in the UK by 2030.
This also comes as Prime Minister Boris Johnson is poised to announce a new energy strategy in the coming days amid soaring bills and the desire to slash remaining links with Russia.
While the UK does only get five percent of its gas from Russia, bills are still soaring due to the integrated nature of the gas market.
The UK has pledged to phase out Russian oil imports by the end of the year to sanction Vladimir Putin’s energy sector.
A number of figures, including the Net Zero Scrutiny Group (NZSG), has called for Britain to access its domestic reserves as a means to work around the crisis.
The group, which consists of Conservative MPs, has called on the Government to lift the 2019 ban on fracking so Britain can access its shale gas reserves.
The practice, which involves recovering gas and oil from shale rock was banned after opposition from environmental campaigners and an incomplete report about earth tremors by the Oil and Gas Authority.
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Craig Mackinlay MP, head of the NZSG, said: “It’s coming to the fore again as to whether the moratorium should remain in place and whether it’s at all fair that the shale gas industry has to comply with a 0.5 on the Richter scale limit.
“We seem perfectly happy to accept shale gas from the US, but don’t seem to want to go up that route ourselves.
“And at a time of intense energy insecurity, which was there before but now obviously with the Russia-Ukraine war it’s really showing itself, I think perhaps we need to just have a look at this again.”
Now, a ban on a fracking company that was ordered to seal up two shale gas reserves in Lancashire has been lifted.
And Mr Johnson has indicated that the new energy strategy will involve accessing domestic reserves.
He said: “We have got to reflect the reality that there is a crunch on at the moment.”
Another way in which Britain could boost its domestic supplies, it has been argued, is to open up the Cambo oil field in the North Sea.
It comes after oil giant Shell paused work off the west coast of Shetland in December after admitting the economic case for the investment was “not strong enough”.
Some have tipped Shell to U-turn on that.
But Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said that the plan will not be given the green light as climate change targets and reaching net zero have to take priority.
Labour leader Keir Starmer has also said he is against it, calling on Mr Johnson to “say no to Cambo” after COP26.
He added: “It has never made sense for the Government to be flirting with a new coal mine or to green light the Cambo Oil field. Will he rewrite the planning framework to rule out coal? And will he now say no to Cambo?”
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