A while back, I picked up on a debate we had with Alex Evans, and particularly the view that weather related disasters in the US and Europe might transform public opinion on climate change. I still take the view that this is unlikely, despite Mayor Bloomberg’s words after Hurricane Sandy slammed into New York earlier this month. I also think that the current flooding in the UK, which is getting worse, is unlikely to have that effect. However, I do think that the floods could have an effect on policy that works through a different route Continue reading
This week DECC officials managed to deliver, at least in part, on David Cameron’s surprise announcement in the commons that the government would legislate to force energy companies to put consumers onto their lowest tariff. As ever, the devil will be in the detail, but on the face of it, reducing the complexity in energy tariffs is a good thing. However, Continue reading
A couple of weeks ago I floated the idea that the state should step back in to the energy retail market and regulate prices. Too radical for mainstream politics? Well apparently the UK public don’t think so. A Populus survey just out shows that 74% of respondents said they would like energy prices regulated by Ofgem.
It is clear that UK climate policy is in somewhat of a crisis at the moment. In the near future I shall be blogging on the sustainability of and threats to the Climate Change Act. But this post takes a different direction. However, there is a link, in the sense that the position of Osborne and others bearing down on strong unilateral UK climate policy is based on the idea that this will be bad for the competitiveness of UK industries. Continue reading
Another winter looming, another crisis about energy bills. The Prime Minister has called for action to force energy companies to provide people with their lowest tariffs, although there is still confusion about what this means. The energy regulator Ofgem has come up with the ideas of more information about alternative tariffs being shown on bills and a maximum of four different tariffs per company (what is a bit odd is why this is only being considered as neccesary now, more than 15 years after the liberalisation of household gas and electricity markets). But this may be the right time for a more fundamental rethink. Continue reading
Will India’s coalition government be the next victim of political backlash against fossil fuel subsidy reform? Last Friday, squeezed by rising oil prices and growing fiscal strain, the Government reduced subsidies on diesel, and prices jumped 14%. The Chief Minister of West Bengal and leader of junior coalition partner in the Congress-led Government has threatened to walk out of the coalition, while more radical voices on both left and right have backed demonstrations and strikes. India’s unrest adds to riots this year in Nigeria, Indonesia and Sudan over subsidy reform.
I have just posted the following as a guest on Duncan Green’s From Poverty to Power blog:
In recent years up to $500 billion a year or more has been spent globally on making high-carbon fuels cheap, with around 40% of that in developing countries, including some of the big emerging economies such as China, India, Indonesia and South Africa.
From a policy perspective, reducing fossil fuel subsidies is a no-brainer. Continue reading