Fixing the energy market – an update

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.

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Competitiveness and carbon – is it time to engage with trade policy?

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

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If it’s broke, fix it…

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

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Fossil fuel subsidy cut backlash in India

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.

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The politics of fossil fuel 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

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Populism update

Think about the populist anti-politics vote and suddenly it’s everywhere – in the UK, across Europe, and currently very much in France. Not always linked to climate scepticism, but sometimes very strongly so, and not going away soon.

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Why does the UK find it so hard to develop CCS?

Last week the UK Energy Research Council  produced a big report on the route to a demonstration of carbon capture and storage (coordinated by my Sussex colleague Jim Watson), informed by past experience of stimulating innovation in similar types of large scale energy engineering technology. In theory, Continue reading

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