Sunday, 6 March 2011

Oil prices: Steps needed to wean UK onto other energy sources

The Guardian has a story underlining the seemingly radical influence of recent events affecting the globally-interconnected oil economy on UK government policy (as an exemplar, no doubt, amongst many other developed economies' policies):
As Middle East conflicts cause oil prices to rise dramatically, government spells out plans for radical energy shift

Ministers will be ordered to adopt urgent measures to wean the country off oil, amid rising concern that the Libya crisis has left the economy exposed to a dramatic rise in fuel prices.

With fears growing that the cost of petrol could hit £2 a litre if instability in the Middle East persists and deepens, every government department will be told this week to comply with a new national "carbon plan" aimed specifically at "getting off the oil hook".

The energy secretary, Chris Huhne, told the Observer that the UK had no option but to speed up efforts to move away from oil. "Getting off the oil hook is made all the more urgent by the crisis in the Middle East. We cannot afford to go on relying on such a volatile source of energy when we can have clean, green and secure energy from low-carbon sources," he said. "The carbon plan is about ensuring that the whole of government is engaged in a joined-up effort to lead us into a low-carbon world."

The transport secretary, Philip Hammond, who has infuriated green groups by floating the idea of raising the motorway speed limit from 70mph to 80mph, will be told he must produce a nationwide strategy to promote installation of infrastructure for electric cars by June.

It is also expected that new deadlines will be set for building low-carbon homes, and that a firm starting date of September 2012 will be established for a new "green investment bank" to become fully operational.

The Carbon Plan will be launched this week by David Cameron, his deputy Nick Clegg and Huhne. In a tacit admission that ministers have failed so far to live up to their claim to be part of the "greenest government ever", the prime minister will, in effect, make their job security dependent on "green achievement" by demanding that those whose departments fall short of environmental targets write to him with a full explanation of what went wrong.

And in another extraordinary move, non-governmental organisations, including Greenpeace, will be asked to play a monitoring role to ensure progress across each department is maintained.
Do read the rest!

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