Perhaps one of the issues with a parliamentary democracy is what happens when the leader of the party in power leaves.
The prime minister is the leader of the party which holds a majority in the house of commons. This means that if the leader of this party resigns, or is pushed out by his party, a small part of the country (those in this case that are Conservatives) get to vote on who leads the country. 0.1% of the country are in the Conservatives party, and are generally older, richer and less worried about climate change than the average person in the UK.
Unfortunately, as I have written, Liz Truss, the person who has just taken over this role is making many decisions which are going to be bad for us cutting carbon emissions and therefore us as a country (as well as the world as a whole).
So far, she has behaved as though she is completely climate change illiterate. She has outlined plans to increase oil drilling in the North sea. Now, in some minds this might make sense – we are having a historic raise in the cost of living, as a result of the Ukraine war pushing up oil and gas prices.
However, a 6 year old could see the problems. We need the gas now, in order to reduce prices. Obviously, it will take some time to get equipment and supply back up in the north sea.
It is estimated that it will take 20 years for these supplies to come online!
In other words, it is not going to impact gas prices during this generation. We have enshrined in law our target to reduce emissions by 78% by 2035 – before this new fossil fuel comes online. So why on earth is this a good idea. Unfortunately, Liz Truss is supported by Kwasi Kwarteng the new chancellor and Jacob Reece-Mogg the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy – who has a history of climate change denialism and foolish mocking of facts he does not understand.
This is simply a gift to fossil fuel firms, one that is likely to slow or change their plans of moving towards zero emissions. UK gas producers and electricity generators are expected to make excess profits (that is, profits that they would not have got without the Ukraine war) of up to 170 billion more than they would have made otherwise, or more than £2500 for every man woman and child. To add insult to injury, while other countries are taking the majority of this extra money, through one off taxes, the Conservative government has ruled out doing this. This follows the governments move slowing and blocking new solar, as well as on and off shore wind farms – infrastructure that could actually save the country money – as well as being cheaper and faster to construct and bring online.
While the article that prompted this post was published before the election was held, she has not changed direction at all. It is highly likely that if the UK continues to adapt to climate change (heat pumps etc) any resources placed into the north sea for extraction are likely to become stranded assets.
Back in March Liz Truss said she would put climate change on a back burner (as though the Conservative party have ever done anything else? When challenged, Liz Truss campaign said “Liz is committed to reaching Net Zero by 2050 in a Conservative way” this waffle suggests that she is not interested in doing what is good for the planet, and has shown no interest in changing direction now she is in charge.
Time will tell, but it is not looking good. Apart from being bad for the environment, it will also lock bill payers in the UK into paying over the odds for energy for decades to come.