The Government Cannot Leave Energy Policy to the Market

New Statesman (1996), March 3, 2008 | Go to article overview

The Government Cannot Leave Energy Policy to the Market


The directors of Centrica have been wise to stay in hiding since the energy giant's British Gas subsidiary announced a 500 per cent leap in profits to [pounds sterling]571m, after inflicting a 15 per cent price rise on customers. But the shareholder bonanza found plenty of apologists.

Britain is no longer self-sufficient in energy and must get used to being buffeted by global events, they argued; Britain is subject to wild price fluctuations because of its deregulated energy market; Britain's more regulated European energy partners do not always play fair (they put their own needs first). All of which is a way of saying that, when it comes to domestic energy needs, the market rules, a view more or less explicitly shared by government.

Such explanations leave the important questions unanswered: why British Gas passes its trading windfalls upwards to Centrica rather than downwards to customers and how a small, populous island can plan a rational energy future while at the mercy of Europe's volatile relations with Moscow and Gazprom (lucidly analysed by Misha Glenny on page 24).

In truth, for incontestable reasons, the government cannot leave energy policy at the mercy of the market. It has clear legal obligations on two fronts. First, it has commitments to vulnerable energy users under the Warm Homes and Energy Conservation Act 2000, reinforced by subsequent strategies to tackle fuel poverty. Second, it has binding international obligations to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions. Both require urgent action. Both have to be forced to work together in a rational energy policy. Cheaper fuel is not conducive to lowering carbon emissions.

The government's hopes of ending fuel poverty--defined as spending more than 10 per cent of income on heat and power--by 2016 are on course to be dashed if fuel prices stay high. The number of households now categorised as being in fuel poverty is increasing year by year. Since 2002 it has doubled from two million to roughly four million despite investment of between [pounds sterling]4bn and [pounds sterling]5bn. Meanwhile, its hopes of achieving carbon-emission targets depend on substantially decreasing household emissions, which currently account for 27 per cent of the UK's total. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

The Government Cannot Leave Energy Policy to the Market
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.