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Britain’s short-sighted energy strategy

Blackpool’s illuminations: business as usual? Getty

The energy price freeze announced by Liz Truss last week “will dwarf the costs of the pandemic furlough and the 2008 bank bailout”, says Camilla Cavendish in the FT. Her government has guaranteed to protect businesses for six months and households for two years; the final cost could even top the “eye-watering estimate of £150bn”. The eventual bill will be higher if this price cap reduces the incentive to use less power – and yet the government seems “strangely reluctant” to lower energy demand. Spain has told its shops, cinemas and airports to limit air conditioning; France has threatened firms with energy rationing if they don’t reduce usage themselves. “But in Britain it’s business as usual, with Blackpool’s illuminations switched on and some hospitals lit up for a fundraising campaign.”

There’s so much we could be doing: insulating homes and offices, turning down thermostats, installing heat pumps and solar panels. All this would “lay the foundations for true energy security”, and the payback period on investment shrinks “every day that prices rise”. Ministers with “small-state instincts”, like Jacob Rees-Mogg, should set about dismantling the kind of planning regulations which have stymied my efforts to install a solar panel at home for 12 years. To all intents and purposes, the British taxpayer “is at war with Russia”. So when it comes to energy, the country should be put on a “war footing”.