Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s will reportedly announce a swath of green taxes in order to pay for low-carbon heating plans, amid fuel shortages and soaring prices.
Millions of Britons will face even higher bills to heat their homes, as the government is set to double down on its radical green agenda.
Plans to introduce a carbon pricing scheme will reportedly be published ahead of the United Nation’s Cop26 climate conference in Glasgow next month, The Times reported.
The announcement will come amid an energy crunch in the UK and across Europe, with the government being warned that the average yearly energy bills could hit as high as £2,000 if prices continue to rise. The wholesale price of gas has already jumped ten-fold over this time last year.
The plan, which is likely to be enacted by 2023, could see an additional £170 tacked onto the average yearly gas bill of Britons, according to government estimates. The green agenda push would also seek to phase out gas boilers in homes in favour of the vastly more expensive heat pumps, which cost around £10,000, compared with £2,000 for a gas boiler.
The government would enact a £400 million taxpayer-funded subsidy to reduce the cost of the supposedly greener heaters down from £10,000 to £5,000 in the next three years, with grants of £5,000 being offered to partially pay for an air heat pump and £6,000 for heat pumps which extract heat from the ground.
The government has argued that the fluctuations in the gas prices show the need for transitioning from fossil fuels, however, critics have warned that the plans could jeopardise industry through rising costs.
The director-general of UK Steel Gareth Stace said that British steel producers are already paying 50 to 80 per cent higher electric bills than their German counterparts, and that green tax hikes could spell doom for the critical industry.
“If the prime minister and government does nothing to help us, they could start to strangle steel production here in the UK and rather than working towards a high-wage economy, we will actually be walking blindly towards a low-wage economy.”
“At the moment, there’s an energy crisis,” Stace said, adding: “If government does nothing, tomorrow there’ll be a steel crisis. In terms of what impact that could have on jobs, that wouldn’t be good.”
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Conservative MP Craig Mackinlay, who is the head of the Net Zero Scrutiny Group of more than 40 Tory MPs, said that the plan should be “discounted and discarded immediately” as the country is already facing “energy poverty” and that further impractical green initiatives would only add to the problem.
There have also been calls from the conservative wing of the Tory Party to open up access in the North Sea to the fracking industry, in order to become less reliant on Russia and the Middle East for energy.
It is estimated that there are more than 300 gas and oil fields in the North Sea which remain untapped, with an estimated 20 billion barrels of oil believed to be under the sea.
UK Onshore Oil and Gas claimed that fracking just ten per cent of the gas reserves in Northern and central England could fulfil Britain’s gas requirement for the next fifty years.
Tory MP Nigel Mills told the Daily Mail: “We appear to have bet the whole farm on green energy, and overlooked whether it is affordable or offers a secure supply. If Mr Putin turns the volume down, the price goes shooting up and we can’t afford it.”
Mills argued that with the need for gas for heating homes going to be necessary over the coming decades, it would be wise to exploit the UK’s natural resources, noting that the money and jobs would stay within the country.
Sir John Hayes MP pointed to America as an example, saying that the fracking boom has “insulated” the U.S. from external energy pressures.
While Prime Minister Boris Johnson previously expressed full-throated support for fracking, there has been a moratorium placed on the industry in England since 2019 over claims of earthquake tremors associated with drilling.
Despite previously hailing the industry as a potential jobs booster and a solution to energy poverty, Mr Johnson has instead focussed on so-called green alternatives in order to meet the lofty goal of net-zero carbon emissions by the year 2050.
According to a report from the Global Warming Policy Foundation in February of last year, Johnson’s net-zero scheme could cost the UK over £3 trillion, or £100,000 per household.
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