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The Guardian view on high energy prices: buffer stocks can stabilise them | Editorial

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Britain faces years of high energy prices and needs to have a conversation about what policies are needed

The good news is that energy prices will be coming down. The bad news is nobody knows when for sure. The UK’s biggest energy supplier, Centrica, says high gas and electricity prices could last for another two years. The International Energy Agency (IEA) reckons that’s too optimistic. Expensive bills are a problem for firms, consumers and the government. Households could face a doubling of annual energy bills to £2,400 a year from October – a cost-of-living catastrophe for millions. While Labour proposes a support package, Conservative ministers have said little – fuelling suspicions that they intend to reduce demand for energy by making people poorer.

Carbon-based energy will fade, but it won’t disappear completely. To keep temperatures to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels, the IEA says the world in 2050 would have to use about half as much natural gas as today and about one-quarter as much oil. British policymakers must wake up to the security implications of greening the economy. Britain replaced coal-fired plants with wind power to reduce carbon emissions, becoming dependent on natural gas imports – especially in calm weather. Traditional suppliers like Russia might see opportunities in volatile fossil fuel prices that result from the transition to net zero. This is not reassuring. Fuel price protests sparked unrest in Kazakhstan this month, but they also brought Britain to a halt 22 years ago.

Continue reading…Britain faces years of high energy prices and needs to have a conversation about what policies are needed The good news is that energy prices will be coming down. The bad news is nobody knows when for sure. The UK’s biggest energy supplier, Centrica, says high gas and electricity prices could last for another two years. The International Energy Agency (IEA) reckons that’s too optimistic. Expensive bills are a problem for firms, consumers and the government. Households could face a doubling of annual energy bills to £2,400 a year from October – a cost-of-living catastrophe for millions. While Labour proposes a support package, Conservative ministers have said little – fuelling suspicions that they intend to reduce demand for energy by making people poorer.Carbon-based energy will fade, but it won’t disappear completely. To keep temperatures to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels, the IEA says the world in 2050 would have to use about half as much natural gas as today and about one-quarter as much oil. British policymakers must wake up to the security implications of greening the economy. Britain replaced coal-fired plants with wind power to reduce carbon emissions, becoming dependent on natural gas imports – especially in calm weather. Traditional suppliers like Russia might see opportunities in volatile fossil fuel prices that result from the transition to net zero. This is not reassuring. Fuel price protests sparked unrest in Kazakhstan this month, but they also brought Britain to a halt 22 years ago. Continue reading…