Leader: The global energy crisis and Cop27

With winter approaching, millions of households are worried about staying warm and fed amid soaring energy and food prices.

Fears over climate change have grown amid warnings that world leaders should "panic" and "code red for humanity". Photo: Danny Lawson/PA Wire
Fears over climate change have grown amid warnings that world leaders should "panic" and "code red for humanity". Photo: Danny Lawson/PA Wire

As inflation rises, interest rates have seen their biggest jump since 1989 and it is forecast that those whose fixed rate deals are coming to an end could see their annual payments rise by up to £3,000.

This winter will be harsh but the next is likely to be even worse. Last week, the Bank of England warned the UK faces its longest recession since records began.

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It is a similar picture across much of the world and it is being caused by an energy crisis. Demand has rocketed as the world moves out of the pandemic and towards Net Zero goals of phasing out oil and gas. Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine and weaponisation of Russian resources against the West has exacerbated the situation.

Clearly, the shortfall is not being met by wind and solar, for now at least. Nuclear energy is also unable to meet current demand.

In Europe, countries such as Germany, Italy and the Netherlands are, like China and India, turning to coal, which is more polluting than oil or gas. The fossil fuel that powered the industrial revolution is far from being “phased down”, as pledged at COP26 in Glasgow.

The UK and Europe have seen an unprecedented rise in imports of liquefied natural gas (LNG), but production and transportation is thought to cause up to ten times the carbon emissions of pipeline gas.

These moves towards coal and LNG come amid heightening concerns about climate change.

Activist Greta Thunberg has urged the world to panic, and UN Secretary General António Guterres has warned we face “code red for humanity”.

In the face of such increasingly apocalyptic warnings it is little wonder so many are now terrified and grow more so with each storm, wildfire and hurricane.

In Sharm El Sheikh, Rishi Sunak and other world leaders must, on the one hand, consider projected increases in deaths from such events caused by climate change.

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On the other, they must consider the increase in numbers who may die of cold this winter and the hardships millions more will face as they struggle to eat and stay warm. It will be an unenviable task.