Readers' Letters: Who will take the long view on energy policy?

Neither nuclear fusion nor net zero carbon emissions are achievable for the UK within the next 20 years. Yet no pragmatic route map to paying for nor implementing the technological change required for either possibility has been presented to the 29 million fossil fuel-burning households in the UK.
Households are facing a massive rise in fuel billsHouseholds are facing a massive rise in fuel bills
Households are facing a massive rise in fuel bills

Costly proposals to substitute electrically driven heat pumps for gas boilers imply expenditures of a minimum of £15,000 per household, whilst no consideration is given to how expensive electricity is to generate, transport and use, compared to gas. By the resultant energy bills spiralling the energy ratings of many properties would be so poor that they could not legally be rented out, creating chaos in the UKs housing provision.

Substituting hydrogen and/or ammonia gases for combustion compared to natural gas, as with electricity, would demand hugely expensive changes in technology and infrastructure which the energy companies would initially have to fund but leaving consumers ultimately to pay back.

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Doubtless it challenges our existing parliamentary political system to devise and implement policies lasting 20 years, but a robust energy policy is now so crucial to the UKs economic health that a 20-year view needs to be taken.This will demand cross party co-operation, and an engineering, technological and educational investment on a scale not seen since the Second World War in order to avoid the economic and social meltdown of millions of citizens being reduced to penury through fuel poverty.

Elizabeth Marshall, Edinburgh

Global action

You claim (Scotsman, 10 February) that “climate change” (it's really “global warming” and even that term understates the matter) is “far too important an issue to be co-opted and subsumed into a relatively petty and parochial dispute on these islands. It's much, much more than a potential source of grievance politics.”

True, but anything we do on “these islands” will be trivial in comparison to the huge task facing humanity. Action is needed on a global scale by international bodies and anything we do is a distraction from the global effort required.

While greenhouse gas emissions continue to increase, there is little hope of any country, particularly not the USA or China, getting them down enough to even halt emissions. Net zero will probably not be reached and, even if it were, that's not enough to halt runaway global warming.

The only effective way to get control of the climate now is through some sort of geoengineering (shading us from the sun), but who is going to organise it? If the world does not organise that, our civilisation is doomed.

Steuart Campbell, Edinburgh

No help

Borrow now, pay later is unacceptable, it is exploitative and it is immoral. Yet this is the answer to the energy crisis from the Westminster government, which holds the powers over energy.

No ifs no buts, no exemptions, every household will be included in the government’s scheme. Households will receive £200 off their fuel bill in October this year and then for the next five years will be compulsorily forced to pay back £40 per year over the next five years. It smacks of benefit loans from the DWP.

Catriona C Clark, Falkirk

Windfall tax

How do we square BP announcing £9.5bn 2021 profits, more cash than they know what to do with, at a time when our energy bills are set to rise by over 50 per cent from April? The answer for many is for the Government to levy a tax on the large oil and gas producers raising £1.2bn to help offset the cost of living rising at its highest rate for over 30 years.

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This will not happen, however, because the Conservative Party has received over £1m in donations from the fossil fuel industries and climate sceptics since the last election and because it’s free market ideology puts big business before consumers.

In April the Government starts raising £12bn with a National Insurance hike, much of which is from employees, leaving tax on the huge profits of energy companies unchanged. This comes at a time when petrol prices have risen by about 40 per cent in a little over a year. Moreover, it’s difficult to see how some pensioners receiving pensions of £80 a week will cope with increased food and fuel prices. The question for many is less about eat or heat than live or die, putting yet more pressure on an NHS that according to the Government will only see record waiting times come down in 2024.

A windfall tax on the profits of fossil fuel polluting energy firms seems sensible. We are told that this will stifle investment on renewables, but householders pay an average green levy of £150 each per year, partly to help the transition to renewables – some of which goes to oil and gas companies. In that sense we are subsidising these investments already. The oil companies are laughing all the way to the bank knowing they are being subsidised by and fleecing consumers while protected by the government.

Neil Anderson, Edinburgh

Head start

Whilst Edinburgh City Council is to be applauded for its latest initiative of a city centre cycle link from Roseburn to Picardy Place perhaps our esteemed Minister for Active Travel, Patrick Harvie, seen on his bike promoting the initiative, could further promote cycling safety by wearing a helmet!

Being a minister within the government may of course exempt him from commonsense rules. At least he was cycling the right way along the route this time.

Graham Smith, Edinburgh

Free speech

On a UK scale, free speech is increasingly under threat due to “hate crime” legislation. The old adage that “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words? They cannot hurt me” has gone, since Tony Blair introduced the insidious undermining of one of our ancient liberties.

In England, an Englishman’s home is still his castle and, at home he (or she) can say what they want, but not in Scotland, as complaints about what one says, writes or records can result in a seven-year prison sentence. By comparison, in Russia, sentences for similar offences are less harsh.

Now, there Is an outcry against Jimmy Carr because he told a very off-colour joke. In a free society, that is what happens. Acceptable views must always be challenged, even by comics such as Mr Carr, who I admit, I do not like at all. Let us hope that the free speech provision in the forthcoming British Bill of Rights will over-rule the draconian and authoritarian SNP law.

Andrew HN Gray, Edinburgh

Room at the top

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Stan Hogarth is absolutely correct that the blame for poor decisions lies squarely with the person at the top (Letters, 10 February).

It does beg the question, of course, of how a Prime Minister who has presided over a government with a charge sheet as long as your arm involving corruption, incompetence, lying and trashing common decency still manages to cling on to power?

If only he had the integrity of Mr Hogarth he’d have resigned months ago.

D Mitchell, Edinburgh

Simple point

I don't know how much more simple I need to make this before my point gets through to Jill Stephenson and others discussing the pensions issue (Letters, 10 February). This is about people living in Scotland who are receiving a state pension, having paid to accumulate their rights who may choose to retain British or dual nationality, continuing to receive their pension when Scotland becomes independent, just as others do who have chosen to live in a foreign country. And by the way, we know there is no pension pot.

Ms Stephenson grudgingly accepts that I could claim my pension, but the unacceptable face of Unionism appears when she implies that the Westminster government could simply refuse to honour the commitment.

Where Ms Stephenson does arrive (perhaps inadvertently) at the reality, is where she says, referring to the possible attitude of the Westminster government, "It takes two to tango”. It seems she thinks/hopes the UK government will take a hard line. However, as (Dr) Frances Roberts (Letters, 8 February) said, independence for Scotland will be followed by intense negotiations over the division of assets and apportionment of liabilities. The issue of accumulated pension rights is sure to figure in these negotiations and those who have not spotted a bargaining chip have not being paying close attention.

Gill Turner, Edinburgh

Pensioned off

Isn’t it wonderful to watch separatists perform international gymnastics in an attempt to convince us that England will continue to contribute to Scottish pensions.

I can only assume they have no confidence in a separate Scotland being able to pay their pension. More a case of "dependence” than “independence”.

Lewis Finnie, Edinburgh

Matter of opinion

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I have read with interest the recent letters from both sides of the independence debate regarding how Scottish pensions would be affected or financed after a yes vote in a second Scottish independence referendum.

The letters are merely the opinions of the letter writers, because although no-one will admit it, the actual truth is no one really knows what would happen. Not even Nicola Sturgeon or Boris Johnson could predict at this time with any certainty, what would happen to pensions in an independent Scotland. Surely it would all depend upon the post-referendum negotiations?

David Walker, Edinburgh

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