I cheered a little the other week when the Prime Minister said in Aberdeen that he intends to issue hundreds of new oil and gas licences for the North Sea, adding that "Even when we’ve reached net zero in 2050, a quarter of our energy needs will come from oil and gas."
Now, I'm not sure about the 25% figure as, like most people, I'm neither an expert in these matters, nor a soothsayer, but I am absolutely convinced that we will be using oil and gas come 2050.
One reason is that the whole net-zero policy is predicated on this. It's what "net" means. Another is that fossil fuels will likely remain useful and perhaps even necessary non-energy petrochemical feedstocks.
I sort of respect people who say no to all this and that we should forgo oil and gas altogether and live with the consequences, whilst appreciating that it's one thing to speak for oneself, but quite another to gamble with other people's wellbeing including those unborn and unbegot.
I have little respect, however, for those who say that it's ok to use other country's oil and gas but not our own. That just looks like cynical exploitation of the sort of externalities they usually deplore, and a despicable piece of cakism. They are similar to people who say that they are 100% anti-oil whilst living a 21st century life life drenched in the stuff. Whited sepulchres all.
Happily the Prime Minister also announced a significant investment in carbon capture and storage. About time too as the whole net-zero, CO2 reducing game depends on this.
A crack seems to be developing in the cosy consensus on all of this between our two main political parties. Another cheer for that. When everybody agrees so much and nobody argues, there's bound to be either group-think or no think at all, and I think we have seen both. I don't suppose that net-zero by 2050 will be abandoned, but I'm pretty sure it will be slowed down, despite the legislative hurdles in place to prevent such backsliding.
The pressure on green / centre-left politicians comes from some surprising places. When the founder of Extinction Rebellion says that the ULEZ expansion is "intrusive" and "regressive" for lowest-paid Londoners, and criticises the "urban middle-class neo-liberal Left" for having a "total lack of sensitivity and self awareness", you know that it's not just the peasants who are revolting.