This time last year I was, as I am this week, on holiday in Cornwall. Boris Johnson was still the Prime Minister and still an MP and was doing precisely nothing about an existential crisis on his watch.

As Europe panicked about gas supplies over the coming winter, Germany, France and others began to fill their gas storage facilities with months and months worth of consumption leading to a massive spike in gas prices. This led, in turn, to an autumn of very high prices and yet another intevention by government to shield consumers from the market. Back in August I took to what used be Twitter and suggested five steps the UK could take to reduce gas prices. This thread was picked up by Reaction which asked me to expand my thoughts. Since then, I have written around 30 columns and as I sat on a beach in North Cornwall waiting for my elder daughter to finish surfing yesterday, I thought about what I have learnt over the past year.

First, no one anywhere in the world is serious about climate change and energy transition. Not the US, not China, not India – only the EU and the UK are somewhere near to recognising the scale of the problem. The reality of the technical revolution required and the sheer volume of money this is going to need is just beginning to dawn on our political classes as the impact of global warming begins to hit: the hottest June since records began is not a point of statistical interest – it’s a red warning light on the dashboard that cannot be ignored. Politicians globally are going to have to make some very difficult choices in the years to come. I don’t think they have been fiddling while Rome burns; it’s impossible to get electorates to focus on what’s needed until they’re actually affected but change is coming, especially to developed nations, and coming soon.

Second, we need to get serious about fossil fuels. Demand for oil is going to go up over the next two years according to International Energy Agency forecasts and a world where demand is going up continues to be a world that’s not taking climate change seriously. Just Stop Oil can target all the corporates they like but until individuals start taking their own consumption of fossil fuels seriously and reducing their own demand then supply will simply follow.

But we also need to recognise that there are fossil fuels that create a serious problem and fossil fuels that can create serious solutions. Replacing burning wood and charcoal and using diesel generators by building gas-fired plants in Africa is, in fact, emissions reducing and, even better, reliable baseload energy enables renewable energy construction as well. Gas used to be seen as a bridging fuel by those armies of ESG analysts who have, by bearing down on gas, made, as they so often do, perfect the enemy of good.

Third, nuclear is not the answer. Or, put it this way, if nuclear was the answer, wouldn’t we have done it already? Nuclear is not the answer because it’s dangerous, dirty, expensive and there are better, cheaper, cleaner options out there. Above all, it’s not the answer because no one has a clue what to do with nuclear waste. Go to google and look up “nuclear waste sites in the US” and tell me that it isn’t the most terrifying map you’ve ever seen. You should then look up “long-term nuclear waste options” and you will see the point I’m making: we’re creating problems for 20 generations hence (or the robots who will have taken over by then) and they won’t thank us.

Fourth, there are no silver bullets out there. We use fossil fuels because they are really good at what they do. If there was something better or cheaper then we would be using it. So nuclear fusion, wind energy, hydrogen, underground heat pumps – we have heard it all before. If they were better than what we have today, then we would be using them. We are better off focusing on what we do know works and what we know can make a difference. An example: the UK government would be better off paying for every home in the UK to be properly insulated alongside an information campaign around heating homes (something like “20 is plenty”) than almost anything else they could do on the technology side. These two steps – one expensive; one not – would be spectacularly successful in bringing down demand, emissions and bills.

Fifth, depsite my first four points, I am an optimist and there’s lots of good reasons to be very hopeful about what’s to come. While I don’t think there will be a single eureka moment where all our problems are solved, I do think that a combination of global expertise and investment will see us through safely to the other side. We have clever people doing extraordinary things all the time as they improve the efficiency of the technology we already have. Wind turbines and solar panels have been around for decades but they’re sleaker, lighter, more efficient, longer-lasting, more robust, more responsive, cheaper (well, they will be shortly) than they have ever been and that progress is only going in one direction.

But if I had to bet on one technology that will change the world, it would be battery storage where advances are being made almost daily. There is a future out there that sees battery storage – eventually – being charged solely by renewable power before providing power alongside (or instead of) renewable sources as needed. For that we will need storage to take all the steps that wind and solar power have taken and more: but, believe me my friends, it’s happening.

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