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Why Boris Johnson’s Qatar gas plan is a cop out

·2-min read
  (PA Wire)
(PA Wire)

One of the things under-discussed at COP26 was this: the UK’s energy policy remains an incoherent shambles.

This from the FT: “The UK has held talks with Qatar over a long-term gas arrangement that would make the Gulf state a “supplier of last resort”.”

Boris Johnson, says the piece, asked the emir of Qatar for help.

Several things here. At one level, the PM is just trying to make sure we stay warm over Christmas; fair enough.

But why is he going to Qatar? And why hasn’t our very well-resourced small island got enough of its own power?

One reason might be that we ditched our gas storage capability in 2017. Unlike the rest of Europe, we only have a few days supply in the tank -- typical British short-termism.

That looks even dafter when you realise how dependent we are on gas – it heats 85% of UK homes.

Even if all new homes were built without gas boilers, it would still take decades for wind and sun to make inroads into demand, even assuming there is enough of either in the first place.

Moreover, our gas strategy really is a Cop out, since it shifts the CO2 emissions score to Qatar. If you use local gas, it emits about 22kg of CO2 a barrel. If you import it from Qatar, it is three times worse for the planet, it just doesn’t show up on our carbon balance sheet.

Gas industry folk want to know why the PM isn’t asking Netherlands and Norway before Qatar. And note that there is loads of the stuff we need in the North Sea.

They wonder why we have left ourselves in the position of being so vulnerable to price spikes on world energy markets.

No one else does it like we do. No one.

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