Energy 2020: Closing remarks

There were two things I heard consistently today:

  1. The support of the public is essential – both to get the right planning and policy decisions and because individuals are directly responsible for a large part of the UK’s carbon footprint. In some cases, the speakers seemed to have a point that individuals don’t have enough information to make a judgement about what is in their best interest. Average homeowners are not in a position to calculate the impact of microgenerators on their energy bills and the value of their home, for example. But I’d say that most people do have sufficient information about their energy costs and act quite rationally. The issue is that their demand is inelastic. When fuel prices go up, people continue driving. This is why cap-and-trade (either upstream, like the EU ETS, or downstream, like the personal carbon trading scheme being designed by the RSA) is an attractive mechanism: the price at which people are prepared to change is discovered. If people had carbon rations they would start taking note of their meters.
  2. The planning process is jamming up the whole renewable industry and needs to be reformed. Everyone was politely horrified with the UK’s planning and it seems an obvoius place to start if the UK is to achieve its target.

Thanks to the RSA for inviting me to blog at this important Summit. I’d encourage you to take a look through the Energy 2020 Action Plan.

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