OPINION: If only… what might have been… These are phrases often heard when describing the UK’s short-term thinking on energy policy and security, especially in comparison to near-neighbour Norway.
Despite masses of cultural similarities and links, Norwegian and UK societies differ far more than is often portrayed, not least because of the vastly different population sizes.
The UK has about 67 million inhabitants, Norway only about 5 million.
But Norway’s careful cultivation of its resources, hefty state investment fund worth more than $1 trillion and sizeabale state interests in companies such as Equinor does, to some extent, show the UK what its future may once have looked like.
Norway is not immune to the current energy crisis but is certainly in a stronger position than the UK to weather the storm.
The Oslo government has been subsidising household electricity bills since December and, from this month, is covering 90% of a portion of power bills above a certain rate.
Last week, after months of delay, UK Prime Minister Liz Truss unveiled plans — estimated to cost as much as $150 billion — to protect consumers, albeit with few details on who will pay.
The opposition Labour Party is suspicious the ultimate bill will be forced onto householders, while energy companies escape further windfall taxes.
But some aspects of the UK’s plan can be held up, possibly, as examples of longer-term thinking so often lacking in the country’s politics, such as proposals to decouple electricity costs from gas prices.
The UK desperately needs more long-term vision, and an end to cries of “if only”.
(This is an Upstream opinion article.)
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