British Prime Minister Liz Truss proposed legislation on Thursday to set a cap on power bills as Europe languishes under soaring energy prices.
The cost of natural gas in Europe has increased more than tenfold amid the fallout from the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Over the weekend, Russia severed natural gas shipments through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline until sanctions imposed by Western countries are amended. Truss, who succeeded fellow Conservative Party member Boris Johnson earlier this week, introduced a proposal to limit the annual cost of power for a typical household to £2,500, or roughly $2,870, for the next two years.
“We will deliver this by securing the wholesale price for energy, while putting in place long-term measures to secure future supplies at more affordable rates,” Truss argued during an energy policy debate in the House of Commons. “We are supporting this country through this winter and next, and tackling the root cause of high prices, so we are never in this position again.”
Truss added that the legislation would save the average household £1,000 each year for the next two years, while lawmakers also intend to aid businesses, charities, and public sector organizations with energy expenses. The nation’s government has already greenlit the Energy Bills Support Scheme, which is slated to remove £400 from citizens’ power bills each month over the upcoming winter.
“Energy policy over the past decades has not focused enough on securing supply,” Truss continued. “All of this has left us vulnerable to volatile global markets and malign actors in an increasingly geopolitical world.”
In a departure from other European officials, Truss called for an opening of the North Sea for oil and gas drilling, as well as the construction of more nuclear power plants. Meanwhile, the European Union — which the United Kingdom left at the beginning of 2020 — has adopted the official policy of becoming “a climate-neutral society” by 2050 in accordance with the European Green Deal and the Paris Agreement.
Many leading economies on the continent are increasingly desperate to secure energy supplies. Companies in Poland, Estonia, Romania, and Hungary are reducing timber into pellets and exporting them to Italy, Germany, Austria, and other Western European nations. Although the European Union subsidized wood burning more than a decade ago to incentivize households to reduce dependence on fossil fuels, wood pellets produce more emissions than coal.
Nevertheless, climate activist Greta Thunberg argued that the European Parliament should remove incentives for wood burning. “We need to drastically reduce all types of greenhouse gas emissions, not only those from fossil fuels,” she argued in an opinion piece for the Daily Mail. “All subsidies given to burn forest biomass must be reallocated to true renewables such as offshore-wind, solar and geothermal.”
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced on Wednesday that the European Union would propose a “mandatory target” for reducing electricity consumption during peak demand among member nations.
“If you look at the costs of electricity, there are peak demands. And this is what is expensive, because, in these peak demands, the expensive gas comes into the market,” she commented. “So what we have to do is to flatten the curve and avoid the peak demands. We will propose a mandatory target for reducing electricity use at peak hours.”