Russia severed natural gas flow through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline earlier this month in an apparent retaliation against Western Europe for supporting Ukraine. As other countries impose energy consumption restrictions upon their citizens while continuing to prioritize green energy commitments, British Prime Minister Liz Truss has pushed for higher fossil fuel production and set the goal of becoming a net exporter of energy by 2040.
“We are cutting off the toxic power and pipelines from authoritarian regimes and strengthening our energy resilience,” Truss said Wednesday during a speech to the United Nations General Assembly. “We will ensure we cannot be coerced or harmed by the reckless actions of rogue actors abroad. We will transition to a future based on renewable and nuclear energy while ensuring that the gas used during that transition is from reliable sources including our own North Sea production.”
The British government subsequently announced a new round of oil and gas leases for the North Sea and lifted its moratorium on shale gas production — including the practice of fracking, by which pressurized liquid is injected into underground rocks to force open fissures and extract fuels. The prohibition was initially established in 2019 amid concerns over earthquakes.
“In light of Putin’s illegal invasion of Ukraine and weaponisation of energy, strengthening our energy security is an absolute priority, and — as the Prime Minister said — we are going to ensure the UK is a net energy exporter by 2040,” British Energy Secretary Jacob Rees-Mogg remarked in a statement. “To get there we will need to explore all avenues available to us through solar, wind, oil and gas production — so it’s right that we’ve lifted the pause to realise any potential sources of domestic gas.”
After succeeding fellow Conservative Party member Boris Johnson two weeks ago, Truss proposed legislation that would limit the annual cost of power for a typical household to £2,500, or roughly $2,820, for the next two years. This plan would cost a total of £150 billion, or $169 billion. The nation’s government has already greenlit the Energy Bills Support Scheme, which is slated to remove £400 from residents’ power bills each month over the upcoming winter.
Ministers in the European Union, of which the United Kingdom is no longer a part, likewise grapple with energy prices that have increased as much as twentyfold in some member states. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen recently called for redistributing profits from fossil fuel companies.
“In our social market economy, profits are good. But in these times it is wrong to receive extraordinary record profits benefitting from war and on the back of consumers,” she said in her most recent state of the union address.
Several large European manufacturers are shuttering their factories as energy prices climb. The producer price index for industrial goods in Germany, the continent’s largest economy, has risen 45.8% year-over-year as of August 2022, according to the Federal Statistical Office of Germany. Russian shipments accounted for 40% of the European natural gas supply last year — a rate that has since dropped to 9%.