Energy rationing rejected in the UK by minister despite Ukraine war

LONDON, (Parliament Politics Magazine) – A cabinet minister has dismissed calls for the UK to contemplate energy rationing, while a proposal to dramatically increase onshore wind power appears to have been considerably pared back.

Grant Shapps, the transport secretary, said Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has served as a huge wake-up call for western nations about their reliance on imported gas and oil, which they are now attempting to wean themselves off.

Shapps, on the other hand, stated that the UK wouldn’t follow the lead of other nations, such as Germany, in implementing emergency gas rationing measures if Russia shut off supply to Europe.

A global battle is growing over Russia’s demand that all gas purchased by foreign countries be paid in roubles starting April 1 – a move that the G7 governments have rejected.

According to Reuters, the Dutch government has stated that it will encourage consumers to use less gas, Greece has convened an emergency meeting of suppliers, and the French energy authority has advised consumers not to panic.

Fuel restriction, according to Labour’s shadow business secretary Jonathan Reynolds, “should be an extreme possibility.”

He told the BBC’s Sunday Morning show that “we should be making those plans and the government should be preparing – not necessarily in public – for that situation.”

Reynolds said the government should not be “shopping for fossil fuels from one authoritarian state to the next” after PM Boris Johnson travelled to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to push oil-producing Middle Eastern countries to turn on the taps.

He urged the release of the long-awaited energy security policy, which he said should focus on increasing renewable and nuclear energy generation as well as boosting energy efficiency.

Reynolds also warned that “there is a lot of complacency in this country about our relatively smaller exposure to Russian gas,” warning that in case European countries stopped importing it, they would turn to the same suppliers as the UK, further restricting supply and keeping prices high.

When asked if he could rule out energy rationing in the United Kingdom, Shapps replied, “Yes, I can… We don’t see rationing as a part of our approach, and we don’t think it should be.”

Instead, Shapps emphasised the idea of more offshore wind, albeit he appeared to backtrack on promises to increase onshore wind capacity by 2030.

Last month, the Guardian reported that ministers were considering raising the amount of power generated by onshore wind turbines from 14 gigawatts to 30 gigawatts by the end of the decade.

Johnson was on the verge of a confrontation with his own cabinet and backbenchers, but Shapps’ vocal criticism will be viewed as a sign that the government is about to back down.