European energy policy

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Re: European energy policy

Post by TopBadger » Wed Mar 09, 2022 11:10 am

For me it's hard to decouple our energy predicament from house building methods... Passivehaus has been a thing for at least 15 years, and are available as modular (prefab) builds for speed. Yet we still allow housebuilders to drip out non-Passivehaus standard homes. Estimates for Passivehaus indicate a 7-15% increase in expense - before offsetting with reduced labour costs if prefabricated.

It's entirely a problem of our our making.
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Re: European energy policy

Post by discovolante » Wed Mar 09, 2022 5:48 pm

Well, this is a bit of a derail but:
Millennie Al wrote:
Wed Mar 09, 2022 2:44 am
Bird on a Fire wrote:
Tue Mar 08, 2022 6:22 pm
Price signals aren't going to make people living with energy poverty use significantly less energy. They will make those people's lives significantly less comfortable, especially as they probably also can't afford to buy new electric equipment or insulate their (landlord's) property.
Read this: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/magazine/8283796.stm and the comments. It used to be common, and not restricted to poor households, that on cold nights ice would form on the inside of bedroom windows. People did not handle that by insulating their houses but by wearing more clothes indoors and using blankets, eiderdowns, and suchlike. It's certanly possible for nearly everyone to use less energy. The only question is whether you consider it too great a hardship to ask of them.
The article you have linked to, assuming we're to take it all at face value, says:
"Other houses just had a three-bar electric fire, so you needed plenty of blankets at night. I remember the 1963 winter was particularly horrendous."
My emphasis - it could be horrendous, apparently.
There were obvious health benefits - warmer homes helped to address winter mortality rate
People died of cold more often before central heating became widespread.
"You used to need warm carpets and heavy curtains and drapes, whereas now people can live with laminate floors and floorboards. The typical Victorian home had very heavy materials and a curtain over every door to stop the draughts."
So while there might be better insulation such as double glazing (although certainly not every property even has that), if rooms are bigger and there is less thick carpet etc and that has an impact on heat retention.

So, apparently we just need to go back to living in the good old days when people died of cold more often, and huddle round fires with thick carpets and curtains none of which exist any more, and ask people to turn off their radiators even if they are already turned off. Like turn them off negatively so they actually generate energy, or something?
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Re: European energy policy

Post by lpm » Wed Mar 09, 2022 6:04 pm

It's typically the elderly who die from cold homes each winter.

The Conservatives have increased pensions by 3.1% from April 2022.

The energy price cap is going up 54% on 1 April.

However it's not as bad a problem as it looks, thanks to the Conservatives failing to lockdown promptly and killing so many elderly with Covid. The early harvest will prevent a lot of deaths in the next year.
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Re: European energy policy

Post by IvanV » Wed Mar 09, 2022 6:14 pm

discovolante wrote:
Wed Mar 09, 2022 5:48 pm
Well, this is a bit of a derail but:
Having super-powers, perhaps you could transfer it to the Cost Of Living thread where we are discussing such things.

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Re: European energy policy

Post by bjn » Wed Mar 09, 2022 6:33 pm

TopBadger wrote:
Wed Mar 09, 2022 11:10 am
For me it's hard to decouple our energy predicament from house building methods... Passivehaus has been a thing for at least 15 years, and are available as modular (prefab) builds for speed. Yet we still allow housebuilders to drip out non-Passivehaus standard homes. Estimates for Passivehaus indicate a 7-15% increase in expense - before offsetting with reduced labour costs if prefabricated.

It's entirely a problem of our our making.
Yep. The improved green energy standard for homes has been continually kicked down the road by successive Tory governments because such green crap would inconvenience home builders.

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Re: European energy policy

Post by discovolante » Wed Mar 09, 2022 8:26 pm

IvanV wrote:
Wed Mar 09, 2022 6:14 pm
discovolante wrote:
Wed Mar 09, 2022 5:48 pm
Well, this is a bit of a derail but:
Having super-powers, perhaps you could transfer it to the Cost Of Living thread where we are discussing such things.
There is some overlap in some of the earlier posts on the issue, so I am going to leave it for now and see what happens.
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Re: European energy policy

Post by Bird on a Fire » Wed Mar 09, 2022 11:45 pm

UK energy policy will probably diverge from EU energy policy, because of things like Tory peer attended Cop26 summit for Russia, UN list shows.
A Conservative peer attended Cop26 in Glasgow as part of Russia’s group of participants at the UN climate summit, the Guardian can reveal.

Greg Barker, a former energy minister when David Cameron was prime minister, attended the talks as part of the party of the Russian Federation, according to a list published by the UN.
I swear to god the Tories seem way more in with the Russians than Trump ever did.
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Re: European energy policy

Post by Bird on a Fire » Thu Mar 10, 2022 12:12 am

Pretty scathing, but ultimately optimistic, piece from Monbiot:It’s not too late to free ourselves from this idiotic addiction to Russian gas. I think he's pretty much on the money here:
Even before the invasion of Ukraine, Europe had a gas crisis, and households faced soaring heating bills. Today we have a gastastrophe. We are lucky in just one respect: that Putin invaded Ukraine in the spring, rather than the autumn. Now we have until October – when major heating demand kicks in again – to implement the comprehensive energy transition that should have happened years ago.

Can it be done so quickly? Yes. When governments want to act, they can do so with great force and effect. When the US joined the second world war, it transformed itself from a largely civilian economy to a military economy in a similar period. Manufacturing, services, administration: all were comprehensively retooled. Almost everyone, in one way or another, was mobilised to support the war effort. The federal government spent more money between 1942 and 1945 than it did between 1789 and 1941. With similar determination and resources, rolling out a massive programme of home insulation, heat pumps, renewable energy, public transport and other mature technologies, we could transform ourselves from a high- to a low-carbon economy just as swiftly and decisively.
I'm in 2022 mode. Let's get the f.ck on with it.
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Re: European energy policy

Post by Herainestold » Thu Mar 10, 2022 2:18 am

Bird on a Fire wrote:
Thu Mar 10, 2022 12:12 am
Pretty scathing, but ultimately optimistic, piece from Monbiot:It’s not too late to free ourselves from this idiotic addiction to Russian gas. I think he's pretty much on the money here:
Even before the invasion of Ukraine, Europe had a gas crisis, and households faced soaring heating bills. Today we have a gastastrophe. We are lucky in just one respect: that Putin invaded Ukraine in the spring, rather than the autumn. Now we have until October – when major heating demand kicks in again – to implement the comprehensive energy transition that should have happened years ago.

Can it be done so quickly? Yes. When governments want to act, they can do so with great force and effect. When the US joined the second world war, it transformed itself from a largely civilian economy to a military economy in a similar period. Manufacturing, services, administration: all were comprehensively retooled. Almost everyone, in one way or another, was mobilised to support the war effort. The federal government spent more money between 1942 and 1945 than it did between 1789 and 1941. With similar determination and resources, rolling out a massive programme of home insulation, heat pumps, renewable energy, public transport and other mature technologies, we could transform ourselves from a high- to a low-carbon economy just as swiftly and decisively.
I'm in 2022 mode. Let's get the f.ck on with it.
Realistically, how quickly can we get to net zero?
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Re: European energy policy

Post by IvanV » Thu Mar 10, 2022 11:06 am

Bird on a Fire wrote:
Thu Mar 10, 2022 12:12 am
Pretty scathing, but ultimately optimistic, piece from Monbiot:It’s not too late to free ourselves from this idiotic addiction to Russian gas. I think he's pretty much on the money here:
Even before the invasion of Ukraine, Europe had a gas crisis, and households faced soaring heating bills. Today we have a gastastrophe. We are lucky in just one respect: that Putin invaded Ukraine in the spring, rather than the autumn. Now we have until October – when major heating demand kicks in again – to implement the comprehensive energy transition that should have happened years ago.

Can it be done so quickly? Yes. When governments want to act, they can do so with great force and effect. When the US joined the second world war, it transformed itself from a largely civilian economy to a military economy in a similar period. Manufacturing, services, administration: all were comprehensively retooled. Almost everyone, in one way or another, was mobilised to support the war effort. The federal government spent more money between 1942 and 1945 than it did between 1789 and 1941. With similar determination and resources, rolling out a massive programme of home insulation, heat pumps, renewable energy, public transport and other mature technologies, we could transform ourselves from a high- to a low-carbon economy just as swiftly and decisively.
I'm in 2022 mode. Let's get the f.ck on with it.
Monbiot was ever a cheer-leader, challenging our way of thought. He was never a designer of practical policies. His analogies just do not stand up.

In 1941, the USA didn't have the kind of debt overhangs which much of the "western world" currently has from supporting its economy through 2 years of pandemic. Rather, the economic activities of supplying its friends at war had re-ignited its economy after a long period of depression.

In 1941, technologies were much simpler, and factories could be readapted and tooled up for making stuff much more quickly than they can be today. Stuff was made with simple, widely available materials, not precision standard stainless steel, rare earth elements, silicon chips and lithium ion batteries. Manufacturing staff and installation staff need to be recruited and trained, a much longer process when stuff is a lot more complicated.

In 1941, health and safety rules were very basic, and stuff could be made that didn't have to comply with such complex rules we have today, and also implemented in the factory without such concerns. That's also why, for example, nuclear power stations could be rolled out rapidly through the 70s and 80s, while today it seems very hard and slow to build them.

In 1941, a high fraction of manufacturing was carried out locally, in the country of consumption, with localised supply chains. Today, a high fraction of manufacturing is carried out in supplier nations, with complex international supply chains, as inputs are taken from one set of countries to another set of countries to make intermediate inputs, then brought together to another country for assembly.

The difficulty of expanding modern-type productions is demonstrated by what is going on to expand EV production in Europe. Some car manufacturers in Europe have already sold out their next 12 months production of EVs. Money is pouring in to buy them. They have been making large expansions of production of EVs for several years; still sales are down at around 15% or something, but still it is difficult to expand. The sheer quantities of different stuff that goes into them means the massive expansion of mining and intermediate input supply chains, of massive global impact. Even the amount of copper they require is challenging to global copper markets. Miners have been reluctant to make large expansions, because when they do that they often then get faced with a commodity bear market; and the places they have to do tend to be ruled by nasty people who then hold them to ransom. Meanwhile even conventional vehicles are in sufficiently short supply that the second hand markets have gone mad.

We want to expand installation of heat-pumps. But there is a queue of several months to get one of those too. The government can implement proper policies to kickstart that, but it will take time for the supply

Certainly the government needs to take action to get this going properly. But it will still take decades even with serious policies.

Rationing was implemented in 1942 in the USA, as it was in Britain, etc, to support this, as production efforts were massively redirected. But when you look at modern supply chains, the world is just completely different today.

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Re: European energy policy

Post by Bird on a Fire » Thu Mar 10, 2022 12:33 pm

Depends what we're talking about. There probably are unavoidable bottlenecks in batteries. Cheap public transport and loft insulation not so much. There's loads of low-hanging fruit being ignored because people use the high-hanging fruit as a reason not to pick any fruit at all.
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Re: European energy policy

Post by lpm » Thu Mar 10, 2022 1:52 pm

There simply aren't the trained employees to do all we want.

We somehow got ourselves to a place where people are in the wrong jobs. The UK has hundreds of million people making coffee as their career, none installing heat pumps. It needs a Thatcher style shift - shut down the industries of the past decades, force people to retrain in the jobs needed for the coming decades.

If capitalism can't do it, control has to step in.
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Re: European energy policy

Post by Bird on a Fire » Thu Mar 10, 2022 2:21 pm

Yes, and again the analogy with WW2 crops up: factories converted, conscripts trained, Dads Armies and Air Raid Wardens and Women's Land Armies etc etc. The government can easily train lots of new people to do specific tasks like lagging pipes, fitting double-glazing and loft insulation and installing electric hobs.

Stuff like subsidising public transport doesn't necessarily take much labour anyway.

As this is a defence strategy it would seem silly not to make use of spare squaddies, who won't be going to Russia any time soon, if necessary. Plus free re-skilling for anyone that wants it - including refugees, folks bored with dead-end menial jobs, upland farmers and gamekeepers who've lost their jobs, etc.

The market wasn't delivering quickly enough with "just" the climate on the table, and it definitely won't now either.
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Re: European energy policy

Post by lpm » Thu Mar 10, 2022 2:56 pm

Bird on a Fire wrote:
Thu Mar 10, 2022 2:21 pm
Yes, and again the analogy with WW2 crops up: factories converted, conscripts trained, Dads Armies and Air Raid Wardens and Women's Land Armies etc etc. The government can easily train lots of new people to do specific tasks like lagging pipes, fitting double-glazing and loft insulation and installing electric hobs.

Stuff like subsidising public transport doesn't necessarily take much labour anyway.

As this is a defence strategy it would seem silly not to make use of spare squaddies, who won't be going to Russia any time soon, if necessary. Plus free re-skilling for anyone that wants it - including refugees, folks bored with dead-end menial jobs, upland farmers and gamekeepers who've lost their jobs, etc.

The market wasn't delivering quickly enough with "just" the climate on the table, and it definitely won't now either.
You're way off, as per Ivan's explanation.

Lagging pipes and loft insulation? Everyone can do that for themselves. Don't waste limited labour on that stuff.

But installing heat pumps is far more challenging, needing a couple of years of plumbing type training. Stuff like solar panels and building batteries need state of the art factories.

It's not like the old cliche of sending Land Girls from the East End to see a cow for the first time. A car mechanic in 1939 was an expert aircraft engine mechanic in 1940. A factory lathe making
bicycles in 1939 could make tank parts in 1940. Forget all thoughts of Dads Army and using squaddies.

A genuine policy starts with 16 year olds and gets results ten years later. An accelerated policy needs to force people out of worthless jobs and into training courses, with the government paying people to retrain, and gets results two years later.
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Re: European energy policy

Post by Bird on a Fire » Thu Mar 10, 2022 3:22 pm

"Training", of course, could include teaching people how to do stuff for themselves. If Zelenskyy can show how to make molotov cocktails on TV I'm sure other European leaders can do the same with lagging and lofts. People could even help each other, as elderly, disabled etc. people might not be able to do it themselves and disproportionately occupy badly insulated housing stock.

Obviously the long term stuff needs to be started and accelerated. But come next winter there's going to be huge numbers of people freezing unless they get decent insulation - things like double glazing are not so simple to DIY. Swapping from gas to electric for cooking and showering would also reduce gas demand, and again installing that stuff safely needs people with basic training - though perhaps on the order of months rather than years.

The difficulty of heat pumps and batteries should not be an excuse to do nothing now. That kind of dithering is a far more pernicious problem than outright denialists these days. If we want to stop using Russian gas immediately, because of the Ukraine stuff, then everything we can do to lower gas demand this year is worth doing.

This, of course, is why people make policies. Few countries have much of a strategy at all, and AFAIAA the UK has basically nothing worth mentioning. Fix standards for new builds, get on with the easy bits of retrofitting via grants and training, and start planning the decades-long rollout of more complex retrofitting.
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Re: European energy policy

Post by Bird on a Fire » Thu Mar 10, 2022 3:27 pm

Also need some joined-up stuff to force landlords and social housing providers to do things.
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Re: European energy policy

Post by discovolante » Thu Mar 10, 2022 3:34 pm

Bird on a Fire wrote:
Thu Mar 10, 2022 2:21 pm
Yes, and again the analogy with WW2 crops up: factories converted, conscripts trained, Dads Armies and Air Raid Wardens and Women's Land Armies etc etc. The government can easily train lots of new people to do specific tasks like lagging pipes, fitting double-glazing and loft insulation and installing electric hobs.

Stuff like subsidising public transport doesn't necessarily take much labour anyway.

As this is a defence strategy it would seem silly not to make use of spare squaddies, who won't be going to Russia any time soon, if necessary. Plus free re-skilling for anyone that wants it - including refugees, folks bored with dead-end menial jobs, upland farmers and gamekeepers who've lost their jobs, etc.

The market wasn't delivering quickly enough with "just" the climate on the table, and it definitely won't now either.
Drive by post, but you might be interested in this blog post https://scote3.net/2022/02/27/skills-tr ... ransition/
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Re: European energy policy

Post by discovolante » Thu Mar 10, 2022 3:35 pm

Bird on a Fire wrote:
Thu Mar 10, 2022 3:27 pm
Also need some joined-up stuff to force landlords and social housing providers to do things.
Social housing providers are landlords :)

ETA god I hate the smiley emoji on this site, it's horrible. Someone get us a new one please
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Re: European energy policy

Post by Bird on a Fire » Thu Mar 10, 2022 3:36 pm

Any pressure for reformed energy policy should focus on what can be done starting within a few months.

Long-term targets are routinely missed. The UK, for instance, has a shameful litany of green projects announced, that then stalled in uptake and were quietly scrapped. More generally, basically nobody is on track to meet the Paris Agreement, because it's all long-term ideals and no short-term action.

Scenario A is the government announces some whizzy squad who'll come round to your house to assess its insulation and electrification needs, provides access to grants and personnel and sticks you on an NHS-style waiting list according to need and availability. The whizzy squad hires people who already know what they're doing, and starts training and apprentices. A volunteer wing of people like lpm can go around helping with the easy stuff like lofts. People immediately see tangible benefits in their homes, lower bills, jobs are created etc.

Scenario B is the government announces to focus on heat pumps and batteries, with lengthy training and building factories. Come next winter, when nobody can afford their energy bills, they're all sitting around freezing their nads off while right-wing populists blame green levies for the situation. Political pressure leads to government subsidising gas as the news cycle moves on from Ukraine to the next horrorshow, funding for the training and infrastructure is reduced unnoticed, and nothing happens.

Policy in the rolling-news age needs to deliver benefits to consumers in real time. Everyone is bored to death of "oh yes we'll definitely, definitely do this climate thing in ten years from now, for real this time" because it never happens and we're paying the price.
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Re: European energy policy

Post by Bird on a Fire » Thu Mar 10, 2022 3:41 pm

discovolante wrote:
Thu Mar 10, 2022 3:34 pm
Bird on a Fire wrote:
Thu Mar 10, 2022 2:21 pm
Yes, and again the analogy with WW2 crops up: factories converted, conscripts trained, Dads Armies and Air Raid Wardens and Women's Land Armies etc etc. The government can easily train lots of new people to do specific tasks like lagging pipes, fitting double-glazing and loft insulation and installing electric hobs.

Stuff like subsidising public transport doesn't necessarily take much labour anyway.

As this is a defence strategy it would seem silly not to make use of spare squaddies, who won't be going to Russia any time soon, if necessary. Plus free re-skilling for anyone that wants it - including refugees, folks bored with dead-end menial jobs, upland farmers and gamekeepers who've lost their jobs, etc.

The market wasn't delivering quickly enough with "just" the climate on the table, and it definitely won't now either.
Drive by post, but you might be interested in this blog post https://scote3.net/2022/02/27/skills-tr ... ransition/
Good post, thanks. There's a huge amount of squandered opportunity that could start right now. Especially daft if trained fossil workers can't move to the low-carbon sector because of permitting issues.
discovolante wrote:
Thu Mar 10, 2022 3:35 pm
Social housing providers are landlords :)
Fair enough - "social housing providers and private landlords" :) :) :)
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Re: European energy policy

Post by lpm » Thu Mar 10, 2022 4:44 pm

Outside of war you can't force people into careers they don't want.

You can bribe them with free training and higher pay. Or drive them into long term unemployment like Thatcher did and the following generation will seek out different careers to their parents.

What you should never do is drive out skilled immigrants. Imagine a country with a shortage of electricians and plumbers but wanting to install EV chargers and heat pumps - and then tells foreigners eager to do it to f.ck off.

The UK is clearly incapable of acting until after a general election. Better focus on civilised competent countries that can move faster.
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Re: European energy policy

Post by Millennie Al » Fri Mar 11, 2022 1:24 am

Herainestold wrote:
Thu Mar 10, 2022 2:18 am
Realistically, how quickly can we get to net zero?
Theoretically, as fast as you like if you're prepared to pay the cost. You could do it overnight by banning fossil fuels etc just like we ban drugs, weapons etc. Then watch as large numbers of people die of hypothermia and starvation. Of course, in reality you couldn't implement such a change even if you were crazy enough to want to as people wouldn't tolerate it. And that's where the limiting factor is - not technology or money, but people.

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Re: European energy policy

Post by Millennie Al » Fri Mar 11, 2022 1:28 am

discovolante wrote:
Wed Mar 09, 2022 5:48 pm
The article you have linked to, assuming we're to take it all at face value, says:
"Other houses just had a three-bar electric fire, so you needed plenty of blankets at night. I remember the 1963 winter was particularly horrendous."
My emphasis - it could be horrendous, apparently.
Yes, 1963 was the coldest winter in a long time - see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Winter_of ... ed_Kingdom and thanks to global warming we are unlikely to see the return any time soon of weather cold enough to freeze the sea off Kent.

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Re: European energy policy

Post by Millennie Al » Fri Mar 11, 2022 1:44 am

Bird on a Fire wrote:
Thu Mar 10, 2022 3:36 pm
Scenario A is the government announces some whizzy squad who'll come round to your house to assess its insulation and electrification needs, provides access to grants and personnel and sticks you on an NHS-style waiting list according to need and availability. The whizzy squad hires people who already know what they're doing, and starts training and apprentices. A volunteer wing of people like lpm can go around helping with the easy stuff like lofts. People immediately see tangible benefits in their homes, lower bills, jobs are created etc.
How about scenario A2 where aliens from another galaxy turn up and solve all our problems for us? Given what we have seen our government in action over the last few years it seems more likely than scenario A.
Scenario B is the government announces to focus on heat pumps and batteries, with lengthy training and building factories. Come next winter, when nobody can afford their energy bills, they're all sitting around freezing their nads off while right-wing populists blame green levies for the situation. Political pressure leads to government subsidising gas as the news cycle moves on from Ukraine to the next horrorshow, funding for the training and infrastructure is reduced unnoticed, and nothing happens.
Well, at least that's reasonably plausible. But you left out the bit where the government either does nothing more than announcements, or they end up squandering lots of money on stuff that doesn't work, as that is what they usually do.

If you really want progress, you have to stop letting the government micro-manage things and let private enterprise do the work. Furthermore you need to address the real problems. For example, there is no point in trying to simultaneously upgrade all social housing and all private rented housing if there is a bottleneck caused by lack of trained workers or materials. If the upgrades genuinely save money, then rich people will happily pay for them, creating a demand for suitable workers and materials. If the problem is that poorer people cannot afford the initial investment, you could introduce green mortgage loans. These would be tied to the property and get paid back via energy bills over the next 10 years. Since rich people (as we're frequently reminded) use significantly more energy than poor people, upgrading their housing first makes a bigger difference.

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Re: European energy policy

Post by nekomatic » Fri Mar 11, 2022 9:11 am

It's hard to know where to start with this post, but
  • 'if (capital investment x) saves money, rich people will happily pay for it' seems to contradict ample evidence otherwise
  • 'stop letting the government micro-manage things' seems to contradict 'introduce green mortgage loans' (which presumably needs government intervention, otherwise the market would already have done it)
  • 'since rich people use more energy, upgrading their housing makes a bigger difference' doesn't take into account (a) how many rich vs poor people there are or (b) the relative cost of upgrading a rich person's large house versus a poorer person's small house
But most of all, can you go into a bit more detail on 'the work' that private enterprise would do but has somehow been prevented from doing, presumably by 'government micro-management'? Just for the hard of thinking, like.
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