By Irina Slav
1. Improve tax collection: There’s always room for improvement here and it’s taxes that finance whatever the government decides to support, so improve collection.
How: With the tax agencies
Problem: Businesses will always find a way to hide taxable income.
2. Encourage energy conservation: The top executives of France’s biggest energy firms just called on the French to start conserving energy. That’s not how you do it, rashly. You do it slowly and incessantly.
How: With rewards in addition to lower electricity and gas bills
Problem: It takes a long time but so do all good things
3. Reduce payback time for rooftop solar: I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again — rooftop solar is the kind of solar that makes the most sense. When we, at home, calculated how much it would cost us to get a return on our investment in the system, it was more than 10 years, battery storage included. Make that five years and I’ll go solar.
How: With subsidies. Sorry.
Problem: It’s going to be very expensive and taxes will need to be raised, which everybody but tax collectors hates.
4. Accelerate go-to zoning, excluding from it arable land and forests: The idea of go-to zones for utility-scale solar and wind was a rare decent one. However, farmland and forests must be excluded from these zones. We are trying to save the environment, aren’t we? Factory yards are fine, it is already being done, they’re happy with it.
How: This one’s tricky, I admit. But my plan is not for a complete transition to 100% wind/solar/hydrogen, so just put the panels wherever you can but not in fields that can be used to grow food.
Problem: Nowhere near ambitious enough.
5. Encourage people to get off the grid: I see this as the most controversial point in my otherwise certainly brilliant plan. Encouraging people to become energy self-sufficient means lower profits for utilities and this is not something utilities like. Governments don’t like it, either: lower profits = lower taxes. But we can never have it all.
How: See #3
Problem: Not going to happen because it discourages spending on energy.
6. Encourage businesses to clean up their act: I mean positive encouragement here rather than penalties. I know penalties work more effectively but there comes a point where they begin to hurt and the pain spreads, which we have already seen happening.
How: Overhaul the whole carbon-trading scheme. Reward cleaner businesses the way you penalise dirty ones.
Problem: Not going to happen because it’s not nearly net-zero enough.
7. Oblige consumer goods manufacturers to make products that last: Another controversial idea, this aims at reducing overconsumption, which I strongly believe is the root of our energy and emission problems. The longer an appliance lasts, the less energy will the manufacturer need to consume to produce more.
How: New laws.
Problem: Not going to happen because manufacturers won’t have it and neither will most consumers. We’d rather buy a new fridge every three years, that’s the sad truth.
8. Educate children about energy from an early age: Climate alarmism damage has already been done in parts of the world but it’s not too late to protect our youngest from it going forward. Just start listening to all the scientists that refute the so-called scientific consensus and admit there is, in fact, no consensus, and we are not all going to die from climate change in 15 years.
How: Persistently and patiently.
Problem: Alarmism is so much more exciting than peace of mind. It’s also lucrative.
9. Encourage more local consumption: Yes, I know this is a trend and it’s an excellent one but I see more potential in it, especially in the EU, which is not very big on encouraging local consumption because common market and all that. I don’t want Italian sprouts or Dutch tomatoes. I want local, I just can’t always get it. If done properly, local consumption can save so much energy from freight transportation.
How: Break down common markets. Yeah, yeah, I know.
Problem: Not going to happen.
10. Make recycling profitable: A lot of recyclable materials these days are not profitable because there is just so much of them. Banning single-use plastics is one big step forward but we need more steps. I’ll leave this point to the experts.
How: No idea. But the EU also doesn’t have an idea how it will do its 10 points, so we’re kind of even.
Problem: Overconsumption. We’re used to our plastics and aluminium cans.
Bonus point: Leave the oil and gas industry alone. Just make sure they will go bankrupt if something like Deepwater Horizon happens again, sit back and start drafting those rooftop solar subsidies.