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KWASI KWARTENG: Switch to our own power supplies is a win-win for everyone – except Putin

Mail on Sunday readers will have been horrified by the images emerging from Ukraine.

A paramedic striving in vain to revive a six-year-old girl injured during shelling. Women and children crossing the Polish border by foot, leaving their lives behind them.

Vladimir Putin is using every weapon at his disposal to diminish democracy.

In our defense of freedom and self-determination, we must use every tool available to stand up to Russian aggression.

Vladimir Putin is using every weapon at his disposal to diminish democracy, writes Kwasi Kwarteng

The UK Government has imposed crippling sanctions designed to devastate Russia’s economy and Putin’s inner circle. And the West’s punitive measures are visibly starting to bite, with the Russian economy heading for the rocks.

But there is one more step the West can take to hit Putin where it hurts: Russia’s wealth of natural resources.

For too long, Europe’s dependence on Russian gas has left the Continent vulnerable to blackmail and allowed Putin to pull strings. Russia is effectively weaponizing its dominance over the European gas supply for political ends.

Fortunately, the UK is in no way dependent on Russian gas. But in light of the atrocities Putin has ordered, it is plain that even that tiny fraction – four per cent – ​​is too much.

Fortunately, the UK is in no way dependent on Russian gas.  But in light of the atrocities Putin has ordered, it is plain that even that tiny fraction – four per cent – ​​is too much

Fortunately, the UK is in no way dependent on Russian gas. But in light of the atrocities Putin has ordered, it is plain that even that tiny fraction – four per cent – ​​is too much

That is why the Government is urgently reviewing what can be done to drive this down even further, while maintaining our strong security of supply.

That said, like the rest of Europe, we are vulnerable to rising gas prices set by international markets.

After all, Russia is the world’s largest exporter of pipeline gas. Anything the Kremlin says or does can drive up the price of gas.

Every decision Russia takes – from limiting gas exports to starting a war – sends the global market into a frenzy, and we all pay for it.

For as long as we depend on oil and gas – wherever it is from – we are all vulnerable to Putin’s malign influence on global markets.

The good news is, Russia can’t directly manipulate the price of renewable energy and nuclear power in the UK.

And with gas prices at record highs, and the price of renewable energy plummeting, we need to accelerate our transition away from expensive gas.

Now, more than ever, we must focus on generating cheaper, cleaner power in Britain, for Britain.

This is how we become energy independent in the long term.

That is why we are cracking on with annual renewable energy auctions to generate more offshore wind, solar and, importantly, tidal power to exploit our island nation status.

Mail on Sunday readers will have been horrified by the images emerging from Ukraine

Mail on Sunday readers will have been horrified by the images emerging from Ukraine

We are also reversing 30 years of drift on nuclear power. We are opening the first new power station in a generation, giving more cash for future projects such as Sizewell C, and using the Nuclear Financing Bill to unblock financial obstacles.

In the longer term we also need to look at hydrogen – the new super fuel – to combat Russian gas.

Last year, we set out our plan to kick-start an entire British low-carbon hydrogen industry from scratch by the end of the decade.

With the global low-carbon hydrogen economy set to be worth £530 billion by 2050, this booming market is ours for the taking.

Importantly, these clean technologies will also give our industrial heartlands new leases of life, with millions of new, skilled jobs for British workers, while also cutting energy bills.

Switching to cheap, domestically generated power is a win-win for everyone – apart from Putin, who wants to sustain Europe’s dependence on Russia’s gas.

That’s why we must also urge our friends on the Continent to wean themselves off Russia’s supply by pursuing alternative gas suppliers and building up their own domestic clean energy systems.

The Daily Mail, Mail On Sunday and MailOnline UKRAINE REFUGEE APPEAL

Readers of Mail Newspapers and MailOnline have always shown immense generosity at times of crisis.

Calling upon that human spirit, we are now launching an appeal to raise money for refugees from Ukraine.

For, surely, no one can fail to be moved by the heartbreaking images and stories of families – mostly women, children, the infirm and elderly – fleeing from Russia’s invading armed forces.

As this tally of misery increases over the coming days and months, these innocent victims of a tyrant will require accommodation, schools and medical support.

All donations to the Mail Ukraine Appeal will be distributed to charities and aid organizations providing such essential services.

In the name of charity and compassion, we urge all our readers to give swiftly and generously.

TO MAKE A DONATION ONLINE

Donate at www.mailforcecharity.co.uk/donate

To add gift-aid to a donation – even one already made – complete an online form found here: mymail.co.uk/ukraine

Via bank transfer, please use these details:

Account name: Mail Force Charity

Account number: 48867365

Sort code: 60-00-01

TO MAKE A DONATION VIA CHECK

Make your check payable to ‘Mail Force’ and post it to: Mail Newspapers Ukraine Appeal, GFM, 42 Phoenix Court, Hawkins Road, Colchester, Essex CO2 8JY

TO MAKE A DONATION FROM THE US

US readers can donate to the appeal via a bank transfer to Associated Newspapers or by sending checks to dailymail.com HQ at 51 Astor Place (9th floor), New York, NY 10003

Europe’s reliance on Russia’s gas supply has been an Achilles heel in the West’s sanctions regime.

For the sake of our security, we need to become more energy self-sufficient.

We have to invest further in the areas we already excel at – such as offshore wind – while vigorously pursuing the technologies of tomorrow, from hydrogen to small modular reactors.

We also need to back North Sea oil and gas while we transition to cheap, clean power.

It would be complete madness to turn off our domestic source of gas in such an uncertain world.

However, onshore fracking is very different.

Those calling for its return misunderstand the situation we find ourselves in.

First, the UK has no gas supply issues. And even if we lifted the fracking moratorium tomorrow, it would take up to a decade to extract sufficient volumes – and it would come at a high cost for communities and our precious countryside.

Second, no amount of shale gas from hundreds of wells dotted across rural England would be enough to lower the European price any time soon.

And with the best will in the world, private companies are not going to sell the shale gas they produce to UK consumers below the market price.

They are not charities, after all.

So given Russia is the dominant supplier of gas, and effectively controls the price – even the price of gas produced in the UK – we need to diversify our energy mix.

The most important priority for any government should be the safety and security of its people.

Leaving Britain continually exposed to a market that can be manipulated by Putin or anyone else would be a complete dereliction of duty.

In the UK, we will protect our citizens by ensuring we have a homegrown supply of clean energy, which means we are not dependent on a foreign country to keep our homes warm and lit.

Creating a homegrown energy system and ensuring we are not held hostage by energy prices set by international markets is not just a question of keeping cash in the UK, or tackling climate change.

It is a matter of national security.

Vladimir Putin wishes to plunge Ukraine into darkness, but he underestimates the strength of freedom’s flame.

As the UK’s Business and Energy Secretary, it is my personal mission to ensure Britain’s clean energy independence so we can weaken Putin’s malign grip and influence on the West.

Pictured: How to donate to the Mail Force Ukraine appeal

Pictured: How to donate to the Mail Force Ukraine appeal

The Daily Mail, Mail On Sunday and MailOnline UKRAINE REFUGEE APPEAL

Readers of Mail Newspapers and MailOnline have always shown immense generosity at times of crisis.

Calling upon that human spirit, we are now launching an appeal to raise money for refugees from Ukraine.

For, surely, no one can fail to be moved by the heartbreaking images and stories of families – mostly women, children, the infirm and elderly – fleeing from Russia’s invading armed forces.

As this tally of misery increases over the coming days and months, these innocent victims of a tyrant will require accommodation, schools and medical support.

All donations to the Mail Ukraine Appeal will be distributed to charities and aid organizations providing such essential services.

In the name of charity and compassion, we urge all our readers to give swiftly and generously.

TO MAKE A DONATION ONLINE

Donate at www.mailforcecharity.co.uk/donate

To add gift-aid to a donation – even one already made – complete an online form found here: mymail.co.uk/ukraine

Via bank transfer, please use these details:

Account name: Mail Force Charity

Account number: 48867365

Sort code: 60-00-01

TO MAKE A DONATION VIA CHECK

Make your check payable to ‘Mail Force’ and post it to: Mail Newspapers Ukraine Appeal, GFM, 42 Phoenix Court, Hawkins Road, Colchester, Essex CO2 8JY

TO MAKE A DONATION FROM THE US

US readers can donate to the appeal via a bank transfer to Associated Newspapers or by sending checks to dailymail.com HQ at 51 Astor Place (9th floor), New York, NY 10003

.