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Truss introduces energy plan, ends fracking ban

September 8, 2022

New British Prime Minister Liz Truss has announced a package aimed at mitigating energy costs, which were set to jump by 80%. She has also lifted a fracking ban and pledged to issue oil and gas exploration licenses.

British Prime Minister Liz Truss speaks at Parliament
Britain's new prime minister announced an energy package in a speech to parliamentImage: House of Commons/AP Photo/picture alliance

British Prime Minister Liz Truss on Thursday unveiled plans to freeze domestic energy bills for two years.

Truss also lifted a moratorium on fracking in a bid to secure increased energy supply.

The government said it would also review progress towards its target of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

Truss became Britain's prime minister on Tuesday, replacing Boris Johnson.

Her bid to rapidly mobilize follows roughly two months of inaction from Britain's government — with outgoing Prime Minister Boris Johnson reticent to commit to any major policies, and on holiday for the most part, during a protracted Conservative leadership contest to choose his successor. 

What is Truss' energy plan?

Truss announced a cap on consumer energy bills for two years in a package that could cost around 150 billion pounds ($173 billion, €173 billion). The plan will be funded by government borrowing.

Britain's new prime minister said that average household energy bills would be held at around 2,500 pounds a year for two years. An 80% leap in energy prices was predicted for October.

"This is the moment to be bold, we are facing a global energy crisis, and there are no cost-free options," Truss said.

"We are supporting this country through this winter and next, and tackling the root causes of high prices so we are never in the same position again."

Truss and new Chancellor of the Exchequer (or finance minister) Kwasi Kwarteng said that the measures will have "substantial benefits" to the economy, curbing inflation by four to five percent.

Truss said that the country's Finance Ministry and the Bank of England would launch a 40 billion pound scheme to ensure energy firms have the liquidity needed to manage price volatility. "This will stabilize the markets and decrease the likelihood that energy retailers need our support like they did last winter," she said.

In reaction to the announcement, the opposition Labour Party proposed that the package be funded in part by a windfall tax on the energy sector. It also asked why more wasn't being done to improve insulation.

Moratorium on fracking, new North Sea licenses

Truss said that new methods of supply would be introduced, with a moratorium on fracking being dropped.

She said that over 100 new oil and gas exploration licenses would be issued for the North Sea.

"Energy over the past decade has not focused enough on securing supply," Truss said. "Extraordinary challenges call for extraordinary measures, ensuring that the United Kingdom is never in this situation again."

Britain was a net exporter of energy from the late 1980s to 2004 following the development of North Sea oil and gas fields, but production declined after peaking in 1999. Roughly 38% of the UK's energy is now imported.

Truss said that "decades of short-term thinking on energy" had left Britain dependent on imports.

sdi/msh (AFP, AP, Reuters)