The Confederation of British Industry has long been the smarter-suited twin brother of the Labour party, voicing endless calls for corporate welfare and cushy government contracts in parallel with the socialists' demands for "benefits" and jobs for the boys.
John Cridland, the latest man to head the organisation, is perhaps greener tinged than many of his predecessors and his speech to the Liberal Democrat conference touched on some of these areas. Although much of it involved the usual calls for investment (see "corporate welfare and cushy government contracts" above) he also found time to repeat that rather strange meme about the impact of shale gas in the UK:
New build can't be 100 per cent nuclear and renewables. To close the supply gap in time we will need some gas. Gas can be built relatively quickly and cheaply, and has roughly half the carbon emissions of coal. Even the government's carbon watchdog, the Committee on Climate Change, recognises the need for some new gas to be built between now and 2020.
But we know the new build can't be 100 per cent gas either. Too much gas would bust our carbon budgets. But even if you forgot about carbon momentarily, look at European gas price projections. They all disagree on the number, but they all agree on the direction: up! European shale will help, but not on a US scale.
As I've pointed out before, it is said that European shale will not affect gas prices as they have in the US essentially because of government policy decisions. Whether UK gas prices come down is therefore simply a question of whether Ed Davey actually gives two hoots about poor people in the UK.