“I do love to be besides the seaside, I do love to be beside the sea”

11th Jun 2018


I was in Brighton last week speaking at the GMB union’s annual congress about the future role of gas. Yes they have a huge interest, 25,000 GMB members work in the sector, so I was speaking in front of a “home crowd”. I spoke in favour of the motion advocating the long term role of gas in a decarbonised world, not surprising you say. Opposed to the motion was an anti-fracking activist and a bloke from Friends of the Earth, who just opposed gas. Actually that’s not strictly true – he advocated converting surplus electricity generation (from wind and solar naturally) into hydrogen, which could then be stored and used seasonally to meet electricity demand. In their world, all heat demand is electric. Before you scream at the naivety, don’t blame me, I’m just reporting what was said. FoE also seem to be against Carbon Capture and Storage/Utilisation as it just “prolongs the use of fossil fuels”.

He also went a bit Norman Tebbit, telling the audience that all the jobs in the gas industry would go and the workers would have to retrain and learn new skills. All that was missing was the phrase “they should get on their bikes and seek new, green work”.

I mention this to encourage those involved in securing the long term future role of gas, to engage their workers more – be they network engineers, workers on a manufacturing production line, or gas appliance installers. With an estimated 200,000 people directly working in the area, that’s one seriously sized lobby.

I confess now to also playing to the gallery. I used an approach advocated by a Mr S from Worcester, and taunted my two debate opponents by suggesting that when they make the expensive switch from gas to electric in their homes; when they no longer used fossil fuel generated power, then they had the right to lecture others on getting rid of gas. Until then, my approach is to tell them to “get on yer bike”.