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Think Change episode 11: what’s causing the energy crisis?

Written by Sara Pantuliano, Simon Evans, Leo Barasi, Sarah Colenbrander

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Global energy prices continue to rise. Coal prices are projected to increase by 81% in 2022, crude oil prices by 42% and natural gas prices by 74%. But these costs aren’t shared equally, especially for natural gas which requires specialised distribution infrastructure. The Russia-Ukraine war has therefore had an especially profound impact on Europe, which has been beset by a cost of living crisis.

European countries are already introducing radical policies to ensure there is enough fuel to last the winter: windfall taxes, consumption caps, extra subsidies for consumers, extra liquidity for utilities. But there is an anomaly: the UK. The UK is relatively less reliant on Russian energy than its European neighbours, but as of July 2022 its electricity prices were the second highest on the continent.

UK energy bills are not just a function of the cost of energy, but also level of demand. The UK’s old housing stock means a lot of energy is required to heat homes. British households – particularly the poorest families who live in the lowest-quality housing – will need a lot of very expensive energy this winter.

In this episode, which our Chief Executive Sara Pantuliano hosts from New York Climate Week, we ask how the UK has ended up in this situation. Have efforts to decarbonise left the UK vulnerable to price shocks? Will the government protect citizens and at whose cost? And will the UK – and other wealthy countries – revert on climate commitments?


  • Sara Pantuliano (host), Chief Executive, ODI
  • Simon Evans, Deputy Editor and Policy Editor, Carbon Brief
  • Leo Barasi, author of The Climate Majority and expert on public opinion about climate policy
  • Sarah Colenbrander, Director of Climate and Sustainability programme, ODI