Environment minister Zac Goldsmith says petrol crisis is a ‘good lesson’ in need for UK to end its ‘dependence’ on fossil fuels

  • Zac Goldsmith says fuel crisis shows need to speed up move to electric vehicles
  • Minister said it was a lesson which showed dependence on fossil fuels has to end
  • Lord Goldsmith conceded the fuel crisis has serious implications for businesses

Pictured: Environment minister Zac Goldsmith has said the ongoing petrol crisis is a ‘good lesson’ in the need for the dependence on fossil fuels to end

Environment minister Zac Goldsmith has said the ongoing petrol crisis is a ‘good lesson’ in the need for the dependence on fossil fuels to end.

In an interview with The Independent, Lord Goldsmith said queues at petrol stations amid current shortages should serve as a reminder of the need to accelerate the switch to electric vehicles.

He also dismissed fears the current difficulties could make it harder to achieve political and public backing for an agreement to tackle the climate emergency at the forthcoming Cop26 summit in Glasgow.

Military drivers will be deployed to deliver fuel to forecourts from Monday as the crisis at the pumps continues.

Almost 200 military personnel, including 100 drivers, have been training at haulier sites and will start deliveries to help relieve the situation at petrol stations, which ministers insist is stabilising.

Data from the PRA yesterday showed that 16 per cent of petrol stations have no fuel – an improvement on more than a quarter on Friday. 

Motorists are being told prices could rise by up to 5p a litre this week as industry chiefs claimed the situation is getting worse in London and parts of the South East.

Figures compiled by the FairFuelUK campaign group indicated that the average national price of a litre of petrol now stands at 141.9p, which is up from 136.5p.

People queue for petrol in Loughton, Essex, as the Government claimed the crisis was easing

Meanwhile, diesel drivers are now paying 145.5p rather than the usual 139.2p.

Lord Goldsmith conceded the petrol shortages represented ‘a crisis’ with serious implications for many businesses and people.

But he added: ‘I don’t think it damages the momentum we’re seeing in relation to climate.

It’s a pretty good lesson on the need to unhook ourselves from dependence on fossil fuels. You’re not seeing the same problems with people who have electric vehicles.’

Lord Goldsmith also condemned sceptics, including within his own Conservative Party, who were organising a ‘fightback’ against the push for net-zero carbon emissions ahead of Cop26.

The Independent said former ministers Steve Baker and Esther McVey were among a group of rebel Tory MPs, led by Craig Mackinlay, who were mobilising against the costly measures, while ex-chancellor Nigel Lawson had called them ‘implausible’.

Pictured: Pumps in London. Troops are expected to be deployed to help ease the crisis, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson insisting this week that the situation was returning to normal

‘There are people in society, there are people in the Conservative Party, people in politics, who are sceptical, and who are not supportive of government efforts to secure this transition,’ he said.

‘I think they’re very much in the minority and I think the science is proving them wrong. Extraordinary events, day to day, are proving them wrong.

Lord Goldsmith also defended Boris Johnson for his commitments on the climate emergency.

He said the Prime Minister, who has admitted to a conversion from climate scepticism, spoke with ‘authority … and real passion’ on the issue, and that progress in this area had been achieved ‘because of his intervention’.

Military drivers will be deployed to deliver fuel to forecourts from Monday as the crisis at the pumps continues.

Almost 200 military personnel, including 100 drivers, have been training at haulier sites and will start deliveries to help relieve the situation at petrol stations, which ministers insist is stabilising. 

Health Secretary Sajid Javid said the fuel situation is ‘stabilising’ in most parts of the country and the military is being deployed as a ‘precaution’.

He told Sky News on Saturday morning: ‘I think it is right that as a precaution that the Government has asked the military to help. I think that is the right measure to take to make sure that people have all the confidence that they need.

‘I think that will further stabilise the situation and give more confidence.’

But the chairman of the Petrol Retailers Association said fuel shortages are getting worse in some parts of the country.

Brian Madderson said it remains a ‘really big problem’ in London and the South East.

He told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme: ‘In London and the South East and possibly parts of eastern England, if anything it had got worse.’

Motorists are being told prices could rise by up to 5p a litre this week as industry chiefs claimed the situation is worsening. Pictured: Motorists queue up for petrol in Loughton, Essex

Mr Madderson welcomed the announcement that military drivers are to be deployed from Monday, but warned it will have a limited impact.

‘This isn’t going to be the major panacea,’ he said. ‘It’s a large help but in terms of the volume, they are not going to be able to carry that much.

‘We do need a prioritisation of deliveries to filling stations – particularly the independent ones which are the neighbourhood retail sites – in London and the South East starting immediately.’

He said rising world oil prices mean motorists should expect higher prices at the pumps when filling stations are resupplied.

‘Expect anything from 1, 2 or even 3p a litre increases at the pump. This is not profiteering. This is genuine wholesale price increases causes by global factors.’ 

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