NEXT MONTH world leaders will gather at the COP26 summit, saying they mean to set a course for net global carbon emissions to reach zero by 2050. As they prepare to pledge their part in this 30-year endeavour, the first big energy scare of the green era is unfolding before their eyes. Since May the price of a basket of oil, coal and gas has soared by 95%. Britain, the host of the summit, has turned its coal-fired power stations back on, American petrol prices have hit $3 a gallon, blackouts have engulfed China and India, and Vladimir Putin has just reminded Europe that its supply of fuel relies on Russian goodwill.

The panic is a reminder that modern life needs abundant energy: without it, bills become unaffordable, homes freeze and businesses stall. The panic has also exposed deeper problems as the world shifts to a cleaner energy system, including inadequate investment in renewables and some transition fossil fuels,…

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