A government taskforce intended to help people save energy and lower their bills has been disbanded after just six months.
The Energy Efficiency Taskforce was set up by the chancellor, Jeremy Hunt, in March to boost uptake of insulation and boiler upgrades in homes and commercial buildings.
It included Sir John Armitt, chair of the National Infrastructure Commission, along with bosses of banks, housing developers and behavioural experts – aiming to drive a 15 per cent reduction in energy usage by 2030.
The group had four meetings but were yet to make any formal recommendations. Energy efficiency minister Lord Callanan wrote to them yesterday to say their work would be incorporated into the work of the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero.
Jess Ralston, an energy analyst at non-profit group the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit, told Sky News: “This appears to be yet another u-turn that could lead to higher bills just like the prime minister’s decision last week to roll back landlord insulation standards that could leave renters paying an additional £8bn on energy bills.”
One figure familiar with the taskforce discussions blamed the Treasury for not being willing to consider radical measures to incentivise families and businesses to take up the measures. One idea suggested was stamp duty reform.
The person said: “The Treasury spent £40bn last winter on energy support payments but wouldn’t spend £1-2bn on energy efficiency incentives which would save people money on their bills. It’s short-sighted”.
A Treasury source rejected this, and said: “Our commitment to energy efficiency has not changed one iota”
They added the decision to close the taskforce had been taken by the Department for Energy and Net Zero, created in February this year.
The taskforce was chaired by Lord Callanan and the former NatWest Group chief executive Alison Rose who resigned from the bank in July in a row over the closure of Nigel Farage’s account. It was intended to stimulate private sector investment and identify barriers in the market.
PM overhauls climate policies
A spokesperson for the department confirmed the taskforce was being disbanded and said: “We would like to thank the Energy Efficiency Taskforce for its work in supporting our ambition to reduce total UK energy demand by 15% from 2021 levels by 2030.
“We have invested £6.6bn in energy efficiency upgrades this Parliament and will continue to support families in making their homes more efficient, helping them to cut bills while also achieving net zero in a pragmatic, proportionate and realistic way.”
It comes after the prime minister made a speech this week rowing back on parts of the green agenda pursued by his predecessors – with targets relaxed for phasing out petrol and diesel cars, upgrading boilers and for landlords to make their properties energy efficient.
The oldest housing stock in Europe
Insulating homes is key to meeting the UK’s net zero target in 2050 – which remains in place. The UK has the oldest housing stock in Europe with millions of draughty, poorly insulated homes.
It had been estimated six million homes would need to be insulated by 2030 to reach the government’s target of reducing energy usage by 15%.
Ed Miliband, Labour’s Shadow Energy Security and Net Zero Secretary, criticised the move.
“Every family is paying the price in higher energy bills due to 13 years of Tory failure on insulating homes.” he said.
“After Rishi Sunak’s track record as chancellor with the disastrous Green Homes Grant, this is another short-sighted decision that will cost families money.”
Energy efficiency in England’s homes has increased since 2010, when just 14% were in the highest efficiency bands A to C. By 2020, it was 46%, according to the English Housing Survey. For homes that were improved to a Band C level, the annual energy saving was £282 per year.
Expect ‘records broken’ by Bitcoin ETF: Brett Harrison (ex-FTX US), X Hall of Flame
The former president of FTX US dishes the dirt on his falling out with former Jane Street colleague Sam Bankman-Fried and predicts the spot Bitcoin ETF will far outshine the record-breaking success of the Bitcoin Futures ETF.
Who is this guy anyway?
The ex-president of FTX US, Brett Harrison, tells Magazine that he didn’t say a single word to Sam Bankman-Fried during the two-month notice period after he resigned, which was only months before the whole exchange blew up. Even getting a message to SBF to say he was resigning in the first place was hard work.
“I had to talk to other people in the company to formally resign. I wrote one text to Sam and I got back a single heart emoji. That was the last I heard from him,” Harrison declares.
Harrison and Bankman-Fried had been colleagues years earlier at quantitative trading firm Jane Street, where Harrison saw his potential while teaching SBF in a course on programming for traders. But things went south real quick between them at FTX.
Harrison claims it was due to Bankman-Fried’s inflated ego and his reluctance to accept any feedback or advice.
“Sam hated criticism and, as a result, refused to communicate with me. It drove my decision to quit even further,” he says.
Yet, Harrison says he had no clue of the storm about to engulf the company with FTX declaring bankruptcy only a few months after he bailed from the U.S. arm of exchange.
“The rest of us, especially in the U.S., were blindsighted. We were working with regulators, top lawyers, and to have the whole organization fail because of one person’s greed, will stay with us for the rest of our life.”
However, he feels justice was done in the recent fraud trial against his former boss.
“I do feel the result was absolutely just, and I’m glad that justice was served quickly; I think it was essential that Sam was held accountable for his actions,” he declares.
Meanwhile, Harrison wasted no time diving into a new project.
He co-founded Architect.xyz, a DeFi platform that focuses on bridging all the different opportunities in the digital asset space for both institutional and retail investors.
Harrison is a bit of a brainiac and has a computer science degree focused on artificial intelligence (AI) from Harvard University. So, who better to ask about the potential for AI to take over the world?
“I do not think AI is a threat to humanity,” he declares, pointing out that AI has been in development for much longer than people think:
“Lots of people are now seeing AI for the first time, they don’t appreciate the decades of progress that has gone into it.”
Harrison is more concerned about humans using AI to pull off scams and swipe identities more effortlessly.
“It truly is just linear algebra,” he says. “The idea that linear algebra is some existential threat to our survival just feels somewhat fanciful to people who have been practitioners in the field for a long time.”
What led to Twitter Fame?
Harrison is a smart guy who drops interesting stuff on social media that people seem to dig.
But let’s not dance around the fact that the FTX connection is what blew up his follower numbers, with his count hitting its highest weekly peak when FTX took a nosedive in November 2022, when he gained 2,140 followers, according to data from Social Blade.
Back in January, his long rant about his departure from X got nearly 3 million eyeballs. He said he wasn’t canned from the FTX gig; it just wasn’t his dream job, and SBF was an “insecure, prideful manager.”
Content people can expect
If you scroll through Harrison’s timeline over the years, you’ll notice his glam lifestyle has toned down considerably since the FTX days.
Back then, he was often seen hanging out with celebs and former prime ministers.
Nowadays, it’s way more low-key. Besides throwing in some market talk, Harrison’s been sharing snippets about his family life lately.
He’s even flexing about saving toys from the FTX US office that somehow dodged the whole bankruptcy drama.
What type of content does he like?
Harrison loves the blend of genius and goofiness on Crypto X — getting a daily fix of humor and high intellect.
“One of the things I love about Crypto Twitter is the perfect mix of highly intellectual cerebral, either Market structure or political commentary, and degenerate memes.”
However, when we asked about the accounts he’s into, he’s not that forthcoming.
After doing some light digging, it turns out he’s following 2,100 accounts, and guess who’s in the mix? None other than Bankman-Fried’s pal Tiffany Fong.
Harrison used to avoid making predictions, saying he’d never have predicted the events that happened to him. But that was when things were going too smoothly, and that’s all changed.
Harrison declares there is a very “high probability” that a spot Bitcoin ETF will get approved in the first quarter of 2024.
As for price predictions? Harrison isn’t tossing out any six-figure numbers right away.
“In Q1 assuming there is an ETF that’s approved. I think something in the $50,000 to $55,000 range feels pretty probable,” he states.
He doesn’t see Bitcoin hitting six figures until “toward the end of 2024 or early 2025 at the earliest.”
He points to the first day of Bitcoin Futures ETF as just a little hint of how optimistic he is about the spot Bitcoin ETF:
“If you remember the day when a Bitcoin Futures ETF was listed the inflows were some of the highest ever seen in the history of ETFs. I think we’re going to see even more records broken for a spot Bitcoin ETF.”
The most engaging reads in blockchain. Delivered once a
Kenyan crypto tax bill makes it through parliamentary committee
A bill defining crypto assets as securities and imposing capital gains tax on them has made it through a Kenyan parliamentary committee. It will be introduced to the lower chamber of parliament next.
According to the Kenyan newspaper Business Daily on Dec. 4, the Capital Markets (Amendment) Bill, 2023, has been approved by the National Assembly’s Finance and National Planning Committee. The report cites the Chairman of the Committee, Kimani Kuria:
“This is a very critical law that will guard our country against proceeds of crime and terrorism financing. Cryptocurrencies are already being traded by millions of Kenyans yet we have no law to govern it. We approve this Bill for publication.”
After the Committee’s approval, the bill will head to the reading stage in the National Assembly, the lower chamber of the Parliament of Kenya.
The Capital Markets (Amendment) Bill, 2023, amends the country’s tax code, imposing taxes on crypto assets stored on crypto exchanges and digital wallets. In its framework, Kenyans will pay capital gains for the increased crypto market value when they sell or use it in a transaction. While the bill’s text is unavailable in full, according to the Business Daily, “banks [will] deduct 20 percent excise duty on all commissions and fees charged on transactions.”
Should the bill pass, citizens of Kenya would be obliged to declare all their crypto assets and their value in Kenyan shillings to the Kenya Revenue Authority. The report cites part of the bill:
“A person who possesses or deals in digital currency shall provide the Authority with the following information for tax purposes—the amount of proceeds from the transaction, any costs related to the transaction and the amount of any gain or loss on the transaction.”
While Kenya is only preparing to introduce its crypto taxes, the tax services in other countries have recently been quite vocal in their desire to chase all those who didn’t declare their crypto accurately. For example, His Majesty’s Revenue and Customs recently demanded that United Kingdom hodlers declare any crypto they failed to report in the last four, six or even 20 years.
Singapore releases national AI strategy 2.0, plans for 15,000 AI experts
The Singaporean government released its updated national strategy for artificial intelligence (AI) 2.0 on Dec. 4, in which it outlined how it plans to embrace innovation and tackle the challenges coupled with the technology.
Singapore structured its AI strategy into three distinct systems, consisting of ten “enablers,” which drive those systems and then 15 action steps to make the system work. It’s first AI strategy was introduced in 2019.
The updated plan’s systematic approach focuses on three main areas of its society, including what it calls “activity drivers,” “people and communities,” and “infrastructure and environment.”
Building a smart nation
Among the action steps is Singapore’s plan to develop new AI “Centers of Excellence” (CoEs) across companies operating in the country to foster “sophisticated AI value creation and usage in key sectors.”
The updated AI plan also has benchmarks of equipping governmental agencies with “specialized knowledge, technical capabilities, and regulatory tools” and “sharpening” AI proficiency in all Singaporean public officers.
According to the vision, Singapore plans to use its government capacity to create resources to support AI adoption in the public sector.
Additionally, it said it plans to boost its quantity of “AI practitioners” or local experts to 15,000 through scaling up AI-specific training programs and technology and AI talent pipelines, and that it “remains open” to global talent.
The report said that various tech training programs centered around AI development have placed over 2,700 individuals in “good jobs” to date.
Singapore, like many other countries around the world, said it also plans to increase its computing capacity.
To do this, Singapore said it plans to “deepen” partnerships with major players in the industry, including chipmakers and cloud services providers (CSPs), as well as support local Singapore-based compute industry firms.
It plans to implement its action steps over the next 3-5 years to support its ambitions in the AI sector.
Singapore follows other countries in its push to embrace AI. Recently, at its AI Safety Summit, the United Kingdom said it plans to invest 300 million pounds into obtaining and operating 2 AI supercomputers to boost its own footprint in the global AI race.
OpenAI, one of the world’s leading AI developers, announced a partnership with G42 in Dubai to expand its reach into the Middle East region.
Meanwhile, the United States, one of the world’s top chip manufacturing hubs, has begun to tighten export controls targeting certain countries on its technology to develop and power high-level AI systems.
Sports1 year ago
‘Storybook stuff’: Inside the night Bryce Harper sent the Phillies to the World Series
Sports9 months ago
MLB Rank 2023: Ranking baseball’s top 100 players
Environment7 months ago
Japan and South Korea have a lot at stake in a free and open South China Sea
Sports2 years ago
Team Europe easily wins 4th straight Laver Cup
Environment10 months ago
Game-changing Lectric XPedition launched as affordable electric cargo bike
Technology2 years ago
Game consoles were once banned in China. Now Chinese developers want a slice of the $49 billion pie
Politics2 years ago
Have the last few wobbly weeks seen a turning point for Johnson as PM?
Business1 year ago
Bank of England’s extraordinary response to government policy is almost unthinkable | Ed Conway