Sunday, 3 November 2013

There is a simple green route to lower energy bills

As winter approaches more and more people are beginning to worry about paying energy bills, the recent row about the 'big six' energy companies has highlighted the real nature of the cosy cartel that controls the UK's energy. While Cameron and Milliband squabble about the solutions the obvious answers are being studiously avoided. Cameron is claiming that we need 'more competition' and trying to blame green energy tariffs for high energy bills , and Milliband has promised a 20 month price freeze if Labour win power. The first reposnse from the energy companies was to say the proposed price freeze would lead to blackouts, and their second was to raise energy prices which will mean bills going up from between 8.2% (SSE) and 10.4% (npower). As far as I can see both responses make a very good case for taking energy generation and supply out of the hands of the private sector.
The truth is that neither Cameron or Milliband have any solutions to our energy problems, either in terms of generation or supply. They are ideologically committed to privatisation and furthermore many MPs and government ministers have links with the energy companies. A recent report by the World Development Movement states:
"Research by the World Development Movement has revealed that one third of ministers in the UK government are linked to the finance and energy companies driving climate change. This energy-finance complex at the heart of government is allowing fossil fuel companies to push the planet to the brink of climate catastrophe, risking millions of lives, especially in the world’s poorest countries"
There are clearly powerful vested interests not only supporting our currently energy supply arrangements but also the further extraction and burning of fossil fuels, including through extreme energy such as tar sands and shale gas.

There is a simple and effective way we can keep warmer and save energy. By insulating our homes, which are notoriously energy inefficient, we can save money, keep warm, and reduce the amount of carbon we put into the atmosphere. Furthermore, we can build houses that are much more energy efficient and which require little more than the heat we generate from our bodies to maintain a comfortable temperature. So hats off to the Guardian for doing a well-timed feature on a passivhaus in Oldham which has an energy bill of £20 per annum. But instead of following this common sense approach the government is set to do away with  legislation which could provide more energy efficient homes.

We can't make our homes more energy efficient and build thousands of passivhaus overnight, but we can set up and implement a programme which will do this kind of work and create hundreds of thousands of much needed jobs in the process - its called the Green New Deal and I've posted about it on this blog many times before. A Green New Deal would help us fight climate change, provide jobs for many of our 2.5 million unemployed, and help people who would otherwise suffer and fall ill because they can't afford to heat their homes. It's really a no-brainer but one that is obviously well beyond the wit and imagination of the so-called 'leaders' of our nation.