Friday, 5 September 2008

Energy cash handout

I'm not sure how to react to the news that the PM has failed to secure a £1bn cash handout from energy companies for families to help defray the impact of rising energy costs. Whilst I sympathise with families who are experiencing genuine hardship as a result of the recent price hikes, all but the most disadvantaged should be able to recoup most of the increase through energy saving measures. In fact, as far as climate crisis is concerned, increasing fuel costs is probably a good thing - if ecological arguments have failed to motivate us to cut energy consumption, then economic arguments surely will.
Offering handouts to compensate for rising energy prices would have sent entirely the wrong signals to a generally affluent nation which urgently needs to curb its consumption. Yet the replacement of the proposed fuel poverty package with an energy efficiency programme was announced almost apologetically. I'm not saying that we should not provide state support for those whose income is insufficient to sustain them, but support should be provided holistically, not focused on a single category of expense - and especially not on a commodity on which our disproprotionate reliance could prove to be our downfall.

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