Environmental campaigners have decided that the key to preventing climate change is not to focus on the natural impact, but something that everyone cares about – our energy bills. It makes sense – people are more likely to care about alternative energy and the environment if their gas and electricity bills are soaring through the roof. As a result, Greenpeace has urged UK Prime Minister David Cameron to “take personal responsibility for protecting consumers from high energy prices” and delivered a giant bill to energy giant Centrica HQ.
Greenpeace aren’t the only ones who believe that global warming should focus on the economic cost. Environmental group 38 Degrees have noted that the monopolistic powers of the Big Six are driving up costs and climate change, and have even set-up a collective buying scheme to help people get cheaper gas and electricity. Other groups are focusing instead on using carbon taxes to tackle fuel poverty and produce lower bills.
It is something that could have a major impact in both the US and the UK. Currently in the US, the Obama’s administration green policies have come under fire from the Republican party, so perhaps an increase in energy prices will highlight the cost of rising fossil fuel prices. Of course, it could also backfire and strengthen the Republican’s campaign to drill in the Arctic and in the Alaskan reserves. Still, by focusing and taking advantage of anti-corporate sentiment, there is also the possibility to educate and empower the public through collective buying.
The main problem is the general belief that ‘energy should be cheap’. This was seen most recently during the outrage in both the US and the UK over high fuel bills (interestingly the costs were MUCH higher in the UK). Fuel is a key part to any country’s economy, but by making it cheap, we are only increasing carbon emissions and accelerating climate change.
Duncan Clark of The Guardian noted that “the single most important reason that we’re not yet making much progress on solving climate change globally is surely that politicians everywhere are nervous of adding to energy costs in the coming years by constraining fossil fuel use. Every nation is agreed that we should limit temperature rise and that the long-term future should be powered by abundant and inexpensive renewables, nuclear or CCS. But that doesn’t make it any easier or cheaper to leave the fossil fuels in the ground in the meantime – which is the only thing that matters to the climate.”
Hopefully the world leaders will agree to this at Rio+20. Oh wait – David Cameron isn’t even going.
Via The Guardian