The word millionaire is an abscenity when so many are literally having to choose between eating and heating argues the Green Party’s Ken Huggins.
The rise in energy prices for consumers is driven by fossil fuels, notably gas, and reflects an unstable political and economic environment. It illustrates the need to build better insulated houses, accelerate the switch to renewable energy, and reduce dependence on fossil fuels with their wildly fluctuating prices. Few people would argue with that, but there is less awareness that there is no such thing as fuel poverty, food poverty etc – there is simply across-the-board poverty for households whose income falls below their needs. Needs, not wants.
How is this possible in a rich country like the UK? It stems from our wildly inegalitarian society, and the Green Party believe the words millionaire or billionaire should be viewed as an obscenity when so many people are literally having to choose between eating and heating. We will never get society-wide support for the radical measures needed to halt global heating unless they go hand in hand with a much fairer and more equal society. Currently the rich squander the world’s resources on ostentatious overconsumption, while the poor cannot afford to be part of a ‘collective effort’ when they have so little already.
A solid, far-reaching plan
In the short term a responsible government would bring in windfall taxes on the large energy companies, raise taxes for rich individuals and use much of the revenue to help struggling households through the crisis. The focus should then move to funding retrofitting of home insulation at zero cost
for households in need, along with regulation requiring all new construction to be fully insulated, not reliant on gas boilers, and fitted with solar panels. Locally we need to put aside reservations about solar farms and windfarms, and start approving them on all suitable sites. Energy produced and consumed locally helps protect us from global shocks.
Ken Huggins, Parish Councillor Hazelbury Bryan