So it’s official then. On Wednesday, on her first full day in office – just before the Queen’s death froze all public political activity for at least a week and a half – Liz Truss spoke about the UK’s devastating energy bill crisis, which threatens to plunge two-thirds of the country into energy poverty and Bankrupt all small and medium sized businesses and public sector organizations such as the NHS, schools, universities and charities by capping domestic energy bills at £2,500 a year by 2024, with the increase to £3,549 taking place on 1 October should rise to an almost unimaginable £5,400 a year in January.
This will still be a nightmare for poorer families – who, lest we forget, make up at least half the population – because last winter average bills were £1,277 a year and even now people are struggling with the ceiling of £1,971 a year, but what makes the announcement so toxic, while it seems like a savior’s act, is that it’s not funded by an unexpected tax on the oil and gas companies’ estimated £176 billion in obscene and totally unearned profits who have done so have benefited from the 11-fold increase in gas prices since 2019, but by passing the cost on to taxpayers.
Do you see how disgusting and disgraceful this policy is? Truss refuses to tax the grotesque profits of oil and gas companies, instead proposing at least £100bn in UK economy, and then letting us pay it back in increased bills over the next 10-20 years – in other words, every month in higher bills into the 2030s or even into the 2040s – simply to sustain the energy companies’ monstrous windfall profits.
The shameful injustice of this course of action should prompt an immediate revolution, but I fear that the British public, drunk after being told for decades that any criticism of corporate profits is morally wrong, will endure this, grateful for this unthinkable catastrophe having been avoided.
The ongoing nightmare for business and the public sector
Even if this Robin Hood-style reverse borrowing can somehow be sold to the UK public, Wednesday’s news still left UK small and medium-sized businesses who don’t even have the protection of any price cap in place (not even Ofgem’s broken model of rising Costs to household customers) as concerned as two days ago, particularly given the sudden cessation of any significant political activity for the foreseeable future due to the Queen’s death.
Truss only promised something for companies Guardian described as “a six-month program” that “will provide so-called ‘equivalent support’ to households, with a review in three months to see how it could be better targeted”.
This will give little if any reassurance to the numerous companies, which have in recent weeks been hinting with increasing desperation that their energy costs have risen so colossally (often five times what they were a year ago) that they are all likely out of the Business to be pushed if significant help is not provided.
The government’s disastrous enthusiasm for new oil and gas production
Truss also announced on Wednesday plans to secure Britain’s future energy supply not through immediate investment in renewable energy sources (offshore wind, onshore wind, solar and wave), but by lifting the moratorium on dirty fracking and green-lighting new ones Oil and gas exploration and new nuclear power.
Anyone who has followed Truss’s appointments in Cabinet – and her inner circle of advisers at 10 Downing Street – would not have been surprised, as she has appointed climate change denier Jacob Rees-Mogg as Energy Secretary (who did). just announced that extracting new fossil fuels is official government policy) and has been thoroughly marinated in the insane ideology of the petty-state, pro-Brexit, climate change-denying far-right ‘libertarian’ think-tanks based on Tufton Street, a stone’s throw from the Parliament, but calling it official government policy doesn’t make it any less shocking, even if it’s somewhat reassuring that their chancellor (and friend) Kwasi Kwarteng is on record as opposition to the resumption of fracking.
These new fossil fuel proposals are ecologically suicidal and almost certainly violate our legal obligation to reduce our carbon emissions to net zero by 2050 and, crucially, they also involve such a long timeframe that they cannot hope to meet our needs for years – or decades in the case of nuclear power – when we clearly need urgent solutions to break free of our gas dependency right now.
As pundits – and not parliamentary puppets of the fossil fuel industry – are pointing out with a eloquence and persuasion that the dimwitted Truss and her cabinet can only aspire to, the only practical solution to the energy crisis – beyond the necessary windfall tax – is one immediate investment in the renewable energy sources that can be delivered in the short term, as well as a nationwide investment in insulating our leaky and energy inefficient homes. Ironically, this was going on under David Cameron until he denounced it as “green crap” and dropped it, but on Wednesday, predictably, Liz Truss didn’t mention it at all.
However, when it comes to energy, Truss and her government have no contact with the British people. in the a survey by Survation released Wednesday, 81% of respondents supported new solar power, 76% offshore wind, 74% onshore wind and 72% tidal and wave power. Only 34% supported fracking, 49% nuclear power and 56% new gas extraction from the North Sea.
Shamefully, the development of solar and wind power in the countryside is opposed by NIMBYists (and also by Truss and her team, including incoming Environment Minister Ranil Jayawardena, who has spoken of “protecting our landscape from solar farms”), but as Jonah Fisher , BBC’s environment correspondent, stated: “The cold, hard capitalist truth is that new renewable energy is currently a much cheaper source of new energy generation than any fossil or nuclear alternatives. So the switch to wind and sun not only makes ecological sense but also makes economic sense while giving us more energy security.” He added: “The UK is a world leader in offshore wind energy and over the next few years the construction of larger and larger wind farms is expected – mainly in the North Sea – to be continued. Huge projects are already underway and will be operational in the next few years.”
Of course, there are many other issues with the country’s energy supply that also need to be addressed — for example, the fundamental injustice that the energy cap that sets prices is pegged to the most expensive supply — gas — and obscures the fact that renewables Energies are much cheaper.
For now, however, there must be a collective opposition to the Truss Tax, the most monstrous proposal in British history – to tax every day for up to 20 years to preserve the unforgivably huge profits that the oil and gas companies have, and are, making still safe, without any effort or investment on your part.
Liz Truss just proposed blindly robbing us for decades to guarantee the bloated, undeserved profits of corporations on the front lines of making our planet uninhabitable long before we’ve even repaid the loan to support their current bonanza. We simply cannot allow that.