Monday’s announcement from the government of ‘bribes’ to be offered to local councils and communities that accept the presence of fracking for shale gas can be seen as a sign of two things.
The first is desperation – the resistance to the government’s enthusiasm to fracking has been strong and determined. From the camp at Balcombe in leafy Sussex, to the site at Barton Moss on the edge of Manchester airport, where 500 people gathered yesterday to show their opposition to the drilling there, across the country, surveys show that Britons understand that fracking is something they don’t want in their back yard, in their region, or in their country.
The second aspect of the government’s bribe is that they demonstrate fracking for shale gas is something you really wouldn’t want to have near you. Just like you offer a child a sweet if they’ll swallow their nasty-tasting medicine, the government’s very offer demonstrates the unattractiveness of fracking for shale gas for local communities.
Further telling news that emerged this week was the announcement that French multinational Total is to invest in fracking here. Banned for conducting the procedure in its own country, which has instituted a moratorium on fracking, as Germany plans to do and Bulgaria has long done, it’s planning to come here.
Not surprising really, when Prime Minister David Cameron is boasting that he’s offering the most generous tax regime in Europe – indeed overall more generous than that offered by the United States. So Mr Cameron is seeking to enrich big multinational fossil fuel exploiters, while giving scant attention to the alternatives. Continue reading →
The CEOs of Europe’s 10 largest energy companies met earlier this year at the Brussels museum of Rene Magritte to lobby the European Union on energy matters.
Magritte was, of course, a surrealist well known for his paintings of umbrellas raining upon us. Given the surreal policy objectives of the group, which wants to slash funding for renewables, the venue might seem appropriate.
Yet hardly a day goes by without an attack on renewable energy in the British media.
With electricity and gas bills climbing, the energy sector is keen to blame “green taxes” for rising energy bills, while suggesting that environmental energy will lead to the lights going out.
In Con-Dem Britain, where wages are often falling compared to inflation, most of us are having trouble paying the bills. Ed Miliband’s demand that energy bills be cut has, for once, wrong-footed his opponents, both Blairites in Labour and our present neoliberal government.
The energy companies deny that they are fat cats and some blame their 10 per cent energy bill increases on environmental costs.
Ukip and a variety of reactionaries claim that wind turbines are the most dangerous form of energy and that there must be a war against environmental charges.
The Conservative Environment Minister Owen Paterson – famous for claiming the badgers have moved the goal posts – is a climate sceptic who wants to smash environmental protection. He has argued that climate change may bring benefits and is said to have a phobia of wind turbines.
So there are some powerful forces arrayed against renewable energy, but is the claim that it is pushing up bills correct?