Cost of living crisis: We demand a better future
People have had enough. On top of a decade of austerity cuts, rocketing bills are hitting hard, forcing families to make impossible choices.
And the cost of living scandal is also a climate scandal.
The UK is particularly vulnerable to oil and gas price rises. Again, this is because of government choices: refusal to tackle the UK's dependence on fossil gas, alongside deliberate removal of support for home insulation, leaving our homes drafty and expensive to heat.
As gas prices rise, the UK oil and gas industry is set to rake in around £11.6 billion extra profit from ordinary households’ soaring energy bills. Rishi Sunak eventually gave in to popular demand for a windfall tax to return some of these profits (up to £5 billion) to help those struggling with bills.
But he consistently blocked any meaningful investment in home insulation. Instead he has gone down the most dangerous route possible by incentivising fossil fuel extraction. For every pound invested in UK oil and gas, corporations can claim 91 pence tax relief on the new 'windfall tax'. Up to to a third of this windfall tax could end up being returned to oil giants in this way to fuel climate breakdown. How about investment in renewables for long term secure (and cheap!) energy? No tax relief for that, this is a reward for dirty energy only.
Over £8 billion of oil and gas projects could be unleashed, doing nothing to help with energy bills, but accelerating climate breakdown. This decision comes six months after the UK hosted COP26 and a year after the stark IEA warning that to avoid the worst impacts, there can be no new investments in oil, gas and coal.
The Chancellor was forced into a U-turn on a windfall tax, so we can see that people power works. Now we need to demand better. His plan would take money from oil and gas companies and returning it straight to their pockets. By refusing to reverse benefit cuts or invest in insulation or renewables to lower bills, families are left vulnerable.
We demand a better future
The UK has some of the oldest, most draughty housing in Europe; so people are paying for heat which goes straight out of the window or through the roof. Insulating homes can cut bills and cut emissions permanently. Without this, immediate financial support for those in need, while important, can only be a sticking plaster.
A comprehensive climate jobs programme could ensure investment in warm, well-insulated homes for all. We can create decent well-paid jobs in communities around the country, helping the local economy in all regions, improving public transport, getting clean air in cities and restoring our wildlife and green spaces.
Together with energy efficiency, a rapid transition to cheap, reliable renewable energy such as wind and solar can reduce our dependence on gas and cut energy bills permanently. Energy can be a public good, not just a profitable trading commodity. As North Sea production winds down, a just transition for oil workers and their communities is essential.
The climate crisis and cost of living crisis can be tackled together, with a focus on public sector jobs which meet needs and cut emissions, alongside a reversal of the damaging austerity cuts which have left ordinary people and public services struggling.