This is a sometimes 'cheesey' blog about British and American politics and anything else which tickles my fancy!

Sunday, 3 August 2008

An Energy Policy for Labour

Energy is the hot topic of the moment.

Gas and electricity prices are rising. People are feeling it in their pockets. Winter is only round the corner.

Britain's energy supply is too dependent on the whims of foreign governments - not all of them always friendly.

And we are sleepwalking into an environmental catastrophe if we do not find more sustainable energy sources.

This is why the Government needs a coherent energy policy which addresses voters' concerns.

First things first, Labour should stick to its target of eradicating fuel poverty by 2016. Currently, 2.5 million households spend more than 10% of their household income on gas and electricity. Elderly people are affected the most. Labour introduced the winter fuel allowance which has helped elderly people get through those dark months but it is time to link the fuel allowance with income to ensure the very poorest people in society receive the most help.

Secondly, Labour should impose a windfall levy on the energy companies. This would generate £10 billion which could be in the form of a rebate for each household. This would help ease the pain for many families immediately particularly during winter.

Thirdly, the Government should work with energy suppliers to invest more in insulation. A huge investment programme over the next decade would reduce bills and help the environment. It would also be good for Britain's insulation industry!

Fourthly, Labour should introduce smart meters in every household. Customers on pre-pay meters spend £140 more a year on average than other customers. Introducing meters which show consumption use and costs would change behaviour and reduce bills. We could start with council owned housing.

Finally, each year the energy companies are given permits which allow them to produce a certain amount of carbon dioxide for free. Often, the energy companies trade these permits rather than use them. This represent a £9 billion Government giveaway. Labour could close this loophole down or use the money to invest in renewable technology.

Labour is rightly pushing for more nuclear power stations which will help to reduce our dependence on North Sea oil and foreign sources (as well as being better for the environment) but the Prime Minister could also push for a Renewables Revolution.

Labour needs to show the leadership and vision the country demands by pushing for a transition from a high-carbon economy to a low-carbon economy - a revolution in Renewables technology would be required. Who knows how many jobs this might create or what new technology would be developed as a result? It would be better for our economy, our environment and our security - the kind of bold thinking we need at the moment.

The Prime Minister could show how serious he was about the issue by creating a new Cabinet role: Secretary of State for Energy. He or she would cut across Whitehall boundaries and be responsible for implementing a long term strategy for energy security.

Policy that plans for the short and long term will allow us to ease the pain many households are now feeling and plan for our security and welfare in the future.

1 comment:

Andrew said...

'It would also be good for Britain's insulation industry!'

Your next drink is on me