By Sophie Squire
Downloading PDF. Please wait... Issue 2787

Right wingers gear up attacks on green levies

In the face of climate chaos, sections of the right want to scrap green levies
Issue 2787
Nigel Farage wants to scrap Green Levies

Nigel Farage wants to scrap green levies. (Photo Gage Skidmore/Flickr)

With a drastic rise in gas and electricity bills set to hit households this year, right wing figures and the bosses are looking for ways to deflect the crisis.  
Former Ukip leader Nigel Farage, industry bosses and some Tory MPs have called for the scrapping of “green levies” to cut energy bills. 
It’s a deliberate attempt to direct people’s anger against environmental activists and action against climate change, rather than the energy firms and the bosses.
It’s also an attempt to pretend that the Tories and some of the very rich are on the side of “ordinary people” against the “out of touch” climate activists. That campaign has to be wholly rejected.  
But that doesn’t mean that green levies are in any way perfect. 
A green levy is a type of tax that, in theory, acts as an incentive for companies to make greener choices. 
Levy schemes can also be implemented to persuade energy companies to keep the bills down for those in fuel poverty and protect the environment. 
The Energy Company Obligation (ECO) is one of those schemes. It says it will “improve the ability of low income, fuel poor and ­vulnerable households to heat their homes.” 
Other schemes such as the Renewables Obligation are in place to encourage energy suppliers to switch to renewables for their ­electricity supply. 
But some of the money goes to the highly ­unsustainable nuclear industry.
And the money for the Warm Home Discount Scheme for the poorest people is also part of the levies. That means slightly better off people are paying to cut the bills of the poorest. 
That money should be coming from the rich and the corporations. 
These levies do impact households’ bills, but only because bosses drive up energy prices to pay for them. 
Green levies on energy are a small step in the right direction to hold energy companies to account for their impact on the environment
They take some of the emphasis away from ­blaming individuals for the climate crisis and put it back on the real culprits—the bosses. 
More green taxes on the rich, who overwhelmingly have more polluting lifestyles than the poor, would also be welcome.
According to a 2020 report from Oxfam and the Stockholm Environment Institute, the world’s wealthiest 10 percent of people were responsible for around half of global emissions in 2015. The top one percent were responsible for 15 percent of ­greenhouse emissions.
That’s almost twice as much as the poorest 50 ­percent of people, who were responsible for just seven percent. 
But of course the bosses and rich would rather not pay green levies and have now seen an opportunity to pressure the government for them to be scrapped.  
Ecotricity boss Dale Vince told the BBC, “The ­government talk about high energy prices and bemoan them. 
“But what they don’t talk about is the fact that they take £9 billion a year from our energy bills in a combination of VAT and about five social and environmental policies.”
What the bosses are attempting to obscure is that the driving force behind rising fuel prices is the failure of their system. 
The wholesale rise in the price of fossil fuels is an immediate threat to energy companies’ profits. Scrapping green levies would mean the bosses would keep a larger share of those profits. 
In reality the key break is to move away from a system dominated by private interests and market mechanisms.
Public ­ownership and ­control of the whole sector would enable planning for sustainable production and to supply power that ordinary people could afford

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