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Power Problems
Green Policies a Cold Comfort to Britain’s Poor

Britain just hit an ignominious milestone: new figures show that more than a million families with children live in “fuel poverty,” unable to afford their basic power needs. The Independent reports:

The number of English families in fuel poverty has climbed steadily over the last decade to reach 1,027,000. The total comprises 679,000 two-parent families and 348,000 single-parent households. […]

Almost one in five families with children (18 per cent) are in fuel poverty in England, according to the latest statistics, with an average gap of almost £400 a year between a family’s energy bill and what it can afford.

Cheap energy isn’t just a boon to industry; it’s also a boost for households whose budgets benefit from lower electricity bills. By the same token, expensive energy can really hurt households, and that effect is most keenly felt, naturally, by lower-income families. In this way, higher energy prices are like a regressive tax, as many in the UK can now attest.

The UK’s North Sea oil production is waning as fields mature, while plunging global oil prices may make that beleaguered drilling uneconomical entirely. Meanwhile, local protests have effectively stymied attempts to tap the country’s prodigious onshore shale reserves. If there’s a silver lining, it’s this: British energy policy has made it ever more reliant on imports, and it’s certainly a buyer’s market these days.

That, however, will be cold comfort for the million families with children who will be shivering in the dark this winter.

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  • Boritz

    It’s been bad since 2010.

    The Queen pleads poverty: Royal aides asked Ministers for help with Palace heating bill.

  • qet

    Hey, progress has a cost. To save the planet, some people will have to suffer. It’s a small price to pay, really, considering the stakes. And besides, they’re English, a/k/a imperial colonizers, so who cares? Remember how Ezra Klein said that sacrificing some college men on the altar of injustice was a necessary and not too high price to pay for progress in making women feel better? Same thing here. It’s almost as if to make a progressive omelette you have to break a few privileged eggs.

    • S.C. Schwarz

      Except that it’s never the privileged eggs that get broken.

      • qet

        Haven’t you been paying attention? If they’re white, they’re privileged. QED. If they’re white and male, they are privileged squared. White, male and straight? Privileged cubed. White, male, straight and not-poor? Privilege is a polynomial power function. The science is settled!

  • Corlyss

    They should feel warm just knowing they are helping save Gaia from the evil humans who like cheap energy.

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