‘I don’t want my tax money to subsidise windmills!’ shouts a red faced UKIP supporting 57-year-old man who lives in an area where there are no wind turbines.
He’s at a petrol station pumping £93 worth of fuel into his slightly battered old four by four that will be able to travel just over 300 miles burning the fuel.
What he clearly doesn’t know, along with most of us, is he has already paid for part of that fuel through his taxes.
‘I know the government taxes fuel at a frankly ridiculous level, what do you think I am, an idiot?’ he splutters.
No, he still hasn’t got it.
He is correct that there is a very large tax element in the £93 he has just spent topping up his tank.
But there is also a massive cost for all of us in subsidizing the fossil fuel corporations before that fuel comes out of the pump.
These are subsidies that have been in place for decades so they have become ‘normal’ and ‘embedded’ which means we’re all used to them, we don’t see them or think about them.
A recent report in Bloomberg news puts some figures on these subsidies and they are fairly staggering.
Globally the cost to tax payers is around $550 billion per year.
This is money we numpties are giving to the largest, wealthiest and most powerful corporations in human history to carry on with their business. It costs billions to find oil fields, to explore them, carry out test drilling, move billion dollar drilling equipment into position, pump out and ship the fuel to refineries.
So these companies get massive ‘tax breaks’ and 'incentives' given to them by their employees.
Sorry, the tax breaks are given to them by the independent governments we elect to rule us, that was just a silly, immature typo.
Global subsidies to renewable energy systems? They are big too, around $120 billion a year
This is because the cost of installing renewables is all up front, once in place the running costs are minimal. Unlike the fossil extraction industries where the costs go on and on, mitigated only by the fact that they don't have to pay for the damage their products create.
With the increasingly divided debate on how we generate power in the future I discern a clear line between older white men who state with tired knowingness ‘it has to be nuclear’ and a much larger group made up of all races and genders from around the globe saying ‘it’s obviously renewables.’
It’s very hard for the average member of the public (I consider myself in this group) who know very little about the intricacies of the topic to have any hope of knowing what’s true.
Or economically sensible.
Or secure from international financial convulsions and conflict.
A clue maybe in the rapid increase in community renewable energy projects (I’m involved in one) and their history of supplying renewable, financially stable and long term power that is not at the beck and call of outside forces.
Germany and Denmark are way ahead in this but it’s catching on and spreading rapidly.
Widely distributed, locally owned renewable energy has, I firmly believe, a very key role to play in our energy future. And the subsidies for this?
Piffling in comparison to the massive payouts the big fossil companies are chomping through.
Maybe if we stopped handing out dosh to these chaps, we might have a bit more to build an infrastructure we can genuinely depend on. Silly idea I know.
Here's a bit more detail on the how's, why's and excuses used to fork out billions to the hyper-rich. It all makes perfect sense :-)