Let The Poor Pay for Climate Change
by Jo Abbess
7th April 2008
In a most extraordinary turn of events, John Hutton, the UK’s Minister of State for Business, has insisted that there should be no turning back from a change in the tax regulations, to wipe out a zero-tax income band at the bottom of the range, likely to impact negatively on the earnings of the poorest of Society.
That it will take money from the poorest he contests, but a number of Members of Parliament and concerned experts are quite certain, with calculations, that those at the bottom of the stack will lose out.
The Treasury concedes to this change in the Finance Bill, as they cannot really fight the might of BERR, the Department of State for Business and Enterprise.
It is a most callous regulatory change, given that John Hutton sits on top of a stack of briefs that he knows will deliver outcomes that make the poor pay for Climate Change.
One way or another, business and industry want to see a Carbon Price : a financial cost attached to Carbon Dioxide emissions. This way, they can pass on the costs of Carbon to their end consumers, and retain profits and their right position in the economic order of things.
The policy arguments for a Carbon Tax have been widely and strenuously discussed of late, as have the functions and dysfunctions of Carbon Trading, as currently espoused in the form of the European Emissions Trading Scheme.
Money for Carbon is a simple, decisive and incisive approach to tackle net Climate Change Emissions, but the cost will always, inevitably and invariably fall on those most financially challenged.
And here’s the rub : just as a Carbon Price starts to rain down on the poor, added costs will arrive on all fronts.
First of all there is an effective Carbon Tax that is currently being added to household utility bills, Natural Gas and Electricity, as a result of Energy companies taking advantage of the near certainty that they will have to pay for Carbon in future under Cap and Trade and raising their prices early, in a widely derided “windfall”.
Then, there will be indirect Carbon Taxes added to the weekly shopping basket in the form of increased prices for any goods that required Energy to be used to make and distribute them : that is, everything from food to fuel.
And then added to that will be costs from Climate Damages – the net costs of Climate Changes such as flooding, increasing health disadvantages from extreme and more humid weather, summer heatwaves causing bad health and other problems, drought causing infrastructural and building damages, and so on.
The fact that there is an increasing stress in Energy supply, due to a number of factors, principally a plateau in liquid fuel production and increasing demand from the developing nations, will also add to Energy costs.
That the Property Bubble has now burst, Energy inefficiencies in homes will make them harder to sell and decrease their asset value, particularly for the poorest who cannot afford to renovate them to Energy efficiency standards.
The fact is that poorest will always suffer from rising Energy prices first and hardest.
In a nation that is becoming rapidly more unfair, Carbon pricing will inflate a massive underclass in the Economy.
The British poor are experiencing continuing erosion in their incomes, and increasing costs of living. The British poor are heavily in debt. Those that are not technically poor may own properties whose asset values are going to degrade rapidly under a Carbon Pricing regime.
Fuel poverty ? People are falling into this category at a higher rate than before, and it is symptomatic of how regulatory Carbon Pricing will create greater impoverishment.
At what point will the great underclass of the poor be completely overwhelmed by Climate Change costs ? At what point will the Climate Underclass turn on their Carbon Controllers ?
Advice and Recommendations to stay out of Climate Poverty :- 1. Get rid of all your debts, including property loans and mortgages. 2. Reduce your Energy consumption as much as you can. 3. Share Carbon expenditure as far as possible.
The only future for Carbon is Personal Allowances. And it’s the only possible future for the Economy – a national Carbon Budget that’s strictly capped and shared without financial cost to the Citizens is the only policy that will assure Economic Stability.
Instituting Carbon Pricing within the Carbon Pipeline will ensure that the costs flow down to the already overburdened poor.
If you want to protect economic balance you need to treat Carbon as a currency in itself.
The rich are Carbon-profligate, they waste the most Energy. Making Carbon have an intrinsic value in itself through controlled rationing, with overuse charged through inter-personal trading will ensure that it is the polluters who will pay, and not the poor.