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George Monbiot’s Parochial Frame

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George Monbiot is rightly fearful that the UK Government’s new Green Deal won’t amount to much, but he’s in danger of losing the bigger picture.

He dismisses the feed-in tariff for domestic scale solar photovoltaic electricity generation as being a “middle-class subsidy”, and being regressive – favouring the rich and adding to the poor man’s tax and energy bill burden.

Yet while he is lambasting entrepreneurs and pioneers, he ignores the valuable contribution that renewable energy makes to society at large.

Without the development of a multitude of smallscale renewable energy installations, the country will have to pay for increasingly expensive Natural Gas imports, and subsidise a whole new fleet of nuclear power plants – because, let’s face it, nuclear power never came cheap.

It’s true that the feed-in tariff rewards people who have savings when they invest those savings in renewable energy – but it also provides valuable cashflow and employment to the economy, and the tax revenue that comes with that.

I don’t see how having some savings that you invest in renewable energy makes a person “middle-class”, however, unless class is defined by savings.

And I don’t see how investing in renewable energy makes a body “middle-class”, either. If having savings means you are rich, when somebody has spent those savings on renewable energy, they become poor.

Putting ones savings into renewable energy could be viewed as investment in the future wealth of the nation – it is a highly patriotic act. I am personally ensuring that everybody, both rich and poor, does not have to financially support, through taxation and energy bills, the wasteful and costly power generation of the past, for decades into the future.

The small compensation from the feed-in tariff is what somebody should expect from selflessly contributing to the nation’s low carbon power supply.

The sale of the renewable solar power to the National Grid is the remuneration that one should expect of any power generation. Solar power may be free, but it hasn’t been free for me to put up solar panels to capture it.

The solar photovoltaic feed-in tariff is not regressive – it’s powerfully progressive, and it should not be abolished.

2 replies on “George Monbiot’s Parochial Frame”

I agree Jo. It’s not a popular slogan on the left for obvious reasons, but we are all in this together. We need policies that get “middle class” savings out of bank accounts and invested in low carbon as well as policies that help those who cannot afford to improve their homes to do so.

I also don’t get why Government bonds are good but FITs bad. Both involve people with money handing it over for good works and receiving a return at some point down the line. The anti FITs brigade are either disingenuous or focussed on completely the wrong target – bonds and PFI are massively bigger.

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