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The energy crisis fueling the wealth divide

Lots of people have thoughts on what makes the world go round. Some say love, some say money. I say coffee.

But our dependence on oil and gas to keep our lives running smoothly has recently become more apparent. Fuel quite literally keeps the cogs turning. So when shortages hit, they hit big time: from eerily dystopian queues at petrol stations, to soaring gas prices that have caused heating bills to skyrocket.

Yet amidst this chaos, we managed to find a silver-lining in being able to complain in solidarity. We Brits love to grumble, and we could do so safely in the knowledge that everyone else was also having to deal with traffic jams blocking roads and fuel prices at an 8 year high. There was an inescapable feeling about the whole thing: that it was, of course, something to do with Brexit. Something about a shortage of lorry drivers. And maybe something to do with climate change and the inevitable destruction of Earth as we know it. It was a feeling of something big. Something that couldn’t be avoided. Something justifiable.

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But that was until BP posted a £9.5 billion profit for last year (their highest since 2013 – for those of you who’s random-company-stats are a bit rusty). And now the whole debacle suddenly seems less of an admissible, fever-dream-like calamity and, instead, another aggravating example of the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer. Whilst people were running around like headless chickens trying to find petrol, and figure out how they could pay their bills that month, fuel companies were revelling in wealth and success – profiting off everyone else’s mayhem.

Now, I want to use my one semester of economics knowledge to clarify we’re not talking about revenue here. That would understandably rise with prices. No, we’re talking about profit. The financial gains they made, whilst the rest of us made losses. Such high profits at the expense of others is disgustingly unjustifiable. The National Energy Action charity has warned that 2 million more households are at risk of not being able to pay their fuel bills this year. And just like that, we’re back in a dystopian nightmare straight out of George Orwell.

That got very serious – but don’t worry. After being threatened with a windfall tax – to curb the gains made off everyone else’s frustration – BP’s chief executive was quick to remind us that that money could be invested in greener fuel supplies, which obviously makes everything OK! Panic over guys. We can all breathe a sigh of relief.

All these rising prices mean we also have to deal with an almost £700 increase in household energy bills – an increase forecasted to push more families into fuel poverty, raise the cost of living and result in more inflation. But once again, the crisis has been averted by the powers that be. This time Dishy Rishi Sunak is here to save the day with a £200 compulsory gift card! That, obviously, you’ll have to repay in £40 instalments each year, because the golden rule of political promises is that if it seems too good to be true, it is.

At a moment in time when the government is trying to scrape some credibility from wherever they can find it, this meagre ‘allowance’ (that you’ll have to pay back) resembles an unwanted pair of socks you got at Christmas. Though the way things are going, you’ll want every warm layer you can find.

Image via Pixabay