Poverty and climate campaigners at Fuel Poverty Action have written to Alok Sharma, President of COP26 calling for windfall taxes on oil companies’ huge profits, to be spent on relieving the plight of people in fuel poverty.
Research by Bloomberg News has exposed how “The Western world’s biggest oil companies likely just generated more cash than at any time since the Great Recession, and investors are about to find out what they’ll do with it.[…] Shareholders are now anxious to see whether the companies will return their windfalls via higher dividends or stock buybacks — or use them to produce more oil and gas.” 1
Fuel Poverty Action (FPA) says2,
“Some people, profiting from the sale of these fuels, are choosing whether to channel their windfall into still further wealth for shareholders, or to invest it in still further production of CO2. Others face a different choice: whether to heat their homes or put food on the table.
In the UK, even before Covid, around 10,000 people died each year because they could not afford to keep warm. Millions of households are dreading this winter. In many countries, the poverty is still more acute, and the need is to keep cool as temperatures soar over 50 degrees C.”
In an open letter to Mr Sharma, Ruth London of FPA says,
“We are tired of the question: ‘Where is the money to come from?’ to insulate homes, bolster incomes, and transition to renewable energy and heating. Instead, it’s time to focus on ‘Where is our money going?’. Governments must commit to removing huge subsidies and windfall profits from oil corporations. As President of COP26 you should be seeking agreements that accomplish that goal.”
“In 2020, according to the International Monetary Fund, governments spent $450bn in direct subsidies for the fossil fuel industry.3 This flow of public money must now be reversed. And the cash must be used to help relieve the energy crisis faced by people who are struggling to survive. In the UK and internationally, we need well-insulated housing, efficient heating and cooling, adequate incomes, and investment in energy which is both sustainable and affordable.