It’s unfair to tell people to use less when they pay more

“I left orders to be woken at any time during the national emergency, even if I’m in a cabinet meeting,” joked Ronald Reagan. The former US President tried to make a difficult situation easy.

Now nobody in government should be caught napping. That’s why the ongoing calls from the government and the EU to get people to use energy “more efficiently” are starting to crunch.

The latest comes from Taoiseach Micheál Martin. People are alarmed at the prospect of a winter of unknown financial demands from all quarters.

Alleviating such fears requires creating a coordinated plan of action that protects those who need it most. As people are pushed to their limits, it is the government’s job to recognize the pressures they are under.

The executive body of the EU has just proposed capping the price of Russian gas. Moscow’s perfectly predictable response was to threaten to cut off all gas supplies.

“We have to cut Russia’s income, which Putin is using to finance this cruel war,” said EU Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen.

But Vladimir Putin replied: “We will not supply gas, oil, coal, fuel oil – we will not supply anything” if it would be contrary to Russia’s interests.

EU leaders have accused Moscow of “weaponizing” its gas exports in response to Western sanctions against Russian individuals and companies.

But Putin would never do anything else. Shutting down the vital Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline to northern Germany was a safe bet after sanctions were broken, so the confusion at crafting timely detailed measures to insulate people from the resulting energy price hikes across the bloc is hard to understand.

The delay is also unacceptable as countries face double-digit inflation. The lack of coordination and collaboration contributes to the uncertainty and instability that is building up across the zone. EU ministers urgently need to agree on a way to separate gas costs from electricity prices, which are linked in the European market.

There is also talk of a “solidarity contribution” from fossil fuel companies.

The proposals will be presented to energy ministers tomorrow. This is where businesses and the public need to know immediately what the government is proposing. Telling people to use less if they pay more hardly amounts to an adequate response.

Germany is spending 65 billion euros to help those in need and give companies tax breaks.

Expecting people to put on an extra pair of socks or postpone cooking their evening meal so it doesn’t collide with peak usage times isn’t going to be enough to generate the savings needed to pay astronomical bills.

We need empathy and understanding. Nonetheless, when asked to confirm an energy rebate before Christmas in the 2023 budget, the Taoiseach’s response was, “I’m not doing the budget now.” But it’s not about a neatly bound and calibrated accounting statement. It’s about balancing people’s very real needs and balancing them in their best interests at a time of grave national crisis. It’s unfair to tell people to use less when they pay more

Fry Electronics Team

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