This is a guest post by the Climate Justice Collective
On May 3rd, executives from EON, EDF, Scottish Power, Shell and BP will be convening at the UK Energy Summit in London. Organised by The Economist magazine, the event will see CEOs and policy-makers discuss how to ‘secure a sustainable energy future’. With tickets at £1000 per head, it’s clear that only those who can afford it will get a seat at the policy-making table.
Meanwhile, household energy prices are up 15% on average from last year and the Big Six energy companies – Centrica (British Gas), EDF, EON, RWEnpower, Scottish Power and SSE – continue to hold a monopoly over 99% of our energy, determining everything from where it is sourced to how it is priced. The control that energy companies have over our lives and our environment is still the dinosaur in the living room.
At The Big Six Energy Bash, Climate Justice Collective and friends – including anti-cuts groups, anti-poverty campaigners, environmental activists and Occupy London – will be taking to the capital’s streets to put a spanner in the works of the energy monopoly going on behind closed doors at the Summit.
While tackling cuts to our collective heritage of public services in the UK, we need to keep climate change on the agenda. Climate change represents the biggest global cut to our global collective heritage of an ecological commons. The slogan ‘Nature doesn’t do bailouts’ has never been more prescient. It is us and our children who will be paying for the oncoming crises. In spite of technofixes, the rush towards nuclear, and the recolonisation of Africa through biomass and solar projects, climate chaos is still on the cards, and we are not too big to fail.
The reason we’re targeting the Big Six and Big Energy is not just because of their control over how energy is sourced, accessed, and priced, but also because they’re positioning themselves as the answer to the climate crisis. These companies, with their logic of profit at any cost, are driving the marketisation of resources that should be protected- that should not be commodities at all.
Warmth, decent housing, and decisions on where we source our energy from are our democratic right. They are not privileges to be decided behind closed doors in government, boardrooms or conferences that cost thousands of pounds to attend.
Keeping climate change on the agenda means acknowledging the intersection of struggles around austerity and energy: fighting cuts and environmental destruction should go hand in hand. As the rising cost of fossil fuels (alongside Big Six profiteering and savage welfare cuts) made our energy bills bite harder than ever before last winter, the problem is clear for all to see: our energy system, and our economy, is being run for the benefit of greedy companies, who have the government sitting comfortably in their pockets.
There are alternatives to the current profit-driven fossil fuel energy system and to the methods and goals of industrial production that rely on it. We need to ask questions not just about what type of energy we use, but also about what ends our energy is being produced for. We need a contraction of industry, and the reconfiguration of work as we know it, to gear it towards needs, real development and sustainability rather than expanding markets, competition, consumption and profit.
Less work for the sake of work or a wage; more cooperation, with the right to a healthy environment, stability and family time. We need to follow the lead of people in Manchester, Brixton, Brighton and Bristol, who are reclaiming their futures by co-operatively running their own community-controlled renewable energy.
Come out on May 3rd and show the Big Six, Shell, BP and the other fossil fuel dinosaurs that they cannot keep robbing us and our planet, and that the government cannot keep cutting, privatising and leaving us to freeze. We can and will take our power back.
The Big Six Energy Bash is supported by:
Biofuelwatch, Bristol Energy Cooperative, Campaign Against Climate Change, Disabled People Against the Cuts, Fuel Poverty Action, Global Women’s Strike, Kick Nuclear, London Coalition Against Poverty, London Rising Tide, Occupy London, Rising Tide UK, Stop Nuclear Power Network, UK Tar Sands Network, UK Uncut.