Subsidising Global Warming

We hear much about the large subsidies paid for renewable energy. In Many countries a feed in tariff system have been developed to subsidise the production of electricity from photovoltaic panels and large subsidies are paid to landowners and electricity generators who install wind turbines. Both PV and wind turbines do produce electricity but what they produce cannot be stored easily and the production is intermittent. Nevertheless governments, who regard energy as electricity, are happy to spend taxpayers’ money on these measures, rather than on measures, such as solar water heating, which can produce renewable heat at a cheap cost; unlike electricity heat can be stored.

Subsidies come in different guises. In essence any measure or favourable tax treatment which distorts the market or provides an un-level playing field is a subsidy. The Overseas Development Institute thinks that as a whole the governments of the world spend half a trillion dollars in subsidising…fossil fuel! Continue reading

The spiralling cost of grain

Most of the world eats grain as a staple food. In Asia rice feeds people; in Europe and North America wheat is the staple; as you go further north oats and barley become staples and as you travel south maize (also known as corn North America) feed the masses. Although living in what are prosperous places even in the recession bread or rice will not form a large part of your monthly spend on food, for the vast majority of humanity the cost of grain is a critical factor, often making the difference between life and death. Continue reading

Why are UK energy prices rising more than those elsewhere Europe?

We all know when energy prices rise. We pay more when our utility bills arrive and more when we fill up our cars at the pump. This is real life expenditure, mostly non discretionary for which we have to budget in difficult times when most of us have little chance of increasing our earnings as the credit crunch bites hard. At least we can console ourselves that everyone else is in the same boat, or are they? Continue reading