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Cameron lets energy privateers write the rules that are supposed to regulate them

Cameron and GasCameron prophetically described lobbying in 2010 as “the next big scandal waiting to happen”, but by 2015 he has himself made it happen. It was already revealed some months ago that senior representatives from the Big 6 energy companies had been seconded to the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) to ‘advise’ ministers on energy policy – done quietly and secretly until it was leaked, not cash for access but just access for some of the richest and most powerful companies in the country.

Now, thanks to research by Greenpeace, it emerges that for the technical working group in Brussels formulating new limits on air pollution across Europe, 5 of the UK’s 9-strong delegation work for companies creating large-scale carbon and other toxic emissions, including the German companies RWE and E.0N and the French company EDF. The other 4 members were civil servants. In all more than half of the members of this EU technical working group (183 members out of 352) are either employed by the firms that are supposed to be being regulated or by lobbyists working for those companies. The result was encapsulated two days ago by a (london) Evening Standard headline: Toxic London.

This is turning democratic accountability on its head. The whole point about the public sector is that its raison d’etre is not maximising profit-making, but providing services which will uphold the highest standards for the community as a whole. The Brussels exercise is designed to subvert that to the fullest degree the energy utilities can get away with. The only rationale for the energy sector being privatised is that its operations are strictly controlled by an independent and objective regulator.

What Cameron (and to be fair, other governments including Poland, Germany, Greece, France, Spain, and Czech Republic) have done is to elevate private profit over public interest and to allow private markets a degree of latitude incompatible with what the wider community needs. As a result Greenpeace has established that the proposed EU standards on toxic emissions from coal plants will be less strict than in China.

Toxic emissions already kill thousands of people across Europe every year. Frankly what has been exposed is that Cameron is more concerned about private energy company profits than the health of the British people he is supposed to represent. It also shows that the energy companies, left to their own devices, will do everything in their power to gnaw away at any constraints on their own private interests. That is another reason, quite apart from their gross exploitation of energy pricing, why the Big Six energy utilities should be returned to public ownership if we are ever to get fair pricing and proper public accountability of a key sector for national security and public and commercial well-being.

One Comment

  1. Barry Ewart says:

    Yes need to take public utilities into democratic public ownership. Could have staff electing boards and comnunities having a say. We could like the old Coop divi pay a community dividend to customers which could be taken as money or offset against bills (to address fuel poverty). People would then feel that they owned them and they would be nailed down if right wing carpetbaggers came from them. Need democratic socialist imagination. Plus harness free energy of the sun and solar panel farms in World deserts etc. Good for the planet and humanity. Could have a globally publicly owned trust or by countries but of course the Neandertols may small profit. The right wing little people are tinkering with energgy issues for profits and self interest whilst left wing ideas shine like he stars!
    Yours in international solidarity!

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