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[26 May 2024] Price-gouging the US public

*Companies in the oil, hotel, meat and other sectors are price-gouging the US public. They’re not hiding it, either.*

This has to be a consequence of too little competition. With more competition, companies would have to reduce prices and increase production. In most cases, that would mean no gouging.

But the fossil fuel sector is an exception. Expanding production of fossil fuels until demand is satisfied is the road to gigadeaths, If our government were effective for terrible long-term problems, it would be organizing long-term contraction of that market.

[24 May 2024] Top oil firms' pledges

Oil Change International says, *Top oil firms' climate pledges failing on almost every metric.*

The pledges of BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, Eni, Equinor, ExxonMobil, Shell and TotalEnergies are basically greenwashing.

Those companies uses these pledges to stave off laws that would try to make them really reduce greenhouse emissions. At the same time, they lobby to weaken the application of the existing laws that could limit the destruction of civilization.

I expect that they help stir up farmers' protests against increases in the price of fossil fuels.

[16 December 2023] Argentina eliminated fossil fuel subsidies

Argentina has eliminated subsidies for fossil fuel, along with other measures to reduce government expenditure.

Cutting subsidies for fossil fuels is essential for many reasons, but to avoid causing immediate hardship for people of low income, this needs to be accompanied by increased support for people and families of low income. This increase must not depend on actual fossil fuel consumption! Therefore it will compensate for the increased cost of fossil fuels without reducing their price.

[16 October 2022] Wake-up call for the west

*Let Saudi Arabia’s friendship with Putin be a wake-up call for the west.* But not only for realpolitik, and the larger goals should not be limited to human rights and democracy. Curbing global heating fast must also be a first-priority goal, and that means that, starting as soon as possible, we must keep the wholesale price of oil low and the retail price high.

The natural way to do that is with a heavy tax on fossil fuels that is scheduled to increase predictably every year.

[11 October 2022] OPEC driving oil prices up

OPEC has decided to cut supplies of oil and drive the price back up.

If it were only a matter of prices and the short-term economy, I would recommend that the US ship a lot of oil — that would really screw OPEC. However, the most important issue at stake is global heating and the disaster we must avoid. To do the right thing now means helping people get through this winter, in ways that will reduce the long-term demand for fossil fuels.

[5 September 2022] Ovo Energy chief calls for ‘progressive’ scheme for bills similar to tax system

Proposing a progressive price system for electricity and fossil fuels, as a way of helping the poor without subsidizing fossil fuel for the rich.

That would be much better than giving rich people the same subsidy as the poor, but I've already explained that a subsidy for energy is a terrible mistake.

[31 July 2022] Democrats' deal with Manchin

The Democrats' great "deal" with Manchin includes increased drilling for fossil fuels.

It is one step forward in exchange for Manchin's demanded half a step back.

The deal also includes some positive changes regarding taxes: a 15% corporate profits minimum tax, more higher tax on private equity funds, and funding the IRS to investigate tax cheaters that aren't poor.

Also, it makes an effort to reduce the cost of medicines for people on Medicare. Sanders called it "better than nothing."

Overall, it is a change for the better, but the additional wells will pump death for decades.

But we must never talk about this deal without condemning the price to civilization that Manchin has charged for it.

*Climate targets at risk as countries lag in updating emission goals, say campaigners.*

[25 June 2022] Temporarily eliminating the gas tax

Biden is backing a foolish method of helping poor Americans afford expensive gasoline: temporarily eliminating the gasoline tax. Making fossil fuels cheaper for their users is the exact opposite of what we need to curb global heating.

The right way to help poor people cope with current high prices for gasoline — and the high cost of living, in general — is to give them some extra money. They will be able to spend that money on gasoline if they need to, but if they conserve gasoline, they will be able to spend it on something else.

Since both methods require Congressional approval, there is no reason at all to choose the foolish method, except that planet-roaster congresscritters might prefer it.

A similar crisis is affecting Ecuador. Massive protests against a planned increase in fuel prices have shut down he country, and the president is responding with repression

The right solution for Ecuador is like the right solution for the US: give the poor extra money to cover the extra costs.

[5 May 2022] Addressing Europe's energy crisis

*Windfall taxes, price caps and VAT cuts: how nations are addressing Europe’s energy crisis.*

Reducing sales taxes (such as VAT) is a good thing to do since sales taxes fall mainly on the poor. Governments should tax rich people's gains instead of poor people's purchases or poor people's income.

Limiting the price of fossil fuels or electricity is a mistake, because people must be under pressure to use less of them. Subsidizing the cost of fuel is a dangerous addiction.

Instead of reducing what poor people pay for energy, the right thing to do is to support them unconditionally with enough money to get by. Those who don't spend it all on energy will be able to use it for other things.

A windfall profits tax will not directly help the poor or conserve fuel, but it will give governments income, so that the money for the poor does not all have to come from deficit spending. And it will slow the growth of economic inequality, which tends to make society more cruel and unjust.

[10 March 2022] Fracking as the way to fight Putin

Although the IPCC has reported that heat itself is starting to kill people (and other living things), the planet roasters are proposing that fracking is the way to fight Putin.

Australia's planet-roaster government is likewise trying to kill you.

In one of Australia's flooded, ruined towns, families now homeless know that the planet-roaster politicians did this to them.

Geg Palast suggests crushing Russia economically by allowing Venezuela to export oil again.

Cheap gasoline has an immediate appeal, but it will destroy civilization. Making fuel expensive is an inherent part of making transport decarbonize. But that should be a steady and gradual process — price shocks are not good for progress.

[13 January 2022] Pushing millions into penury

The UK is going to push millions into penury with rising prices for fossil fuel. Labour has joined the push for a windfall profits tax, such as the US adopted in the oil shortage of the 1970s.

The Tories have adopted plans to reduce use of fossil fuels, but they have cancelled them before it was time to spend money. That's because "more for the rich" is its priority.

Labour's plan is not particularly bold. It is an adequate plan, and much better than none at all. However, we won't see any bold plans from Labour now that it has kicked out Corbyn and his supporters. It has decided against boldness.

[24 May 2020] Fossil fuel companies name their price

Making a sucker out of the US: the conman tells fossil fuel companies, "Pay as little or as much as you like" for extracting fuels from US public lands.

The US needs to impose a steadily increasing tax on use of fossil fuel, no matter where it came from or how it was obtained, and make the increase fast enough to reduce usage to near zero in 10 years. This can be part of a planned shift away from fossil fuels.

[3 December 2019] Iran and protesters

Iranians protested the rise in gasoline price by blocking streets. The state responded with tear gas, bullets, and blocking the internet. Estimates are that around 70 people were killed.

We must end subsidies for fossil fuels — global heating disaster threatens to kill billions of people a few decades from now. We would be fools to delay that for any reason whatsoever. Thus, governments need to develop a way to do that without short-term suffering for the poor.

[16 March 2019] Zimbabwe Army Crimes

Evidence implicates Zimbabwe's army in murder and rape during repression of protests.

There is no cause that so easily stirs up big protests like increasing the price of fossil fuels. Yet this is one of the special issues on which yielding to the protesters implies (even worse) disaster in a few decades.

Perhaps if the price increase is entirely distributed to poor people in other ways, they might accept it.

[1 November 2018] Australia's new coal mines

Australia has a new way to set up an unstoppable doomsday machine: by starting new coal mines, and committing to pay the whole of the mines' carbon taxes in the future.

At a time when we need to reduce use of fossil fuels, to aim to make fossil fuels cheaper to use is a fundamental mistake. This is an example of setting short-term convenience over long-term survival.

The purpose of a carbon tax is to make fossil fuel more expensive to use, without making it more profitable to extract. If it had started 10 years ago, with a large enough tax rate, we might have been well on the way to decarbonizing by now. However, with time being short, it may be too slow.

We Need a Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty.

[9 June 2018] Truck driver strike

Activity in Brazil was brought to a halt by a strike by truck drivers, self-organized and not going through a union. They demanded a lower price for diesel fuel.

By making the price unpredictable, President Temer put the burden on the truck drivers. The country needs to charge more for fossil fuels; subsidy of fossil fuels promotes global heating. However, it needs to make sure that the burden does not fall on truck drivers, but rather on the businesses that use the services of trucks.

[29 March 2018] Massachusetts cap-and-trade

Proposing that Massachusetts adopt a cap-and-trade policy for all activities that use fossil fuels.

The EU adopted a cap-and-trade system, which became a total failure (the price of emissions fell to nearly zero), and then was politically blocked from modifying the system to function. Given that example of failure, I think a tax on carbon emissions is better.

[27 November 2017] Renewable electricity

The low price of renewable electricity generators is leading to massive investments despite the efforts of planet-roasters to hold it back.

Electric power generation is, alas, only one of the sectors that cause greenhouse emissions. There is transportation, which usually means burning fossil fuels; there is deforestation; there is farming.

Converting electric generation to 100% renewable may not be enough to avoid global heating disaster, though it is a big step towards that goal.

[9 October 2016] Carbon tax

James Hanson says we need a carbon tax to make the price of fossil fuels honest.

[04 April 2015] Low oil price

Naomi Klein: we must take advantage of the low oil price to cancel fossil fuel drilling projects.

I think we should put heavy taxes on fossil fuels, so that the price for use will be high enough to encourage conservation, while the price paid to extractors will be low enough to discourage drilling.

[25 March 2015] Wind generators

Within a decade, wind generators will be cheaper than fossil fuel power plants.

Unfortunately, we haven't got a decade to wait lackadaisically to cut down on fossil fuels. We must take strong measures by 2017.

Wind power would be cheaper already if fossil fuels were taxed to cover the cost that their emissions impose on society.

For gasoline, that is estimated at almost 4 dollars per gallon, more than the price of gasoline in the US.

I advocate taxing fossil fuels to cover these costs, mainly so as to use the market to move society away from them. As for politicians that say they will make gasoline cheaper, they are pandering to the foolish side of human nature.

[23 September 2014] Rockefellers to divest from fossil fuel

The Rockefeller Brothers Fund pledged to divest from fossil fuel.
[Reference updated on 2018-03-21 because the old link was broken.]

In addition to punishing fossil fuel companies' stock price — which could be cancelled out if other investors buy in — the divestment movement can concentrate plutocratic lobbying power in favor of decarbonization. Plutocratic lobbying power is an injustice, and to restore democracy we must get rid of it, but in the mean time setting some of it against global heating is a step forward.

[11 August 2014] UK censored a report on house prices

The UK censored a report on house prices, apparently to cover up the effect of fracking.

The UK government is not as blatant in its support of fossil fuels as the Australian and Canadian governments, but it is persistent.

[06 April 2014] IMF-imposed austerity

Ukraine's leaders call the coming IMF-imposed austerity "the price of independence".

They have it backwards: the price of independence will be whatever it costs Ukraine to throw off the IMF's yoke.

One of the IMF's requirements is truly necessary: making fossil fuels more expensive. That must be done in every country so that less of them will be used.

[07 March 2014] Little gov't scrutiny of local approval for fracking in UK

The UK government pays strict attention to local approval for wind farms, which can spoil the view, while disregarding local approval for fracking which can poison the water.

Parliament is starting to face the issue of the carbon bubble in fossil companies' stock valuation.

What can governments do about such a bubble? Here's one idea: require the prospectus of a company involved in extraction, transport, sale or combustion of fossil fuel to mention the bubble, and its probable future effects on the company's stock price.

[7 May 2012] The UK Government

The UK government is trying desperately to build nuclear reactors, but this is running smack into its promise not to subsidize them.

The article considers a minimum carbon trade price as a kind of subsidy for nuclear power, but that is only half true. It is, rather a kind of subsidy for everything other than fossil fuels. Absent some other subsidy for nuclear power, I expect businesses to choose to invest in renewable energy and energy efficiency.

[16 December 2011] Solar Energy

US companies that make solar panels accuse China of dumping them.

That might be true — I would hardly expect the Chinese state to deal fairly or honestly with anyone. However, it appears that the cut-price solar panels have stimulated other US businesses, creating jobs and helping the US move away from fossil fuels.

China responded by accusing the US of dumping the material the solar panels are mainly made from.

Instead of penalizing Chinese solar panels, the US should subsidize domestic producers so they can compete. This way we will move even faster to solar energy.

[24 March 2011] Big Oil Price Lie

Oil company flunkies are claiming that the moratorium on drilling for oil in the Gulf of Mexico has caused a rise in oil prices. It's a lie.
[Reference updated on 2018-02-15 because the old link was broken.]

Low oil prices are a mistaken goal anyway. The US should put a tax on all CO2-producing fuels so as to encourage renewable energy, and should give a compensatory handout to poor people in rural areas whether they use fossil fuels or not.

(Another recent post on this topic here.)

[19 October 2009] Should we fear high oil prices?

Should we fear high oil prices? Here's an article that invites us to consider that possibility public danger number one.

That article is a subtle attempt to distract us from the greater danger of global warming. It harps on the short term danger of a recession due to high oil prices while disregarding the longer-term danger of destroying civilization through burning too much oil. We don't know whether technology will be able to extract 11 trillion barrels of oil from the ground, but we can be confident that pumping all that CO2 into the air will bring us ruin.

Why this one-sidedness? Perhaps a clue can be found in what it says about the multinational oil companies. In the past, they controlled the oil in countries such as Iran and Venezuela, and exported most of the profits as well as the oil itself. They defended this exploitation by getting the US and UK to attack governments which attempted to keep these profits in the country. For instance, the overthrow of the elected leader Mossadegh in Iran, which restored the Shah to power, later led to the current Islamic Republic. The article describes this sort of colonialism in glowing terms. I suspect that the oil companies have something to do with the writing of the article.

I wonder whether the author has some sort of profitable relationship with these same oil companies.

Cartels and bubbles can indeed cause unnecessary trouble. The way to prevent them is to manage the price of oil, and all fossil fuels, with a tax that will make the price rise in a steady, predictable way. That won't directly stop market manipulation, but it will reduce the demand which makes market manipulation so effective and tempting.

But that's not what the oil companies want. They want to sell as much as possible in the near future.