Price worth paying

John Cameron (Letters, 12 October) hears the “sound of chickens coming home to roost” with the announcement that an energy supplier is putting up prices. Energy companies are no doubt delighted that he repeats the desired misrepresentation that it is all down to “green initiatives”.

A cursory glance at, for instance, the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) report Estimated impacts of energy and climate change policies on energy prices and bills (March 2013) tells a rather different story.

The largest part by far of our energy costs is down to the wholesale cost of fossil fuels (which have risen significantly) and other supplier costs and margins from energy companies. Mr Cameron is strangely silent on the subject of subsidies paid to support fossil fuels. He might be rather surprised if he were to take the time to look.

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The figures from DECC suggest government green initiatives are responsible for about 9 per cent of the average dual household gas and electricity bill. That does not take account of the savings – about 5 per cent – due to those self-same policies (for instance paying for insulation for the homes of poorer families).

Put broadly, the cost of inexhaustible, clean, secure, renewables is decreasing; the cost of exhaustible, insecure, damaging, fossil fuels is expected to increase.

The latest authoritative assessments (from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) on the likely devastating impacts of climate change if we don’t reduce our fossil fuel emissions appears to have passed Dr Cameron by. While he is worrying about noisy chickens, he might like to consider he is riding a rather large tiger that would happily eat him. It would make sense to pay a few pounds to get safely down.

Tom Ballantine

Dalkeith Street

Joppa, Edinburgh

With the onset of winter and a plethora of welfare cuts, it is increasingly obvious that the hiking of gas and electricity charges requires urgent attention.

Reports of immense profits for the utility companies and lavish pay-outs to their senior executives provide an unanswerable case for effective government intervention – otherwise, the NHS is going to have to save the lives of many people who cannot afford to keep themselves above hypothermic levels in their own homes over the coming months.

This is another burden on the public services that have been continuously cut back by Victorian beliefs that private is best – an ideology that has taken the postal service out of public control and placed it in the hands of financial speculators. But, of course, as happened not long ago, when things go bad it will be the public who buys the speculators out of their mishandling and the public-funded parliamentarians who will tell us that it was all caused by a world recession. Then they will proceed to pounce on the next buoyant public utility so they can dismember it, too.

Ian Johnstone

Forman Drive

Peterhead, Aberdeenshire