Cost of living crisis - fossil fuels are costing the earth

In a rich country like the UK, people should not have to choose between warm homes and decent food. But with a combination of rising gas prices, a failure to insulate homes or build enough renewable energy, and a deeply unequal society after a decade of austerity and benefit cuts... this is the reality for many.

On 12 February there were protests around the country about the cost of living crisis. Further days of action have been called for 5 March and 2 April.

The crisis is being used by some in the rightwing media and Conservative party to argue that we 'can't afford' climate action, or that pumping more fossil fuels from the North Sea could solve the problem - despite the obvious fact that in a global market, oil companies will export their product to wherever they get the best price.

As families struggle, oil companies' profits have shot up with rising gas prices.

Shell recorded $19.3 billion profits in 2021, while BP raked in $12.8 billion

windfall tax on energy giants' profits would help ensure that no one has to choose between eating and heating their homes - sign the petition here

The current situation also makes clear that the current system of privatised energy - and the assumption that what's good for the big oil companies is good for all of us - is broken and dangerous. Find out more about campaigning for public ownership.

It is the UK's heavy dependence on gas and failure to insulate our leaky, energy inefficient housing that have left us so exposed to price hikes. In the past decade this government has failed twice over on warm homes: rates of home insulation plummeted because of a lack of support, and new houses are still being built which are not energy efficient. One analysis studied the impact of 'cutting the green crap' under Cameron - slashing home insulation subsidies, banning onshore wind and scrapping the zero carbon rule that was about to come in for new builds. They find that these cuts added around £2.5 billion to today's energy bills.

Another question is where we would be today if a decade ago we had accelerated climate action rather than pulling back - and where we could be in a decade's time if we take the opportunity to do exactly that.

To find out more about what we could achieve with a massive programme of public sector climate jobs and joined up policy, take a look at our report 'Climate Jobs: Building a workforce for the climate emergency'. This includes insulating homes, building renewable energy capacity and much more, including improving public transport, getting clean air in cities and restoring our wildlife and green spaces. Decent well-paid jobs could be created in communities around the country - real 'levelling up'.

The report can be downloaded or you can order hard copies. To discuss the issues raised, all are welcome to our series of online meetings. The first two will be on climate jobs in energy (Mon 21 Feb) and climate jobs in buildings (Mon 28 Feb). Find out more and sign up here.