Saturday, 7 June 2008

A short lull

Crude oil prices seemed to plateau for a couple of weeks following the previous high of $135, until yesterday when the biggest jump ever saw prices rise to £139. There seem to be three factors affecting this, with the underlying driver being Peak Oil (the maximum rate of extraction has been reached and will slowly decline while demand gets higher). Speculation is reported pushing prices even higher and swings in the value of the dollar don't help either. provide useful monitoring of the price.

All this is hitting motorists, shopper and the poor hardest. What we need is not quick fix tax cuts on fuel but rapid investments in alternatives. Below are letters in the Kent On Sunday and the Kent Messenger this week from me.

Dear Editor,

The disastrous effects of the government's failure to prepare for the long expected rising fuel prices as the world hits peak oil production along with its failure to reduce our oil consumption in the face of catastrophic climate change is now being felt by motorists and hauliers.

Even so, reducing the fuel tax would be the wrong thing to do and these high prices must be used to spur the rapid change to a lower carbon economy that is the only long term solution for a sustainable society.

The tax that should be reduced is the Vehicle Excise Duty - Road Tax. This regressive tax helps no one and punishes the poor more than the wealthy. Taxes should be aimed at the rich, who can afford them, and the polluters to change behaviour. Road Tax does neither.

Stuart Jeffery
Green Party Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Maidstone and the Weald

Dear Editor,

It is utterly negligent of government to have ignored the predictions of the current oil shock that has been foreseen for many years. The cost of fuel has been driven up by supply no longer being able to keep up with demand - a geological phenomenon predicted in the 1950's.

While there is a very good case for scraping Road Tax - it is regressive and pointless - we should not reduce tax on fuel. We need to use the crisis to push society rapidly towards reducing our oil dependency - a low carbon society. we need investment in public transport, facilities for cyclists, more local jobs and local food production.

As our oil shock happens, we must protect the vulnerable, and strengthen our communities. Without community we will descend into chaos. Cuba survived and flourished after a similar oil shock in the 1990's. We can do the same but it requires strong leadership and strong communities. This is a time to pull together and redesign how we live our lives.

Stuart Jeffery
Maidstone Green Party

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