Photo Credit: Green Party Ireland (CC BY-ND 2.0

Ryan’s energy crisis fix: Drive slower and use less energy

Wherever you are right now, you probably don’t have to be told that the ongoing energy crisis is simply dire.

Not only are petrol, diesel and home heating oil costs soaring to unsustainable levels, but one secret government memo says the state is considering gas and electricity rationing. The problem is that serious.

Fuel prices have exploded across the Western world due to a variety of factors, with petrol costing consumers more than €2 per litre in some parts of Ireland.

Obviously Vladimir Putin can take a large part of the blame for exacerbating the problem with his invasion of Eastern Europe. However, it’s worth noting that energy authorities have been warning about looming shortages and blackouts for years to come, well before a single Russian boot set foot on Ukrainian soil. Russia simply made a pre-existing problem worse than it was already going to be.

And so with plenty of warning to come up with a contingency plan, now is the time for our leaders to go to the public with a strategy for getting us out of this mess.

While the government have finally agreed to put cuts on excise duty for petrol and diesel, this, they say, will be a temporary measure, and the previous rate will return in a few months. While it will no doubt help somewhat, even Energy Minister Eamon Ryan himself admits that won’t be enough to compensate for rising costs.

According to the Taoiseach, he says he’d “like to do more on diesel,” but apparently EU regulations don’t allow that.

Once again, the country is in a crisis, and our European overlords are preventing us from changing our own domestic tax policy to help the people. But I digress.

So it seems that there is very little that the government is willing or able to do. But lucky for us all, Eamon Ryan as energy minister does have one additional solution – an ace up his sleeve, if you will:

Drive slowly, and use less energy.

He said that the price increases that were coming are “inevitable,” but that the best way to manage it is to “reduce the demand and usage.”

What’s remarkable about this advice is when you think about how we got into this mess.

While inflation and supply chain issues due to Covid lockdowns play a part, two of the most significant causes of the energy crisis are clear: a move towards unreliable green energy over years, and excruciatingly high government taxes and levies. Both of which are the Green Party’s bread and butter.

As previously outlined, over 50% of fuel costs in Ireland are purely from taxes such as VAT, excise duty, carbon tax, etcetera. For every €100 of petrol you buy, €57 goes to the government. The tax is literally more than the cost of the product itself.

Irish petrol prices hit record highs, carbon tax a major factor

If the government did not tax these products, the price could drop by more than half overnight.

And yet even as you read this, right now, we are on course for yet another carbon tax increase in May, and the government has made no indication that they intend to scrap it. Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe says the tax increase will go ahead as planned.

Moreover, Eamon Ryan and his party are currently fighting tooth and nail to prevent alternative reliable energy sources being developed, such as an LNG terminal in Shannon – even as Germany tries to establish two more in their country.

So to recap, Eamon Ryan and his government colleagues tax the ever loving crap out of fuel and petrol to fulfil their ideological commitment to environmentalism, even doubling down during a cost of living crisis. As we run out of fuel, he’s fighting bitterly to prevent more energy sources being developed.

And when the price inevitably shoots through the roof and you can barely afford to drive to work or heat your home anymore, what’s his solution?

“Use less energy and drive slower.” As in, you’re on your own – come up with solutions yourself.

Can’t afford heating or petrol anymore? Well, have you considered freezing in your home and driving less?

This is a little bit like a politician coming out during the Famine and telling people the solution to the food shortage is to eat less potatoes.

In fact, it’s almost a callback to his window salad box idea, where he said we should start growing lettuce in case of Covid food shortages. Again – no actual plan to deal with the problem himself. All they can do is say “hey, you should probably radically alter your lifestyle and become a part time farmer to deal with these problems, because we sure aren’t going to help.”

At this point, we’re paying these lads six figures a year from the public coffers to intentionally try and make our quality of life worse on purpose. If politicians aren’t going to help with the crisis, the very least they can do is not make it bloody harder.

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