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(en) France, UCL AL #335 - Ecology, Energy: Moral sobriety plan for the government (ca, de, fr, it, pt, tr)[machine translation]

Date Wed, 15 Mar 2023 08:14:14 +0200

The particularly tense energy context of this winter was an opportunity to see what a Liberal government had to offer once at the foot of the energy wall. We will only remember a remarkable scam that would be laughable if the stakes were not so high. ---- If our society's dependence on fossil fuels is a known fact, this winter is a painful reminder of the daily implications of such dependence. Since the oil shocks of the 1970s, France has nevertheless sought to ensure its energy sovereignty by multiplying its sources of fossil fuel imports, but above all by basing its electricity mix on nuclear energy. We can only note a failure on this side with a large number of inactive reactors forcing the reopening of the Saint-Avold coal-fired power plant and the import of German electrical energy. The government has also put in place a tariff shield to limit the impact of the crisis on the economy.

On the energy producer side, the situation is simple. If you are EDF, a public actor, you must sell your energy at a loss to competitors. Unsurprisingly, these losses put EDF in a critical financial situation, leading the State to acquire the shares it lacked in the capital of the public company. This acquisition raises fears of a new attempt at dismantling after the failure of the Hercules project - we will appreciate the irony when we know that the competitors to whom EDF had to sell its shares came from the dismantling of the public service. If, on the other hand, you are a private actor, the State gives you all the money you need so that you can take full advantage of the crisis and increase your rate of profit. State intervention to favor big capital is nothing new, it is one of the bases of neoliberalism, but the indecency of the approach is terrible.

Public sectors always sacrificed
This indecency was criticized even in the ranks of the petty bourgeoisie. Energy bills at times of +150% have indeed put artisans in difficulty who had been pushed into debt to acquire ever more energy-intensive equipment. The smallest companies were able to benefit from the tariff shield but this is not the case for other (still) public sectors. In Alsace, we saw the university close for a week to curb expenses and hospitals had to improvise, stuck between the dilapidated premises, budgetary constraints and the need to provide decent conditions to patients.

Faced with this difficult context, the government acted by seizing the " sobriety " put forward by several environmental associations. Too bad he took the opportunity to interpret the word in his own way. Exit therefore the reasoned use of energy or the cessation of polluting activities. Instead, we will ask people to make eco-gestures. Many associations have rightly criticized the objectives of such measures, which are pathetic given the stakes. We can also blame the missed opportunity that this sequence was for renewable energies, but it is difficult to expect anything from a minister whose family benefits from the oil industry. Above all, we can hate seeing our leaders strutting around in expensive turtlenecks asking us to make an effort for the planet and then go back and forth in private jets. They do not even pretend to believe the salads they tell.

The management of the energy crisis was akin to a bad farce of which we would be the clowns. Far from solving the problems raised, the general policy is to give to big capital while running public services. What a shameful nerve to come and then ask us to die at work longer so that we can reinvest in the school or the hospital. The global energy context forces us to anticipate an upcoming energy crisis and we already know that it will be an opportunity for a new expression of the violence of the ruling class without any margin for the most deprived.

Corentin (UCL Alsace)

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