Few would contest the value of minimising or even eliminating the use of energy, especially if generated from non-renewable fossil fuels of coal, oil or gas or produced by nuclear power stations. Growth in availability of energy from renewable sources, such as wind, water and solar power, will reduce the pressure which was so apparent in the early 1970s when OPEC reduced supply and raised prices significantly. 'Zero-energy' buildings are already possible and there are several examples of 'autonomous buildings' which claim to be independent in terms of nett zero import/export. In the UK of late, some of the 'heat' has gone out of this area with reduction in energy prices due to competitive tariff negotiation following privatisation of formerly publicly managed operations. Consumers have been able to reduce their energy bills while actually increasing their consumption.
This is a difficult area politically. For instance, one way to reduce energy use and associated carbon emissions which contribute so much to 'global warming' and climate change is to tax according to use. A series of high-profile global 'summit meetings' have taken place (Montreal, Rio de Janeiro, Kyoto, Johannesburg) to agree protocols to secure reductions in pollution and improvements in environment and living conditions. However, the introduction of new taxes and their imposition on some sections of the community can be difficult. In the UK, for instance, the intention to extend VAT at full rate to energy bills was vehemently and successfully resisted by old-age pensioners, who are assiduous voters and therefore a powerful lobby!
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