By José Rigane*
On February 14, World Energy Day is commemorated as an initiative to promote the use of alternative sources and reduce the use of non-renewable energy. Today the global environmental crisis challenges us to build new ways of relating to energy.
We must have a perspective of preservation and guarantee energy in the present and for future generations and not to obtain profits from oil companies and large energy companies. The extractivist vision and the looting of resources is a model that leads us to failure and it must end.
Diversification of the energy matrix is essential, incorporating resources such as renewable energies, but not from a commercial perspective as it was promoted during Macri’s era but from a path of energy sovereignty and from a conception of energy as a social good and a right of everyone.
Energy sovereignty means also to deconstruct the idea that energy is something to do business with, and on the contrary, build an energy model where energy is accessible to the poor, the excluded, the workers, the small merchants, to SMEs, to cooperatives, in short, to all the people.
We must abandon the idea of energy as a commodity that can be bought only by those who can afford it. The concept of energy as a social good and a human right should prevail, and advances must be made towards guaranteeing universal access to energy for a dignified life. This would in fact and specifically help in ending energy poverty, a situation hundreds of thousands of people live in in our country and millions in the world without continuous access to electricity or gas.
A tariff like the one we have now, with high prices and dollarized, undermines the country’s industrialization. The current critical situation of cooperatives and small industries and businesses is a clear example of this policy of high prices on gas and electricity bills. On the contrary, an affordable rate policy facilitates the deployment of cooperatives throughout the country and the development of small and medium-sized industries.
It is necessary to move towards energy sovereignty and at this point the role of energy workers is central. The idea of energy sovereignty is inevitably linked to a new energy management. As such, this new management cannot put aside workers or users. On the contrary, it is the workers of gas, of electricity, of the nuclear sector, and of so many other fields and companies related to energy that must carry out their administration together with the participation of user organizations and organizations of environmental defense. We need companies of a social nature and for this, it is essential that for the State to have 100 percent participation in them.
Energy is an essential human right for a dignified life.
February 14, 2020
* Secretary General of the Federation of Energy Workers of the Argentine Republic and of the Union of Luz y Fuerza of Mar del Plata