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High fossil fuel prices are good for the planet—here’s how to keep it that way

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High fossil fuel prices are good for the planet—here’s how to keep it that way

Petering petrol —

Switching to renewables will only happen if gas prices remain expensive.


High fossil fuel prices are good for the planet—here’s how to keep it that way

In the UK, it now costs more than 100 pounds to fill up a typical family car with petrol, and oil prices could rise even further. But are such high prices for fossil fuels a bad thing? While attention is focused on measures to tackle the global cost of living crisis, there has been much less focus on a very uncomfortable truth—that solving the climate crisis requires fossil fuel prices for consumers to stay high forever.

Saying such a thing may seem tone-deaf. Millions of households in rich countries are facing a choice between heating and eating. In poorer countries, the situation is immeasurably worse. Rising prices for gas have dramatically increased the cost of fertilizer, while the war in Ukraine is hampering the export of its wheat.

Together these are leading to spiraling food prices globally, triggering a surge in inflation and worsening the already dire food security situation in places such as Yemen, the Horn of Africa, and Madagascar. We are already witnessing widespread foot riots just like those between 2008 and 2011, when citizens around the world protested the failure of their states to deliver their most basic right—the right to eat.

To mitigate the impact of high prices, we have seen a screeching reversal of energy policies around the world. In November 2021, governments at the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow pledged to tax carbon and eliminate fossil fuel subsidies. But faced with dramatic increases in the cost of fuel and electricity, those same governments have scrambled to slash taxes on energy, put in place price caps, and introduce new subsidies.

Yet keeping global warming to under 1.5°C will require a dramatic reduction in the use of fossil fuels, starting now. The unfortunate reality is that one of the most effective ways of getting people to use less fossil fuel is to ensure they are expensive.

Of course, the best way of moving away from fossil fuels is for there to be better (and preferably cheaper) alternatives. But investment in these renewable alternatives will only happen if people are clearly switching to them, and that requires consumer prices for fossil fuels to remain high.

Fueling riots

Of course, high fossil fuel prices are typically unpopular and can even lead to riots. Between 2005 and 2018, 41 countries had at least one riot directly associated with popular demand for fuel. In 2019 alone, there were major protests related to energy in Sudan, France, Zimbabwe, Haiti, Lebanon, Ecuador, Iraq, Chile, and Iran—many of which turned into riots.

Colleagues and I recently published research showing that these riots are caused by price spikes, often after fuel subsidies have been removed. These price spikes triggered fuel riots when citizens felt they had no other options for voicing their anger over government policies and actions (or when states attempted to violently suppress them from doing so).

High prices, happy citizens

Is it possible to keep fossil fuel prices high without triggering riots? The key is to keep consumer prices high by increasing fuel taxes when international oil and gas prices do eventually fall. Making this politically acceptable requires two things to happen.

First, consumers will not accept high prices if it means high profits for fossil fuel companies. Maintaining high prices for consumers must be complemented by a radical overhaul of the taxation regime facing fossil fuel companies, not just one-off windfall taxes. Those taxes would maintain high consumer prices even though the fossil fuel companies wouldn’t actually receive very much—enough to cover reasonable costs, but not enough to invest in further fossil fuel production. As the International Energy Agency has pointed out, to achieve net zero by 2050, the amount of investment needed in new oil and gas production is zero.

Second, consumers will be much more willing to accept higher prices for fossil fuels if the additional tax they pay is returned to citizens as an equal carbon grant. Alaska has done something similar, putting a share of oil revenues into a “permanent fund” which it then distributes through a cheque to every household each year (though this approach can go wrong—in Alaska politicians ended up cutting public services to maintain payments from the state fund).

Getting an annual payment, equal to the taxes imposed to keep fossil fuel prices high, would cushion the hurt from higher prices. It would also be progressive, since those who consume the most fossil fuels would pay more in tax, while those who consume little would pay less but receive the same payment from the fund and therefore end up in profit. There might also need to be additional compensation for poor groups with high fossil fuel usage, such as people on lower incomes who have to use their cars for work.

Soaring energy costs are a disaster for poor consumers worldwide. But ironically, they also provide an opportunity to shift the world from its fossil fuel addiction. If we take this chance to make fossil fuel prices permanently high, we can accelerate the transition to cleaner energy in a way that is fair for all, and avert deeper crises in the years ahead.The Conversation

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

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FIFA 23 lets you turn off commentary pointing out how bad you are

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FIFA 23 lets you turn off commentary pointing out how bad you are
A player shouldering the ball



(Image credit: EA)

FIFA 23 might be the best game soccer game yet for terrible sports fans, as it lets you turn off commentary that criticizes your bad playing.

Now that the early access FIFA 23 release time has passed, EA Play and Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscribers can hop into the game ahead of its full release. But as Eurogamer (opens in new tab) spotted, they’ll find a peculiar option waiting for them.

FIFA 23 includes a toggle to turn off ‘Critical Commentary’. The setting lets you silence all negative in-match comments made about your technique, so you can protect your precious ego even when you miss an open goal or commit an obvious foul. The more positive commentary won’t be affected. 

Spare your feelings

A player dribbling the ball in FIFA 23

(Image credit: EA)

The feature looks tailored toward children and new players, who don’t want to have their confidence wrecked within mere minutes of picking up the controller. But even experienced players who just so happen to be terrible at the game might benefit.

It’s not perfect, though. According to Eurogamer, the feature didn’t seem to work during a FIFA Ultimate Team Division Rivals match, with critical comments slipping through the filter. Still, who hasn’t benefited from a light grilling every now and then?

Polite commentary isn’t the only new addition in FIFA 23. It’s the first game in the series to include women’s club football teams, and fancy overhauled animations that take advantage of the PS5 and Xbox Series X|S’s new-gen hardware. EA will be hoping to end on a high, as FIFA 23 will be the last of its soccer games to release with the official FIFA licence.

If disabling critical commentary doesn’t improve your soccer skills, maybe building a squad of Marvel superheroes will. Although you might not do much better with Ted Lasso wandering the pitch.

FIFA 23 is set to fully release this Friday, September 30.

Callum is TechRadar Gaming’s News Writer. You’ll find him whipping up stories about all the latest happenings in the gaming world, as well as penning the odd feature and review. Before coming to TechRadar, he wrote freelance for various sites, including Clash, The Telegraph, and Gamesindustry.biz, and worked as a Staff Writer at Wargamer. Strategy games and RPGs are his bread and butter, but he’ll eat anything that spins a captivating narrative. He also loves tabletop games, and will happily chew your ear off about TTRPGs and board games. 

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Google Pixel 7 price leak suggests Google is totally out of touch

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Google Pixel 7 price leak suggests Google is totally out of touch
The backs of the Pixel 7 and the Pixel 7 Pro



(Image credit: Google)

We’re starting to hear more and more Google Pixel 7 leaks, with the launch of the phone just a week away, but tech fans might be getting a lot of déjà vu, with the leaks all listing near-identical specs to what we heard about the Pixel 6 a year ago.

It sounds like the new phones – a successor to the Pixel 6 Pro is also expected – could be very similar to their 2021 predecessors. And a new price leak has suggested that the phones’ costs could be the same too, as a Twitter user spotted the Pixel 7 briefly listed on Amazon (before being promptly taken down, of course).

Google pixel 7 on Amazon US. $599.99.It is still showing up in search cache but the listing gives an error if you click on it. We have the B0 number to keep track of though!#teampixel pic.twitter.com/w5Z09D28YESeptember 27, 2022

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According to these listings, the Pixel 7 will cost $599 while the Pixel 7 Pro will cost $899, both of which are identical to the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro starting prices. The leak doesn’t include any other region prices, but in the UK the current models cost £599 and £849, while in Australia they went for AU$999 and AU$1,299.

So it sounds like Google is planning on retaining the same prices for its new phones as it sold the old ones for, a move which doesn’t make much sense.


Analysis: same price, new world

Google’s choice to keep the same price points is a little curious when you consider that the specs leaks suggest these phones are virtually unchanged from their predecessors. You’re buying year-old tech for the same price as before.

Do bear in mind that the price of tech generally lowers over time, so you can readily pick up a cheaper Pixel 6 or 6 Pro right now, and after the launch of the new ones, the older models will very likely get even cheaper.

But there’s another key factor to consider in the price: $599 might be the same number in 2022 as it was in 2021, but with the changing global climate, like wars and flailing currencies and cost of living crises, it’s a very different amount of money.

Some people just won’t be willing to shell out the amount this year, that they may have been able to last year. But this speaks to a wider issue in consumer tech.

Google isn’t the only tech company to completely neglect the challenging global climate when pricing its gadgets: Samsung is still releasing super-pricey folding phones, and the iPhone 14 is, for some incomprehensible reason, even pricier than the iPhone 13 in some regions. 

Too few brands are actually catering to the tough economic times many are facing right now, with companies increasing the price of their premium offerings to counter rising costs, instead of just designing more affordable alternatives to flagships.

These high and rising prices suggest that companies are totally out of touch with their buyers, and don’t understand the economic hardship troubling many.

We’ll have to reach a breaking point sooner or later, either with brands finally clueing into the fact that they need to release cheaper phones, or with customers voting with their wallets by sticking to second-hand or refurbished devices. But until then, you can buy the best cheap phones to show that cost is important to you.

Tom’s role in the TechRadar team is to specialize in phones and tablets, but he also takes on other tech like electric scooters, smartwatches, fitness, mobile gaming and more. He is based in London, UK.

He graduated in American Literature and Creative Writing from the University of East Anglia. Prior to working in TechRadar freelanced in tech, gaming and entertainment, and also spent many years working as a mixologist. Outside of TechRadar he works in film as a screenwriter, director and producer.

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DisplayMate awards the “Best Smartphone Display” title to the iPhone 14 Pro Max

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DisplayMate awards the “Best Smartphone Display” title to the iPhone 14 Pro Max

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