IT IS often said that the more things change, the more they stay the same. Such is often the case with Westminster.

The SNP have repeatedly warned about the UK’s broken energy market. We have repeatedly noted that many people living in Scotland pay higher energy prices compared to the rest of the UK, despite the country producing the most energy.

And the UK Government repeatedly sticks its head in the sand as if nothing can be done about this (spoiler alert: it can).

As we head towards the winter, many families across my constituency of Stirling and Scotland are worried about how much their energy costs are going to rise. Many reluctantly put on their heating as the nights draw in. For others, the choice is between heating and eating. And all this whilst the UK is supposedly one of the richest countries in the world.

I fear that worse is to come.

Russia’s renewed invasion against Ukraine since February 2022 led to skyrocketing prices for oil and gas – a reminder of the folly of placing energy security in the hands of an authoritarian regime.

As we all now look on with horror at the events unfolding in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories, there’s a further reminder that in today’s globalised world, we are all interconnected and interdependent.

The situation continues to evolve on an hourly, never mind daily, basis. Yet it is certain that energy costs will rise because of events in the region.

It was rather alarming then to read in the Financial Times earlier this week that the World Bank believes that in a worst-case scenario, “global oil supply could shrink by six million to eight million barrels a day, sending prices to between $140 and $157 a barrel”.

READ MORE: Isle of Man on path to be first in UK to legalise assisted dying

The report added that even in small or medium disruption scenarios, oil prices could hit $102 to $121 a barrel. That is only oil; given the Middle East also produces a significant amount of the world’s natural gas it is reasonable to see similar increases in prices for this commodity too.

This all reiterates the point that we need to transition away from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources. Progress has been made in moving towards cleaner forms of energy, yet it is also the case that the world consumes more energy than ever before, with current oil demand alone standing at 102 million barrels per day.

Replacing oil with greener energy requires political will to create the market demand. Solar panels can be installed on rooftops, wind turbines on hills and tidal generators in the sea – these are all better options than burning more fossil fuels on an overheated planet with an increasing number of extreme weather patterns.

The National:

However, there is an immediate crisis for households up and down the country – and there are proactive steps the UK Government could take now to help households meet the cost of energy.

It could reintroduce the £400 energy rebate that was implemented last winter.

It could reform the grid charging system to incentivise investment where it would be best placed for maximum efficiency, thereby bringing down costs for all of us. And it could match the Scottish Government’s Scottish Child Payment, which would help free up funds for families with children.

Will we see any movement on this issue from the UK Government in next week’s King’s Speech?

I highly doubt it. Which is why we need the powers over energy given to the Scottish Parliament in the short term so that we can deliver solutions which meet the needs of the people of Scotland. It is ultimately, though, another reason why independence in Europe is so badly needed.

The UK’s energy market is broken, and despite an ongoing cost of living crisis, the UK Government shows no incentive or inclination to enact the reforms that are needed.

Countries around the world are suffering from inflation and cost of living pressures, but it is only in Scotland that Westminster’s inactivity is making a bad situation much worse.

With the powers of independence, we can prioritise investment in energy-efficient homes and infrastructure. We can further incentivise indigenous development of renewable and green hydrogen energy companies.

Energy can be utilised as a public good not merely a tool for private profit. We need energy powers devolved to Holyrood to help households immediately. We need independence to help our communities prosper indefinitely.

In this column, Alyn Smith originally wrote: "We have repeatedly noted that people living in Scotland pay the highest energy prices compared to the rest of the UK, despite the country producing the most energy."

We would like to clarify that many people and areas in Scotland see some of the highest energy bills in the UK.

The three constituencies set to see the highest increase in household energy bills this winter in the UK are all in Scotland. SNP constituencies also have the biggest increase at £54 more, compared to £32 for Labour, £19 for LibDem and £17 for Conservative constituencies.

People across northern and southern Scotland pay more across all payment methods than the Midlands, South East England and London for everything except gas.

Scotland also has one of the highest standing charges in the UK for electricity, with only North Wales and Mersey higher.

The UK's coldest regions also spend more of their weekly budget on heating than properties in London. ONS figures reported on in 2022 showed homes in Scotland pay 40% to 50% more compared to London, while the figure for Northern Ireland was 50%.