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People will die of cold because of energy firms' greed, say Greens

Jonathan Owen
Sunday 31 August 2008 00:00 BST

A deadly combination of rising fuel prices and corporate greed will result in people freezing to death this winter, Britain's foremost Green politician has warned.

Caroline Lucas MEP, who is expected to be elected as the Green Party's first leader later this week, said: "People will be literally dying from cold this winter while companies like Shell and BP are making record profits – that outrages ordinary people and we need a party that is prepared to stand up about that ... rather than having a Labour government that is cowering in a cave and scared of actually speaking out against people in the City."

She is calling for energy companies to be forced to plough some of their profits back into "ensuring that some of the poorest people are able to keep warm", and attacked Labour for presiding "over a period where we now have Victorian levels of social inequality".

The outburst comes as Ms Lucas is set to be confirmed as the first female leader of a political party in Britain since Margaret Thatcher. She will make a rallying call to activists at the party's annual conference this Saturday, calling on them to focus on getting their first Member of Parliament. The party needs to "seize this opportunity to recognise that with two elections in the next two years, we really are poised for this electoral breakthrough", she said.

The Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrats have tried to hijack the green vote, according to Ms Lucas. "They might be speaking the green speak but they're certainly not delivering green action," she said.

She said she was clear about what is needed for the Greens to become Britain's fourth political party and said the focus must be on social justice as well as environmental issues.

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