The Aga Saga

Terrific polemic by George Monbiot.

It would be stupid to claim that environmentalism is never informed by class. Compare, for example, the campaign against patio heaters with the campaign against Agas. Patio heaters are a powerful symbol: heating the atmosphere is not a side-effect, it’s their purpose. But to match the fuel consumption of an Aga, a large domestic patio heater would have to run continuously at maximum output for three months a year. Patio heaters burn liquefied petroleum gas, while most Agas use oil, electricity or coal, which produce more CO2. A large Aga running on coal turns out nine tonnes of carbon dioxide per year: five and a half times the total CO2 production of the average UK home. To match that, the patio heater would have to burn for nine months.

So where is the campaign against Agas? There isn’t one. I’ve lost count of the number of aspirational middle-class greens I know who own one of these monsters and believe that they are somehow compatible (perhaps because they look good in a country kitchen) with a green lifestyle. The campaign against Agas – which starts here – will divide rich greens down the middle.

Hmmm… This is tricky. Some of my best friends have Agas. Indeed, I had one myself once. And I don’t know anyone who has a patio heater. Oh dear…