German chancellor Angela Merkel is being treated like political royalty, a consequence of her country's economic power as well as prime minister David Cameron's desperate need for friends in Europe. Few would argue about the position of Germany as the economic powerhouse of the European Union but what can Britain learn from the German economic model?
I believe that what the financial crisis has demonstrated most importantly is that unless we have the operation of finance under democratic control we cannot truly claim to live in a democracy: the objective of Green Party policy outlined in our new report Stepping Outside the Casino is to achieve this democratic control.
The government is desperate to promote what's clearly a wrong policy direction - which does provoke a question... why? There's an almost religious fervour opposed to renewable energy, particularly wind farms, in elements of our Parliament - what you might call the Ukip-tendency of the Tory Party, that Mr Cameron is determined to placate.
We have heard a lot of comment from anti-coal campaigners in the last several months, especially during the public consultation period for the new energy strategy. Their opinion is important to us, as are opinions of all stakeholders. But presenting the EBRD as the last institution that clings to coal and focuses on fossil fuels is incorrect on many levels.
It's time to tackle the real problems. The wholesale cost of energy is the main component of our energy bills, it has gone up significantly and will continue to do so, and we can't change that. What we can do is stop wasting energy by improving our energy efficiency, and supply more from secure renewable sources. And with serious investment in these areas now, we can achieve lower energy bills in future.
So the saying goes "if you can't beat them, join them" and the latest raft of energy price hikes suggests now is the time for UK consumers to consider doing just that. We are a nation tired of being held to ransom by our energy bills - so has the time come to ditch our reliance on energy companies by becoming the bosses of our own energy supplies?
Whether man-made climate change is occurring or not, there are few who would argue against a move towards low-carbon energy generation. One way or another, carbon emissions must be cut. Forget the tired anti-nuclear rhetoric and the ridiculous claims that a Fukushima-style disaster could hit the UK. Third generation nuclear is the way forward and the new reactors planned at Hinkley Point are the first step in the right direction.
As the public wearily wonders when the conference season will end, one thing is already clear: we're in a bidding war in which the two largest parties have - rightly - identified that the public is fed up with the struggle to keep their heads above water... The parties' responses? Short-term give-aways, quick fixes.