Green Fees, Pulpits & Kamikaze Government

by Andrew Stuttaford

Here’s Nigel Lawson, one of the key architects of Thatcherism, writing in the Daily Mail on the British government’s curious green obsession:  

The economy is already recovering, slowly but incontrovertibly, from the recession.


However, there is a threat to that recovery — and the bitter irony is that this is of the Government’s own making. It is not the very necessary reduction and eventual elimination of the budget deficit. It is the Government’s so-called climate-change policy of ‘decarbonising’ the British economy — the replacement of carbon-based energy with substantially more expensive non-carbon energy, in particular wind power.

The ostensible purpose of this policy is to prevent what is customarily described as catastrophic global warming.


Now, there are at least two major problems with this.


The first, as more and more eminent scientists are finding the courage to point out (the most recent being the distinguished physicist Professor William Happer of Princeton University), is that it is far from clear that there is a serious problem — let alone a catastrophic one — of global warming at all…While it is scientifically established that increased emissions of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere from the use of carbon-based energy, such as coal, oil and gas, can be expected to warm the planet, it is uncertain how great any such warming would be, and how much harm, if any, it would do.


The second major problem with the British Government’s policy is that even if it were thought to be desirable to cut back drastically on carbon emissions, this can have an effect only if it is done globally.


For the UK, responsible for 2per cent of global emissions, to go it alone is futile folly.

And the complete failure of the UN-sponsored environment jamborees — in Cancun last year and Copenhagen the year before — to achieve a global decarbonisation agreement clearly shows that this is not happening and, in my judgment, is not going to happen. China, the biggest global emitter, has made it clear that it will not accept any restraint on its use of carbon-based energy, as has India. (The annual increase in China’s emissions, incidentally, is greater than the UK’s total emissions.) And the U.S., the second-largest emitter, has made it clear that without China and India on board, there is no prospect of the U.S. signing up to anything…


The major developing countries, in particular, are understandably unwilling to hold back their development and condemn their people to avoidable poverty, by moving from relatively cheap energy to relatively expensive energy. Yet this is precisely what the present UK Government is committed to. Alone in the world, we have on our statute book a Climate Change Act. This commits us, unilaterally, to a legally binding process which is already well under way. And eventually — by 2050 — we will have near-total decarbonisation, by switching to an ever more expensive mix of ‘green’ energy sources.


To achieve this, the Government has introduced a range of measures, notably the renewables obligation, which requires electricity suppliers to buy a proportion of their power from renewable sources, chiefly wind power, at huge cost, which is then loaded onto all electricity bills. Then there are the so-called feed-in tariffs, under which a greatly inflated price is paid to wind-farm owners and others who supply renewable energy to the grid — and again loaded onto our electricity bills.


On top of this, there are a number of other price-inflating measures, such as the so-called ‘carbon floor price’ (a commitment to ensure that the price of conventional energy stays high and goes higher, by means of a government levy on firms generating electricity based on the amount of CO2 they produce), which are yet to take effect. What is doubly unacceptable, however, is that the public is being made to pay for this by stealth. This is why, in the cause of proper transparency, our electricity suppliers should be made to reveal in our utility bills the extent of this hidden tax element, which is costing families an average of £200 more a year.


This price increase would be economically damaging at the best of times; and these are not the best of times. And the damage is all the more serious when other countries are not doing the same…

 Read the whole thing.


Michael Gerson may think that it’s just grand when a small clique within a government tries to transform their nation into a grotesquely expensive global pulpit (funded, of course, by the taxpayers’ borrowed money), but British voters may not be so sure. The problem they face, however, is that the equivalent clique within the Labour party would, if anything, be even worse…


And if you think that that sort of nonsense could not happen over here, consider the fate of the American light bulb as a harbinger of trouble to come.