It snowed in London last night – the first time it had snowed in October since 1934. And as the temperatures plummeted our elected representatives voted in favour of the climate change bill which includes draconian man-made CO2 emissions cuts of 80% by 2050 (raised recently from 60%) in order to save the planet from “dangerous global warming” and frying to a cinder.
As I discussed on 15 October, there is no dangerous global warming. Indeed there is no global warming - the planet is, if anything, globally cooling. And as I also discussed then, even if one accepts the hypothesis that by cutting man-made CO2 emissions one could “control” climate change, British efforts, unless backed by the other large emitters, would be futile in the extreme. We account for less than 2% of global emissions – and falling. China and India, for a start, have better things to do than comply with westerners’ neo-colonial diktats on reducing their CO2 emissions and restraining their economic development.
Since 15 October, there have been two significant developments in the debate. Firstly, it is even more apparent than it was a fortnight ago that the “new EU” countries will do all they can to dilute the EU’s ambitious climate change policies. Moreover, they were robustly supported by Silvio Berlusconi, Italy’s Prime Minister, who said “our businesses are in absolutely no position at the moment to absorb the costs of the regulations that have been proposed.” End of story. And, secondly, here in the UK, GDP registered a much worse than expected 0.5% fall in the third quarter. The economy is inexorably tipping into a painful recession. Businesses are failing and jobs are being lost.
There is little doubt that the City, representing 4% of GDP, will lose its dynamism in the wake of the most spectacular financial crisis for many a generation. The financial services will probably contract. And there is apparently much talk in the Department of Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (BERR) of “re-industrialising” Britain. Manufacturing is down to just over 14% of GDP, so it can be argued there is a great deal of re-industrialising to do.
One aspect of “re-industrialisation” is the oft-repeated assertion that, with our ambitious decarbonising targets, we will have the incentive and the opportunity to become a world leader in renewables, nuclear and other low carbon technologies. Unfortunately we are lagging well behind other countries such as Germany and France in these matters, lacking both the trained engineers and the funding. The technologies therefore have to be imported, adding to our huge external deficit.
The economy is badly unbalanced and policy does need to be developed to encourage and develop our manufacturing sector. One necessary aspect of this policy is simple and obvious. The ever-increasing burden of regulations and costs on manufacturing, which put it at a major competitive disadvantage, should be stopped and then reversed. High on my list of concerns is, unsurprisingly, the extra costs arising from “climate change” policies. According to official figures, climate change policies already account for 21% of the average business electricity bill – this is especially damaging for heavy energy users including chemicals, cement and steel. But by 2020, the burden of green policies is expected to rise to 55% of the average business electricity bill. Green policies are not just futile - they guarantee the further migration of industry out of Britain and, therefore, continuing “de-industrialisation”. People will lose their jobs and the country will be all the poorer. But these, very obvious, implications of the climate change bill have, with a few exceptions, been downplayed by our MPs.
But green policies do not just add to business’s costs. They add to domestic fuel bills as well. Again according to official data, climate change policies currently make up about 14% of the average domestic electricity bill. Such extra costs are pushing many of the less well off (including pensioners) into fuel poverty. I wonder how many people who struggle to pay their electricity bills realise that the government’s futile green policies are adding to their misery. By 2020 the burden of green policies is expected to rise to 18% of the average domestic electricity bill. Green policies are cruelly regressive. And yet in the Commons the climate change bill was approved by a clear majority. Words fail me.