I have argued for some time that if we keep raising energy prices in our chimerical pursuit of a “low carbon economy”, we will drive away intensive energy users from the UK and the EU altogether — and probably send them to other jurisdictions with lower environmental standards. So the outcome (as so often with government policy) is to make matters worse. As I write (Dec 5th), there’s a press interview with Ratan Tata, owner inter alia of Jaguar Land Rover, in which he cites high energy prices as a reason that the UK is not a good place for manufacturing.
So I was delighted to be invited yesterday as UKIP Energy Spokesman to the annual conference of the Major Energy Users Council, or MEUC. I gave them a potted version of my conference speech introducing the party’s energy policy. There were one or two people who took issue with our position on climate change, but almost no disagreement on the need to deliver affordable and dependable electricity supplies by focussing on nuclear, gas and coal (though some still hanker for carbon capture and storage).
There was one question sent in by a member unable to attend, who asked why, if UKIP challenged the orthodox view of global warming, we had not published our evidence. My reply was straightforward: because the evidence is already there in the public domain, and it’s for experts and scientists to publish the evidence. It’s the job of politicians to argue for policy. The questioner should perhaps look at the massive body of evidence in Professor Fred Singer’s epic tome “Climate Change Reconsidered: The Report of the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change”.
That evening MEUC had organised their annual Christmas networking drinks party on the Terrace at the House of Commons. We were addressed by none other than the redoubtable Tim Yeo, still in the thrall of climate alarmism, and trying to tell us that pursuing a low-carbon economy will put us in a strong competitive position, and that it will generate green jobs. I don’t think anyone much from the industry agreed (In parentheses, I’ve just had the timber/chipboard industry in to see me, concerned that bio-mass subsidies are a threat to supply and pricing of wood to the chipboard industry, and estimating that one job created in a bio-mass plant means ten jobs lost in chipboard).
Tim Yeo was followed by Baroness (Sandy) Verma, whom I know of old from the East Midlands region, and for whom I have a lot of time. She’s now a DECC Minister, and seemed much more realistic and grounded — though inevitably still toeing the line on climate orthodoxy.
The last speaker was MEUC General Secretary Andrew Buckley, who gave the most rational speech of the evening. He appealed for action to prevent the relentless rise in energy prices that is doing such damage to competitiveness. And he added “The danger is, as our friend from UKIP said this morning, that intensive energy users will move out of the UK altogether”. The industry, if not the political class, understands the problem.