Regulatory uncertainty – A barrier to investment and growth

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In recent years, in my work in the parliament, I’ve become more and more concerned about an issue that is scarcely if ever mentioned, either in the media, or indeed in Brussels (except by me — I mention it all the time).

Let me offer you a striking and topical example. Seven or eight years ago, the bien pensant establishment — politicians, the media, green lobby groups — were vilifying petrol engines and their drivers, and urging us all to switch to diesel.  Didn’t we know that CO2emissions were the greatest threat facing Planet Earth, mankind, and the biosphere? Didn’t we understand that we all have a duty to minimise our emissions — and therefore to switch from petrol engines, with their somewhat higher fuel consumption and emissions, to diesel, with lower emissions?

Gordon Brown as Chancellor backed up this advice with differential duty rates designed to drive the switch to diesel from petrol

So both manufacturers and drivers took the advice, and diesel became more popular.  For the first time in my life, I bought a diesel car.

But now, for heaven’s sake, they’ve noticed that diesel cars produce higher levels of SOx2 and NOx and particulates than petrol cars.  And these emissions (which unlike CO2 really are pollution) are causing widespread respiratory illnesses and excess deaths.  In our cities, we are in breach of EU clean air regulations.  I bitterly resent Britain being told by the EU what clean air rules we should apply, but there is no doubt that these pollutants are at dangerous levels.  (We need to keep it in perspective — life expectancy continues to rise, so we must be doing something right).

So now in less than a decade we’ve had strong advice to switch to diesel, suddenly countermanded by strong advice to switch to petrol — with some advocating sanctions against existing diesel vehicles.  (Please bear in mind that the industry has done a great job of cleaning up both petrol and diesel engines, both of which are much cleaner today than they were ten years ago).

But the development cycle for cars is around seven years.  And the average life-span of a car is well over ten years.  The lifetime of an engine factory may be decades, and while factories can be redesigned and re-tooled, it’s an expensive process.

Take Jaguar’s exciting new engine plant in Wolverhampton — a very welcome investment indeed.  Half a billion pounds, and employing 1400 people.  And the first engine it will produce?  The new Jaguar XE’s 161 and 178 bhp Ingenium diesels.  I imagine there will be some red faces in the Jaguar boardroom at this sudden broadside against diesel.  Long-term and essential investment programmes are undermined on the whim of the commentariat who hadn’t paused to think of the air quality implications of their dash for diesel (and in any case the power industry produces more of most of these pollutants than transport).

Another example.  As UKIP’s Industry and Energy spokesman, I sit on the relevant committee in Brussels, ITRE.  The European institutions have been having a comparable change of heart over bio-fuels.  First of all, bio-fuels were the silver bullet to decarbonise road transport (and perhaps air transport).  Bio-fuels did nothing but recycle CO2.  Plants take in CO2 from the atmosphere, we make bio-fuels, burn them and return the CO2 to the atmosphere.  A carbon-neutral solution!

Then we started to realise that there’s quite a lot of CO2-based input into the agriculture behind bio-fuels.  Diesel for tractors.  And transport.  And processing.  Energy for fertilisers and pesticides.  So the savings envisaged had to be substantially discounted.  But still there were some savings, weren’t there?  So we mandated 10% bio-fuel content for petrol and diesel.

But just recently another issue has raised its head.  If you take a thousand acres of land in South America for sugar-cane and ethanol, or in Indonesia for palm oil and diesel — the population still has to eat.  They’ve just lost a thousand acres of good agricultural land.  So off they go down the road and cut down a forest, or drain a swamp, or disturb a peat landscape.  And guess what?  The emissions associated with that change of land use may (depending on the crop and the circumstances) greatly outweigh the CO2 emissions saving you thought you were making.  The new buzz-word is “ILUC”, or Indirect Land Use Change.

So now we’re amending the law to 7% (or maybe 5 or 6 — it’s on-going).  And companies which have made massive investment in dedicated refining capacity for bio-fuels are cut off at the knees.

Think of the impact of this regulatory uncertainty on investment plans.  Who wants to build an auto-engine factory when the rules may be changed on a whim, according to the latest modish theory from the green lobby?  Who wants to invest half a billion (as one company did) in a bio-fuel refinery, only to have the market cut back at the stroke of a pen?

And for nuclear, the situation is worse.  Who wants to invest £10 billion in a nuclear power plant with a design life of sixty years, when Angela Merkel may get a touch of cold feet and close down the industry?  It’s not too alarmist to say that regulatory uncertainty may be the biggest threat to the capitalist system of investment and production.  At last a credible argument for nationalisation.  No one else can afford to invest in this environment.  But maybe if the politicians have to take the hit, they’ll be a little more circumspect in their decision-making.

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Whom to believe?

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Horrible grammar, but a good thought

In the last few days we have seen a report from a respected German think-tank, the Bertelsmann Foundation, saying that Brexit (a UK exit from the EU) would do huge damage to the British economy, and could cost up to 13% of GDP, (bear in mind that several serious analyses of the cost of British EU membership suggest it’s already costing 10 to 11% of GDP).

Yet almost simultaneously, the highly respected and prominent American Think Tank, the Heritage Foundation, says exactly the opposite.  It urges the UK to leave the EU , arguing that the EU is “doomed”, and that the UK will thrive as an independent trading nation.

So whom to believe?  It’s always worth checking the antecedents of this type of report, to see who might have an axe to grind.

And lo and behold, we discover that the Bertelsmann Foundation had a banner on its web-site “The United Citizens of Europe”.  And we find that Board of Trustees includes none other that Vivian Reding, until recently a European Commissioner.  Last year she called for a full United States of Europe. Even our own pro-EU foreign office has described her as ‘an unrepentant federalist’ with ‘no understanding of the EU’s deep flaws’.

One of the two authors of the report is Ulrich Schoof,  who used to work for the European Commission and also for the European Parliament. We can hardly be surprised that the ‘proof’ this ex-eurocrat offers that leaving the EU would be a blow to the British economy is no more than a slim eight pages long. Serious studies in Britain on the effects of Brexit run to hundreds of pages. Many of these studies show that Brexit could lead to increased UK prosperity.

In short, it would be fair to see the Bertelsmann Report as little more than a propaganda exercise by committed European federalists.

But perhaps you’re wondering — doesn’t the Heritage Foundation have any axes to grind?  Well they’re certainly committed to free markets and free trade — and there’s nothing wrong with that.  And they are of course, as you would expect, committed to the US national interest.  But there is no consensus in Washington as to where the USA’s interests lie in this debate over the UK’s EU membership.  The Administration says it believes that it is in the interests of Britain, the EU and the USA that Europe should remain united and that the UK should remain in the EU.  (Whether it says that because it believes it, or because it doesn’t want to disoblige Brussels, is another question).  But many Americans — including Heritage — believe that the UK would be a stronger ally and a more prosperous country as an independent nation than as a Brussels satrapy.

And for the avoidance of doubt, I should add that I am more inclined to agree with the Heritage Foundation than with Vivian Reding.

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Toxic Waste Gushes Forth!

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Yesterday I had the pleasure and privilege of appearing for UKIP in the BBC’s special Daily Politics debate on Climate and Energy, chaired by Andrew Neil.  I was delighted to find myself pitched against Ed Davey, Secretary of State for Energy & Climate Change.  In addition there were Labour’s Shadow Caroline Flint, Tory Energy Minister Matt Hancock and the Green’s Andrew Cooper, who is their PPC for Huddersfield.

As it happens, I had recently been in Huddersfield supporting our own UKIP PPC Rob Butler.  Andrew Cooper knew I had visited the town, but (he said) had been unable to attend our public meeting.

The climate debate (I thought) went relatively well.  I felt I got rather less airtime than the old party candidates, but that was largely because they were arguing the detail of policies which we oppose totally, so in a sense we didn’t have a dog in those fights.  Nonetheless I managed to get in some of our key points – which of course were roundly attacked and dismissed by the rest of the panel.

I must commend Andrew Neil in the Chair, who helped to redress the balance.  For example, I mentioned that there had been no Global Warming for eighteen years.  This was immediately pooh-poohed by the rest of the panel, and especially by Ed Davey.  But the Chairman came straight back and asserted (rightly) that there had been an eighteen year hiatus in warming – and I noticed that Ed Davey was less eager to pooh-pooh Andrew Neil.  Davey insisted that the computer models of climate change had anticipated such an hiatus – a point which even arch-Warmist Roger Harrabin (the BBC’s top Environment Correspondent, who was sitting in) dismissed.

Later the debate turned to last year’s Somerset floods, with the rest of the panel earnestly claiming this as evidence for climate change.  I came in and pointed out that commentators at the time (and especially people who knew the area and had worked on flood management for decades) insisted that the floods were a direct and perverse result of misconceived green policies, and the consequent lack of dredging.  Again, the rest of the panel reacted with horror and derision at this heretical view.

Regrettably, I hadn’t brought the killer evidence with me.  Andrew Neil, however, had.  He read out the reported words of (Labour) Baroness Young, a previous chief of the Environment Agency.  She reportedly said “Instant wild-life – just add water!  I’d like to see a limpet mine put on every pumping station”.

We’ve known about draining marshes and flood plains for hundreds of years.  It was in 1630 that the Fourth Earl of Bedford undertook the drainage of the Bedford levels.   Yet in the 21st Century a Labour Government chose to give control of the Environment Agency to someone as gloriously ignorant and naïve in these matters as Baroness Young.

The key point I made was that current energy and climate policy fails in its own terms.  We raise energy prices, and drive energy-intensive industries out of the UK and the EU.  They go to jurisdictions with lower environmental standards, where they emit more CO2 than if we’d left them alone to start with.  Ed Davey’s policies undermine the competitiveness of industry, while at the same time arguably increasing global emissions.  Yet Davey maintains his doctrinaire stance, totally failing to engage with the crisis he is creating, his mind closed to other points of view.

Caroline Flint was remarkable for her determination to hog the airtime and persistently to speak – or shout – over the other speakers.  After the event I discussed it separately with four people who had seen the show, and they each, spontaneously and independently, commented on how awful and irritating she had been.  Matt Hancock and Andrew Cooper had been relatively courteous and measured by comparison.

Within hours of the show, James Delingpole had written it up on Breitbart, in a perceptive and highly readable post, under the title “BBC stages eco-debate – toxic waste gushes forth”.null

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Help for abused women in Newark

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Last week I visited a Women’s Refuge in Newark, at the invitation of the manager and Trustees.  Of course the women who would use such a refuge have been subjected to domestic abuse by husbands or partners, and many are in fear for their safety, so I have to be careful not to reveal the location of the premises I visited.  Security is one of their key concerns.

I met with the facility’s manager, Marlene, and the Chairman of the Trustees Andrew Carr (an engineer with robust views on the subject of wind energy — but that’s another issue).  And I heard the tragic stories of some of the women who arrive, distressed and traumatised, often with no more than the clothes they stand up in — and the children they’ve brought with them.  The refuge can house up to six families (mothers and children) at one time, and it can provide them with immediate necessities — a roof over their heads, a safe environment, food, a change of clothes.

Naturally women fleeing violence want to put a safe distance between themselves and their abusive partner, so any such refuge will frequently be dealing with women from far afield.  There is a national network of refuges that allows for reciprocal help, and victims can be found a place in another refuge if their first port of call is full.

I heard the stories of some of the women who have passed through the facility, and they are very tragic indeed.  People who live a normal life in a normal family would find it difficult to believe the behaviour of some of the partners from whom these women have escaped.  In my non-professional opinion, many of these abusive partners must have serious mental health problems, for no rational person could behave as they do — not that that is any excuse or justification for their behaviour.

In the Refuge, specialist domestic violence workers provide emotional and practical support to enable women to rebuild their lives.  They advise on housing, health, legal options, education and employment.

Some victims have skills and a CV, and just need the security and motivation to make a new start.  Others — some quite young — need further education, or help with their CV and interview skills.  The refuge attends to these needs.

Last year the Refuge provided shelter and support for 46 women and 65 children.  Since the refuge was opened in 1975 it has provided shelter and support for 3,670 women and 5,663 children. Hundreds more women and children have been supported through the Charity’s community based Women’s Outreach Service, a free confidential service providing support, advocacy and information for victims of domestic violence.

But now the charity faces a new problem.  Their previous funding stream from the local authority has been reorganised in a way which requires “bidding” and funding applications.  The details are complicated, but the bidding process is challenging for smaller charities, and the new system tends to favour larger groups.  Newark Women’s Aid was hoping that I might be able to help in obtaining funding from the EU.  I shall be happy to check out the possibility, but I suspect we might draw a blank.

They are doing splendid fund-raising work, but they have a big funding gap to fill if they are to continue this vital work.  So can I call on the generosity of readers of this blog — if you are minded to donate to charity, and if you want to identify a genuine local charity in the East Midlands that desperately needs your support, follow this link

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Knock-on effects cause knock-out problems

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One of the most pernicious and durable errors in politics is the idea that politicians, in their hubris, and hiding in the Westminster bubble, can make any changes that occur to them, cooked up on the back of an envelope after a good dinner, and nothing else will change.  There will be no unintended consequences or perverse incentives.

And sadly, this leads to headlines that are superficially appealing to the electorate.  Freeze energy prices.  Raise taxes on the rich.  Bash the bankers.  Too many people are prepared to applaud, even though these actions will make them poorer and may cost them their jobs.

“Let’s raise taxes on the rich”.  The Greens have announced that they want to raise the top rate of income tax to 60%. Labour wants to reinstate the 50% rate.  And many voters, knowing that these changes won’t hit them, approve.  Let the rich pay.  Let the broadest backs carry the heaviest burdens – despite the fact that those on higher incomes already pay disproportionately more tax than the rest of us.  But back in the real world, the evidence from many countries over decades shows that punitive taxes on high earners impact negatively on revenues.  These people may work less, or retire earlier, or put less effort into their business and more into tax avoidance.  Or they may decide not to bother with a new investment.  And in many cases, the rich and mobile will simply move abroad to a more wealth-friendly environment.  The key lesson, counter-intuitive though it may be: high taxes on the rich mean fewer jobs for the poor.

Then there’s the mansion tax.  It will distort the market.  It will primarily make London and the South east, the greatest motor of the UK economy, less attractive to investors.  Even the threat of it is already affecting prices of more expensive properties – reducing the postulated tax base.  It would arguably make the tax system too progressive (especially taken with the higher income tax rates mentioned above); it would not be related to the individual’s ability to pay (e.g. elderly people who are property-rich but cash-poor); and it could have substantial disincentive effects.  Yet both Labour and the Lib-Dems favour some variety of mansion tax.

Non-Dom status:  Labour proposes to scrap non-dom status.  Ed Miliband has claimed that the move will raise millions (despite the fact that non-doms already contributed £8.2 billion to GMRC in 2012/13).  He seems to think that the non-doms will take the hit lying down, and ignores the fact that they can go elsewhere – as many will.  Many economic commentators – and even Ed Balls himself  – have suggested that scrapping non-dom status will not raise revenue, but will cost the Treasury money.  There are issues regarding the inherited nature of non-dom status that need to be addressed, but simply scrapping the scheme would do more harm than good.

All three of the above proposals are politically motivated, knee-jerk, “bash-the-rich” ideas.  But the rich won’t stay around to be bashed.  They’ll go elsewhere, and they’ll be made very welcome in other jurisdictions – just as thousands of French business people came to London to escape President Hollande’s punitive taxes.   Labour and the Greens are deliberately hanging up a “Britain Is Closed for Business” sign, and those who suffer will include ordinary working people who will be affected by the loss of jobs and growth.

The Death Tax: David Cameron has said that he will raise thresholds to take family homes out of inheritance tax.  But he adds “It’s right that we as a nation have an inheritance tax”.  We say it’s wrong.  We pay tax when we earn; we pay tax when we spend.  It’s morally indefensible that the same money should be taxed a third time when we die.  But again, the false assumption of “No knock-on effects” kicks in.  The media are reporting the cost of the Tory initiative at £1 billion a year.  But pause and consider:  A reduction in the death tax means that more family businesses will survive, and will be more likely to invest and grow and create jobs.  Money in the pockets of beneficiaries may be invested.  Or it may be spent – incurring VAT.  If spent, it will increase consumer spending, enhancing growth and employment.  It’s difficult to estimate the exact amount, but the claimed £1 billion cost of reduced inheritance tax will be partly, or largely, offset by money that is left to “fructify in the pockets of the people” (as Gladstone put it).

Miliband’s energy price freeze:  The Labour promise of an energy price freeze has already had the effect of keeping prices higher than they would otherwise have been, as utility companies struggle to maintain the highest possible start point for the proposed freeze.  But government interference in market pricing mechanisms almost always has profoundly negative consequences.  It can drive operators out of the business, and clear goods off the shelves (as we saw in Soviet Russia).  And it is particularly pernicious in the energy market.  We desperately need new energy infrastructure investment. But who will invest in a market subject to these draconian interventions?  Already the massive regulatory uncertainty in the market has resulted in an excessive strike price at the new Hinkley C nuclear power station.  Miliband’s price freeze will block investment entirely – and put supplies under further threat.  If I may paraphrase the Miliband policy: “You can have cheaper prices on any energy that’s not available”.

Cutting emissions:  We have an elaborate programme of green energy policies designed to cut emissions.  It originated in Brussels, but was enthusiastically endorsed by Ed Milband, no less, when Secretary of State for Energy.  He carries the personal responsibility for the 2008 Climate Change Act, perhaps the most damaging piece of legislation this country has ever seen.  But the effect of the policy is to drive energy-intensive businesses out of the EU altogether, often to jurisdictions with lower environmental standards.  A DECC report confirms that in one industry, petroleum refining, imported products imply 35% higher emissions than if refined in the UK.   Anecdotal evidence suggests that a ton of steel refined in Shanghai involves double the emissions of a ton of steel in Sheffield.  It takes a genius like Ed Davey to devise a policy that not only undermines competitiveness but also arguably increases global emissions.

Labour claims that “every policy proposal has been costed”.  But you can bet they never costed the inevitable but unintended consequences.

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A Call for Competitiveness

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There’s an excellent article in The Daily Telegraph of  April 7th by Chris Cummings, Chief Executive of TheCityUK , a lobby group for services.  Mr. Cummings laments the fact that the competitiveness of British industry doesn’t seem to feature too strongly in the election campaign. As UKIP’s Industry Spokesman, I’d like to respond.

Mr. Cummings writes primarily about services, and outlines the UK’s strengths – time zone, language, legal system, openness for FDI, ability to attract talent.  In a message for the next government, he also urges a stable tax environment and enduring political support for business.  But strangely, he has little to say about the constant interference by Brussels, and in particular the Bonus Cap and the proposed Financial Transaction Tax, which could have been designed to make Europe in general and The City in particular less attractive to global businesses.

But when we come to the wider question of industrial competitiveness. Mr. Cummings mentions only very briefly several factors which are vitally important: energy prices, over-regulation.  And UKIP has an important contribution to make on that key point of “the ability to attract talent”.  Yes, the UK has been successful in attracting highly-qualified professional people to London – Cummings says there are more French bankers in London than in Paris.  But we’re also allowing in very large numbers of unskilled workers who certainly put huge pressure on social cohesion and social infrastructure – schools, housing, the NHS — and may well become a burden on our welfare system.

Contrary to the caricature, UKIP does not want to “stop immigration”, or “pull up the drawbridge”, but we do want manageable numbers of skilled people, not unmanageable numbers of unskilled people (as we have at the moment, courtesy of the EU’s “Free Movement” principle).  We want an Australian-style points system.  Consider: which brings more benefit to the UK economy – a highly qualified software engineer from the Commonwealth, or two unskilled Eastern Europeans?

Then regulatory costs.  Peter Mandelson once estimated that the costs of EU regulation amounted to 4% of GDP.  But highly-respected economist Tim Congdon, in his masterly publication “How much does the EU cost Britain?” suggests 5%.   Patrick Minford in an independent assessment came up with a similar figure. But Tim Congdon also estimates the cost of misallocation of resources at over 3%, and the total cost of Britain’s EU membership around 10% of GDP.  This is a vast and unnecessary deadweight cost which radically undermines UK competitiveness.

Then let’s turn to energy costs, not included in the Congdon analysis.  Our gross over-commitment to intermittent and unreliable renewables, driven by Brussels but gold-plated here in the UK, has given Europe energy prices which are broadly speaking double those of major industrial competitors (excluding Japan).  That is simply unsustainable.  Energy-intensive businesses across the EU are closing plants and moving jobs and investment to more competitive locations.  Steel, aluminium, glass, cement, chemicals, petroleum refining.  As a consequence, jobs are lost, imports go up, and our balance of payments, already dire, deteriorates further.

And the bitter irony is that frequently these industries go to jurisdictions with lower environmental standards, arguably resulting in increased global emissions.  This is not a mere scare story from a euro-critical political stance.  DECC itself, in a report commissioned from Vivid Economics, found that imported refined petroleum products (more and more of our petrol and diesel is coming from America and Russia) implies a 35% higher level of emissions than if it had been refined in the UK.    Maybe Ed Davey would like to try to justify that.  It takes a genius to create an energy policy that undermines competitiveness, while at the same time increasing CO2 emissions.

UKIP has rational solutions in all these areas.  Secure and affordable energy based on tried and tested technologies – coal, gas, nuclear.  An immigration policy focussed on quality, not quantity.  And when we leave the EU, a bonfire of unnecessary regulations.  Of course government needs to provide the infrastructure – physical, IT, educational, fiscal – that industry and investors need.  But beyond that, we believe we need less industrial strategy, fewer “initiatives”, more emphasis on removing the barriers.  We don’t need to teach the grass to grow.  We just need to get the rocks off the lawn.

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Political Correctness strikes at the National Trust

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Don’t get me wrong.  I have a high regard for the National Trust. I’m a Life Member — and have been for years.  I’ve had enormous enjoyment from visiting their properties — and their tea rooms — up and down the country.  I imagine that if I ever get to retire, I will spend sunny summer afternoons sitting on a Lutyens bench in some corner of a beautifully-tended National Trust garden — and probably doing the Telegraph cross-word.

When the NT does what it says on the tin, preserving our cultural heritage and fine country houses, and opening them to the public, it does a great job.  I think those critics who claim that the NT “Disneyfies” these heritage properties are probably over-stating their case.  The NT has also distinguished itself in the fight against wind farm applications in historic landscapes, most notably (in the East Midlands at least) at Lyveden New Bield

And yet, and yet…   Every so often the Trust gets carried away by political correctness — and I suspect it infuriates a large chunk of its membership.  It certainly infuriates me.  A few years ago it decided that it would ban hunting, even on land that had been gifted to the Trust on the explicit condition that hunting would continue.  If it felt that strongly about the issue, and was determined to flout the express wishes of donors, surely it should have done the decent thing and returned the land concerned to the estates or descendents of the donors.  And anyway, it’s there to preserve our heritage, not to impose modish fads on the large areas of land in its custody.

And now we read that it proposes “to campaign more aggressively for action against climate change”.  It even has the effrontery to suggest that it is putting its 350,000 members “in the front line of the fight against climate change”. I’m one of those 350,000 members, and I absolutely reject and repudiate its position.  Dame Helen Ghosh, the Director General of the NT, says “All the evidence we have at the trust shows that the biggest threat we face is to biodiversity and wildlife”.  It is not clear to me, as an NT member, how their duty to preserve heritage properties and landscape can be primarily concerned with wildlife and biodiversity (in many Trust properties, wildlife is part of the threat, from bat-poo to beetles).  Nor is it clear that loss of biodiversity is primarily about climate — others might point the finger at galloping urbanisation and development, population pressure, and intensive farming practices.

Dame Helen needs to recall that the recent slight warming (which no sane person denies) is entirely consistent with similar cycles in history — the Mediæval Warm Period, the Roman Optimum, the Minoan Optimum, the Holocene Maxima.  Biodiversity (and polar bears) survived those natural, cyclical events perfectly well, and will do again.

But Dame Helen’s big beef is coastal erosion, which is obviously due to climate change — isn’t it?  Isn’t the sea level rising?

Yes.  The sea level is rising — very slowly.  At the beginning of the current Interglacial, ten to twelve thousand years ago, sea level rose very rapidly indeed, driven by ice melt.  It inundated much of the North Sea area, which had previously been dry land with a significant early human population.  It created the English Channel (which some might consider a very positive development).  And the rate of sea level rise has been slowing ever since, so that today it is close to zero.

Coastal erosion has not been uniquely a feature of the post-Industrial Revolution period.  Perhaps the most significant example on the East Coast in the last thousand years was the prosperous port town of Dunwich in Suffolk, which largely disappeared in the thirteenth century, half a millennium before the industrial revolution, and seven hundred years before four-by-fours started emitting CO2.

The apparent sea level rise in Eastern England (including the Thames barrier and the possible risk to London) is not so much about sea level rise — more about tectonic plate movement.  England, and especially Eastern England, is slowly sinking, while Scotland seems to be rising  (Sorry, Alex Salmond, we’re talking geology, not politics).

Further from home, the periodic flooding in Bangladesh is often quoted as evidence of the damage from “man-made climate change”.  But in fact the Indian tectonic plate (including Bangladesh on its eastern margin) is being subducted under the Burma platelet, which seems to be the key problem.  Not so much sea level rising as tectonic plate dropping.

My advice to Dame Helen: don’t listen to the Just-So stories from the green lobby.  The world is much more complicated than that.  Oh, and please stick to your core mission, rather than trying to dragoon your membership into backing policies that many of them find naïve and dangerous.

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