Driving to a cleaner future

The European parliament is currently looking at proposals that would require auto makers to reduce average emissions to 120 gms of CO2 per kilometre by 2012.  This is a very low figure indeed.  Think Ford Ka, or Smart Car.  Think 1000 ccs, de-tuned.  Not an attractive prospect for our motoring future, especially while EU Commissioners are driving about in their five-litre Mercedes, and Commission President José Manuel Barroso continues to drive his vast 4WD Volkswagen Touareg (average emissions: 273 gms/km). The 2012 target is technically difficult too, as cars have a long development cycle, and 2012 cars are already on the drawing board.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has been driven to distraction over this issue.  She is a high-profile warrior in the battle against climate change, but she is also leader of a country that loves its cars, and makes Mercedes, Audi, BMW and Porsche.  The 120 gms/km proposal would simply shut down the German car industry, except for the odd VW Polo.  So she’s adopted a schizophrenic response.  Low emissions for everyone except German car makers.

Meantime my regional colleague Labour MEP Glenis Willmott has been castigating car-makers for failing in their duty.  She doesn’t give them credit for the progress they have made over recent decades.  I remember that as a young executive in the early seventies, my pride and joy was my Lotus Cortina, which returned around 20 mpg.  Today I drive a bigger and faster car (admittedly diesel) and get 35 to 40 mpg.  My former MEP colleague Robert Goodwill (now MP for Scarborough) insists that in central London the exhaust coming out of a modern car is actually cleaner than the air that went in, though I don’t fancy breathing it myself.

British marques like Jaguar, Land Rover, Rolls Royce, Bentley and Aston Martin could not survive these draconian emissions proposals.  I think of the gnarled old craftsmen at the new Rolls Royce factory at Goodwood, bent over polished burr walnut veneer or hand-stitching leather, and I wonder if Glenis would like to go and tell them that she’s legislated them out of a job.  I know I wouldn’t.

In the East Midlands region that Glenis and I represent, we have a humungous Toyota plant at Burnaston in Derbyshire which employs 3000 people and produces getting on for a thousand cars a day.  The Toyota Land Cruiser emits 243 gms/km.  I’m not keen to close them down either.

The green zealots are determined to punish motorists, and holidaymakers, and just about everyone else in their push for reduced CO2 emissions.  The whole CO2/climate change theory is increasingly being challenged by scientists who take an alternative view, but even if you accept the role of CO2, there is a much less painful way of reducing emissions, and that is to build more nuclear generating capacity.  This also has the benefits that nuclear is now cleaner, cheaper, more reliable and safer than any other mainstream generating technology.  And kilowatt for kilowatt, it produces about as much CO2 as wind power.

But we all have to do our bit for the environment.  For myself, I’ve bought a green car.  British Racing Green.

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27 Responses to Driving to a cleaner future

  1. Jorgen says:

    Couldn’t agree more (except with the colour of your car). Anyway, as Telegraph quoted from a report a couple of days ago: global warming would actually be good for mankind. I for one could do with a couple of degrees warmer climate.

  2. Louise says:

    Yes, Jorgen, I’m sure YOU could do with a couple of degrees warmer climate but what about the people of Bangladesh? 25% of the population live less than 1m above sea level. A temperature rise of 2 degrees would devastate the country and many other low-lying areas. How can you possibly believe global warming would be good for mankind when it will cause flooding, drought and famine worldwide?

  3. Julian Lees says:

    Did you know…

    1) According to the former Minister for the Environment, John Gummer, The world’s accessible stocks of uranium, necessary for nuclear power generation, are dwindling fast, and do not represent a viable alternative to reducing our energy consumption.

    2) 100% of peer-reviewed papers published by climate scientists on the subject of global warming agree that it is real, and a problem that will have large negative consequences on our environment, and will transform the way we live. To pretend that there is any meaningful controversy surrounding this point is equivalent to insisting that the earth may be flat, or that it forms the centre of the sun’s orbit.

    3) Facing the challenges of finding technological solutions to transportation in a carbon-neutral age will stimulate our economy, not damage it. The required innovations and their implementation will create thousands of new jobs.

    4) Millions of people will die as a result of climate change, mostly in poorer countries, as a result of rising sea levels, drought, and an increased incidence of severe tropical storms. To undermine the severity of this problem displays a callousness that beggars belief.

    Perhaps Roger Helmer MEP should gain a broader factual understanding of important issues before feeling compelled to comment publicly on them. The narrowness of his viewpoints lower this debate, and his dignity.

  4. Baba says:

    There is climate change – the argument is about THE CAUSES. There is not 100% agreement on that is there?

  5. Bob Paul says:

    With dinosaurs like this in the conservative party there is little chance of the conservatives ever making a comeback. They seem unable to adapt to the realities of the 21st century and are happy to go on driving their jaguars while people die as a consequnce of their inaction. Some things never change.

  6. Bob Paul says:

    what a plonker!

  7. I think that’s unfair.

    So are you saying people are dieing do to people driving say a Jag – which may well emit less CO2 than older smaller cars? Or are people more likely to suffer do the likes of India and China pumping out more CO2 than this whole country – who are using dirty coal technology?

    The debate about the envionment is often inaccurately portrayed as black and white. If people wanted to cut their carbon footprint – well they wouldn’t have kids for a start. I don’t have any and am married – does that make me more virtuous than a couple who have two kids? Should they be damned for using disposable nappies. they have plastics in – made from fossil fuels. They account for 6% of our total landfill. Can I chose to drive a bigger car because I am more virtous environmentally than those who have large houses and therefore consume more power irrespective of whether they use energy saving lighbulbs.

    I dont have a conservatory – so am I more virtous than those who do? Would you advocate a conservatory tax – afterall they use a huge amount of energy to heat in winter and people now pay to cool them in summer – so are usually the most environmentally unfriendly building in the house.

  8. Bob Paul says:

    I appreciate what you are saying Johnathan. However this is a representative of our country at the european community who seems to think that climate change is a laughing matter – “For myself, I’ve bought a green car. British Racing Green.” – and one that does not need to be taken seriously – we can just go on as before. With people in high places with that kind of attitute the human race is certainly heading for self-destruction.

  9. Roger Helmer says:

    For Bob Paul: My2.7 litre diesel S-type Jag does over 40 mpg on long runs. What does your car do?

    For Julian Lees: Please don’t keep repeating this nonsense about peer-reviewed papers. Just go study the literature.

    In the UK, an increase in average temperatures would REDUCE temperature-related deaths, since more people die of cold than of heat.

    Current known resources of uranium will be adequate until about 2080, and if there is a shortage, more will be found. The development of fourth generation fast-breeder reactors will dramatically increase the efficiency of uranium fuel, so it may last many centuries. Before then, we’ll have nuclear fusion, and the problem will be solved.

  10. Bob Paul says:

    For Roger Helmer: I don’t want to go in for tit for tat but my vauxhall astra estate does 58 mpg on short runs and usually carries between 3 and 5 occupants. thats at least a 50% saving on your emissions. And what do you gain for the extra petrol you burn? But why would you care since it seems you do not believe in climate change despite the overwhelming majority of scientific opinion. Perhaps you know more than the scientists. Funny that I guessed you had a jaguar.

  11. Bob Paul says:

    Actually I take the bus to work – or car share. All those cars with just one occupant is just so inefficient.

  12. Julie Hurst says:

    Bob – not everyone has that choice! Sometimes the car is the only option. Do you think houses of single occupation are just so inefficient too?

    So what would you do – ban all cars that do 40mpg and below?

  13. Roger Helmer says:

    Bob, Let me say again: I don’t think I know better than the scientists. I just happen to agree with the large number of scientists who challenge the alarmist hypothesis, rather than with the IPCC/establishment/media consensus.

    We agree that there is a strong case for reducing dependency on fossil fuels. It’s just that your case is based on climate alarmism whilst mine is based on energy security.

  14. Bob Paul says:

    Julie – I think in all too many cases people are very quick to decide that the car is the only option. Sometimes you have to make a bit of effort or sacrifice to find another method. How many people consider public transport routes to their work when buying a house for example. I live in a remote location and I hear people all the time saying that there is no alternative – but there very often is – even if it is car sharing. And yes – I think single occupancy houses are very inefficient and should be avoided where possible – for social reasons also – I find it sad that people should want or have to live alone.

    Roger – can you tell me if this is the offical conservative view – being against the IPCC/establishment/media consensus. And if not then why are you representing the conservative party in Europe on the environment.

  15. Roger Helmer says:

    Bob, Thank you for your question. No, mine is not the official Conservative view. In fact I represent the East Midlands in the European parliament, and I do my best to promote the interests of my constituents as I understand them. In any large Party there will be individuals with different views on some issues — even on important issues. For example, Ken Clarke says we shouldn’t have a referendum on the renamed EU Constitution. He’s out of line with Party policy, and with the great majority of Party members, but I don’t recall anyone saying he couldn’t sit as a Conservative.

  16. Bob Paul says:

    So it would be fine for the conservatives to have a chancellor who believed in having more types and higher levels of taxation to fund public spending? As long as most of their other views were in line with the conservative party as a whole?

    Aren’t you sitting on the environment comittee at the european parlimant and as such are a conservative representative specialising and voting on legislation on the environment.

  17. john wilson says:

    Roger Helmer advocates “building more nuclear generating capacity”, stating that its cleaner and safer. I would be interested to hear just how his party propose to dispose of future nuclear waste. A nuclear future is a “no brainer” as far as I’m concerned, no thought of the consequencies for those who will inherit its legacy. Perhaps he intends disposing of it in remote and rural areas. That would certainly give Bob Paul a “greener” car… it could glow in the dark.

  18. Bob Paul says:

    Yes John – It certainly looks like all Roger’s policies involve living a dirty and energy inefficient lifestyle today at the cost of storing up major problems for future generations. Yes – lets produce as much (unnecessary) radiation and pollution as we can now and leave somebody else to clear it up. verybody shoul dhave the right to burn up the earht’s natural resources on cheap flights to Ibiza and driving inefficient gas guzzling cars! I would hazard a guess that Roger doesn’t have any children.

  19. Martin Baker says:

    Unbelievable. Just unbelievable. Talk about head in the sand. The view being put forward here seems to be “Let’s ignore the problem and clmate change will go away”. Sorry folks, it won’t.

  20. Ryan Lavelle says:

    Martin, John and Bob

    Global warming (assming you believe that it is a consequence of human CO2 emissions) certainly won’t go away if you anti-technology luddites keep insisting on renewables rather than moving directly to the large scale implementation of nuclear power.

    According to you people, we are destroying the planet with carbon dioxide, yet we cannot adopt the most energy-flux-density efficient power source known to man because of “pollution”.

    You cannot have it both ways. Either global warming is a “planetary emergency”, requiring “emergency measures”, or it isn’t.

    A nuclear power station emits less radiation than a brick, and likewise, if we had actually implemented the full nuclear fuel cycle, instead of shutting the whole programme down because of environmentalist fear mongering, you would know that 95% of “nuclear waste” can be reprocessed.

    Only a generation of people who have grown accustomed to thinking in terms of environmentalist dogma, not science, could approach this subject with such suicidal imbecility.

  21. retro says:

    It’s a shame what happened to Bangladesh. I hope the world steps up and helps them.

  22. Ryan Lavelle says:


    The government of India ought to do more to help the state of the infrastructure in their country and raise people out of the abject poverty in which working people are living there.

    I am growing annoyed with hearing every single natural disaster blamed on “man made global warming”, which is utter nonsense.

  23. Bob Paul says:


    How near is your local nuclear power atation? I would give you more credence if you lived next door to one (as they are so safe).

  24. Bob Paul says:

    They have never made a car that doesn’t break but nuclear pwer stations are foolproof. Chernobyl never happened. Leukemia doesn’t exist. There is no terrorist danger.

  25. Bob Paul says:

    And yet we have enormous resources of free safe clean renewable energy that we have not even begun to tap. But any attempt to do so is usually blocked by people like John Hodgeson (prospective conservative candidate for Skye) who does not want it to spoil his view

  26. Bob Paul says:

    Ryan I think you are (in your own words) the person suffering from suicidal imbecility

  27. Dave says:

    Oh Bob – am I right in assuming you are on a computer. Solar powered? No didnt think so – so why not switch it off and stop adding to your carbon footprint.

    Am I also right in thinking you live in a fairly remote area? How very selfish of you – I wonder how all the things you need get transported to you. I suspect there is alot of burning of fossil fuels!

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