On Jan 25th I was in Kuala Lumpur at the invitation of the Malaysian Palm Oil Council, to address their conference in Putrajaya. I was invited to speak on “The Global Climate Change debate and Tax-Payer Funded Environmentalism”. I believe that the palm oil industry has come in for some quite unjustified stick — it’s a regular whipping-boy of the green movement — so I was very happy to spend my birthday (as it happened) talking to the Council. Here’s what I said:
Good afternoon. Tan Sri, Tan Sri, Datuk Datuk, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen. It is an enormous pleasure for me to be with you here this afternoon. And I must start by thanking the Malaysian Palm Oil Council for inviting me. In fact, I spent three very happy years here in Malaysia and I am horrified to think that it was more than 20 years ago, from 1987 to 1990. I was based in Malacca and running a textile business. So it is a great pleasure for me to come back to Malaysia, albeit on a very short visit.
We have heard a lot since lunchtime about the technology, and we are turning here to the politics. I have to admit that I won’t necessarily be taking you down the green revolutionary road (a reference to an earlier speech). The title of my speech is “The Global Climate Change debate and Tax-Payer Funded Environmentalism”. It is a big subject and so I will get straight into it. The first thing I want to tell you is that there is an enormous mismatch and dissonance between what you would call the establishment, the government, the media, large companies and academia on the one hand, and the view of the general public on the other hand.
While what I will call the iron triangle of the government, academia and media are still absolutely committed to the orthodox view of climate change as set out by the IPCC, the public are becoming more and more disenchanted with the whole idea. Indeed, I can tell you that in Britain and America, and some European countries, the public are frankly sick to death of being hectored and lectured and blamed for climate change.
They are sick to death of seeing industrial-scale wind turbines at the bottom of their gardens. They look at the weather out of the window and, certainly, we in Britain have just had three of the coldest winters that we can remember in 20 years and, perhaps even longer. I appreciate that we must not make the mistake of confusing weather with climate. Climate is, if you like, weather averaged over very long periods, and you can have a trend for climate which is still interrupted by very hot, very cold, very wet, very dry, occasions.
By the way, I hope you are aware that the European Union’s Emissions Trading System is currently shut down because the level of fraud in the system was so extremely high that they decided that the only thing they could do on an emergency basis was actually to close the exchanges. In some member states over the course of last year, it was estimated that that about 90 per cent of transactions under the Emissions Trading Scheme were fraudulent. So the public is losing confidence. I say the public, but there are also many scientists, I agree not a majority (clearly the majority of scientists are committed to the IPCC orthodoxy) but there is a very significant and growing number of scientists who are challenging the orthodoxy.
I myself have attended conferences in the United States where hundreds of very distinguished scientists from highly reputable institutions from around the world, from America, Europe, Japan and Australia have got together and discussed their reservations about the conventional theory of anthropogenic global warming. They don’t believe it is all about C02. So what do they believe?
Many of them believe it is about natural cycles, based on solar and astronomical factors, which drive the earth’s climate. If I may give you an overview of the last 2,000 years perhaps in 20 seconds, it is interesting to note that over the past 2,000 years, we have seen two complete climate cycles. From the period from the year zero to about 350 to 400 AD, we have what is called the Roman Optimum. It was warm, and in my country, we had grapes growing up to Scotland where certainly no grapes grow at the moment.
Then about 400 to 500 AD, the temperature generally around the world got cooler and we had the Dark Ages. We had a cool period. Then about 1000 AD, we had something called the Medieval Warm Period where it started getting warmer again. For the period from 1000 to 1400 AD, it was actually pretty warm. That was the time, if you recall, that the first Viking called Eric the Red actually sailed across the Atlantic and got to Greenland. I would like to let you into a little secret about Greenland. In the year 1000 approximately when the Vikings got to Greenland, do you know what – it was green! It isn’t green today. After about 1400, the climate started to cool again globally and we had what is called the Little Ice Age.
So we had this cold period in the 17th and the 18th centuries and from the early part of the 19th century it got considerably warmer and we have seen a slow and steady warming since then. Now there is a principle in science called Occam’s Razor, which is the principle of making the minimum assumption. If you can explain a phenomenon by this assumption or that assumption, the question you should ask yourself is are you starting with a complicated assumption or are you taking the simple assumption.
If we are looking at the very small change we have seen over the last 100 years — and it is a small change of about 0.7 degrees centigrade in the last 100 years — that is very natural, very slow and nothing to get excited about. But most of all, it is entirely consistent with well-established, long term and natural climate cycles. And the view that the scientists that I have referred to have taken, and which I take, is that we are simply seeing a continuation of the cyclical process that certainly happened over those last 2,000 years. In fact, it happened for thousands of years before that: we had the Holocene Maxima. So, it has been going on for a very long time indeed.
I personally wonder how long the present situation can last. How long can the leaders continue leading the people when the people are finding they don’t believe it? And it is worth noting that in Britain there are now several opinion polls that are showing that a majority of people, that is voters, do not believe that human activity is solely or primarily the cause of climate change.
Can it last? I don’t believe it can. I believe that sooner or later we will see the political establishment obliged to pay attention to the opinions of the people. And the people are increasingly taking the view that first of all they don’t believe that man-made climate change is happening. Secondly, they see the hysteria, if I may use the word, over man-made climate change as being primarily directed towards two purposes. The first purpose is to enable governments to raise taxes. Certainly in the UK, the government’s Climate Change Bill is estimated to cost close to a trillion dollars over 40 years. Not millions, not billions but a trillion dollars.
That is a fantastic amount of money. Even the current programmes at hand which, as I have mentioned, are heavily dependent on wind power are estimated to increase the domestic price of electricity by 60 per cent by the end of the decade, in real terms. What we are doing in my country is giving ourselves the most expensive electricity in the world, and I think that is a rather unwise move. Now, what are the implications of this for palm oil and for bio fuels generally?
I can well imagine that someone in the audience is perhaps thinking that if this chap is right, surely there is no future for bio fuels. I don’t think that is the right assumption to make at all, as while we don’t know what exactly will happen to political opinion on climate change, we can afford to make some predictions with a degree of confidence. Politicians should always be very careful about making predictions unless they are very long term predictions in which case we know we won’t be here to check them out when they come true or don’t come true.
But I will make you a prediction for 2020 and I make it with considerable confidence: my prediction is that the world population will have grown by then. My prediction is that the demand for food will have increased by then, and that the world demand for carbon-based fuels will have increased by then. You may know that in the European Union where I sit in the European Parliament, the EU has decided that it wants to set a target for reducing C02 emissions in the EU by 20 per cent by 2020. Indeed, there are some voices in the Parliament and elsewhere who are saying that 20 per cent is really not good enough. It should be 30 per cent.
I think those people ought to go away and look at the projections from the International Energy Agency (IEA) and large fuel companies (BP produced a projection), and they are all about the same. They are all saying that C02 emissions, broadly-speaking and despite what we are doing on renewables, despite what we are doing on bio fuels, despite what we are doing on nuclear – will rise by about 20 per cent by 2020.
They are going up and will go up and, frankly, to argue otherwise is like King Canute sitting on the beach and telling the tide not to come in. The European Union can do all it wants to call for 20 per cent or 30 per cent reductions, but what we are actually going to see is an increase. And there is going to be great demand for palm oil, whether for food or, I believe, for fuel. I may be right or wrong, but I am convinced that in 10 years time the issue will no longer be climate change. I think the heat will have gone out of the issue. The issue will be energy security and energy availability. The pressure will then be to diversify supply and technologies and to use every available source of energy.
So, I see a great future for bio-fuels and palm oil as a bio-fuel, but I have to say that the reason has more to do with energy security than it has to do with anthropogenic global warming and C02 emissions. I have told you that certainly in Europe and America public opinion is moving against the theory of man-made climate change. I think it would be instructive just to go through the reasons for that, because there has been a series of events that have undermined public confidence. I would like to take you back 10 years to 2001, to the IPCC’s third assessment report (TAR). That featured a graph that became very familiar to anybody engaged in climate or energy debates in the early part of the last decade.
It was a so-called Hockey Stick graph. I am sure you have all seen it. What it purported to show was global temperatures over the past 1,000 years. It showed more or less a flat graph for 950 years, and then in the last few decades of the 20th century, it showed a massive spike.
This graph was developed by an American scientist called Michael Mann. It made him extremely famous extremely quickly. He was promoted as a young scientist very fast, and he soon found himself as a lead author on the IPCC studies. This graph became the sort of pin-up chart for the IPCC in 2001. When they launched that report, you had the then chairman of the IPCC standing in front of this enormous picture of the Hockey Stick graph.
I remember I was much less involved in the debate then. I hadn’t studied it but I though the graph looked pretty frightening. A lot of people thought it looked frightening, and this contributed to the climate scare. But there were a lot of people, especially those working in the earth sciences where they study geology and long-term history of climate and how it has affected the earth’s development, who were very suspicious of this.
They knew about the Medieval Warm Period, but now suddenly they were presented with this graph which omitted it. I should add that the Medieval Warm Period was clearly shown in the IPCC’s second report about four or five years before that.
Suddenly, that Medieval Warm Period had ceased to exist, and suddenly you had a straight line through that period and this massive spike at the end of the last century.
So, a lot of scientists started asking questions about it about who this guy Michael Mann was, and where he got his data from. Two scientists particularly became concerned in this debate. You may have heard their names – Steve McIntyre and Ross McKittrick. They started pressing Michael Mann to produce his source data, so that they could analyse it and see whether they got the same sort of information. They spent months and years pushing him and applying to his university and the IPCC. They faced all sorts of problems. Those who controlled the date were desperate to avoid it coming out in public.
Finally, McKittrick and McIntyre got hold of it, looked at it and decided that whether or not the climatology was right, the statistics (bearing in mind that you need the statistics to get from the raw data to the graph), the statistics were simply nonsense. It was so bad, in fact, they showed that a biased algorithm had been which had an innate tendency to create hockey stick type graphs. They demonstrated this in a very dramatic way by taking a Chicago telephone directory and plugging in the phone numbers as source data and, guess what? They got a hockey stick graph.
You could hardly have a more effective way of debunking a theory. Anyway, this story, of course, was widely reported particularly in America, and the US Congress became very concerned about it. In 2006 it appointed a Congressional Committee, and they brought in one of America’s most distinguished statisticians, Edward Wegman. vBear in mind, this is a statistician and that is what is critical. You can be as good a climatologist as you want, but if you take the data and apply the wrong statistical techniques, you end up with nonsense, which is what Michael Mann did.
The Wegman committee (and the record is there in the Library of Congress, if you want to go down and read it), took expert advice, studied what had happened and they confirmed that this graph was nonsense.
The next major development, taking the story stage by stage, was, of course, Al Gore, and his film “An Inconvenient Truth”. I am sure many of you here have seen it. There are one or two little problems with it. The first problem is that he uses that same Hockey Stick graph, or an adaptation of it, which we now know is one of the most discredited artefacts in the history of science.
He also produces another pair of graphs which is very impressive. They purport to be a record of mean global temperatures over a long period, 600,000 years, taken from ice cores, and also a corresponding record of atmospheric C02 levels over the 600,000 years. Al Gore compares the two graphs – the C02 graph and the temperature graph. And he puts them one on top of the other. If you have seen the film you will remember this. And guess what? There is an amazing match. There is a very clear correlation. And, says Al Gore, that proves it. That proves that C02 is driving temperature.
What he did not tell us is that if you look at those two graphs in high resolution, you find that the curves follow each other with great accuracy, but you also find that the C02 curve is about 800 to 1000 years after the temperature curve.
In other words, the two graphs taken together are strong evidence of correlation, but the delay, with C02 second and temperature first, is clear evidence that it is the temperature that drives the C02,and not the C02 that drives the temperature. And the mechanism by which this happens is well-understood, and is to do with the amount of C02 dissolved in the oceans. We think there is a lot of C02 in the air. Actually in geo-historical terms our C02 levels in the air are very low. But while there are thousands of tonnes of C02 in the atmosphere, there is 50 times as much CO2 in the oceans. Changing the temperature of the oceans changes the C02 levels in the oceans and therefore the atmosphere.
Al Gore was also very big on his polar bears. If you had seen the film, you would have seen the polar bear drowning. The polar bear scene saw him using a cartoon instead of a real illustration. And possibly, the reason he did that was because polar bears are among the best swimmers in the animal kingdom. If we leave aside the whales and the dolphins, polar bears are amongst the best swimmers, and they tend not to drown very much. The other thing, and I want to make a point here, is the effect the media have had on public opinion. I am sure that if you go into the average classroom, and you say to children “what about climate change and polar bears?”, they will say to you that climate change is killing the polar bears.
I must stress that this is merely a prediction based on disputed science and speculative computer models . It is not a fact. If you go out there and look at current studies of polar bear numbers, you will find that polar bear numbers in the Arctic have doubled in the last 30 years. The polar bears are doing very nicely. In theory, the polar bears are at risk. In the real world, the polar bears are doing very well indeed. And the same applies to sea level. If you go out into that same classroom and say what is climate change doing to sea level, the children will say that the sea level is rising rapidly and dangerously. We have seen the movie and we saw New York flooded and so on. I can tell you that in fact that sea level is currently rising at between six and seven inches a century, and that this rise as long as we have had reliable records. It is not accelerating.
But we do know that from the geological record that there was a much more rapid seal level rise about 10,000 years at the end of the last glaciation which actually was driven by melting ice, which caused the sea to rise. That is why my country, the United Kingdom, is an island. 12,000 years ago we were fastened on to France. But the sea level rose about 8,000 to 10,000 years ago, and created the English Channel and, of course, it rose all around the world because that is what the sea does. It is now rising much, much, more slowly. It rose several hundred feet at that period and is now rising roughly six or seven inches a century. And there is no evidence of that rate increasing. There are projections from the IPCC, there are wild claims by the World Wild Life Fund and all those guys. But there is no actual evidence.
There was a UK court case about three years ago when Al Gore’s movie was being shown in schools, and a concerned parent was upset that his child was exposed to what he regarded as propaganda. He took the case to a British court, which ruled that there were actually nine substantive errors in the film. And as a result, even though it can still be shown in British schools, it has to be shown with accompanying material pointing out the errors and the alternative point of view.
In fact, people who have studied the movie from a sceptical point of view suggest that that are as many as 35 or 40 errors. It is full of substantive scientific errors. This brings me on to the event that became to be known as Climategate, which was the massive release of e-mails (that was before we had even heard of Wikileaks!). They came from the University of East Anglia Climatic Research Unit. I should stress that at the IPCC, a lot of people imagine that there are 2,500 very highly qualified, unbiased scientists, who are seeking for the truth. But nothing like that exists. The whole IPCC process is driven by a couple of dozen insiders, including this Michael Mann whom we mentioned, and including three or four of the people at the University of East Anglia and at several other major institutions around the world.
And it is clear from those leaks that they are not unbiased scientists looking for the truth. They are advocates driving an agenda. What do we see from those leaked e-mails? They discuss with each other how they should eliminate the Medieval Warm Period, which we saw they did with that graph. They cobbled together different data sets that were unrelated to each other, and then presented the results without saying that they were from unrelated data sets. They conspired to block the publication of articles and scientific papers that disagreed with their views. They conspired to dismiss the editors of learned journals whom they thought were not sufficiently committed to their view.
They sent each other e-mails asking each other how they should (and these are their words), “hide the decline”. They refused requests for information and source data made under the Freedom of Information Act. In fact they sent each other e-mails urging each other to destroy any information they were holding, so that it could not be released under the Act. That is a criminal offence in the UK and I still do not understand why they have not been prosecuted.
The main professor involved who was actually suspended while these matters were being investigated, Prof Phil Jones, recently said on the BBC that there had been no significant global warming for the last 15 years.
He also said, eventually, when ultimately pressed for the source data on which his and the IPCC’s record of global temperatures were based, that he could not find them. His filing was not very good.
Now, I don’t know if this applies in Malaysia, but in Britain if a child is supposed to do some homework but fails to do the homework, then the traditional excuse is “Sorry, Miss, I did the homework, but the dog ate it.”
Phil Jones has not actually said “the dog ate it”, but it is extraordinary that we have this global issue of climate change, and yet the source data on which it is based does not appear to be available. Just really finishing that one off, in New Zealand only just last October a very similar thing happened. An interested group of citizens brought a court case requiring the New Zealand Meteorological Office to provide source data on which their trends of climate change were based. Initially, they were going to defend the case. Then they decided to withdraw their defence, admitting that they could not provide the data. Again, it was the “dog ate it.”
There is a process they use called “homogenization” of data. It is an adjustment process, which is fair enough. All sorts of data need various kinds of adjustment. But now there is overwhelming evidence that all the homogenization and adjustment of data which has been applied to temperature data records tends to impose an upward bias which was not there before.
In addition to all that, we had a series of scandals with the IPCC itself and frankly I could take all my remaining time to tell you about it. But I will tell you only about one point, and that is estimate I am sure you saw in the press, a shock-horror report from the IPCC saying that the Himalayan glaciers would disappear by 2035.
This was published and became headline news around the world. And guess what, it turns out it was not based on peer reviewed science. It came, in fact, from a propaganda sheet from one of the green NGO’s, I think it was WWF. In turn, that was based on a nearly 10-year-old report in an UK scientific magazine, that itself was based on a single telephone conversation between a reporter and an Indian scientist. They found that Indian scientist when the story broke, they went to him and asked where his research was showing that the glaciers will disappear by 2035. And he said it wasn’t research. but just a speculative idea. In any case, he said “I didn’t say 2035 but 2350.’ It wasn’t a decade but a few hundred years. The scientist worked in fact in the TERI Research Institute which is owned and operated by the railway engineer, Dr Rajendra Pachauri, who is also the chairman of the IPCC.
What a railway engineer is doing as chairman of the IPCC, I don’t know. But there you are. It is interesting that the Indian government was so concerned about that particular event, the statement about the Himalayan glaciers, and so discouraged and lacking in trust of the IPCC, that it talked in terms of setting up its own Indian Climate Research Unit. I understand why it wants to do that and I hope that it will.
So that is a brief explanation of why many people in the UK are now less than convinced about the climate scare. Let me turn to the second half of my subject: the green NGOs and the campaigns that NGOs have been running to the detriment of the palm oil industry.
I won’t attempt to cover the pro and cons, the arguments they put and the standard counter arguments, first of all because I suspect you know them a great deal better than I do. Secondly, because the next presentation after I sit down is on exactly that point. But I would like to make a point about the EU’s attitude towards NGOs.
In my country we have had a system called democracy, which you could call representative democracy. It has been developed over many centuries, and it involves the people electing their representatives and representatives making their decisions. Within the EU and its institutions, there are a number of voices saying that representative democracy really has had its time and is a bit played out. It isn’t working and perhaps we should move to a new model which they call “participative democracy”.
What exactly does that mean and why do they think that representative democracy has failed? I’ll tell you why. First of all, representative democracy has failed because the people out there, the ignorant unwashed voters, occasionally elect people like me, and others who are critical of the European project. So clearly the voters don’t understand the benefits of European Union membership, and we need to find a new way of consulting them.
The other point is that the European institutions have noticed that whenever you put a European proposition to a referendum in Europe, the people vote “NO”. In 1991, the Danes voted against the Treaty of Maastricht. They were told to go away and vote again until they got the right answer. In 2002, the Irish were invited to vote on the Treaty of Nice. They voted “NO” and you know what happened. They were told to go away and vote again. Then the European Union developed the European Constitution, and it rashly put it to the vote in France and in Holland. The results came out within days of each other. The French voted “NO” by about 57 per cent and the Dutch voted “NO” by about 62 per cent.
This time they didn’t tell them to vote again. They took away the document, thought about it for 18 months, changed the name from the Constitution to the Lisbon Treaty (the text is 99 per cent identical), and came back with it. But they said: “Look chaps. This is a Treaty not a Constitution, so you don’t really need a referendum this time.” And the postscript to that situation is that the only country which for its own internal reasons did require a referendum was Ireland, and it voted “NO”. Again, Ireland was told to go away and vote again until they got the right answer.
So you can understand that Europe would be pretty unhappy with the representative government that actually produces the wrong results every time. But what is participative government? It is very simple. Instead of going to the great unwashed mass of people out there, you go to “civic society”. I must confess that I struggled at one stage with civic society. Just what is civic society? I understand what people are. I have 4.2 million of them in the region that I represent. I wasn’t quite sure what civic society was, but now I have got it. Now I understand.
Civic society simply means NGOs. That’s what it means. It means you get the NGOs in and talk to them. And they have had a number of meetings with civic society. I attended a couple of them, one on climate change and another on European integration. What is absolutely fascinating about this is, of course, that virtually every one of these NGOs that show up at these events is actually funded, in part, by the European Commission itself. So they are, if you like, paying people to tell them what they want to hear. Years and years ago, in simpler times, we used to have fair-grounds in Britain and, indeed, in many other countries. One of the fair-ground’s attractions in those simple days before television was called a Hall of Mirrors. You would have a marquee, and in it you would have a lot of distorting mirrors. So you would walk in and you would see a reflection of yourself but enormously fat and enormously stretched. And this was an amusement.
Now, what the European Union has created is its own Hall of Mirrors. It has paid for its own set of interlocutors who reflect, broadly speaking, what the EU wants to hear. Think of the incentives and motivations of an NGO. Yes, some of them are honest and some of them are sincere. But all of them want to survive, they want to grow, all of them want their salaries to continue to be paid. So the first thing they are going to do is to protect their funding stream. If their funding stream comes 50 per cent from the European Union, they will be careful to say what’s expected. They are driven by the need to survive and the need to fund themselves. They also need to get funding from the public. And so their story must be alarming. It is the same with the media. If you said last year that the sea level is going to rise by 10 feet, that is not a story. You have to say that the sea level is growing to rise by 20 feet. Each time you prediction has to be more dramatic and alarmist than the last one.
Many of these NGOs were, of course, at Cancun at the UN Climate Fest last December. I was there too. By the way, while I was there during the Claimte Conference we experienced the five coldest December days ever recorded in Cancun in December.
So we come to the point about the NGO funding. Here I want to credit an organization in the UK called the Tax Payers Alliance. They are excellent people who do some very fine research. They publish very useful reports on their research. They did research on EU funding of NGOs. They found that in 2009/10, the green NGOs received partly from the EU and partly from the British Government a total of £10 million. Now that it quite a substantial sum, three quarters of it from the EU and a quarter of it from the UK.
They were not counting any money from any other member states, and there are 26 other member states. Nor did they count the funding for these organizations that comes in the USA. I believe this is substantially higher than the figures for Europe. So there is an enormous amount of tax-payers money going directly into these organizations. Now, why should we worry about that? In the palm oil industry you may have very specific reasons, but there are broader reasons of democracy and accountability that I think we should be concerned about. The first thing is that by taking the public out of the loop, you are actually producing an anti-democratic structure. A structure designed to reinforce the prejudices of the EU institutions.
It means that the nexus of the NGOs and EU are pursuing the interests and preoccupations of a narrow élite. As you may be aware, the NGOs have an enormous place in EU decision-making. If you are lucky, the Commission when it is developing a legislative proposal may talk to the industry. Yes it does talk to the industry, let’s be honest. But it will also have Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth and the World WildLife Fund and all those guys out there talking to them as well. And that is in my view profoundly anti-democratic. Those guys have no mandate. Certainly, in the UK, you get little old ladies leaving money to the World Wildlife Fund in their will. You get two million people contributing to the RSPB, the bird protection organization. They are interested in protecting birds and panda’s and whales. They are not consciously setting out to promote a green climate-change agenda. And yet their money is used for that purpose.
Arguably, the arrangement we have is a barrier to new thinking, new ideas. Once you get this consensus of people working together, they tend to feel that they know what they are doing, that they unlikely to be challenged and therefore there is no incentive to put in new thinking and new ideas — as you are finding, indeed, when you are challenging some of their views on palm oil. And tax payers, of course, are made to fund propositions which they may not agree with at all. I don’t want to be unkind to people in NGOs. I think many of them are sincere and genuine and doing a fine job.
But when you look at some of the more aggressive and strident of the green NGOs, you realize that they are anti-development, anti-growth, anti-prosperity, anti-business, anti-capitalism,. We have to add they are a little anti-human and anti-life. They do not consider the needs and aspirations of real people.
In conclusion, ladies and gentlemen, what are you going to do about it? How can you influence the work these NGOs are doing and the criticisms that they are levelling against your industry? Public information is absolutely at the heart if it. There is no quick fix. You have to keep telling the right story over and over again. We have a phrase in politics that you probably use in Malaysia too – sunlight is the best disinfectant. The best way to deal with lies is to tell the truth. The best way to deal with propaganda is to respond with the facts. But it does really matter you respond with the facts in a targeted way. Public opinion is very important but, of course, it is people like MEPs and the European Commission who are creating the European regulations which are likely to be a problem.
I believe, to a large extent, that you are already doing the right things. I know that you had your minister visit Brussels at the back end of last year and one of my colleagues Martin Callanan was involved in hosting that visit. The word is getting around. I talked to Martin for a briefing on what was discussed there. That was very helpful, but I would think that you need a presence, probably in Brussels where the decisions are being made. The legislative process is extremely complicated.
I would love to stand here and tell you “don’t worry, I’ll check it out and I will let you know.” But it is in the nature of any individual MEP that we are dealing with dozens or hundreds of issues, and indeed the concerns of many constituents, and we cannot simply keep track of everything.
You certainly need, I think, somebody in Brussels who has a primary responsibility to look after your interests, to follow legislation which is being proposed, and ideally to talk to the European Commission when they are formulating their proposals. But then move on when the proposal comes to the European Parliament. It will probably come to the Environment Committee.
Make sure you are talking to the right people there. Identify the rapporteur, and make sure he or she is familiar with your case. And talk to MEPs who are sympathetic to a pro-business position. They’ll know what kind of amendments they should be putting forward to the legislation.
The task is difficult but not impossible. It needs keeping at it over a long period. As I said in the early part of my speech, I believe that demographic changes and energy shortages and, indeed, food shortages mean that sooner or later sensible arguments will have to prevail because, ladies and gentlemen, we need the food and we need the fuel. Thank you very much indeed.