Our renewables policy is literally lunatic

Fairness, Chris?  What’s “fair” about taking money from the poor and giving it to the well-off?
Last July I wrote a review of Matthew Sinclair’s excellent book “Let Them Eat Carbon”.
Matthew will be joining me in a Conference Fringe Meeting on Monday Oct 3rd at 10:15 a.m., in The Freedom Zone (TFZ), in the Bridgewater Hall, Lower Moseley Street, just a stone’s throw from the main Conference (but you don’t need a Conference Pass to get in), on the subject of energy policy and wind-farms.   We’ll also be joined by my good friend and colleague Struan Stevenson MEP (Scotland), who has campaigned robustly against the SNP’s absurd 100% renewables target, and against the scourge of wind-farms.  Do come if you can.
The Freedom Zone has become an established fixture at the Conservative Party Conference in recent years.  Many people see it as the “real” conservative conference.  You’ll certainly hear more lively and contentious debate at TFZ than you will in the main conference hall.  We have a superb selection of speakers — check it out at http://www.tfa.net/the_freedom_association/2011/09/the-freedom-z.html
Meantime I was re-reading Matt’s chapter on renewables on the flight over to Strasbourg, and I was scandalised all over again at the folly of it all.  There are several key points:
The Policy is regressive: Quite simply, it takes money from the poor, who pay electricity bills, and gives it to lairds and landowners who own blocks of land, or blocks of shares.  The smaller domestic-scale subsidies also take money from the poor, and give it to comfortable middle-class householders who can afford fifteen or twenty thousand pounds for a solar photo-voltaic system.  Chris Huhne is taxing the poor to subsidise the rich — and he and his Lib-Dem colleagues have the gall to talk about “Fairness”!
The policy fails in its primary objective:  Whether or not we think that reducing carbon emissions is important, we can still ask whether the policy succeeds in its own terms.  The answer is “NO”.  We’ve designed a system that cannot succeed.  We already have the EU’s Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) which sets a cap on emissions.  So any further measures like renewables subsidies, within the ETS ceiling, will simply move emissions from one place to another.  If renewables achieve any immediate emissions savings, they will just make it cheaper to create emissions elsewhere, up to the ETS ceiling.  It simply cannot make any difference.  We see in Germany and Denmark (with even more wind farms pro-rata than the UK) that emissions have not been reduced at all.  So the billions — literally billions — we spend on subsidies achieve nothing useful.
We’re “backing losers”:  We used to accuse governments of “backing winners”.  Harold Wilson was keen on the idea, though not very good at it.  But our renewables policy deliberately sets out to give the highest subsidies to back losers — to give the most expensive technologies (especially solar).  It distorts markets, and obscures the price signals that should drive efficiency.  Markets should seek to lower emissions in the most cost-effective way.  But we have deliberately incentivised the least cost-effective way.
We’re driving up costs:  Huhne insults our intelligence by blaming consumers, and their failure to “shop around”, for increasing electricity prices, when his own policies are largely to blame, as everyone knows.  We’re forcing energy-intensive companies to move off-shore, taking jobs with them.  We’re making the UK less attractive for investment.  On a domestic level, we’re driving millions more households into fuel poverty.  Be in no doubt — thousands of pensioners will die of cold as a direct result of Huhne’s policies.  And millions more will never vote for the Lib-Dems ever again (and perhaps not to the colluding Conservatives) because of what we’ve done to fuel prices.
Totally irrational.  Futile.  And vastly expensive.  That’s Huhne’s policy.  Some might add that it’s a pretty fair description of Huhne himself.

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5 Responses to Our renewables policy is literally lunatic

  1. Sean O'Hare says:

    Totally irrational. Futile. And vastly expensive. That’s Huhne’s [and Cameron’s] policy. Some might add that it’s a pretty fair description of Huhne [and Cameron] himself themselves.

  2. Jacob Stewart says:

    Wasn’t Huhne in that Green Fiscal Commission thing, where he and some other MPs and Peers said they would deliberately seek to increase “green taxation”, and they acknowledged that this would “hurt British Industry”?

    Isn’t this a type of Treason or something?

    • I don’t have the detail on that, but it would be typical. Screwing the economy and impoverishing the people for gesture politics and a false ideology. You expect it from Lib-Dems, but sadly we’re seeing it from Tories who ought to know better.

  3. Lazarus says:

    “Quite simply, it takes money from the poor, who pay electricity bills, and gives it to lairds and landowners who own blocks of land, or blocks of shares.”

    This isn’t much of an argument unless the alternative is that the poor don’t pay bills and shareholders do not get the profits. Clearly this is not the case.

    In fact I believe that the alternative is even worse because power pants will be built, and maintained by foreign companies using some foreign labour and using fuel mostly imported from foreign countries. Much of the profits will be paid to foreign shareholders and the money lost to our home economy. Clearly the money going to British ‘lairds and landowners’ is preferable to this.

    As a British European MP shouldn’t you be encouraging investment by the British in Britain with profits remaining within the British economy?

  4. A taxation policy that is deliberately and outrageously regressive is “not much of an argument”?

    The question of who owns/runs power stations is worth discussing, but not relevant to the regressive nature of green subsidies.

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