EU Green Policies destroy competitiveness

The EU has a wide policy agenda designed to “fight climate change”.  That raises a number of questions.  Is it necessary?  Will it work?  And are we approaching it in the most cost-effective way?

The cost of the EU programme is a subject for debate, but the switch to “a low-carbon economy” will certainly cost hundreds of billions of euros, and probably trillions.  If the answers to the questions above are “no”, then we are wasting the money.  If the answer even to just one of the questions is “no”, then we are wasting all or part of the money.

The question whether human activity and CO2 emissions are driving serious or catastrophic climate change remains hotly disputed.  Contrary to Al Gore’s script, the science is not settled.  Many thousands of qualified scientists take a contrary view, including a significant number who are or have been panellists and reviewers for IPCC studies.  Some argue that if a risk exists, we should take action to mitigate it — the “Precautionary Principle”.  Yet despite the Stern Review, most serious economic studies of climate mitigation suggest that costs greatly exceed potential benefits.  Even the British government’s first impact assessment of its Climate Act showed a net deficit, and had to be hastily fudged.

The approach of Lord (Nigel) Lawson in his book “An Appeal to Reason” is that we should undertake adaptation, as and when required, and only if needed, rather than to incur eye-watering up-front costs, on a globally unprecedented scale, for mitigation efforts which may not be needed and may not work.

So, will it work?  The UK produces only around 2% of global emissions, so UK action would be trivial.  Taking Europe as whole, its efforts will be quickly negated by rapid economic and industrial growth in the BRICS.   Green campaigners laud China’s commitment to green technology, yet China is building a new coal-fired power station every week, with India not far behind.  The EU aims to lead the world, yet no one is following.  European industry takes a vast hit on energy costs, but CO2 levels continue to rise.

Finally, do we have the most cost effective approach?  Let’s assume that we want to reduce CO2 emissions, despite the disputed science.  We would look for the lowest cost-per-ton reductions, so as to reach our objectives with least damage to competitiveness.  Low-cost ways of reducing CO2 emissions might include building nuclear power stations (effectively a zero-cost option, since electricity from nuclear is competitive with other mainstream technologies).  We might switch from coal to gas.  We might focus on energy efficiency.

For example, the EU’s emissions regulations on automobiles are estimated to cost around €250 per ton of CO2 saved, while insulating buildings delivers a cost of €10 to 20 per ton.

The Commission has decided on the most expensive approach imaginable.  It has mandated highly challenging targets for renewables, like wind and solar.  These produce high-cost electricity.  Even then, published cost estimates generally do not include the high cost of back-up.  Unpredictable and intermittent technologies like wind require instantly-available back-up, which almost inevitably means gas.  But gas run intermittently is inefficient, driving up both costs and emissions.  On some estimates, the package of wind-plus-gas may produce no CO2 savings at all.  And we’ve paid twice-over for generating capacity — once for wind, again for the gas.  Better to build gas, and forget the wind altogether.

The remaining green argument is that fossil fuel prices are rising, and that gas depends on imports.  But we should look at the USA, where shale gas reserves are estimated at up to 500 years.  America is looking forward to a new industrial renaissance based on cheap, indigenous gas.  Yet we in Europe are driving industry away with massive energy and carbon taxes.  The EU seems to have a death-wish.

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7 Responses to EU Green Policies destroy competitiveness

  1. Simon says:

    The point you missed, which should be top of the list, is the negative human impact of these green policies beyond industrial competitiveness. Why do we need to be successful commercially and industrially if not to raise the nation and people up out of poverty. When people are richer, they can afford to stay warm so their health improves. When a nation is richer, it can ensure that the poorest (not just financially, but in all respects) are well looked after. It is deplorable that greenism politicians deliberately enact policies and taxes that make people poorer and less able to survive, i.e. policies designed to kill.

  2. Maureen Gannon says:

    What do you expect ? we are ruled by a bunch of marxists, for years, they cannot accept the demise of their beloved U.S.S.R what angers me more is our mamby pamby politicos , who announce today that they are to cut the subsidies on the railways while destroying our countryside with a high speed train at the behest of a bunch of unelected fruitloops like Burroso.
    Sorry to have gone off topic but I am so angry, everyday another nail in the coffin of our country.

  3. John Russell says:

    The answer to your headline question depends on the time scale over which you consider things. Some policies can be expensive in the short-term but actually be the most cost-effective when viewed over larger time scales.

    The environment is the life support system for all the activities which we carry out on our planet. If we decide to live beyond our means and trash the place in the process — like some profligate, self-obsessed teenager — then we’ll end up paying more over the long-term.

    We know fossil-fuelled activities are going to become constricted: at some point we’re simply going to run out of resources if we carry on as we are. Of course, views on time scales vary widely, but nobody can deny it will happen at some point; so the sooner we start thinking about sustainable alternatives and eking out what we have of these valuable commodities, then the better off we’ll be in the long term.

    Making hay while the sun shines and just hoping that ‘something will turn up’ is not a very conservative approach. Many green policies are just that: a conservative mindset to mitigate long-term damage. Frankly, as a Conservative company director, that’s my motivation.

    • Axel says:

      @John Russell –

      Of course this is what You would say, isn’t it though ?

      Having viewed your website, it can be said that (in your own words) ….
      “ClimateBites …… breathes life into climate communication with metaphors,
      soundbites, humor, stories and graphics that help make your message stick.”,
      or in other words Propaganda.

      Sadly however for you, your doctrine is seriously flawed, and based on
      naught but conjecture and pseudo-religious claptrap, hokum, and bunkum.
      What you say has no basis in reality.

      For instance you claim that because one day we shall run out of known fuels,
      that this is a reason not to use them. Absolutely fatuous ! With that attitude,
      you would never eat any of the food in your cupboard, because that might
      run out one day. Don’t dare to wear any of your clothes, because one day
      they may wear-out and maybe you will not be able to replace them. Indeed
      if Humankind were to follow the principles laid out by you at your website,
      and listen to the “great luminaries” whom you quote, such as Bill Gates,
      then food and clothing would indeed “run out”, because he wants to
      actually eliminate CO2 altogether from the atmosphere. Utterly cretinous !

      CO2 IS RESPONSIBLE FOR ALL LIFE ON THIS PLANET

      WE ARE ALL CARBON BASED LIFEFORMS (including You & Bill Gates)

      See for yourself what Bill Gates would have us all believe.

      All your other arguments pale into insignificance, when you profess
      to believe that eliminating CO2 from the atmosphere is desirable.
      You are deluded and indeed may well be criminally insane. Policies
      such as you promote are in fact responsible for many millions of deaths
      Worldwide, due to starvation, hypothermia, and many other causes.

      For some actual evidence to the contrary of what you say, see the
      many videos at the website dedicated to the contrary view of what
      you state. visit The Fraudulent Climate of Hokum
      Science
      Website,
      where hokum climate science is exposed as fraudulent.

  4. David W. says:

    Roger,

    The people declaring the crisis are the same ones seeking convenient laws and rules that push money and power their own direction. It’s no coincidence that the World Bank and other institutions are brimming with “economics experts” who also happen to be “environmental scientists”. Their game is about determining who makes money, and who pays, by force. Why else would Newt Gingrich and Nancy Pelosi rub knees on a loveseat in front of the US capitol, beseeching the American people to “act quickly” to reduce the impact of climate change? Obviously, when given the time to do real research, we find their purposes are based upon faulty, if not avaricious, science and policy.

  5. Gary Rickard says:

    Building windmills while Iran, North Korea and Pakistan have nuclear weapons might not be the most urgent matter when considering how to save the world

  6. Climate Change Con says:

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