The government has launched its new energy policy, which is expected to push up domestic electricity bills by £170 a year. And the redoubtable Tim Yeo MP rushes to assure us that this is “a price worth paying”. But 900 workers at Tata Steel may disagree with him. They just lost their jobs.
It’s no coincidence that the Tata job losses were announced on the same day as the government’s new energy policy, an unhappy hybrid cobbled together between Tories and insanely green Lib-Dems. Tata have quite explicitly blamed UK energy prices for the job cuts.
I’ve been saying for some time that our energy policies are driving energy-intensive businesses out of the UK (and out of the EU) altogether, taking their investment and their jobs with them. I’ve quoted academic research from several countries showing that each “green job” created costs two, or three, or four jobs in the real economy, by restricting growth, reducing investment and encouraging “carbon leakage” and off-shoring. https://rogerhelmermep.wordpress.com/2012/08/11/green-jobs-no-green-unemployment/ It gives me little satisfaction to say “I told you so”, but now we see it happening, and those 900 Tata workers are on the sharp end.
Of course they’re just the tip of the iceberg. There are thousands more across the country — including those who are unconscious victims, the people who would have found jobs but for our green policies.
I have no quarrel with Tata. They have simply made a rational economic decision in the circumstances which the government, despite warnings from many sides, has offered them. I have a huge admiration for the fine job which Tata have done with Jaguar. But we can’t expect multinationals to keep jobs in Britain as an act of charity or social welfare. We must compete or die, and we can’t compete without affordable energy. When I Tweeted the Tata jobs news recently, someone replied “That’s because they’re foreign, and don’t care about British jobs”. Nonsense. They’ve simply made a rational decision, and they’re looking for a competitive environment. If we don’t offer it, they and many others will go elsewhere.
The bitter irony of Tim Yeo’s green policies is that they fail to deliver even in their own terms. Regular readers of this blog will be familiar with the counter-intuitive point that “renewables” fail to deliver significant emissions savings, because the huge inefficiencies of running gas back-up intermittently to support wind largely off-set the savings which the wind farms were supposed to make. Wind turbines don’t reduce either emissions or gas consumption.
But they do deliver one thing: vastly increased costs. The investment needed for wind plus gas back-up is getting on for ten times the investment you’d need for gas alone. And it saves neither gas nor emissions. It is simply unaffordable. If we were setting out to bankrupt our country, we couldn’t do so more effectively than with the energy policies we’ve adopted. If I could give one single message to Ed Davey, it would be this: Renewables are simply not sustainable. They will mortgage our children and pauperise our grandchildren.