Commission back-pedals: UKIP position vindicated


I never thought I’d write this, but the European Commission has performed a dramatic U-Turn on climate and energy policy, and has moved some way (though not far enough) in the direction that UKIP has been urging for years.

Let me be clear: UKIP wants Britain out of the EU, not EU membership on slightly less bad terms.  But nonetheless, we can be pleased when the Commission appears to have been confronted with the awful consequences of its folly, and tiptoes towards a solution – especially when their new direction of travel represents a resounding vindication of the policies which UKIP (and may I modestly add, I myself as Energy Spokesman) have been promoting.

They have moved in two areas.  First, renewables policy.  We previously had targets for emissions but also for renewables.  We have always argued that this represents a market distortion.  It is OK for governments to set objectives (OK, not the EU, but we’re stuck with it for now).  But it’s a basic principle of government that they should be technology-neutral.  There are broadly speaking two types of technology which arguably deliver low-CO2 energy.  Renewables (though as I constantly argue, they deliver much less than policy-makers like to think), and nuclear, which delivers secure, safe, reliable, base-load power.  (Yes, safe.  Deaths caused by the nuclear industry are orders-of-magnitude fewer than those caused by coal or hydro).

Within each of those categories, there are various options.  Renewables include intermittent sources like solar and wind (and I have set out the arguments against solar and wind at length elsewhere).  And Hydro, which is generally viable and makes a useful contribution.  Similarly with nuclear: there are several types of uranium reactor, there is development of thorium reactors, and longer term the prospect of nuclear fusion.  The choices of technology to reduce CO2 (remember we in UKIP are less fussed about CO2, but the Commission wants to reduce emissions) should be left to the market to optimise investment decisions.  But the Commission started out with a renewables target as well as an emissions target.  This was because of pressure from the Green Lobby, which has an irrational hatred of nuclear (though credit to those greens, like Monbiot and Lovelock, who’ve realised that they can’t have emissions reductions without nuclear).

Our position has been: we don’t see the need for emissions targets at all, but if you must have them, you clearly don’t need renewables targets as well. They just drive up costs, creating what Industry Commissioner Antonio Tajani has called “an Industrial Massacre” in the EU.

Now, in a Damascene conversion, the Commission has proposed dropping the renewables targets.  It wants to keep an emissions target for 2030, and although it calls it mandatory, it speaks in very relaxed terms about letting member states adopt their own policies along the way.

Then there’s shale gas.  I had been concerned that the Commission would (as usual) produce draconian regulation that would set the industry back for years.  In fact their proposals set out in their press release contain little more than sensible motherhood-and-apple-pie advice about safety, that very few would argue with.  I am (as they say) gob-smacked.  We’re so used to Brussels overkill that we’re stunned when they come out with a reasonable proposal.

Generally I hate and detest EU regulation, which is often pointless, counter-productive, creates unintended consequences and perverse incentives, and does huge economic damage.  In this case, however, there’s a silver lining.  The shale industry faces significant public opposition, whipped up by black propaganda from green groups.  Their scare stories bear little relation to what I saw of shale operations recently in the USA.  But clearly we need to reassure the public, and the fact that we have both UK and EU law on fracking safety should help.

I heard elsewhere from the Commission that it is concerned about public resistance to shale gas, and I pointed out that the very green groups which are doing the damage are largely funded by us, with tax-payers’ money, courtesy of the European Commission itself.  The first thing they should do is to stop feeding the hand that bites them.

In conclusion: I should love to be able to tell you that it was UKIP’s campaigning, and my hard work, which had brought about this change of heart in Brussels – and I’ve spared no effort to make the case, as you may have seen from my blog, and from the video clips I frequently circulate.  But I suspect in fact that a consortium of large European companies who are also intensive energy users have sat the Commission down and told them a few hard truths.  Tajani is right.  The damage done by high energy prices is becoming apocalyptic.  They could not go on as they were.  The change is so far small, but none-the-less astonishing.  And in the right direction.

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22 Responses to Commission back-pedals: UKIP position vindicated

  1. Eric Worrall says:

    Lets not forget, according to James Hansen of GISS, Kerry Emanuel, and the UK’s own Tom Wigley, “… continued opposition to nuclear power threatens humanity’s ability to avoid dangerous climate change …”

    The top scientists behind the IPCC position on global warming recently demanded in an open letter that the world stop opposing nuclear power. So if you believe in the risk of dangerous climate change, the people who started the global warming movement are now saying that anyone who opposes nuclear power is an enemy of the environment.

  2. cosmic says:

    I think it’s dawning, that attractive as was the green dream of taking a lead in a new kind of economy with millions of green jobs etc., plus the potential for extending political control, it’s full steam ahead to collide with the rocks of reality, and the rocks will emerge completely unmarked.

    This business of government paying NGOs to lobby itself and to astroturf (create the false impression of mass support for something) was always incestuous, dangerous and deeply dishonest. As with most things including the EU, before you look any further, you have to wonder about the worth of something which isn’t sold honestly, but which is promoted by subterfuge. The suspicion arises that it isn’t being sold honestly, because no one would accept it as an honest proposition, so it amounts to foisting something nobody would want by dishonest means; deceit, lies of omission, or a scare.

  3. Jane Davies says:

    I’m posting this again Roger. What has been done about this idiot? My suggestion of throwing him in the Tower still stands.

  4. David says:

    Hi Roger,

    This is a tongue in cheek comment for any who get the wrong end of my Clarkson stick, but wouldnt it be nice to see some or all of those responsible for these eussr targets shot in front of their families, instead of being moved on to a better patch of beurocracy, with an enormous salary increase.

  5. dave roderick says:

    you say nuclear is safe but what about fukishima the media are very quiet about it

    • TheJollyGreenMan says:

      Dave, the devastating tsunami caused the tragic death of more than 120000 Japanese citizens.

      How many people died at Fukushima? Let me give you a hint.

      It was a number the Romans did not use.

      The first recorded use of this number is in India, and then later adopted by the Islamic scholars?

    • Russellw says:

      The nuclear industry uses the maximum credible accident as their criteria for designed-in safety. I don’t know if the tsunami exceeded this, by I have heard that, under pressure, the nuclear authority of Japan did not enforce the updating of the Fukushima installation with the recommended modifications from the US supplier.

  6. dave roderick says:

    Each day, another 300 tons of highly radioactive water is released into the Pacific Ocean at Fukushima, and that means that the total amount of radioactive material that is getting into our food chain is constantly increasing. And since some of these radioactive elements have a half-life of about 30 years, that means that our food chain is going to be contaminated for a very, very long time.

    • TheJollyGreenMan says:

      How many bananas (or Brazilian nuts) worth of radioactive material is that?

      If I put a teaspoon of salt in Lake Victoria, does it then become the Victoria Ocean?

      This 300 tonnes – The Japanese do use metric units – sounds a lot. What is the dosage? How many bananas worth of radioactive material are we talking about?

  7. “Let me be clear: UKIP wants Britain out of the EU, not EU membership on slightly less bad terms. ”

    The media are now bent on destroying UKIP with all their clever little girlie tricks. On Conservative Home today we get Andrew Neil taking Mr Farage to pieces with a lot of very clever pieces of stuff lifted from the UKIP website over the last few years. “What is the UKIP policy on bringing soldiers into the streets to keep order?” and other such ridiculous stuff. But the party faithful rejoicing on the website is very sad to see for anyone who cares about our future.

    You are doing sterling work on climate change and power provision and indeed fracking. Well done. But the main thrust of UKIP must be the most urgent central task: ” UKIP wants Britain out of the EU”. UKIP is the only party saying this in UK and it is one of the few that is saying it in a reasoned and non violent way in the whole of Europe.

  8. Ex-expat Colin says:

    99…100 change hands comes to mind?

    According to GWPF – Eurofer, an umbrella group for Europe’s steel producers, has called on leaders to weaken the targets much further. EU leaders that is….leaders, really !

    Christopher Monkton provides interesting reading at WUWT today about the WEF at Davos (E = expenses and time off I suspect). Climate scream again.

    The list of contributors should be of little surprise.

  9. Paul says:

    Hate to say this, Roger, but you’ve got this 100% wrong. All they are doing is consolidating their position and will impose even more egregious measures which will impoverish us all. Read behind the headline and you will find that things will be much, much worse than they are now. I’m really quite surprised you fell for this one.

  10. David Tough says:

    Still playing your 19th century games England

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