Green MEP Molly Scott Cato
This morning I was scheduled to attend a breakfast debate on “Controlling Carbon: COP21 and beyond”. I had failed to do my homework, and I discovered on arrival that it was a Green Party benefit show, sponsored by Molly Scott Cato, Green MEP for the South East. But I decided to stay anyway, and see what they were saying.
Molly spoke second, and shared the news that for thirty years she had personally been scared to death by the threat of global warming. She introduced Victor Anderson, visiting Professor at the Global Sustainability Institute, Anglia Ruskin University. He it was who had written the report, “Controlling Carbon”, which the breakfast was designed to launch and celebrate. There were a couple of other speakers in the same vein, together with a well-known climate alarmist and Dutch MEP Bas Eickhout, who spoke prominently from the floor.
Despite heroic attempts at restraint, I finally gave in to my urge to contribute my tuppenceworth. As near as I can remember, it went like this:
Madame Chairman (they hate that nomenclature) Thank you very much for organising this very interesting breakfast briefing. There has been some discussion of “climate refugees”. Your first speaker Heidi mentioned President Obama’s warning of climate migrations – though she admitted that there had been none so far. Madame Chairman, I am astonished that when Europe is facing a crisis caused by millions of real refugees from a war-zone, plus economic migrants, we at this event are worrying ourselves about the speculative possibility of “climate refugees”, whom no one has ever seen.
You yourself, Madame Chairman, tell us that you’ve been terrified of climate change for thirty years. But do you not accept that for nearly the last two decades there has been no global warming at all? I often speak in schools to what we used to call “Sixth Forms”, and after all the propaganda they are astonished to hear that there’s been no further warming in their lifetimes.
You mentioned human rights and the impact of climate change on the world’s poor. But it’s not climate change that is damaging the world’s poor. It’s our perverse climate policies, which seek to deny them the benefits of plentiful and affordable energy.
Then we come to the good Professor. He admits that the EU’s ETS is not working and not delivering – but says we must nonetheless keep it as an icon, one of the very few examples of a climate policy which has stuck – even if it hasn’t worked. And the one thing he utterly failed to mention was the vast economic damage which your green policies are doing. You call it “carbon leakage”. Former Trade Commissioner Antonio Tajani called it “an industrial massacre”.
The ETS was designed to send price signals to the market, and indeed it did send a signal to energy-intensive businesses – and the signal said “GO TO CHINA”. We are driving energy-intensive business out of the EU altogether, to jurisdictions with lower environmental standards.
You are driving a policy which undermines European competitiveness, costs jobs, closes plants, drives investment overseas, and arguably increases carbon emissions. All I can say is “May God forgive you”, because those unemployed steelworkers in Redcar certainly won’t.
I was greeted with a stunned but courteous silence.
A codicil: later in the debate, Bas Eickhout was discussing timescales, and suggesting it would take many decades of aggressive climate policy to get to the penetration of renewables which he felt we needed.
I replied: You don’t need decades of draconian climate policies. All you need to do is to deliver on the promises of the renewables industry: that they can deliver grid parity. If you can deliver solar power that is price-competitive with coal, the market will do the rest. No need for targets and subsidies and emissions trading schemes.
But this was a bridge too far. The Greens don’t understand markets, and would no doubt find them morally reprehensible if they did.