“We are screwing ourselves”


On Wednesday (Jan 18th) I attended a dinner-debate in the parliament, sponsored by Eurofer, the European Steel Federation, and entitled “EU ETS Revision: Unlocking low-carbon investments in the steel industry”.  It was a very well-attended event, with many MEPs as well as many from the industry, and we heard seven mini-presentations of various schemes designed to reduce CO2 emissions in steel production.  The industry is acutely concerned about current revisions to the EU’s Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS), which provides a limited number of “free allowances” (of emissions permits) in an attempt to protect energy-intensive industries in the EU from international competition, and from the cost impact of EU energy policies.

Several MEPs contributed from the floor after the set presentations.  My remarks (as near as I can remember – it was not recorded) went like this:

Thank you Chairman, and thanks to our hosts.  Thank you also for these very interesting presentations.  But one element was missing from all of them: costs.  So many of the green projects we hear about sound fine to start with, until you look at the costs, and then they turn out to be hopelessly uncompetitive.  That doesn’t save the planet – it just drives emissions abroad.

Several of the schemes claimed the benefit of creating work-in-progress that could be stored, so that the plant could maximise use of renewable energy by producing when the wind blows, and power is available.  This is offered as an indirect method of energy storage, making the most of intermittent renewables.  But we should recall that to use an intermittent energy supply you need to build more capacity than would be needed for continuous operation.  And intermittent operation is bound to be less efficient.  So you have really saved nothing – you have merely transferred the penalties of intermittent generation from the wind turbine to the steel plant.

 But we have spent the evening looking at the small details of our ETS plans.  We should stand back and look at the big picture.  We have created the ETS explicitly in order to increase the cost of energy.  Then we have realised that we are destroying energy-intensive businesses like the steel industry.  So we have given them allowances – which have the incidental effect of transferring more of the burden to smaller enterprises less exposed to international competition.

But the allowances are never enough to maintain the global competitiveness of these industries  We already see steel and fertilisers getting the lions’ share, with other industries like cement crying foul.  You are trying to square the circle, and it just won’t square.  Worse yet, you are planning to reduce the allowances rapidly over time.  We are systematically strangling European industry.

 And you are forgetting the global competition.  We hear a lot about green initiatives in China, but they are still building coal-fired power plants at a rapid pace  Meantime in the USA we have a President-elect determined to make energy, including coal and shale gas, the motor of the US economy.  Both China and the USA will have highly competitive energy prices.  Our current ETS plans mean that European steel producers, and other energy-intensive businesses, will never be able to compete.

Ladies and gentlemen, we are screwing ourselves.  And it is time we stopped.

This speech was greeted with warm applause around the room, at least from the industry side, and I was congratulated by senior industry people afterwards.  But will it achieve a change of policy?  I doubt it.  Another reason why we’ll be Better Off Out.






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23 Responses to “We are screwing ourselves”

  1. charles wardrop says:

    What incentives are perceived by Eurocrats in puruing this own-goal policy, Mr Helmer?
    Your account makes totsl sense thanks.

    • rfhmep says:

      Virtue signaling. They are saving the planet. Except they’re not.

      • Katie says:

        You’re telling me they’re not!! Woods are being chopped down around my area like they are going out of fashion. I just wonder how nature is coping?? But then maybe mammals and birds just don’t count when we say we are saving the planet???

  2. Ex-expat Colin says:

    Waiting to see what the first round of US budget hacks are starting Monday next. Judging by Chan 4 News (Snow..man) last night its going to get a bit emotional again. Oh dear..where’s me funding check?

  3. mike5262015 says:

    ROGER, your conclusion is spot on. The way of our world is that all the Nations are in very real competition with each other. If a lower cost of production is possible, then it will be followed by the Nations that see success as their goal. The E.U. sees that one of its missions in life is to embrace the renewable energy mantra to a point of stupidity, and does not seem to mind if that makes its goods uncompetitive. There is only one end to that !

    I have stated elsewhere that the world heating up, happened at the end of the ice ages, and was in no way due to the actions of mankind. I do believe that some pendulum effect takes place in relation to the Sun and the Planets. That is not to throw away the pollution made by man, that is fact, but to take that fact and enlarge it in the way many do, is just irresponsible in the world today and it is necessary to stand back for a moment, look at the global population now, and then in the future, and consider how many wind farms are going to be necessary, and realise that they, and solar panels are only part time power makers.

  4. Dung says:


    Amongst all the other good comments you make in this piece you make one comment which is more than merely profound, it is the essence of much that is wrong with the world.
    You advise that “We should stand back and look at the big picture.” Coincidentally it is a theme which I have just started pushing on the Bishop Hill blog discussion pages.
    When man is faced with a problem his instinctive response is to focus his attention on that problem, to devote more time to it and to study it in ever greater detail and this often misses the big picture answer that stares us all in the face.

  5. Shieldsman says:

    What do you expect the environmentalists and the politicians are going to admit they could be wrong.
    So was 2016 the hottest year EVER?
    Depends on how you use/ manipulate the word EVER.
    Both NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration have confirmed that 2016 was the hottest year on record, records that have been kept since 1880.
    The Guardian has: – 2016 hottest year ever recorded – Earth has not been this warm for 115,000 years.

    Why do they all ignore the fact that CET and other temperature records go much further back. The BBC also use the 1880 DATA line. Simple really, if you tie record keeping with the start of the industrial revolution you can blame temperature increases on the associated increased burning of fossil fuel and CO2 emissions. Mankind is therefore at fault and must stop burning fossil fuels regardless of the economic costs and unproven success of the venture.

    Taking up the Guardian headline, it must have been as warm (hot) or hotter 115,000 years ago, and can anyone show a carbon dioxide effect on the intervening cycles. Since the little ice age there has been a consistent steady warming of the earths surface temperature.

    • rfhmep says:

      The Guardian is clearly referring the the previous (Eemian) Interglacial — the last one before the current one. It was about 115,000 years ago. But temperatures have fluctuated a little during the current interglacial, and my understanding is that the successive peaks (every 1000 yrs or so) are trending downwards. So “the hottest year since the Medieval Warm Period” (1000 yrs ago) might be right.

  6. Anita Wooldridge says:

    Bully for you. At last someone making sense.

  7. Christopher Browne says:

    You say “Another reason why we’ll be Better Off Out.” Yes but will the lot in power now repeal the climate change act, get fracking and kick start our economy. I doubt it.
    Some people say that UKIP has lost its raison d’etre now that we are leaving the EU, exposing climate change as the con that it is should now be one of our missions.

    • Katie says:

      Christopher you are so right on that one. Exposing the scam of climate change is really necessary. School children for the last 30 years have been brain washed and I am amazed at the number of people that don’t realise how renewables have been funded. They don’t understand the finances involved and the fact that it is all being paid from their energy bills. They also don’t understand the science behind how the grid etc works and don’t know about base energy and how important it is. I am fed up with hearing people say that we cannot do without renewables when it is in fact the other way around. Education is what is needed and not a bordering on religious fantasy.

      • Christopher Browne says:

        Thanks Katie, I just wish that UKIP would give issue this as high a profile as we do leaving the EU, when the voting public eventually discover that we are right, even more will flock to the UKIP banner.

    • Agreed Christopher. Brexit means that we CAN have a rational energy policy. But as you rightly point out, whether we WILL or not depends on Westminster.

  8. Well said Roger. As you will recall in all the years of my involvement on the EU circuit I have constantly said that the ETS scheme is useless. EU energy policy has driven big intensive energy users away with loss of jobs. Cannot understand why industry representatives don’t follow your lead and demand that this environment, green ETS policy is scrapped.

    Once the UK leaves the EU we must ensure that we do not get tricked into complying with emission policies that endanger competitiveness

  9. BansteadTony says:

    I have enjoyed reading your posts particularly before Brexit. I have never commented before but thought I would join “the Club”
    As usual you are spot on. If only we could have more politicians who had had a career, like your good self, before trying to control our lives, rather than PPE to advisor to MP !
    Carry on screaming at them!

  10. KennieD says:

    Why, in relation to climate change/CO2 increases etc, does no-one ever mention all the massive deforestation going on in Brazil, central Africa, Indonesia etc?

  11. Climatism says:

    Reblogged this on Climatism and commented:
    A common sense explanation by Roger Helmer MEP on the insanity of climate policy/solutions dreamed up by the virtue-signalling, climate-obsessed EU that merely shift jobs and wealth off-shore and do nothing to “Save The Planet”….

  12. Shieldsman says:

    Delingpole has another well researched article in which he quotes Paul Holmwood.
    Who points out that the BBC follows its biased political agenda which hides the real facts.
    Apart from ignoring the satellite measurements, the BBC shows the map provided by NOAA, with lots of red on it to convince us how hot it has been. However, if they were more honest, they might have showed the Land-Only map, which underlines the fact that most of the world’s land mass has no thermometer coverage at all.
    Of course, there might be good reasons why the satellite record has diverged from the surface data in recent years, but IS IT NOT the job of the BBC to provide us with ALL THE FACTS, and not just the ones that suit its political agenda?

    Limiting temperature measurement records to the last 135 years is very dishonest. In reality, meteorological weather stations numbers were very limited before 1940.

    • Katie says:

      The BBC is totally biased on all kinds of things. They only have their own interest at heart. Their reporting lately on Brexit, Boris Johnson, Trump and climate change has been totally dishonest and considering we are funding them (together with the EU) I feel we should at least get some honesty from them.

  13. Ex-expat Colin says:

    We’ll need a Trump type press secretary to fire bomb all the fake news….not holding breath!

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