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Deluded energy policy
A dangerously deluded energy policy and why the greens want to hide the truth about your soaring bills
By CHRISTOPHER BOOKER
PUBLISHED: 5 June 2013
Without question, it must have been one of the dottiest public utterances ever delivered by a British Cabinet minister.
This was the extraordinary speech made on Monday — at an event staged by the Met Office — by Ed Davey, our Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change.
What inevitably attracted attention was Mr Davey’s attack on those ‘sections of the Press’ who dare question any aspect of the way his energy policy for Britain has become wholly skewed and dominated by the belief that the world is in the grip of global warming.
The timing of his outburst against ‘destructive and loudly clamouring scepticism’ in the Press was not accidental: it was to preface yesterday’s Commons debate on the mammoth Energy Bill by which he plans to ‘decarbonise’ our electricity industry.
Centred on his wish to focus our energy needs on building nuclear power stations and tens of thousands of wind turbines, his Bill will make it ever more cripplingly expensive for us to rely on those fossil fuels, such as coal and gas, which currently supply more than two-thirds of our electricity.
Mr Davey suggested that journalists who doubt the wisdom of his policy only do so through ‘sheer blinkered, dogmatic, political bloody-mindedness’ — probably because they are being paid to do so by nameless ‘vested interests’.
So angry does this make him that he seemed to suggest that any questioning of his policy cannot be tolerated. In other words, he will brook no opposition — at a time, we should remind ourselves, when free speech in Britain seems under threat as never before.
I should say at this point that if this remarkable attack was simply a detached assault on writers like me who are critical of the Government’s green policies, then I might let it pass.
But there are bigger issues in play here, for the decisions the Energy Secretary makes are having a direct and damaging effect on the finances of millions of households across the country, who find themselves paying ever-higher bills as a result of green subsidies.
It is those families who should be questioning virtually every line in Mr Davey’s speech.
They would not be reassured to have heard him start by paying extravagant tribute to his hosts from the Met Office, which, he said, had created ‘a weather forecasting service which is the envy of the world’.
Yet this is the same Met Office which, in recent years, has become a national laughing stock year after year for getting its long-term predictions of ‘barbecue summers’, ‘milder than average winters’ and unprecedented droughts so spectacularly wrong.
The reason why the Met Office has come such a series of croppers is that it is so obsessed with the idea that the world is in the grip of runaway global warming that it has programmed its computer models to predict heat and drought, just when we have been through some of the wettest summers and coldest winters for decades.
But the most disturbing part of Mr Davey’s speech came towards the end, where he came up with that only too familiar boast that the European Union is leading the world in the fight against the carbon dioxide that is causing all this global warming, and that Britain is leading the EU with its Climate Change Act, committing us — uniquely in the world — to reducing our ‘carbon emissions’ by 80 per cent in fewer than 40 years.
Mr Davey seems quite oblivious to the fact that the rest of the world is no longer taking any notice of what we are up to, and that China and India between them are now building more than 800 new coal-fired power stations, so that China alone is now generating more carbon dioxide every year via its new power stations than the total emitted by Britain.
Even the EU is at last waking up to the fact that ‘decarbonising’ its economy is making electricity so expensive that ever more firms are moving their operations overseas — not least to America, where the shale gas revolution has more than halved the price of gas and electricity in just five years.
So poor little Britain is left increasingly alone, with an energy policy deliberately designed to price out of the market those very much cheaper fuels which still provide most of the electricity we need to keep our homes lit and warm, and our economy running.
And all this is in the name of the dream that we can somehow rely on wind that doesn’t always blow, sun that doesn’t always shine, and, maddest of all, on ‘carbon capture and storage’ — the fanciful notion that we can somehow collect all that climate-changing carbon dioxide from our remaining fossil-fuel power stations to pipe it away safely into holes under the North Sea.
Sadly, most people still have very little idea just how dangerously crackpot Britain’s energy policy has become, not least because so few people in positions of influence — MPs and journalists much among them — have been prepared to do enough homework to ask precisely the sort of searching questions which Mr Davey thinks we shouldn’t be allowed to ask.
We are faced with a policy intended not just to make our electricity supplies increasingly unreliable, but at such a crippling cost — in ever-rising green taxes and the subsidies we must all pay through our energy bills — that ever more households will be driven into fuel poverty.
With every year that passes, yet more families will simply find that they can no longer afford to keep their homes provided with comforts we have all come to take for granted.
This is the inconvenient truth which hides behind the impenetrable jargon that fills the 208 pages of the Energy Bill Mr Davey is rushing through Parliament.
What was oddest of all about Monday’s speech was his charge that anyone questioning what he is up to might only be doing so because they represent sinister ‘vested interests’ which wish to stand in the way of him saving the planet.
For here we are into complete Alice Through The Looking Glass territory, where every charge he levels at those opposed to his assumptions and policies in fact applies in spades to the very people who are egging him on to go even further in the same suicidal direction.
Among those exhorting MPs yesterday to vote for an amendment calling for even faster ‘decarbonisation’ of our economy, no one was more conspicuous than those ‘vested interests’ which stand to make billions out of the subsidy bonanza unleashed by our renewable energy policy.
The amendment, which only narrowly failed, was moved by Tim Yeo MP, chairman of the Select Committee on Energy and Climate Change, who last year made £200,000 on top of his Parliamentary salary by working for a swathe of firms making a fortune out of ‘renewable energy’.
What few people know is that these firms include the company that owns the Channel Tunnel, which has a £500 million contract to run a cable under the sea to bring electricity from French nuclear power stations to Britain — specifically to make up for power no longer available here when there isn’t enough wind to keep our subsidised windmills turning.
It has become only too obvious that the world inhabited by the green zealots at Westminster has turned reality upside down.
The dodgy science and the vested interests Mr Davey talked of are all to be found on his side of the argument — not the one whose views he so hysterically denigrates and which he wants to see suppressed.
The role for the rest of us, it seems, is to swallow the propaganda, pay those ever-soaring bills — and wait for our lights to go out.