TAKING full advantage of the BBC’s heatwave climate fearmongering, Extinction Rebellion took to London’s streets in another bout of criminal damage last weekend.
This time the XR mob’s target was the financial services giant and investment bank J P Morgan in Canary Wharf where, at 10am on Sunday, they ‘carefully’ cracked eight panes of glass, oblivious apparently to the carbon costs involved in replacing them.
With depressing predictability, the six ‘healthcare professionals’ responsible were ‘released under investigation’ from the police’s Fresh Wharf Custody Base in Barking later the same day. They included two GPs, a specialist in child and adolescent mental health, a gynaecologist, a consultant psychiatrist and a dementia nurse.
It matters not to XR whether the six are eventually charged; it is all good publicity for them. Nor do the miscreants have anything to worry about when the response of the authorities is so half-hearted. I can’t see the NHS sacking them, or the General Medical Council striking them off.
Were there a better understanding by the political elites that it is not climate change that is pushing us to mass extinction, but the policies that this type of aggressive and alarmist eco-fundamentalism has pushed, police and the law enforcement agencies might be more determined.
The Global Warming Policy Foundation’s Director of Energy, Dr John Constable, has recently produced a seminal study, Europe’s Green Experiment: A Costly Failure in Unilateral Climate Policy, which is available for download here.
In it, he shows how Europe is leading the world towards a catastrophe – a catastrophe of mass impoverishment, born of energy policies that fail both from an economic perspective and from a physical one. The civil unrest that this energy crisis threatens will eclipse XR’s deliberately staged disobedience.
How can this have happened? Dr Constable’s answer is clear. It is quite simply the outcome of 30 years of the European Union’s failed and misguided climate policies.
His report is the most comprehensive assessment to date of EU energy and climate policies from 1990 to the present day. It shows that:
The very high costs of forcing the use of thermodynamically incompetent renewable energy has simultaneously caused EU energy consumption to fall dramatically as a result of price rationing, but also left the EU critically exposed to a single high-quality fuel, namely natural gas.
This deadly cocktail is now threatening both economic and societal stability, as even the EU’s ‘green deal’ chief Frans Timmermans and other EU leaders are beginning to recognise.
Until 2005, the EU’s energy consumption was on a rising trend, but it has fallen by more than ten per cent on the 2006 peak, and is now back at levels last seen in the 1990s.
The UK is even more severely affected, with consumption falling by about 30 per cent against its peak in the early 2000s and now at levels last seen in the 1950s.
Dr Constable argues that this collapse in consumption is an extremely worrying sign of underlying ill-health in the real economy, and cannot be explained by energy efficiency measures. On the contrary, the falling consumption is the direct result of the extremely high climate policy costs of adopting thermodynamically inferior renewable generation. He gives examples:
– The Emissions Trading Scheme has cost consumers some 78billion euros in the period 2013 to 2021, and continues to add about 17billion euros a year to bills.
– Subsidies to renewable energy have cost EU consumers about 770billion euros in the period 2008 to 2021, and continue to add about 69billion euros a year to bills.
– Electricity generation productivity has collapsed, with system load factor falling from an adequate 56 per cent in 1990 to a worryingly inefficient and expensive 37 per cent in 2020. The EU’s own data shows that energy prices have been consistently above the non-EU G20 average. For example, household electricity prices are 80 per cent higher and industrial electricity prices 30 per cent higher, a difference that is largely due to policy. Similar effects are found in relation to both natural gas and transport fuel prices.
The final irony is that, in spite of this punishingly expensive support for renewables, the EU member states have gained only a marginal share of the global market for renewable energy manufacturing, which is now dominated by Asia, and particularly China. In an even more bitter irony, manufacturing costs are lower in that region because the energy supply is principally derived from low-cost fossil fuels.
Dr Constable says: ‘The EU’s energy and climate policies since 1990 have been an unmitigated disaster for the member states, with high prices and dramatically falling energy consumption suggesting societal and real economic decay. Distressed policy correction is inevitable, but repairing the damage will be expensive, and even the most prudent routes forward imply a reduction in living standards. Explaining this to the European peoples will form the greatest political challenge of the next 50 years.’
As Steve Baker, one of the growing number of MPs at the forefront of Net Zero Watch said at the launch of the report in the House of Commons: ‘Dr Constable’s report is extremely sobering. It is a real scandal that deliberate policy choices have led us to this energy crisis. A crisis that was clearly foreseen and predicted and called out, and yet it has come about anyway.’
That we are heading towards a political and social catastrophe because of a short-sighted energy policy is something for which the BBC bears huge responsibility. In the most overt act of censorship since the Second World War, it closed down all debate on the issue when its head of programmes, Fran Unsworth, declared that climate science was settled. She sent out a directive to the corporation’s staff banning any ‘denier’ – for that, read critical and independent thinking scientists and commentators – from ever appearing on the BBC again.
We should be demanding not just a higher degree of integrity and realism that is so missing in climate politics today (as revealed once more in the bullying and that has gone on in the Tory leadership contest this week) but a less destructive ideology and an admission that what we’ve done before hasn’t worked. As Steve Baker says, a new approach in energy policy is urgently required. Intermittent renewables, of the sort that naive climate warriors want us to double down on in face of the war in Ukraine and its impact on gas and oil supplies, are simply not able to meet Europe’s, let alone the world’s, vast energy needs.
The conceit that they can, which is nothing less than an attempt to morph reality to fit an ideological agenda, has already done untold harm.
1. Despite spending a staggering 770billion euros on income support subsidies for renewable energy, largely wind and solar, these renewables still account for only 13 per cent of European Primary Energy Consumption
2. We thought we could ignore the social cost of carbon.This is the present value cost, according to our best estimates, of simply emitting a tonne of carbon dioxide. It seems fairly obvious that policies to reduce emissions should not exceed this threshold – and yet, as Dr Constable’s report demonstrates, they routinely have done, and there has been little if no attempt to ensure they don’t. Our medicine has therefore been more harmful than the ‘disease’ we were trying to cure.
3. We thought it made more sense just to send emissions ‘offshore’ and pretend they were no longer our own. Electricity prices to industries in the EU have been 30 per cent higher than those in the G20. Subsequently, energy-intensive industries have simply relocated elsewhere. That process is rapidly accelerating following the invasion of Ukraine to a point where the German trade balance has collapsed to a monthly deficit for the first time in 30 years.
4. We thought ‘baseload’ electricity didn’t matter. Between 1990 and 2020, electricity generation capacity has doubled due to growth in renewables, while thermal capacity (coal and gas), essential for grid stability, has declined sharply. Nuclear meanwhile peaked in the early 2000s and has since been in steady decline. This has led to tighter capacity margins and the prospect of recurring winter energy crises.