Peter Glover: Emission Control, We Have a Problem

  • Date: 28/06/11

Unlike the CAU – Climate Alarmists’ Union – I don’t major in defending the immutable prophetic utterance of the computer modelling gods. Still, the faith of those in the rush to decarbonisation at any cost it seems remains unabated, even though all the evidence pointing to spiralling electricity bills resulting in loss of industrial competitiveness – not to mention jobs – will be the direct result. But what is truly disturbing is how little credence our political leaders appear to grant to this self-inflicted ‘foot wound’.

Take Mitt Romney’s hopping around over energy and climate during his opening event of the 2012 campaigning season on June 6. Front-runner (by a nose) for the GOP ticket he may currently be, but in the knowledge of energy stakes he’s already running on empty. Speaking at his first town hall event in Manchester, NH, Romney said how he “believed the world’s getting warmer”, that it’s “important to reduce our emissions of pollutants and greenhouse gases” and, most intriguingly, how he envied “European-style energy efficiency”. For a man whose electoral chances rest on his claimed grasp of economics, Romney’s “beliefs” don’t appear rooted in well-articulated mathematical facts.

Even disgraced Climate-gate and leading UN IPCC report author Phil Jones openly admitsthat the tiny global temperature rise of around 0.7 degrees C during the last century came to an end “in 1995”. And who doesn’t want ‘pollutants’ abated. But why mention them in conjunction with CO2 which, as any real scientist knows, even if the ideologues at the EPA don’t, is not a ‘pollutant’ but rather a substance vital to vegetation growth. But its Romney’s lauding of “European-style energy efficiency” where the GOP lead candidate’s opinion is questionable. Not least, that Europe is just the leading exponent of how “energy efficiency” is being achieved at the expense of a soaring cost to the West’s “lifeblood” electricity coupled with the spontaneous combustion of industrial competitiveness. It’s a social broadside handing Asia a windfall economic coup, especially to China which, according to the BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2011, now ranks as the world’s largest energy consumer.

If Romney and co knew their economics as well as they claim, they would understand the direct correlation between the level of energy consumption and national wealth creation. As I have said elsewhere “The relative wealth and poverty of nations is entirely definable by its per capita energy consumption”. Romney, like many of his associates, does not appear to understand that U.S. energy demand is not just the result of its wealth but also its cause. The speedy industrialization in China, India, Brazil and elsewhere strives for the same end: greater national wealth, for which it will need increasing sources of preferably cheap but efficient energy. Why else has China been on a global shopping spree for hydrocarbons while the West tries yet again to make windmills pay? What chance that China will give up its path to wealth creation by adopting the “European-style” approach to energy, I wonder?

“European-style”

Some European producers of non-ferrous metals have already been forced out of business with the entire industry now under threat as European electricity prices, already above that of competitors due to the EU’s unilateral carbon policies, are set to rise steeply.

So how exactly are the decarbonisation policies framing “European-style energy efficiency” working out in practice? Well here’s a brief summary of what it takes:

  • European airlines are warning that the EU climate policies threaten to ignite a global trade war if plans to include carriers in the emissions trading scheme go ahead in 2012. Cost to the industry will be 1.1 bn euros.
  • The new president of the UK Confederation of Business Industry (CBI) has recently warned that major UK industries will be forced to “flee abroad” to escape punitive green taxes in the wake of the recent commitment to a £16 per ton carbon tax. Ironically, Britain’s Carbon Reduction scheme (CRC) now threatens to shut down the UK’s entire energy-intensive chemical industry including the world-leading Culham Centre for Fusion Energy which faces a prospectively bankrupting £400,000 payout in 2012 alone.
  • In the UK, pressure on Britain to cut carbon emissions via green taxes and environmental regulations is directly blamed for pushing the price of British steel to uncompetitive levels. It has already led to Tata Steel – the India-owned UK steel-manufacturer – culling 1500 jobs in May.
  • According to a new report by policy think-tank Civitas, the UK’s drive for green energy is set to send £60 billion and 600,000 jobs “up in smoke” with “no economic benefit to pricing ourselves above competitors” and destroying entirely one region’s chemical industry.
  • The UK charity Age UK calculates that green taxes forcing up electricity prices will force a further 250,000 into fuel poverty.

But the problems are by no means confined to Europe.

Slashing Australia’s GDP

  • Australia’s Labor Government has come under renewed pressure to ditch its fast-track decarbonisation via renewable energy program after a reported study revealed it would lead to a $64 billion cut to the nation’s GDP once a carbon price is imposed.
  • Implementation would also cause wages to fall by up to 5 percent with 127, 000 jobs lost.

Obama heartland

If that wasn’t warning enough to steer clear of European-style decarbonization programs, Romney and other prospective candidates might at least listen to siren warnings about spiking electricity prices closer to home – from Obama’s political heartland.

  • New environmental regulations due to come into force in the U.S. in 2014 are likely to make coal-fired generating plants non-viable forcing early closure with more expensive renewable sources of electricity forcing up prices by between 40 and 60 percent, according to American Electric Power.
  • In Chicago, enforced power plant closure would add around $2.7 million to electricity bills in public schools, $3.3 million for the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District and $5.4 million to the costs of the city of Chicago, according to an analysis by Tenaska (see link to the full Chicago Tribune report above).

What Mitt Romney is still to grasp, is that “European-style” energy dictats are begat by a president and Commission accountable to no electorate. So while we fondly await a “European Spring” to re-awaken democratic sensibilities, the coming U.S. election offers a powerful opportunity to put candidates on the economic spot on energy. But given “European-style” experience, when it comes to preventing the decarbonisation juggernaut from speeding out of national control, the best energy road map advice should be plain enough: “take your damn foot off the gas” (pun intended).

Energy Tribune, 27 June 2011

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