Jacob Rees-Mogg: Climate Alarmism Caused Britain’s High Energy Prices

  • Date: 23/10/13
  • Jacob Rees-Mogg, The Daily Telegraph

People will die this winter because of the environmentalist obsession with the end of the world.

There is sometimes an almost vindictive streak in politics whereby governments follow policies which they know will harm the electorate but nonetheless they keep them, sometimes for years. The Corn Laws are a classic example. They were defended on the need to secure the prosperity of agriculture which provided so much employment, even if that increased the price of bread for those living in cities. It enriched the landowners who made up a good proportion of the political nation, so served self-interest as well as the poor farm labourer.

Eventually, in an act of great boldness, Sir Robert Peel split the Tory party and pushed through the abolition of the Corn Laws on the back of Whig votes in the House of Commons. This helped reduce the price of bread which was the mainstay of the average Briton’s diet. However, these laws had lasted for 31 years in peace time, often to the serious detriment of the people.

In the 2010s it is not the price of bread that is falsely and unnecessarily inflated by obstinate politicians but that of energy. There are cheap sources of energy either available or possible but there is a reluctance to use them. Coal is plentiful and provides the least expensive electricity per megawatt, while fracking may provide a boon of shale gas. Unfortunately, coal-fired power stations are being shut down because of European Union regulations and shale gas exploration is moving at a slow pace.

It is against this background that energy companies have announced price rises. The regulations imposed by the Government underlie them and additional green taxes exacerbate the situation. The expansion of relatively expensive nuclear power at £92.50 per megawatt, almost double the current market price, is justified by some because it is cheaper than the quite unnecessary wind schemes. But it is much more expensive than coal or gas and these high energy prices which punish the poor most particularly are a matter of choice not of necessity.

The reason this has been done is, of course, because of climate change fears. But is it a reasonable or proportionate response? It is widely accepted that carbon dioxide emissions have risen but the effect on the climate remains much debated while the computer modelling that has been done to date has not proved especially accurate. Sceptics remember that computer modelling was behind the collapse of Lehman Brothers and the global financial crisis; common sense dictates that if the Meteorological Office cannot forecast the next season’s weather with any success it is ambitious to predict what will happen decades ahead. However, even if all their fears are right the influence of the United Kingdom is limited. This country is responsible for under 2 per cent of global emissions so even if the British freeze and industry is made uncompetitive it will not save the world.

Full comment (subscription required)

Recent Popular Articles


We use cookies to help give you the best experience on our website. By continuing without changing your cookie settings, we assume you agree to this. Please read our privacy policy to find out more.