Coffee House

Osborne’s carbon conceits

3 October 2011

George Osborne told a Conservative Party increasingly wary of expensive climate policies
that Britain needs to "cut [its] carbon emissions no slower but also no faster than our fellow countries in Europe. That’s what I’ve insisted on in the recent carbon
budget."  What he actually insisted on was what Chris Huhne described as "a review of progress in early
2014 to ensure our own carbon targets are in line with the EU’s".  Even if that review is serious, and energy intensive industries have every reason to be sceptical, it is only
going to hold our policy to the same standard as today.  The current targets require us to cut our emissions faster than our European competitors, and the policies we are adopting to meet them
are far more draconian.

Just look at our current 2020 target.  Here is a graph from the European Commission which shows how Britain is cutting emissions more aggressively than Germany, France, Italy or Spain —
much more aggressively than the EU average.  

Claim your gift

There is every sign that new targets will follow this kind of pattern.  When Ministers talk about wanting to shift the EU emissions target from a 20 per cent cut to a 30 per cent cut, the
Committee on Climate Change expects that will mean a 42 per cent target for Britain.  Britain is mandated to cut its emissions more and, unless things change, will continue to have to cut them
more than our European competitors.

At the same time, the policies are costing us more.  As I pointed out in an earlier post,
Citigroup expect that we will have to invest more to meet environmental targets than all of our major European competitors put together.

We have the most ambitious renewable energy target and we’re installing lots of very expensive offshore wind to meet it.  And we’ve just introduced a carbon floor price that will make the
European Union Emissions Trading System more expensive for us and, because there will be fewer emissions from Britain, will reduce the carbon price and the cost in other countries.

Of course, we aren’t just competing with other European countries and the disparity between what we’re doing and the actions of the major emitters (the United States, India and China) is stark.
Politicians here should be honest about the degree to which Britain is out on its own in the vanguard of radical climate policy.

Matthew Sinclair is Director of the Taxpayers’ Alliance and author of Let them eat

Give the perfect gift this Christmas. Buy a subscription for a friend for just £75 and you’ll receive a free gift too. Buy now.

Show comments
  • John

    Well over £200Bn discretionary spending, spent on enviro-follies. To put things into perspective: more than our annual EU contribution!!

  • Maddy1

    If the majority believe in it it must right? We do not even have somebody, who will differentiate between, sensible and practical needed energy conservation measures and the debacle that has become Climate Change.

  • Interested Bystander

    Interesting graph showing 2005-2020 figures. What about trends prior to that though? As the 2005 figures are simply a point on a trajectory, and much of Europe started addressing emissions before then, can we compare our required change compared to 1990, 1995 and 2005 against our competitors? Is it that they don’t have as stretching targets, or simply that by 2005 they had already made good progress? (in which case we may be benefiting from lower cost later technologies)

  • John B (UK)

    £150 bn to build windmills to solve a problem which doesn’t exist.

    Absolute, total, mindless insanity.

    And now we hear that the e-petition on an EU referendum is meaningless as the outcome will be ignored anyway.

    I’ve voted Conservative in every election for the last 40 odd years, but my next vote will be for UKIP.

  • Baron

    the financial meltdown, it’s 2nd phase may be bad, the green idiocy beats it by hundreds of miles, the earth climate has absolutely FA to do with the density of CO2 in the air. End of.

    If the political gnomes persist, they should bury us all for good.

  • David Parker

    Absolutely right Oldtimer.
    If Cameron tried his best to lose the last election, even that didn’t quite succeed.

    But, come the next one, if he sticks to his present energy policy, and continues to resist an in/out EU referendum, he will certainly succeed in losing it conclusively.
    Doubtless a cushy post in Brussels awaits him, but, hang on a moment, will the EU still exist then?

  • Dimoto

    I would doubt that Osborne Is a “convinced AGW man”, he is just mouthing the agreed party line.

    IMHO,it is pretty obvious that there is quite a fierce discussion going on in the coalition, with the “growth party” (probably including Osborne), insisting that energy policy must not be allowed to shackle industrial competitivity.
    (he wouldn’t have made that statement otherwise).

    Politicians love rabbits-out-of-hats, they probably have their fingers crossed that shale gas will be the rabbit – assuming that “energy czar” Huhne can be persuaded.

  • HFC

    # Liz Brown @ 4.39pm.

    Osborne actually said: ‘Yes, climate change is a man made disaster.

    Yes, we need international agreement to stop it.’

    I was absolutely chilled by this assertion that ‘climate change is…man made’. WTF!

    So, all the changes in Earth’s atmosphere, climate and weather since the world began are man made, eh? What a pillock. Up till that point I was mostly with him and supportive of his pronouncements but at that moment I realised this government is no longer one for which I might cast my vote.

    Even if some aspects of emissions control are justified today’s idiotic stance by Osborne and this government’s blinkered devotion to taxing our economy and with it my welfare to oblivion has lost me.

    Clearly, he hasn’t read Matthew Sinclair’s Let Them Eat Carbon nor even considered some of the global warming myths and policies Mr Sinclair has been exposing for some considerable time.

  • oldtimer

    Osborne said:
    “Yes, climate change is a man made disaster.

    Yes, we need international agreement to stop it.”

    This is manifest rubbish. Not even the Met Office now claims that man-made CO2 causes climate change. It does not even claim that green house gases cause climate change. They now admit it is no more than an hypothesis, qualified with an “if”, one among other more compelling hypotheses of the influences on the chaotic climate in which we live. The notion that it is man made, or that international agreement will control it is more suited to cloud cuckoo land than a party conference speech.

    This Osborne assertion is straight out of the Friends of the Earth playbook, as advised by Futerra, a PR company back in 2004:
    “Futerra – recommended the following policy:
    To help address the chaotic nature of the climate change discourse in the UK today, interested agencies now need to treat the argument as having been won, at least for popular communications. This means simply behaving as if climate change exists and is real, and that individual actions are effective. The ‘facts’ need to be treated as being so taken-for-granted that they need not be spoken.”

    That is part of the basis for the successful sale of the CAGW scare agenda which produced the Climate Change Act, enthusiastically supported by Cameron. So long as that Act remains on the statute book and drives government energy policy, this country is stuffed.

  • Verity

    There is absolutely no point in reporting these word fests because speakers just make promises they think the electorate wants to hear and that they have no intention of keeping. They do not put forth their their intentions, which they sneak in later, by the back door, when their conferences are long over.

    These gob fests are a total waste of time for reporters and viewers, and an ego flight for the speakers and reporters who seem to sincerely believe that they are in the centre of things. Conferences do not serve the electorate. They are outdated, stale, old, useless.

    I’d rather watch reruns of dwarf-tossing.

  • pharbitis

    We don’t have ‘dark satanic mills’anymore, nor Beijing/Delhi/Los Angeles smogs. The govt insists on building incinerators, not us. (Didn’t Veolia do well? I wonder who has shares in it.)
    Our economy is suffering while India and China continue to belch carbon from their coal and oil fired power stations while clogging their roads with millions more motor vehicles.

    So why are we ruining ourselves? Who else is? What if the world chokes 5 minutes earlier? Or Dave’s father-in-law loses his hundreds of thousands windmill money?

    Is it like ‘Europe’ where Dave knows best? Reminds me of someone else with a Messiah complex….

  • London Calling

    George Osborne stepped right in it by comparing Mr Pickles to Mr Balls by drawing attention to Mr Pickles XXL stature. George should refrain from any attempt of Teather one liners as it exposes a more spiteful rhetoric than a humorous stand up routine. Obesity is a serious problem in the UK for a number of reasons, poking fun at large people is beneath him and he should remember with respect that Winston Churchill was above him.

    If we cannot borrow our way out of debt, as he claims,(which we are) topped up with the notion of a debt sweat by introducing more QE which will push up inflation, I would describe this notion as parallel politics or in layman’s terms, a dog chasing its own tail. Its straight jacket mentality that will not reassure the British people that we are on course to win a prize, other than to those who have no understanding of economics or chose to blindly ignore the facts.
    The British Public in general have no desire or will to prop up those who caused their downfall or to be governed by the unelected above our Government in Brussels and whilst IDS sprouts NO,NO,NO, like the Irish peoples discovered the EU will insist on a YES,YES,YES,…

    Following the e- petition recently of which 100,000 signatures signed for a referendum on the EU, it has been announced that a one day debate will take place shortly in the House of commons. However before this debate even takes place it has already been denounced it will not being binding should it be voted in favour of a referendum, also the wording that will be crafted is questionable, a one foot in and one foot out policy. Considering the complexity of the EU, clarity on keeping some laws under our own jurisdiction is a simple task of transferring some ideas that were proposed by the EU that is with agreement of the UK . However all power should be returned for the UK to debate. Only then will true democracy be restored, anything less would be a travesty of British Justice and a betrayal of the British people… And that Mr Osborne is the Prize…

  • Liz Brown

    how Osborne could stand on the platform and say, with a straight face those asinine words “man made climate change” is quite beyond me – I had thought that he was a moderately intelligent human being – but oh boy! did I get a rude awakening – which planet is he on for fucks sake?

  • Nickb

    Our contribution to the world climate is so miniscule that we’re only on the leaderboard as a token gesture. What we need to do is scrap all these wind turbine proposals that are seriously threatening peoples quality of life, destroying natural habitats and making someone somewhere a tidy fortune.

  • Heartless Perry

    How to put this daintily? – suitably bland for the delicate Speccy stomachs … ?


  • PayDirt

    Of course the England should follow Germany’s lead and subcontract electicty generation via nucklear power stations sited in neighbouring countries such as Czech Republic, possibly Scotland?

Can't find your Web ID? Click here