The social and economic destructive power of the political Net Zero agenda across the European Union, and by extension the U.K., is laid bare in a damning new report from the Global Warming Policy Foundation. In a long and detailed presentation, energy writer John Constable warns that the European Green Deal seems all but certain to break Europe’s economic and socio-political power – “rendering it a trivial and incapable backwater, reliant on – and subservient to – superior powers”.
It is easy to read into the report that “superior powers” include countries that supply Europe with vital oil and gas and make the industrial goods required to enjoy current lifestyles. If they wish, European consumers and politicians can continue to indulge in monumental green virtue signalling, print money until kingdom come and even consider resurrecting old economic and social disasters like pointless Covid restrictions. The TalkTV host Julia Hartley-Brewer often notes that Net Zero is “borderline insanity”. The use of the word “borderline” seems superfluous.
The collapse in competitive manufacturing capacity is nowhere more evident than in the renewable sector itself, says Constable.
It is clear that renewable energy equipment manufacturing has no future in the EU, and indeed manufacturing of any kind exposed to international competition will struggle to survive, except in niche areas.
The all but total collapse of the Spanish solar industry within eight years is highlighted. Constable describes it as “extraordinary” and in large part explained by the curtailment of subsidies. Overall, he says, “subsidised deployment in Europe has failed to give European industries a secure position in the world markets for renewable energy equipment. The field is now dominated by China”.
Again, it might be noted that if you can’t even pay companies to produce hardware under local economic conditions, Boris Johnson’s promise – backed it seems by almost all politicians – to bring plentiful green jobs in the U.K. across the ‘Red Wall’ is just windy rhetoric.
News of an impending Net Zero calamity is rarely far from the headlines. Tata Steel has been trying to obtain subsidies approaching £1.5bn from the U.K. Government to pay decarbonising costs and keep Port Talbot steelworks operational. “The new Prime Minister is unlikely to be willing to hand over subsidies on this scale, not least because every other industry hit by demands for decarbonisation would insist on handouts too,” said Dr. Benny Peiser, Director of Net Zero Watch. “It is becoming more evident by the day that the Climate Change Committee misled Parliament over the true cost of Net Zero,” he added.
The lack of Net Zero discussion in the current Tory leadership battle is interesting. Savvy politicians are starting to become aware of the disaster that is hurtling towards society as it seeks to quickly remove the cheapest and most efficient fuel it has from the energy mix and replace it with intermittent sources – described by Constable as “thermodynamically incompetent”. On the other hand, large swathes of the population have become convinced that the climate is breaking down, as evidenced by the hysteria that surrounded the recent brief heatwave. The science is ‘settled’, although a more realistic interpretation is that green activists and financiers have pursued a ruthless 30-year campaign to outlaw the scientific method from atmospheric climate science.
Constable argues that a change of course is inevitable to undo the “deeply embedded” harm of nearly 30 years. Moving towards “fundamentally cheaper energy” will require substantial reductions in European living standards. “Explaining this to the European people will form the greatest political challenge of the next 50 years,” he says.
In his wider report, Constable attempts to demonstrate that the enthusiastic adoption of the green agenda in the 1990s and early 2000s “has effectively produced gradual industrial and economic disarmament”. The ‘”resultant enfeeblement” compared to Europe’s competitors will make arresting the decline difficult: “Recovering the situation entirely may be impossible.” The author lists numerous body blows to overall competitiveness. Electricity prices to industry in the EU between 2008-2018 have been about 30% above those in the G20, an organisation that includes China, India and Russia. Gas price were 20-30% higher. Electricity prices were 80% and 30% higher respectively for industry and households, and this would have hit competitiveness hard and placed heavy energy costs on some of those least able to afford them. Petrol prices were approximately 30-50% higher, and diesel 10-40%, figures again that were guaranteed to destroy competitiveness outside the EU’s protective internal single market.
Meanwhile, energy consumption in the EU has been falling and is now said to be at levels last seen in the early 1990s. Such a deep and sustained decline is said to be unprecedented in the modern era. In the U.K., electricity consumption is reported to have fallen back to levels not seen since 1970. Energy efficiency, of course, plays a part, but Constable notes the effect of “price rationing and demand destruction”. The report labels Europe’s “green experiment” as a “costly failure”, noting that “carbon dioxide abatement costs in the EU are on average several times greater than even high-end estimates of the social cost of carbon”. This is said to indicate that the economic harm of the EU’s mitigation policies “is greater than the climate change it aims to prevent”.
Politicians – and green activist commentators – often blame inflation, high energy prices and food shortages on recent events such as Russia’s war in Ukraine. But Constable argues that the Ukrainian war, while bringing the failures of climate policies into sharper focus, does not mean that the harm is of recent origin. “On the contrary,” he argues, “the environmental policies have been damaging to the EU’s interests, and advantageous to those of its rivals, from the very beginning.”
Chris Morrison is the Daily Sceptic’s Environment Editor.