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« Balderdash, dishonesty and woo | Main | North on 28gate »

Good question, bad answer

Mr Peter Lilley (Hitchin and Harpenden) (Con): Lord Stern, whose discredited report still forms the rationale for the Government’s energy policy, calculated in 2006 the amount by which the price of hydrocarbons needed to be increased in order to decarbonise the economy. Since then, the price of hydrocarbons has risen faster and further than either Lord Stern or the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change thought sufficient, so why does my right hon. Friend propose to pile Pelion upon Ossa by burdening British industry and households with these tripled taxes?

Mr Davey: My right hon. Friend has been consistent: he voted against the Climate Change Act 2008 and he clearly does not like our low-carbon policies today. The fact that fossil fuel prices have gone up is yet another argument for our policies. We need to insulate our economy, our consumers and our businesses from those high prices. This country has to import far more fossil fuels than we used to because North sea resources are going down, and that is leaving our economy exposed. We need to tackle that issue for reasons of energy security and to ensure that we have competitive prices.

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Reader Comments (53)

So, Mr Davey, why does our government prevaricate about Shale-Gas recovery?

Dec 3, 2012 at 4:08 PM | Unregistered CommenterJoe Public

Probably failed to recognise the significance of Pelion on Ossa...

Dec 3, 2012 at 4:20 PM | Unregistered CommenterTony Windsor

"We need to insulate our economy, our consumers and our businesses from those high prices."
"We need to tackle that issue for reasons of energy security and to ensure that we have competitive prices."

By adding extra taxes to them? Let's make them free by having an infinitely high tax.

Dec 3, 2012 at 4:28 PM | Unregistered CommenterView from the Solent

I depsair

Dec 3, 2012 at 4:38 PM | Unregistered CommenterGeckko

So shale gas it is. Well done Mr Davey. Unless, of course, the real purpose of your policies is to punish 'our economy, our consumers and our businesses'?

Carthago etc

Dec 3, 2012 at 4:46 PM | Unregistered CommenterDolphinhead

Thus, the argument would be:
1. If fossil fuel prices had not been up by as much as foreseen by the Stern report, we should raise them through taxes, in the amount foreseen by the Stern report, in order to discourage their use.
2. If fossil fuel prices have risen far more than estimated as sufficient by the Stern report, without a sufficient dent in their use, this is further proof that fossil fuels should be heavily taxed in order to discourage their use. In this particular case, one does not need to care about what the Stern report said, nor respond to the question in that regard.
Impeccable logic.

Dec 3, 2012 at 4:56 PM | Unregistered CommenterHM

Europe's climate commissioner Connie Hedegaard is to set out the case for a unilateral 30% EU cut in CO2.

"It is too soon to kill off Kyoto. And the carbon markets can provide us with more finance for clean development if we can drive up the carbon price somehow. "It's not an accident that China is now developing trial carbon markets with major firms."

Dec 3, 2012 at 5:14 PM | Unregistered CommentereSmiff

"And anyway if I were to speak the truth - Heaven forfend - I would have to admit to my hon friend that our Ponzi-based economy is coming apart at the seams, HMG has no chance of raising serious money by direct taxation, therefore has opted for indirect taxation through raising energy prices, and all this guff about Global Warming, need for decarbonisation etc provides an excellent smokescreen" (laughter) "for grinding more money out of the public and into the hands of the government, thus keeping the show on the road for a little longer. The fact that is an intellectual nonsense, and will cause long term damage to the economy and British competitiveness, serving only to compound the future's problems, is not my concern."

Dec 3, 2012 at 5:15 PM | Unregistered Commenterbill

I have seen far too much in the way of twisted and bizarre logic o'er the course of my life but that thicket of particularly mangled logic may be the epitome.

Dec 3, 2012 at 5:23 PM | Unregistered CommenterDiogenes

According to his website he used to be an economist. Blimey, no wonder he had to change career direction.
Luckily for him, in the Lib Dems, being confused by economics and being unable to form a coherent argument are no barriers to success.
To be fair, he was correct that many current UK businesses will indeed be insulated from high energy prices in the future. They will have moved abroad.

Dec 3, 2012 at 5:25 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlex

I'm sure I've seen something very similar to Davey's reasoning in Lewis Carroll's "Alice in Wonderland".

Dec 3, 2012 at 5:27 PM | Unregistered CommenterScottie

Pantomime Season!

Dec 3, 2012 at 5:31 PM | Registered CommenterGreen Sand

@Green Sand

Oh no it isn't...

Dec 3, 2012 at 5:47 PM | Unregistered CommenterMorph

Davey has a plan. It's based on Call Me Dave's plan to cut down on binge drinking: If you put up the price high enough then people will stop using so much power. See! As if by magic, your power bills have declined. The fact that you are paying more for less is not in the government's grasp (whose reach far exceeds it) so they try to con us into believing they know what they are doing.

And just slightly O/T, did anyone hear the interview with a Mr Green (I kid you not) on R4's PM, who is trying to get the IoW to be self-sufficient in 'sustainable electricity'? There were people being interviewed who thought the idea of having smart meters so that the authorities could cut off there 'fridges was 'such a good thing'. Brought on, no doubt, by the fact that Mr Green was telling them - and PM - that the Earth is really running out of 'resources' and we would 'need another planet the same size to be able to manage'. (My wife knows to hide the sharp knives.....arrrrghh!)

Dec 3, 2012 at 6:11 PM | Unregistered CommenterSnotrocket

Oh yes it is......

Dec 3, 2012 at 6:19 PM | Unregistered CommenterGrumpy

Look behind you ... there's an evil fossil fuel company with a large cheque.

(The sceptic looks round and lo, the fossil fuel company with his longed-for financial rescue has disappeared. It's become the oldest joke in the book.)

Dec 3, 2012 at 6:30 PM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

Where is Cobden buried? There should be a noisey hum being given off from a high spinning free trader's corpse.

Foreign producers of fuel are humans too you know - you right horrible pillock. To depend upon all the producers of the world for goods is to escape the risk of home famine from relying on locally sourced necessities.

Dec 3, 2012 at 6:49 PM | Unregistered CommenterBob Layson

Err, we need to insulate our economy from high prices by... raising taxes to increase the price?

Dec 3, 2012 at 7:01 PM | Unregistered CommenterRobinson

Yes snotrocket I did. If they had said that they had discovered shale gas reserves and were planning to develop them in spite of Mr Davey's prevarication and then refuse to pay tax on the proceeds, they might have a chance of achieving energy self-sufficiency. But instead they think they can use a mix of wind and solar with some geothermal and a little high-carbon biomass, so they will find their milk has gone sour and they have gastroenteritis from eating food that has been chilled then warmed then chilled then warmed. Then they will realise that handing Big Brother the keys to their fridge was not such a good idea after all.

Dec 3, 2012 at 7:11 PM | Unregistered CommenterDavid S

'We had to destroy the economy in order to save it'.

Dec 3, 2012 at 7:17 PM | Unregistered CommenterLatimer Alder

If Ed Davey understood Lilley's question I will eat my electricity bill.

Dec 3, 2012 at 7:28 PM | Registered CommenterDung

Snotrocket - I have the misfortune (in this context) to live on the Isle of Wight, and you will not be surprised to learn that Mr Green and his assorted loonies have got the local Tory council onside, possibly because they can sniff a subsidy from the next galaxy. Exactly how he intends to get us self-sufficient in energy remains a mystery - even if we chopped down Parkhurst Forest, it would fuel the proposed wood-burning power station for about 18 months, after which we would be reliant on, er, a few solar panels and no windmills. There is a plan for tidal power, although like everywhere else on the coast, there is such a thing as slack tide four times a day...

Dec 3, 2012 at 7:29 PM | Registered Commenterjamesp

Suggest you invest in a generator jamesp, like they use in other third world countries.

Dec 3, 2012 at 7:38 PM | Unregistered CommenterDavid S

You can see examples of the same sort of logic in the set of MPs and ministers' answers that I analysed on my blog last month - it is very much the agreed line.

"How will we meet the Climate Change Act emissions targets? MPs respond to their constituents."

See especially the linked responses in the blog: the MPs' "form letter" and the "DECC letter" from ministers.

Dec 3, 2012 at 7:42 PM | Registered CommenterRuth Dixon

I have yet to hear of a single greenie who's prepared to have a smart disconnect meter installed that does the business of rationing power to said greenie proportionally to the output of renewable energy sources and charges them at cost price.

Dear Santa ,
can you please arrange for Brighton to be powered solely by solar and wind power - and also the same for that Mr Davey - his house and office too?

Dec 3, 2012 at 7:43 PM | Unregistered CommenterTom O

I agree with the belief that Davey didn't understand the question.

Dec 3, 2012 at 7:44 PM | Registered Commentertomo

jamesp: I predict that your Mr Green (on the IoW) will come out of all this smelling of roses and living in tax exile on another Isle - of Man (oh, the irony!!!)

Dec 3, 2012 at 8:05 PM | Unregistered CommenterSnotrocket

3 Dec: BBC Hardtalk: Peter Voser – Chief Executive, Royal Dutch Shell
The United States is about to become the world’s largest producer of oil and gas. Quite remarkable for a country that only a few years ago was the world’s largest importer of gas. It’s a turnaround made possible by shale and it comes at a time of rapidly increasing demand from China, India and the Middle East. Peter Voser is the boss of Royal Dutch Shell one of the biggest energy companies in the world. With economies so thirsty for power, producers are being driven to new frontiers -but at what cost?

also heard roger harrabin on bbc last nite as well, re Doha, bemoaning how there is now only the European Union & Australia, representing 12 to 13% of CO2 emissions, committed to reducing emissions, which Reuters refers to below, using “below 15%”:

3 Dec: Reuters: Factbox – Unresolved disputes at U.N. climate talks in Doha
But backers among rich nations – led by the European Union and Australia – represent less than 15 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions.
Russia, Japan and Canada are pulling out, saying it is meaningless to set new targets when major emerging nations, such as China and India, will have no binding targets. The United States never ratified Kyoto…

why has resource-rich australia tied itself to the EU?

Dec 3, 2012 at 8:23 PM | Unregistered Commenterpat

Is there anything verifiably true in what Mr. Davey said? Some things he said may appear to be true to those disposed to believe it, but but verifiably, incontrovertibly true? If there is, I don't see it.

Dec 3, 2012 at 8:30 PM | Unregistered Commentertheduke

Davey has an article at
which demonstrates just how deluded he is.

We are seeing new renewable energy technologies break into and compete successfully in the market place.
How does this get past his civil servants? Are they all as mad as he is?

Dec 3, 2012 at 8:32 PM | Registered Commentergeoffchambers

5:25 PM | Alex

He used to be an economist? speechless.

Dec 3, 2012 at 9:15 PM | Unregistered Commentermiket

To pretend that CO2 is the cause of catastrophic warming is disingenuous - 'cos it is merely a front to de-industrialise the First World so that Marxist fellow-travellers can attack it through the disingenuous claim of supporting the Third World - who will struggle to rise above their current status.

(Snip away Your Grace)

Dec 3, 2012 at 9:20 PM | Unregistered CommenterSnotrocket

The intellectual gap between British politicians and the British middle class is widening rapidly, with the middle class way out in front. As a Kiwi, the patience of our Brit cousins with the feckless fools they elect to office is stunning, but the fact that such empty vessels get elected in the first place is even more stunning.
And I know it is extremely foolish to feed trolls, but why would any person with a firm grasp on reality even have the faintest desire to reduce the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere?

Dec 3, 2012 at 9:33 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlexander K

It would have been more interesting had the R H Mr davey answered the question put by the R H Mr Lilley.
As it turns out, we can only await the answer.

Dec 3, 2012 at 9:38 PM | Unregistered Commenterpesadia

Is this present government the most short-sighted Britain has ever had? At least Neville Chamberlain's government, despite its policy of appeasement, had taken some steps to improve Britain's defences before the outbreak of the Second World War. Preparing for the coming energy crisis by plastering the country with wind turbines would be like equipping the British infantry with blunderbusses in 1939.

Dec 3, 2012 at 9:43 PM | Unregistered CommenterRoy

Roy @9:43 PM

I understand that Army guns n ammo was in such short supply after Dunkirk that quite a lot of wooden facsimile wapons had to be bodged up and quite a lot of training involved lots of shouting BANG!

Dec 3, 2012 at 9:50 PM | Registered Commentertomo

Davey's stupidity goes beyond incompetence and deep into the realm of negligence.

Dec 3, 2012 at 10:16 PM | Unregistered CommenterDaveS

Personally, I can't wait for the day when the Isle-of-Wight isolates itself from the National Grid. It will be a pleasure to behold. I trust they will dismantle the grid connection completely and stop all imports, so that the IoW becomes completely self-sufficient and truly sustainable, as Mr Green says they can.

Dec 3, 2012 at 10:18 PM | Unregistered CommenterPhillip Bratby

@Snotrocke Dec 3, 2012 at 8:05 PM

irony indeed -

"At a press conference last week, Infrastructure Minister David Cretney and Steam Packet boss Mark Woodward joined forces with the Chamber of Commerce and TravelWatch to voice serious concerns about the cumulative threat a series of proposed renewable energy projects planned in the Irish Sea could have on lifeline services.

Of particular concern are proposals for the North East area which cuts right across the Liverpool and Heysham ferry routes.

Isle of Man Newspapers has urged readers to join a campaign to safeguard these vital sea routes by signing a ‘Don’t cut us off’ petition."

Dec 3, 2012 at 10:47 PM | Unregistered Commenterdougieh

Phillip - actually, we are sort of self-sufficient in electricity, but only when we use the gas turbine powered (2 Olympus engines) emergency power station at East Cowes. The kerosene has to come from elsewhere, though, and it's a bit thirsty...

Dec 3, 2012 at 10:57 PM | Unregistered CommenterJames P

The Bish doesn't like me to introduce science. Don't blame him, but in time the truth will out!

[Is that acceptable?]

PS I suspect that the people involved in this political fight, particularly Hayes and Davey, both bruisers, have been chosen for their staying power. This will last 15 rounds.

Dec 3, 2012 at 11:01 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlecM

Now that the Dandy is purely online, I can feel confident that 'Desperate Davey' won't be reading this but I do have a suggestion for him.
Much has been made by the technically competent that using predictable, conventional 'back-up' generation to guarantee sustainable and non-intermittent electricity supply will lead to a less than optimal solution to our production of CO2 when combined with New-Age Renewable sources.
The arguments utilised by these pragmatic party-poopers include something called reduction of efficiency or spinning reserve (whatever that is supposed to mean -Doh)
.This is but nit-picking, IMVHO.
We already have the complete handle to predictability vis a vis natural forces thanks to the truly, excellent computer models produced by our own dear Met Office. These models, as I'm sure you already know, can tell us to the post-code and moment of the weather conditions for the next hundred years.
All we have to do is integrate this gob-smacking capability into our generation-system, so that half an hour before the wind drops anywhere in the UK, a message is sent so that some handy-person can press the green switch that starts the back-up whirry-things!

Dec 3, 2012 at 11:13 PM | Unregistered CommenterRoyFOMR

For the technically-minded amongst you, I believe that our generation-system is, more correctly, referred to as the 'Gnasherional Grid'

Dec 3, 2012 at 11:21 PM | Unregistered CommenterRoyFOMR

In keeping with the seasonal theme - maybe Mr Davey is the front end of a pantomime horse ?

I think we can all supply a candidate or several for the rear end and mouth part operators?

Dec 3, 2012 at 11:50 PM | Registered Commentertomo

I really think the time has come to campaign for Davey to be impeached.

True, he's not much worse than Milipede or Buffhuhne. ( At last!).

But the writing on the wall is getting bigger and clearer. And whilst Davey's status as a weapons grade moron is clearly no bar to success in the Limp Dims (or even the Government as a whole), there must come a time when even they have enough of this deliberate stupidity.

Dec 4, 2012 at 7:11 AM | Unregistered CommenterMartin Brumby

Dec 3, 2012 at 8:32 PM geoffchambers
I think you've got it arse about face, geoff. This almost certainly came from his civil servants. The question is how it got past the minister.
I think Martin Brumby has just provided the answer.

Dec 4, 2012 at 9:42 AM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

It has INDEED taken wild horses to drag me to this discussion, but when it comes to matters of UK (in particular) power generation then BRUMBY knows rather more than his known ability to, first, dig, then back-fill ...massive corporately-dug holes. (He can choose whether to explain!) .

Yes, Brumby does know what he is talking about ...although he is probably FAR too generous in his frequently-mentioned references to the impact of the LibDems on this matter he tilts against their much-loved, (sacred cows -?) but so frequently damnably useless 'windmills'!

Now ...would YOU rely on, say, a Miner's Lamp invented by the contemporary Daveyt? Surely NOT! 'NUFF said!

The LibDems do, of course, hasve a proven pedigree when it comes to hot air generation plants ...and more thasn a couple have served in the current botched-up government.

(Vince is to be excluded, of course, as a fellow 'man-of-York' ...the son of a right-wing Tory and himself having come through the ranks of ...Glaswegian socialists ...before reality hit him between the eyes ... explaining so much about his visual inpact.That he was THE Economist at 'Big Oil' -SHELL - doubtless has so little to do with it!)

Dec 4, 2012 at 12:14 PM | Unregistered CommenterSEBASTIAN DI EBORACUM

I have a simple question - to which I want a straight answer from Ed Davey. No b*llsh*t; no waffle; no imaginary targets; no kow-towing to green pressure groups..

Reducing the 'carbon emissions' of our power generating facilities will achieve - what, exactly..?

Dec 4, 2012 at 12:36 PM | Unregistered CommenterDavid

@snotrocket, jamesp:

I think i saw something recently about some IoW eco island scheme.
Does this look familiar?:

Looks like this is all about UN Agenda 21 (aka Sustainable Development)

Are IoW residents aware of this, and what do they think of it?

Dec 4, 2012 at 2:15 PM | Unregistered CommenterSunGCR

Thanks for the link SunGCR. I took a look. The man Green seems to be a bit of megalomaniac - a greenie on a mission - for which, he claims, he makes no money. But he wants to take IoW off grid. Oh sure!
I tend to find that anyone who talks about things like 'Greenprints' (blueprints) is all smoke and mirrors. Just reading his 'Vision' statement and 'Why I Do This' rubbish is enough to make you want to throw up.

Dec 4, 2012 at 5:04 PM | Unregistered CommenterSnotrocket

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