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Killing the carbon targets

GWPF reproduces an FT article which suggests that the government is under pressure from engineering companies who want to see the UK's unilateral carbon targets reduced. Apparently senior Conservatives are keen to see the targets killed off, something that could happen if a review by the Committee on Climate Change finds that the UK is moving much quicker towards decarbonisation than the rest of Europe.

Of course, under Lord Deben's stewardship the review is unlikely to come up with the required answer, and the Liberal Democrats represent something of an immovable object on this front too. They are, not to put to fine a point on it, willing to throw granny from the train (or let her freeze to death anyway) in order to keep their green voters.

Meanwhile, environmentalists are trying to spin a line that the review is going to scare off investors.

The Green Alliance, an environmental think-tank, will this week urge the government to cancel the review to reassure nervous investors in the sector.

“Investors had planned to spend £180bn in the UK’s low carbon infrastructure, but they now wonder if their money is wanted here,” said Alastair Harper, spokesman for the Green Alliance. He said many were looking at the review “as the final test of whether the UK government is serious about attracting their investment”.

I have absolutely no idea where this figure of £180bn has come from. Last time I heard, investors wouldn't cough up a penny for the UK energy sector because the government's policy, relying as it does on voters agreeing to be fleeced for decades to come, was so entirely implausible.

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Reader Comments (30)

It all depends which investors we want. The fascistic corporate-staters who can only make money when granny is thrown from the train. Or the genuine entrepreneurs who will provide her, and masses of other ordinary people, with something they really want, like cheaper, more secure energy from UK shale. And even coal come to that. As David Hagen pointed out on Judy Curry's in June:

Natural gas is far more valuable for home cooking and heating than to burn in power plants.
Much easier and cheaper to burn coal in power plants where it can be efficiently cleaned up than in homes.

Removing the carbon targets completely would allow something much more rational like this. But even half a loaf is a lot better than none in this case.

Aug 28, 2013 at 12:14 PM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

Yes, this is inevitable. If you adopt targets which you have no idea how to meet, and then take no steps towards meeting them, in the end you have to repeal the legislation which sets them.

Aug 28, 2013 at 12:15 PM | Unregistered Commentermichel

"Investors had planned to spend £180bn in the UK’s low carbon infrastructure,"

"Investors" = taxpayers, utility ratepayers.

Aug 28, 2013 at 12:18 PM | Unregistered Commenterchris y

£180b. It's called plucking. Plucking from air any number you can think of that will scare weak kneed politicians into surrendering the UK economy to the socialist greenies.

Aug 28, 2013 at 12:21 PM | Unregistered CommenterStephen Richards

Chris y

Exactly. Investors had planned to invest £10bn of their own (borrowed) money which the government would have matched with £170bn they'd stolen from Granny or her grandchildren's 2040 pay packet, to allow them to build their boondoggle. They would then have paid them boondoggle subsidies of £500bn over the next few years.

I propose we now start calling Green schemes Boondoggles and Greens themselves 'Boondogglers'.

Aug 28, 2013 at 12:24 PM | Unregistered CommenterStuck-Record

I think the line “Investors had planned to spend £180bn in the UK’s low carbon infrastructure" should have read "Investors had planned to spend £180bn of subidies in the UK’s low carbon infrastructure"

Aug 28, 2013 at 12:44 PM | Unregistered CommenterConfusedPhoton

I wonder what is meant by a "low carbon infrastructure."

Which are more "low carbon" -- wooden railroad sleepers or concrete ones? What shall we make the rails out of? Steel or woven-together bullrushes? Which is more "low-carbon"?

Like the majority of Green utterances, this one is meaningless.

Aug 28, 2013 at 12:47 PM | Unregistered CommenterRick Bradford

Reality is slowly penetrating the asylum!

Aug 28, 2013 at 1:17 PM | Unregistered CommenterRC Saumarez

Stuck-Record has it right and we need not to lose sight of it.
The £170bn (or whatever the figure is) is not your money or mine; it's our grandchildren's.
Their prospects are dicey enough as it is with increased longevity inevitably hitting pensions and the likely hangover of debts from the last 20 years. "Green" investment like this is simply going to impoverish them and their children.
They will love us for that!

Aug 28, 2013 at 1:24 PM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

If there are guilt edged returns backed by government subsidies then of course investors will want to invest even if the schemes are recognisably dodgy. The problem with investing in get rich schemes is that the bubble has to burst at some time, it cannot keep inflating. Investors have to determine when it is time to get out, before the bubble bursts, which is what we are generally seeing now. There is no core benefit from a low carbon infrastructure so there is no long term value. Remove the subsidies and the market pops, it's not needed, it's only purpose is to stimulate investment and that time has passed.
The money thrown at it by governments and investment institutions has not been reflected by industry and commerce, a pig in a poke is just that no matter what colour lipstick it wears and those who earn their money see through the gloss and have not been tempted.
The Banks took us into a financial crisis that Gordon Brown etal tried to solve by creating a need for a sector that didn't exist. It was always the case that joe public would have to work harder and longer in order to pay off the credit card bill for the largess, but instead of inflationary forces, which lose votes, stealth taxation through moral obligation was introduced with a legal, hah, backing.
It is this legal backing that should be repealed, not adjusted it is bad law and those that instigated it should have sleepless nights. When the balloon does burst I expect the explosion to topple more than a couple of houses, not just here but across the continent as well.

Aug 28, 2013 at 1:28 PM | Unregistered CommenterLord Beaverbrook

If you ask voters "do you want renewable energies" they say yes of course but if you ask them "how much are you going to pay for that" then they back off rather rapidly.

Aug 28, 2013 at 1:31 PM | Unregistered CommenterJamesG

Just glad I'm not in the business of trying to justify expenditure on wind turbines (current collective output: 0.31GW)....
Have these people (Ed Davey; Deben et al) no sense of embarrassment whatsoever..?

Aug 28, 2013 at 1:31 PM | Unregistered Commentersherlock1 companies who want to see the UK's unilateral carbon targets reduced....

Was it just me, or do others also read this to imply that engineering companies want to see the carbon targets (already very low) lowered still further? Which is, of course, the opposite of what they are actually saying.

Surely it should read " ...want to see the UK's unilateral carbon targets scrapped."? Or "made less onerous" or some such? Saying that a target should be 'reduced' suggests to me that we are looking to cut the level of CO2 emitted still further....

Aug 28, 2013 at 1:53 PM | Unregistered CommenterDodgy Geezer

Beaverbrook: Superb. Guilt edged returns indeed.

Aug 28, 2013 at 2:03 PM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

Before a politician (particularly one of the LibDem/Green rabble) is allowed to spout off about renewables they should be forced to quote the previous 7 days windmill output as a percentage of installed capacity.

Aug 28, 2013 at 2:53 PM | Unregistered CommenterSteve Jones

I guess we are a year or so behind the killing of the Spanish boondoggle. The Germans are also realiising that the effect of subsidising useless technology will eventually result in a disaster.

Aug 28, 2013 at 2:55 PM | Registered CommenterPhillip Bratby

Just glad I'm not in the business of trying to justify expenditure on wind turbines (current collective output: 0.31GW)....
Have these people (Ed Davey; Deben et al) no sense of embarrassment whatsoever..?
Aug 28, 2013 at 1:31 PM sherlock1

Maybe we could arrange to calibrate wind power output and motivate Davey, Deben & the DECC crew with a bit of creative engineering

I see a splendid new departmental HQ - built on a pontoon in the middle of our largest offshore wind array.

The pontoon will be arranged to have a controlled leak - balanced by a battery of baling pumps powered by a proportionate power bleed from the wind farm.

When the wind power output is sufficient - they will be able to lounge in their luxurious conference room armchairs enjoying the seaview and the magnificence of the technological miracle they have wrought.

When output falters however we will all be able to log on to the official webcam and watch them scramble onto the roof as the waves chase them up the stairs.

Ah well - it was only a daydream.

Aug 28, 2013 at 3:01 PM | Registered CommenterFoxgoose

Steve J

Wind seems to have tailed off a bit lately, too:


Aug 28, 2013 at 3:03 PM | Registered Commenterjamesp

For us sceptics in Scotland I think this is going to be a boom time for embarrassing stories for Alex Salmond's wind policy or as I now call them "Alex's follies". An independent energy policy was always the mainstay of the separation argument ... that went up in smoke when oil started running out and got worse when Alex was daft enough to start believing eco-magic.

So, wind as an alternative to oil, became an increasingly important mainstay of the argument.

And this cannot have escaped the notice of the Tories ... so I think it is inevitable that the closer we approach the Alex-endum ... the more we will see of this kind of thing and the more and more stupid Alex's Follies will look.

Aug 28, 2013 at 3:25 PM | Registered CommenterMikeHaseler

Andrew: "the Liberal Democrats represent something of an immovable object on this front too. They are, not to put to fine a point on it, willing to throw granny from the train (or let her freeze to death anyway) in order to keep their green voters."

The next UK election is May 2015 (if the coalition lasts that long) and the Alexendum is Sept 2014. In both of these the English Tories are up against ardently pro-birdmincer parties. So, it is more or less inevitable that the Tories will seek to make "green" policies look quite ridiculous 2014/15 because this will kill two birds with one stone.

There is a real possibility that by Sept 2014 ... every Tory and their dog (the BBC) will be ardent climate sceptics with government ministers making statements that are so anti-wind that we here begin to look like moderates.

Aug 28, 2013 at 3:42 PM | Registered CommenterMikeHaseler

Mike Haseler: Helpful and credible, except I've never seen the BBC called a Tory dog. That won't down too well in Broadcasting House :)

Aug 28, 2013 at 5:28 PM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

Seeing as windfarms are unlawful investors will not want to risk their money anyway

the Independent have picked up on the breach of the Aarhuis Convention

Aug 28, 2013 at 6:49 PM | Unregistered CommenternTropywins

Andrew said: "in order to keep their green voters."

"green" Hmm, innuendo and ambiguity - was that a deliberate choice of words?


They [the yellow scum] will be totalled at the next GE and deservedly so.

I'd suggest that, they drop the green guff and levitate down off their clouds of sanctimonious gaseous emanations and join up with the rest of us - who have to live in the real world.

Lets face it and for goodness sakes - how many of the revenue producers the country relies upon; the self employed, small businessmen, craftsmen, small builders and construction workers, blue collar grafters, grafters full stop - how many of the aforementioned - would actually vote for the Libdems?

I'll give you a clue, it's a round figure.

Aug 28, 2013 at 9:40 PM | Unregistered CommenterAthelstan.

I don't think it pivots on Lord Deben, it pivots on Samantha.

Aug 28, 2013 at 10:34 PM | Registered CommenterPharos

In Australia the Labour party appears to be very busy throwing their Green allies of the recent past under the electoral bus, following the lead of the Liberals who have long ago done so, with the effect of the Greens losing political clout very rapidly. Nothing appears to influence politicians as much as the spectre of losing power!
This won't happen for a while here in NZ as we appear to have a more cunning breed of Green here, still joined at the hip with the Parliamentary Labour party. We also have an abundance of voters who don't actually class themselves as Green but believe in Green-promulgated nonsense such as scary global warming generated by cow farts, sustainability, and that carbon is actually pollution.

Aug 29, 2013 at 12:04 AM | Unregistered CommenterAlexander K

is still waiting for some counter-factual stuff from eSmiff....

Aug 29, 2013 at 1:22 AM | Unregistered Commenterdiogenes

Aug 28, 2013 at 12:18 PM | chris y

"Investors had planned to spend £180bn in the UK’s low carbon infrastructure,"

"Investors" = taxpayers, utility ratepayers.

I don't recall ever being asked by a politician of any stripe if I would liked to be fleeced for the benefit of businessmen (and business women) with a vested interest in building a "low carbon infrastructure." Wouldn't it be a good idea if politicians consulted the people?

Aug 29, 2013 at 8:07 AM | Unregistered CommenterRoy

Some overheated rhetoric here. Almost every MP voted for the ruinous climate change act. They did so on the basis of scintific advice. So you know who to really blame. To all you blue rinsers I might add that the whole issue started wiith Margaret Thatcher who set up Hadley Centre, presumably to discredit the coal industry.

Aug 29, 2013 at 8:17 AM | Unregistered CommenterJamesG

Aug 28, 2013 at 2:03 PM | CommenterRichard Drake

Fraudian slip!

Aug 29, 2013 at 1:31 PM | Unregistered CommenterLord Beaverbrook

If you want the carbon targets reduced, that would require even more emission reductions.

Aug 30, 2013 at 5:07 PM | Unregistered CommenterMikeN

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