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« Quote of the day, sound science edition | Main | Bob Carter »
Wednesday
Jan202016

Fifty shades of green

Peter Lilley's speech during the Energy Bill debate in the House of Commons on Monday is well worth a look. This is the text, lightly edited.

Mr Peter Lilley (Hitchin and Harpenden) (Con):

…Wherever we are on the spectrum on global warming, from sceptical to alarmist, we can surely all agree on one thing: that we should try to achieve the targets to which we are committed for reducing CO2 at the least cost to our constituents, - because it is ultimately they who bear it either through their [household] budgets or their jobs. So when the Secretary of State found that subsidies were proving unnecessarily generous to achieve our targets and we were achieving them ahead of time, so that without changing those targets she could reduce those subsidies, I assumed the whole House would be in universal agreement with what she was proposing; even I, for once, was on her side. But it was not so: there were calls from the green lobby and the Opposition to keep subsidies higher than necessary for longer than necessary to achieve the targets to which we are committed.

Above all, we have created a framework that commits us to load higher costs on UK consumers and businesses via the Climate Change Act 2008 and all its ramifications than any other country in Europe. Despite all that, we will ensure, because of the way the system works, that we do not reduce the amount of carbon dioxide emitted into the atmosphere by one molecule more than would be the case if we were doing the same as the rest of Europe.

Let me explain why that is so. At Paris all the countries of the world agreed to make commitments on what they were going to do in future to curb the growth of their CO2 emissions. The only exceptions were the countries of Europe, who put in a total figure for the whole of Europe and are now to allocate that figure among the member states. Because we are committed to doing so much more than the average in Europe—indeed, than anybody else in Europe—all that does is to reduce the amount by which the other countries in Europe will have to reduce their emissions. So we have increased the burden of costs on British households and business, reduced the burden of costs incurred by our partners in Europe, and not reduced the emissions of CO2 by a single molecule.

That is an extraordinary thing to achieve.  …

It puzzles me that the political class is committed to such perverse policies. Then I found a possible hint of an explanation, when someone mentioned to me, Madam Deputy Speaker, a book that I am sure, like me, you have not read but have heard about called …  “Fifty Shades of Grey”. The surprising popularity of that book demonstrated that sadomasochism, or the infliction of pain and the submission to pain, are far more widespread tastes than we had previously thought.

It seems to me that in the political sphere there is a similar belief that it would be popular to inflict pain or submit to pain by green policies. We might say that what we are suffering from in this country is “Fifty shades of green”.

The trouble is that Members who are committed to this doctrine measure the success of their policies not by what they will achieve, but by what they will cost; and not by how effectively they will reach a given destination, but by how onerous are the burdens they can place on Britain, British households and British business.

That pain is very significant. The Committee on Climate Change worked out the costs of climate change policies in 2014-15, and it came out at about £250 per household. [Interruption.] The right hon. Member for Doncaster North (Edward Miliband) may disagree with the Committee on Climate Change, which he helped set up; if so, please intervene—but of course he cannot sustain his position. That figure is set to double by 2020, to double again probably by 2030, and to double again by 2050. That is the direct effect on household budgets both through their energy bills and the cost of more expensive products because energy prices feed through to product costs.

There is also the cost on jobs. We have lost the aluminium industry already, and earlier today we were seeing the serious the impact of job losses in the steel industry. Of course, the basic reason why there are job losses in the steel industry is that there is a worldwide glut of supply, but the reason that falls excessively on this country is that our industrial energy costs are higher than those anywhere else in Europe. That is why we are suffering disproportionately at the moment. I am reliably informed by my right hon. Friend the Member for Wokingham (John Redwood) that we are importing bricks. I recently had lunch with a businessman who said that 7% of his output comes from the UK but that 28% of his energy costs were in this country.

 … My appeal to the House is that we start looking at this whole business in a rational way. Let us take all the targets to which we are committed as a given. Like the hon. Member for East Antrim (Sammy Wilson), I think they are unnecessary and unwise, but let us take them as a given and seek the least costly way of achieving them. Let us seek to achieve them in a way that will place the fewest burdens on British households and result in the fewest job losses and the least destruction of industry and output. Let us not measure our success by how much pain we can inflict and how much harm and burdens we can submit to, as we have done through the 50 shades of green up to now. 

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Reader Comments (36)

One of 5 MPs who did not vote for the 2008 CCA.

Is it because he is (1) scientifically trained, (2) honest, (3) not a member of Common Purpose and (4) not related to or politically appointed by subsidy farmers? Answers on a postcard please. Marks will be added for scientific and economic realism and deducted for proselyting IPCC pseudoscience.

Jan 20, 2016 at 11:18 AM | Unregistered CommenterNCC 1701E

Simple solution for the least costly way - flood the "chunnel", destroy all ports, mine the harbors and all those currently living in the UK immigrate to Germany. You'd achieve all the carbon goals while helping Merkel with her need for workers.

One has to admit, though, that was one of the more interesting surrender speeches given in the House in it's long history.

Jan 20, 2016 at 11:25 AM | Unregistered Commentercedarhill

Will anybody listen & then act upon such sound advice? I doubt it somehow!

Jan 20, 2016 at 11:25 AM | Unregistered CommenterAlan the Brit

[Snip - O/T]

Jan 20, 2016 at 11:35 AM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Marshall

At Paris all the countries of the world agreed to make commitments on what they were going to do in future to curb the growth of their CO2 emissions. The only exceptions were the countries of Europe, who put in a total figure for the whole of Europe and are now to allocate that figure among the member states. Because we are committed to doing so much more than the average in Europe—indeed, than anybody else in Europe—all that does is to reduce the amount by which the other countries in Europe will have to reduce their emissions.
I didn't know that. Did anyone else? It means that all statements by European heads of government about COP21 are essentially meaningless.
It's perfectly reasonable that the poor Eastern Europeans should get a share of European prosperity. That's what they were promised when they joined. It's less obvious that they should obtain it under the counter via permits to use cheap coal, while we're lumbered with expensive wind. How long are we going to put up with our economy being run on 19th century principles of secret diplomacy?

Jan 20, 2016 at 11:36 AM | Registered Commentergeoffchambers

[Snip - response to snipped comment]

Jan 20, 2016 at 11:55 AM | Unregistered Commentergeronimo

Agree with geronimo.
When talking to 650 people who all believe in settled science the only argument you can put forward with any hope of success is one of least cost and greatest benefit. Hopefully a majority in a parliament full of scientific numbskulls can understand that, but in this case possibly not.

Jan 20, 2016 at 12:11 PM | Unregistered CommenterSandyS

… My appeal to the House is that we start looking at this whole business in a rational way.


Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha.

"Rational"

A formidably argued and a great appeal Mr Lilley, I must record.

Having said that. However, there is no reason to be had, its existence is unknown, when the green blob came to town - 'the House' lost what little wit it had. You cannot reason with it - the green orthodoxy, less ye be deemed a DENIER WITCH!

Jan 20, 2016 at 12:17 PM | Unregistered CommenterAthelstan.

I do agree with the sense of what Peter Lilly says, but he should not be saying it, he should be challenging its basis - it is like saying, for example, that whilst we do not agree with slavery, we shall go along with it, collaborate to make it as tolerable as possible because it is happening anyway.

It concerns me that far too many 'sceptics' have given up challenging the premise, and now merely challenge how it will be implemented.

This means the Warmists have won.

Jan 20, 2016 at 12:19 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn B

'lest'

Jan 20, 2016 at 12:21 PM | Unregistered CommenterAthelstan.

Not sure what the point of our parliament is given they no longer pass laws or do anything useful (seeing as we are effectively governed from Brussels).

Mailman

Jan 20, 2016 at 12:22 PM | Unregistered CommenterMailman

geoffchambrers

it'll continue as long as confrontation is off the menu.

No amount of reasonableness in debate is going to tackle this and I remain to be convinced that our public servants (inc. 97% of MPs + PM) are actuually up to the job.

Jan 20, 2016 at 12:32 PM | Registered Commentertomo

John B,
Currently questioning the need to save the world from evil CO2 is believed to be politically suicidal. That means that currently the Warmists have won.

This speech links opposition to Green subsidies to two other interests.
A) Eurosceptic MPs.
B) MPs weho care about fuel poverty.

If he can get that coalition to form then he may be able to stop wasting resources on Green subsidies. He will also put Climate Scepticism on the table as a reasonable position with which “work can be done”.
That would mean the Warmists had not won.

Jan 20, 2016 at 12:41 PM | Registered CommenterM Courtney

Mass--indeed, universal--civil disobedience is called for.

Jan 20, 2016 at 12:43 PM | Unregistered CommenterHarry Dale Huffman

The revelation that the EU will cut obligations to other member states as a result of our deeper than expected cuts in CO2 emissions tells us all we need to know about our 'influence' in the EU. We pay yet again while others are effectively subsidised by us, all to not solve a non-problem. Yet more grist to the Leave elbow methinks.

Jan 20, 2016 at 12:53 PM | Unregistered CommenterCheshireRed

'Fifty Shades of Green'....

Like that....

Jan 20, 2016 at 1:20 PM | Unregistered Commentersherlock1

There is still an up-side to this (for some). Because of the disproportionately high cost of electricity and fuel in the UK, we are successfully getting heavy industry to leave the UK.

But look on the bright side! Some might say we are getting rid of those dark satanic mills that have been a blot on the landscape for so long. Tata Steel is waving ta-ta to Port Talbot as we speak. William Blake would be happy.

Best not mention where the heavy industry is going, or how we get the special metals for (e.g.) our electric car batteries. Things like child labour in the Congo is a small price to pay for our Greenery, out of side, out of mind.

Jan 20, 2016 at 1:22 PM | Unregistered CommenterRudolph Hucker

My first response to this was to think that Lilley was taking the only available route for an intelligent but badly informed man. Lilley really does not have the time to investigate the science of the climate debate and therefore accepts 'the reasoned opinions of scientists advising the government'.
However Lilley misses the point made so many times on BH which is that countries like China, India and in fact the whole undeveloped world; are not going to give up the advantages of coal anytime soon. All action taken by any and all European countries will have zero effect so why accept our targets as 'given'?

Jan 20, 2016 at 1:58 PM | Registered CommenterDung

I think Peter Lilley probably understands the issues very well. But he also knows he is surrounded by, and faces, quite a lot of dimwits who need to be persuaded in a different way. That's politics.

Jan 20, 2016 at 2:14 PM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

Even the Danes have noticed the problem:

"Investing billions in wind turbines and biomass is useless if the intention is to reduce CO2 emissions. In the worst case, paradoxically, it may well damage the environment, the Economics Council - the wise men - explains in an analysis for Berlingske Politics. The EU’s quota system for CO2 emissions is to blame for the complicated relationship..."


‘Electricity generators are a part of the EU’s quota system and if Denmark produces more electricity from fossil-free energy that means that Danish electricity plants require less quota. This reduces the price of quota and makes it cheaper, for example, for German industry to buy quota. Meanwhile, the aggregate quota and the aggregate emissions of CO2 are unchanged, the wise men write....

"In that way the effect is that Denmark helps to reduce the costs of, for example, German industry and therefore contributes to improving German competitiveness, while the emissions of greenhouse gases in the EU are unaffected. [Our translation]." (‘Wise Men: “Danish wind turbines may damage the climate”' - ‘Vismænd: Danske vindmøller kan være skadelige for klimaet', Berlingske, 28 November 2011).

The Economics Council consists of the Economics Council and the Environmental Economics Council, with representatives from an assortment of industry and employment organisations, the National Bank, Government and independent academic and environmental economists. The Council advises government and operates under the aegis of Ministry of Economics and Business Affairs. It is led by the ‘Wise Men’ a panel of four leading academic economists.

See also, article from Der Spiegel: ‘Wind turbines do nothing for emissions-reduction goals’.

Jan 20, 2016 at 2:20 PM | Unregistered CommenterBillB

Dung
Lilley is well-informed, believe me. He is one of the few scientifically qualified members of the HoC.
He is also politically astute and well aware of the practical limits of a back-bencher even one as senior as he is. Read again what he says about the Opposition and the Greens arguing for the (unnecessary) continuation of subsidies. That in itself ought to be enough to wrong-foot them. It probably won't be but if he can keep on that theme then the idiocy of their argument will become apparent to others sooner or later.
realpolitik is the name of the game.

Jan 20, 2016 at 2:22 PM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

Pity he didn't spell it out: close the coal plants and switch to gas. Emissions cut by a third, not new transmission, no intermittency, and little, if any, change in costs.

This option was available 10 years ago, was tabled by PWC (?), but ignored.

Jan 20, 2016 at 2:30 PM | Unregistered CommenterCapell

Michael and Mike

I know that Lilley is constrained and can not criticise Cameron's Green dogma but that is precisely why he could usefully have added the dash for coal in the rest of the world to his already excellent reasoning. ^.^

Jan 20, 2016 at 2:56 PM | Registered CommenterDung

Capell

The cheapest energy is coal fired power, gas is more expensive and even if you would like to kill all life on the planet I would prefer coal thank you.

Jan 20, 2016 at 2:58 PM | Registered CommenterDung

Capell - and where will the gas come from?

Jan 20, 2016 at 3:03 PM | Unregistered CommenterVernon E

So we have increased the burden of costs on British households and business, reduced the burden of costs incurred by our partners in Europe, and not reduced the emissions of CO2 by a single molecule.

That is an extraordinary thing to achieve. …

Er...yup!

Jan 20, 2016 at 3:23 PM | Unregistered CommenterPhil R

geoffchambers - Booker referred to Lilley's speech and his revelation last Sunday: ' Yet another bizarre consequence of this has followed December’s Paris “deal” on climate change. When the EU signed up collectively to reduce its “carbon emissions”, it took Peter Lilley MP to notice that Germany and France are now insisting that, since Britain is already committed to making such a disproportionately generous contribution to the EU’s collective target, this will reduce the amount others will need to cut. The more Britain “takes the lead” in committing energy suicide, the less other countries need to follow. Nice one.'


http://www.telegraph.co.uk/comment/columnists/christopherbooker/12103686/Amber-Rudds-leading-role-in-the-EU-is-energy-suicide.html

Jan 20, 2016 at 4:22 PM | Unregistered CommenterPhil D

Lilley's analysis is a good attempt to explain how green dogma is driving bad outcomes. I am not scientifically qualified to explore the evidence as to whether humankind is responsible for climate change or global warming, or whatever it's called this week, although like many here I do have my doubts, based on common sense. However, the point at which I part company irrevocably with the eco-fascists is when considering the conclusions they arrive at when considering how to deal with their perceived problem.

They blight our beautiful landscape with industrial scale wind turbines, often trashing peat bogs in the process (thereby releasing more CO2). They rely on unreliables, which require inefficient backup from conventional fuels, thereby releasing more CO2. They require us to cut down living trees and burn them, rather than burn dead trees (coal). They produce higher energy costs, pushing millions into fuel poverty and driving industry to foreign countries with lower environmental standards than ours, thereby doing more damage to the environment (real damage, that is) as well as increasing CO2 emissions both in the production process and in the transportation of the stuff produced, half-way round the world from China (try buying anything in the shops these days that isn't made in China, and much of it is of such low quality that you find yourself looking for another replacement in pretty short order).

All of this strikes me as blindingly obvious - especially the bit that even by their own lights, their "solutions" make the "problem" worse. But the eco-fascists won't have it. And if they can't see the blindingly obvious with regard to the consequences of their actions, why would I trust their "science"?

Jan 20, 2016 at 5:56 PM | Unregistered CommenterMark Hodgson

Not certain what the purpose of our parliament is given they no more pass laws or do anything helpful..

Jan 20, 2016 at 6:00 PM | Unregistered CommenterMerin

Mark Hodgson

It sounds like your thought processes are the same as the rest of Bishop Hill :)
Welcome.

Jan 20, 2016 at 7:05 PM | Registered CommenterDung

@Phil D , Jan 20, 2016 at 4:22 PM

Booker referred to Lilley's speech and his revelation last Sunday: ' Yet another bizarre consequence of this has followed December’s Paris “deal” on climate change. When the EU signed up collectively to reduce its “carbon emissions”, it took Peter Lilley MP to notice that Germany and France are now insisting that, since Britain is already committed to making such a disproportionately generous contribution to the EU’s collective target, this will reduce the amount others will need to cut. The more Britain “takes the lead” in committing energy suicide, the less other countries need to follow.

Phil,

Thanks, I missed that when reading Telegraph on Sunday, must have been the continued brain fail shock of the (long extinct) snow outside.

Trying to be a responsible adult - ie green as demanded by Cameron et al - I tried explaining to my brother's children that they must treasure this moment as snow in the UK was extinct years ago. They refused to believe me saying they built snowmen in their garden in 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014 and last year too. I argued this was not true as the computer models, BBC, Met Office, Obama and Cameron all agreed snow in the UK was extinct and there were newspaper articles and scientific papers to prove it. They told me I was a loony.

Jan 20, 2016 at 7:55 PM | Registered CommenterPcar

Pcar apparently Big Oil Cheques are funding mass delusions of snow, and causing Highways Agencies to spread salt all over our roads to reduce the risk of the tarmac melting in the heat.

Jan 20, 2016 at 11:11 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

"so there are TWO climate nutters with the name Stern ??" --VenusCold

What's in a name? A rose by any other name...

"Not sure what the point of our parliament is given they no longer pass laws or do anything useful (seeing as we are effectively governed from Brussels)." --Mailman

Didn't we fight a war once to prevent the UK from being ruled from a European city starting with 'B' by unelected bureaucrats?

"realpolitik is the name of the game." --Mike Jackson

Or perhaps reductio ad absurdum

Jan 21, 2016 at 3:43 AM | Unregistered Commenterjorgekafkazar

I too did not like Mr Lilly's argument to start by continuing from where we are now. It does not work, so why start there. However there was one missing link in his speech, UN article 21, calling on the first would Countries to commit economic suicide so as to help the third world Countries. All the calls from the green tribe, in thought, word and deed, are a determined attack on Capitalism. Anything we "save" in terms of energy does not mysteriously turn up in the third world, you do not "save" energy in the true sense. You generate it if there is a market, and a use for it, no use, no generation. But then, it is about moving the poverty around......all must be equal, poverty belongs to us all. Except naturally for our "leaders and their bosses".

Jan 21, 2016 at 11:07 AM | Unregistered CommenterDerek Buxton

Derek Buxton:

"Anything we "save" in terms of energy does not mysteriously turn up in the third world"

Indeed not:

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/21/nyregion/executive-in-un-corruption-case-pleads-guilty.html?_r=2

"A Chinese-born executive accused of helping to funnel more than $800,000 to a top United Nations official pleaded guilty to bribery on Wednesday, the second guilty plea in a week in the government’s continuing investigation of corruption at the United Nations.

The defendant, Shiwei Yan, was charged last fall in a broad graft case that also included defendants like the official, John W. Ashe, an Antiguan diplomat who served for a year as president of the United Nations General Assembly, and Ng Lap Seng, a billionaire real estate developer who is based in Macau.

Another defendant, Heidi Hong Piao, pleaded guilty last week to bribery, money laundering and other charges and has agreed to cooperate with the federal investigation, records show."

Sustainable development?

"The group is not identified in the complaint, but its description appears to match that of the Global Sustainability Foundation.

Mr. Ashe, in addition to serving as General Assembly president from September 2013 to September 2014, was Antigua’s representative to the United Nations. He has not been charged in the bribery scheme itself; he faces two counts of filing false federal tax returns. Mr. Ng and other defendants were charged with bribery and other counts. All have pleaded not guilty."

"Ms. Yan told the judge through an interpreter that beginning in 2012, she and others paid Mr. Ashe so he would use his position to help promote business ventures from “which we intended to profit.”

John Ashe was for many years a key figure in the UNFCCC process, including chairmanship of panels agreeing Kyoto contributions from the West to developing countries, now developed into the Green Climate Fund, aiming to garner $100 billion per year by 2020, for renewable energy projects.

This is from his UN CV
"Guided by a passion for sustainable development, Mr. Ashe has been in the forefront of international efforts to address the adverse effects of climate change and the fight to eradicate poverty.

He has served in a leadership capacity on many of the governing bodies of the major UN environmental agreements, including as the first Chairman of the Executive Board of the Clean Development Mechanism of the Kyoto Protocol to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). He also chaired the same Convention’s Subsidiary Body on Implementation (SBI), and, most recently, the Ad Hoc Working Group on Further Commitments for Annex I Parties under the Kyoto Protocol (AWG-KP)."

More background can be found here: https://tthomas061.wordpress.com/2015/10/14/unlimited-corruption/

Jan 21, 2016 at 12:40 PM | Registered Commenterdennisa

Dennisa,

Thank you for the links to the 'UN corruption' case. I would strongly recommend them to any BH readers that have not yet looked. The overlap of personnel between national governments, the UNFCC, the UN, and the corruption case in question, is quite astonishing (if, that is, the New York Times is correct in identifying the 'Global Sustainability Foundation' as the organisation in question, which a quick search of names suggests is indeed the case).

After flagrant hypocrisy of this kind, and all the mendacity that has gone before (so well documented in, among other places, this blog), I am moved to ask (yet again - real incredulity here) how does the 'sustainability/climate change' bandwagon keep rolling? Surely, sometime soon...

Jan 25, 2016 at 1:17 PM | Unregistered CommenterMalcolm Chapman

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