OWEN PATERSON’S ASSAULT ON THE CLIMATE CHANGE ACT PUTS DAVID CAMERON ON THE HORNS OF AN IMPOSSIBLE DILEMMA
Ditch Green Targets or The Lights Will Go Out in Britain, says Former Environment Minister
by JAMES DELINGPOLE
13 Oct 2014
Just when David Cameron needs it least, one of his former ministers has opened a devastating second front on the Coalition’s tattered administration.
Owen “Minister of Sound” Paterson has urged the repeal of what is arguably the most damaging, wrongheaded and suicidal piece of legislation in recent parliamentary history: the 2008 Climate Change Act [the repeal of which Patria has demanded from the beginning – see our Manifesto].
The Act was the creation of Labour leader Ed Miliband during his stint in the Gordon Brown administration as Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change. It was devised by a green activist, Bryony Worthington – formerly of the hard-left, anti-capitalist pressure group Friends of the Earth, subsequently ennobled as Baroness Worthington. And it was endorsed by David Cameron, while in opposition, as part of his “Vote Blue, Go Green” strategy which culminated in his announcement – delivered at Greenpeace’s London HQ, shortly after the last general election – that he intended to lead the “greenest government ever.”
This was a costly mistake. Just how costly, Christopher Booker explains here:-
‘[The Department of Energy and Climate Change’s] declared aim at an estimated cost of £1.1 trillion, is the almost complete “decarbonisation” of our economy. Astonishingly, this means that, before 2030, the Government plans to eliminate almost all use of the fossil fuels we currently use to generate 70 per cent of our electricity, to cook and heat our homes and workplaces, and to power virtually all our transport. They want all our existing coal- and gas-fired power stations to close.
‘Out will go petrol-driven vehicles, along with all gas-powered cooking and central heating. These are to be replaced by such a massive switch to electricity for heating and powering our vehicles that it will require a doubling of our electricity needs. Much of this is to come from “renewables”, such as wind turbines; most of the rest from new nuclear power stations – although, after 2030, new gas- and coal-fired power stations will again be allowed, on condition that all the CO2 they emit is buried in holes in the ground (what is called “carbon capture and storage”, or CCS).’
In order for this crackpot scheme to work, Booker goes on to explain, the UK taxpayer will be compelled to spend £360 billion building 90,000 giant bat-chomping, bird-slicing eco-crucifixes – 85,000 more than we have at the moment. To put it another way, we will have to build 2,500 wind turbines every year for the next 36 years, swamping an area of the British landscape the size of Scotland. Apart from being physically impossible – we would have to be putting up wind turbines eight times faster than we are at the moment – it would be environmentally devastating, not just to the millions of birds and bats killed by the turbines, but also to the swathes of hitherto unspoiled countryside which would be turned into an industrial zone. It would, furthermore, significantly drive up the costs of energy, placing huge burdens on both private and business users, as well as making the UK economy less competitive.
Paterson was perfectly aware of the scale of the problem during his stint as Secretary of State for the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA). Much of his time there was spent heroically trying to resist the swathes of green legislation being urged on Britain by the European Union, by his rivals at the Department of Energy and Climate Change, and by environmental campaigners from the WWF, Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace. His reward from David Cameron? To be booted out of his job at the last cabinet reshuffle because Cameron could no longer bear the flak he was getting from the green lobby and wanted to promote someone more pliable and emollient.
This is a move Cameron will surely come to regret. One of the cardinal rules of politics is: “Keep your friends close and your enemies closer.” As a cabinet minister, Paterson was severely constrained as to how outspoken he could be about the asininity and incompetence of the Lib Dem green ideologues running DECC and about the foolishness of the Coalition’s energy and climate policies generally. Now that Paterson has been returned to the back benches, however, the gloves are off and he is not pulling his punches. Britain – he will say at the Global Warming Policy Foundation’s annual lecture in London this Wednesday – is on course for a monumental energy disaster. And the fault lies at least as much with Cameron’s Conservatives as it does with Labour or the Lib Dems.
So far, by all accounts, Cameron has decided not to rise to Paterson’s provocation. Instead, he has got his pet green Lib Dem loons at the Department of Energy and Climate Change to do his dirty work for him. DECC’s Secretary Ed Davey has told anyone who’ll listen that:-
‘Ripping up the Climate Change Act would be one of the most stupid economic decisions imaginable. The overwhelming majority of scientists agree that climate change exists while most leading British businesses and City investment funds agree with the Coalition that taking out an ‘insurance policy’ now will protect the UK against astronomical future costs caused by a changing climate.’
But does anyone care for this kind of scientifically and economically illiterate bluster any more?
Not according to Paterson – especially not those among the Conservative grassroots whose votes Cameron so badly needs if he is to stand a hope of countering the UKIP challenge in the forthcoming election.
Over the weekend Paterson addressed a constituency dinner of Warrington South Conservatives. He asked his 100-plus strong audience to raise a hand if any of them disagreed with his views on climate change and energy policy. Not one of them did, which is hardly surprising given that a) there has been no “global warming” for 18 years and b) people in the real world tend to think in terms of the genuine problems they have been caused by well-meaning green legislation – rising bills, blighted views, increased costs, reduced property values, brainwashed children – rather than worrying about a so-far unsubstantiated thesis about what might happen to the planet many years hence when everyone alive will be much richer and better technologically capable of dealing with any “climate change” problem which may or may not arise.
Paterson’s intervention in the green debate, then, places David Cameron on the horns of an impossible dilemma.
If he decides to pull a U-turn on the Coalition’s disastrous green energy policies, then Labour, the Lib Dems and the sundry green pressure groups who bullied him into sacking Paterson will all accuse him of being a lying hypocrite who never really meant what he said about leading the “greenest government ever” and who never really cared about the huskies and the baby polar bears and the children of future generations.
But if he persists in championing the legislative suicide note otherwise known as the Climate Change Act, then he will inevitably drive still more disaffected natural conservatives – especially those whose homes and cherished views in the shires have been blighted by wind farms – into the arms of UKIP and severely hamper the UK economic recovery [what recovery?] on which Cameron has sought to build his legacy [don’t make me laugh].