By the end of next month the most insane Act ever passed by Parliament is set to land us in a quite extraordinary situation vis-à-vis the rest of the European Union. This has nothing to do with the referendum. It has everything to do with our MPs’ obligation, under the Climate Change Act, to approve something called the “Fifth Carbon Budget”, laying down Britain’s energy policy for 12 years ahead.
Not only will this be disastrous in itself. It will put us at an appalling competitive disadvantage with our EU partners. And it will make a complete mockery of pledges made by both the Chancellor, George Osborne, and our Energy and Climate Change Secretary, Amber Rudd.
The Fifth Carbon Budget was published last year by that very odd body, the Climate Change Committee, set up by the Climate Change Act to advise the Government on how to meet the Act’s target that, by 2050, Britain must slash its “carbon emissions” by 80 per cent on their 1990 level. Although few members of this supposedly “independent” committee, headed by Lord Deben (aka John Gummer), are experts in either climate science or energy, all are dedicated climate alarmists.
What their latest “carbon budget” proposes is that, to meet the Act’s 80 per cent target, between 2028 and 2033 Britain must raise its emissions cuts to a staggering 57 per cent. Yet this is at a time when other EU countries are at odds over whether they can agree on a much lower target of just 40 per cent by 2030, let alone whether this would be legally binding.
What the “Fifth Carbon Carbon Budget” proposes is terrifying. It talks of how 60 per cent of our cars should by then be electric (currently these are barely half a per cent of new cars sold). We must look forward to abandoning use of gas for heating and cooking (currently supplying 90 per cent of us). As, within five years, we are due to stop using the coal that until recently supplied more than a third of our electricity (easily the cheapest way to make it), we must nevertheless double our electricity consumption, for cooking, heating and transport. And most of this will come from a huge expansion in “renewables” and new nuclear plants: only one of which is yet in the pipeline, already billed to be the most expensive power station in the world and which we were told last week will not be on stream until 2026.
ven the committee is aware that, due to the intermittency of wind and solar, to keep Britain’s economy running we would need a great many new gas-fired power stations to provide backup when the wind doesn’t blow and the sun doesn’t shine. But as this is a fossil fuel, they propose it should carry an increased “carbon tax” (four times higher than its present level, already four times higher than anywhere else in the world), which will make its power so costly that this might somehow make wind farms seem “competitive”. It must also, they repeatedly insist, be fitted with “carbon capture” to bury all their CO2: using a technology not yet developed and which probably never will be.
So this amazing ragbag of proposals, based entirely on wishful thinking, will next month become the law of the land, to put us “ahead of the world”: at a time when the rest of the EU will still not have agreed its target of 40 per cent. Yet this flies in the face of both Osborne’s pledge to the 2011 Tory conference that “we’re going to cut our carbon emissions no slower but also no faster than our fellow countries in Europe”, and that of Ms Rudd in a speech last July, in claiming that “we have to travel in step with what is happening in the rest of the world”.
This is why 15 MPs, including three former Cabinet ministers, have now written to Ms Rudd asking her to delay “setting the Fifth Carbon Budget” until the EU has concluded an agreement on its own target. Otherwise, they warn, this will not only put us at a severe competitive disadvantage, but other countries could even use our grossly disproportionate contribution to the EU’s general total as an excuse for contributing much less themselves. If Rudd does not ask MPs to delay, they will merely be bringing us even nearer to a catastrophe the dimensions of which few in Britain have yet woken up to.