How is Britain going green? By shutting down industry
By Paul Homewood
There are a number of articles out today about the UK steel situation.
Bill Carmichael of the Yorkshire Post goes straight to the heart:
Take a bow, you fashionable eco-warriors and your craven enablers in the political establishment.
Give yourselves a hearty pat on the back, because you have achieved something quite remarkable – the complete destruction of a once great British industry and the loss of tens of thousands of jobs.
Because let’s get one thing absolutely clear – the decline of the steel industry is no unhappy accident, but happened as a result of deliberate policy dreamt up by eco-loons and adopted by successive governments.
Back in 2008, in a fit of environmental zeal, the Labour government, guided by the then Climate Change Secretary, Ed Miliband, decided to make British energy the most expensive in the world.
They were explicitly warned at the time that this crazy policy would do little to solve global warming but would completely destroy huge swathes of British heavy industry.
Guenther Oettinger, a German politician who was then the EU’s Energy Commissioner, warned that a target of a 25 per cent reduction in greenhouse gases would lead to the “de-industrialisation” of Europe and the loss of thousands of jobs.
Miliband and his merry band of eco-zealots didn’t care – they imposed a 50 per cent cut in greenhouse gases plus a whole range of green taxes to artificially force up the price of energy.
As a result, British firms pay twice as much for electricity as companies in France and substantially more than our competitors around the world including in Europe and the USA.
And of course in China, which doesn’t care about global warming, they continue to burn cheap coal and subsidise steel manufacturing with the result that Chinese steel sells at about half the price of UK produced steel.
Despite all the hard work of British workers, our steel simply cannot compete on the world market because the industry has been hobbled by environmental fanatics.
That is why Tata, which has plants in Rotherham, Scunthorpe and Port Talbot employing about 15,000 people, is losing £1m a day – and those jobs are now at risk.
The deliberate sabotage of an important strategic industry may perhaps be justified if it stopped climate change – but it won’t.
The closure of every factory in Britain wouldn’t make the blindest bit of difference to average temperatures in 50 or 100 years time – not while the Chinese are opening four new coal-fired power stations every week. It is an entirely pointless sacrifice.
The Spectator has this as its leading article:
A fortnight ago, the energy minister, Andrea Leadsom, declared grandly that Britain, alone in the world, would commit to a target of reducing net carbon emissions to zero. ‘The question is not whether but how we do it,’ she told Parliament. It is now becoming painfully clear how this target will be reached: not by eliminating our carbon emissions but by exporting them, along with thousands of jobs and much of our manufacturing industry.
This week, Tata Steel announced that its entire UK business is to be put up for sale. That came after Stephen Kinnock, whose South Wales constituency includes Tata’s giant plant at Port Talbot, joined a union delegation to the headquarters of Tata Steel in India to beg the company to keep the plant open. Some 750 job losses have already been announced there; more than 1,000 jobs, including these, will be lost across Britain as our steel industry struggles to compete with lower-cost producers overseas.
David Cameron’s government said it would consider support — which is ironic, given its role in Tata’s problems. Yes, steel prices have collapsed worldwide — but the other factor that Tata has mentioned is energy costs. Britain has the highest energy costs in Europe, thanks to decisions taken not in Brussels but in Whitehall.
Crusaders like Ms Leadsom have, over the years, made sure that our manufacturers feel the force of green levies, unlike Germany, which exempts its own industry. The idea is that by making energy more expensive, people are encouraged to use less of it. This is working very effectively, as the soon-to-be-unemployed Welsh steelworkers will attest. If the plant closes, carbon emissions in Port Talbot will fall dramatically.
Mr Kinnock has been a staunch defender of the plant, as one might expect, given its importance to many of the voters who elected him. But he can’t bring himself to admit that crippling energy prices, caused by taxes and levies designed to help Britain meet its self-imposed and unilateral carbon-reduction targets, have worsened Tata’s problems in Britain.
Addressing Parliament in February, Mr Kinnock hardly mentioned energy costs at all, demanding instead that the government try to save the plant by imposing tariffs on steel imported from China. It has become received wisdom — especially among sections of the Eurosceptic right — that the Chinese are out to ruin our steel industry by ‘dumping’ steel on our market and there’s nothing we can do about it because of EU rules. While it’s true that the EU has control of trade tariffs, it does more than its fair share of slapping tariffs on Chinese goods, often to the detriment of consumers.
All European producers face much higher costs than Chinese steelmakers thanks to the EU Emissions Trading System. But Britain imposes its own green taxes on top of this in the form of the Carbon Price Floor and the Renewables Obligation — an epic act of self-harm. Tata points out that its energy costs for running steel plants in Britain are 25 per cent more than they would be in Germany and 50 per cent more than they would be in France. This is due to decisions by the UK government to spread the pain of green tariffs so that businesses are hit as hard as consumers. […]
Desirable though it is to reduce carbon emissions, there is no point in committing Britain to stringent carbon-reduction targets if other countries do not do the same. But this hasn’t yet dawned on the government, nor on the main opposition parties. Our policies have a minimal effect on global warming but a profound effect on communities such as Port Talbot — not to mention the households of those in fuel poverty. Raising fuel bills has a real human cost. The ONS estimated some 40,000 British pensioners died from the cold in the winter of 2014/15, yet it seems that was not enough to start a debate about the cost of fuel bills.
If manufacturing simply transfers abroad, that won’t do a thing to reduce global carbon emissions. It is pure industrial suicide. David Cameron’s government is now considering what it can do to help the steelworks. He ought to have thought it all through more carefully before signing up to Ed Miliband’s Climate Change Act.