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Labour MP Responds To Decarbonisation Questions

June 6, 2018

By Paul Homewood

 

Readers will recall I wrote to my Labour MP a few weeks ago, asking about her party’s manifesto pledge to ensure that 60% of UK energy comes from low carbon/renewable sources by 2030.

I have still had no reply despite chasing. However one reader has had a response to a similar letter which he wrote.

This was his letter:

Dear Mr. Rashid,,

My concern for the past few years has been concerned with the UK‘s attitude to Energy

Point 1.

The Labour Manifesto last year promised to “ensure that 60% of UK energy comes from low carbon/renewable sources by 2030”

Note 60%

I assume that this is still party policy.

Could you provide detail on how this will be achieved?

FACTS

As at 2016, only 18% of energy consumption comes from low carbon/renewable.

The Committee on Climate Change, have prepared various scenarios, which basically project that around 75% of electricity will come from low carbon/renewable by 2030.

But electricity only accounts for about a third of total energy.

About another third comes from direct natural gas consumption, about a half for domestic heating and cooking, and the rest for industrial processes. There appears to be little prospect of switching either of these to low carbon/renewable in the near future in any large scale.

Oil accounts for the other third, mainly for transport, aviation and shipping.

So we have as a nation

33% of our energy is in electricity

33% of our energy is in natural gas

33% of our energy is in oil

With regards to oil and transport the switchover to EVs is still tiny, due to the fact that drivers do not want them, despite massive Government subsidies. There is certainly no prospect of lorries switching to electric in the next decade or so either, or for that matter aviation and shipping.

COSTS

There is also the crippling cost of decarbonisation.

The OBR already project a cost of £14.4bn in 2022/23, and this will continue to climb rapidly as more renewable capacity comes on stream, and, the start-up of Hinkley Point.

A target of 60% (from my first paragraph),will mean much, much, higher costs still. Has Labour costed this?

BIOMASS

I would be particularly interested in Labour’s policy towards biomass. Many experts now conclude that burning wood pellets at Drax etc. will actually have the effect of increasing CO2 emissions in comparison with coal and gas.

It is also true that burning wood emits more toxic substances (as opposed to CO2) than coal.

On top of all this, the demand for wood pellets across Europe is causing great devastation across some of the US’ wild forests.

Does Labour favour building more such plants?

JOBS

The closure of coal and gas power stations will involve many job losses.

The move to EVs could also threaten the closure of some of the UK’s oil refineries, and associated chemical plants.

What has the Labour Party got to say to those who lose their jobs?

In particular, the threat to refineries and chemical plants seems to go against your stated aim of rebuilding UK industry.

MANIFESTO

Your manifesto is remarkably short on any detail on how you will meet your target, but does mention:

Insulating 4 million homes

Experience has shown that most people use insulation to make their homes warmer, rather than cutting energy use. So it seems unlikely this will make much of a dent.

Carbon Capture

Currently this still does not exist in any viable, scalable form. Even if it could be made to work, it would make power generation much more expensive than ordinary CCGT, simply because of the process involved. These costs would have to be passed on to energy users.

Nuclear Power

Given the long lead times in planning and building nuclear, it is highly unlikely any new nuclear could be built by 2030, other than Hinkley of course.

There also seems little interest from suppliers, especially with the problems facing Toshiba.

And again there is the issue of cost.

Hinkley’s strike price is more than double the market rate. Would Labour sign up to other deals above the market rate?

Given all of the above factors, I would be interested to see how Labour would go about meeting its target

Point 2

Review of the Cost of Energy by Dieter Helm

Former Trade and Industry Minister, Peter Lilley warns that vested interests in the renewables industry, politicians of all parties, the bureaucracy and academia have together largely suppressed debate about their reckless waste of public money exposed by the government’s own Review of the Cost of Energy by Dieter Helm.

In a paper published by the Global Warming Policy Foundation, Peter Lilley highlights Professor Dieter Helm’s devastating critique, outlined in the Cost of Energy Review which was commissioned by the government. “Helm shows that the Climate Change Act objective of cutting emissions of carbon dioxide could have been met for a fraction of the £100 billion so far committed, which has already raised the cost of energy by 20%.”

Lilley argues that, even more significant than the reckless waste of public money exposed by Professor Helm is the success of the vested interests – industrial, political, bureaucratic and academic – in dampening any debate about it. “Normally waste on this scale would cause an outcry in Parliament and elsewhere. But the vested interests simply damned Helm’s review with faint praise and consigned it to oblivion.”

What would be your thoughts and stance on this report by Dieter Helm

I look forward to your reply regarding the above points and issues; which are not only extremely important to me but for the UK as a whole.

 

And here is the reply:

 

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I find it scary that any MP could show such utter naivety about such an important topic, one which has far reaching implications.

Just to address some of the MP’s answers:

 

1) He seems to believe that we can achieve the 60% target, because we have already got to 25% “within a few years”

If he is really saying that, he has totally confused “energy” with “electricity”.

To recap, renewable sources now account for just over a quarter of the UK’s electricity (and if you add on nuclear, the low carbon proportion rises to 50%.

However, as electricity only makes up a third of total energy, low carbon sources are only currently supplying 18% of total primary energy consumption. The proportion in 2013 was 14%,  so it is rising at only 1% pa. A simple straight line projection would only see us at 30% by 2030.

He talks about new technologies, but this is pure waffle. The bottom line is that he, and presumably the party’s experts who drafted the policy, have no plan at all of how to achieve the 60% target.

2) He talks about blocking onshore wind.

He uses the term “preventing them from accessing a route to market”, but this is merely fancy talk for ending subsidies. There is nothing to stop new onshore wind farms selling power on the open market, other than the fact that they would not be economically viable if they did.

He also complains about “planning barriers” in England, referring to projects being subject to local planning approval. Does this mean he is prepared to overrule local decision making?

In any event, he does not seem to be aware of just how pitiful the amount of power coming from onshore wind in England actually is. Last year, it generated just 7.6 TWh, a mere 2% of total UK electricity, and less than 1% of primary energy.

But, perhaps more fundamentally, he appears to be under the delusion that the power grid can run with large amounts of intermittent generation from wind.

Which, of course, brings us back to the original question – how will Labour achieve its 60% pledge? There is no mention of alternatives, such as nuclear or biomass, on which the party apparently has no policy at all. Nor any concrete plans of how to decarbonise transport or heating, other than improving domestic efficiency (for which no costings are provided).

Their only real idea is to reintroduce subsidies for onshore wind, which even under the optimistic plans of the CCC will only be able to supply 13% of UK electricity by 2030, compared to 9% currently.

It is one thing having an aspiration, but another to lay down a pledge without any plan of how you will achieve it.

3) Cost

Rashid does not respond directly to the question of how much Labour’s decarbonisation programmes will cost.

Instead he refers to a CCC report, claiming that energy bills are lower. This report controversially claimed that lower energy usage, because of more energy efficient products, had offset higher energy prices, caused by climate policies.

There are a number of reasons why it is inappropriate to confuse the two things. But Rashid does not even appear to be aware of this confusion, instead implying that renewable energy had actually lowered energy prices.

Either way, adding more renewables to the mix can only keep on increasing energy bills. Rashid is either blissfully unaware of this, or is unwilling to admit the fact.

 

4) Helm Report

I was particularly fascinated by his response to the question about the Helm Report, which had damned successive governments’ decarbonisation policies.

He is happy to criticise the government for ignoring it, but he was not asked that. Instead, he was asked what his views were. According to Rashid, he has none!

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43 Comments
  1. Jacob Frank permalink
    June 6, 2018 2:47 pm

    Every point he made sounded like it was straight out of a set of talking notes every single one of these green fur balls spews out. Do they literally have no ability to think independently? You’all better get some new people in office our your shit is going to be sunk hard.

  2. Jack Broughton permalink
    June 6, 2018 3:22 pm

    I doubt whether any present MP could give a proper answer to the questions.
    They are all indoctrinated about climate change as the biggest threat to the world followed by pollution. Nice sound-bites about their concern, but no sensible cost / benefit understanding whatsoever.

    A point that needs to be raised urgently is energy security when coal is stopped. Trump has now recognised this in the USA, where the threat of cut-off / escalating-prices is far, far lower than here. Coal is probably the only actual stored energy for power stations, outside of Dinorwig, and much bigger than that too.

    • June 7, 2018 8:32 am

      Dinorwig is electricity-dependent for pumping water uphill.

  3. Ben Dussan permalink
    June 6, 2018 4:07 pm

    As it is said in the USA, it appears that most of you are barking at the wrong tree, in that the real problem seems to elude you all: Do we know what are the real average costs of producing energy, say over a 50 year period, are? Keep in mind that the actual costs of coal, gas and oil depend on how labor intensive it is to obtain a given BTU equivalent of each of them. However, the costs to generate electricity from solar or wind are initially high because of their initial manufacturing costs, but as time goes by their average cost per kw-hr will decrease.

    As to what is the real problem, let me mention the elephants in the room: overpopulation, and the apparent insatiable desire for us human to waste energy an our dwindling non-renewable natural resources. Additionally, CO2 is not a pollutant (in that current levels won’t kill us) and there is a staggering insufficiency of accurate data, and knowledge and understanding of the science behind the climate of our biosphere.

    • John F. Hultquist permalink
      June 6, 2018 6:47 pm

      Human ingenuity is the ultimate resource.

      Because you think natural resources are “dwindling” you might want to try this blog:
      RE: Julian Simon

      • Ben Dussan permalink
        June 6, 2018 8:49 pm

        John F. Hultquist , Interesting blog. Do you really agree that the resources, or discoveries, or anything else MAY be infinite? (“Discoveries, like resources, may well be infinite….”)

        However, in my opinion the opinions appear to far out weigh the facts.

        You might want to take a look at:

        https://e360.yale.edu/features/global_scarcity_scramble_for_dwindling_natural_resources

      • Gamecock permalink
        June 9, 2018 11:10 pm

        “Do you really agree that the resources, or discoveries, or anything else MAY be infinite?”

        Who needs them to be infinite? I expect to be seriously, completely dead before we run out of anything.

    • spetzer86 permalink
      June 6, 2018 6:59 pm

      Don’t forget that in your 50 year time span you’ll end up rebuilding your entire renewable fleet at least twice, if not three times. Also, you’ll need the money to pull the old pieces-parts down to the recycling facility that you’ll have to develop and operate. That’s versus just normal maintenance for coal/gas with more-or-less 365/24/7 operation.

    • A C Osborn permalink
      June 6, 2018 8:20 pm

      Mr Dussan, you are speaking from total ignorance.
      Do you really think that no one in the world has calculated the exact costs of all the diffferent processes and generation techniques involved in all types of energy generation and use?
      I suggest you get an education before coming on to a very informed Forum such as this.

      • Ben Dussan permalink
        June 6, 2018 8:26 pm

        A C Osborn, you are entitled to your own opinions, but please do not fabricate your “facts” about me or anybody else….

      • A C Osborn permalink
        June 7, 2018 9:36 am

        I am not the one fabricating anything, the facts come from your own statements.
        There are many people who have worked on the life time costs of all the various forms of energy and have carried out valuable analysis of true costs.
        One of them can be found at this forum.
        http://euanmearns.com/

      • Ben Dussan permalink
        June 9, 2018 11:21 pm

        My guess is that you are listening only to yourself, True and exact costs is rather meaningless.

  4. Keith permalink
    June 6, 2018 4:11 pm

    When the Government has no idea what it is doing, it is unlikely MP’s of any party will get a common sense answer from any friendly contact in our useless Energy Department.

    • Ian permalink
      June 6, 2018 5:33 pm

      Then what on earth are they for?

      • dave permalink
        June 6, 2018 5:37 pm

        “Then what on earth are they for?”

        Burning money.

      • A C Osborn permalink
        June 6, 2018 8:21 pm

        And lining their own and their crony’s pockets with Tax Payers Cash.

  5. Douglas Brodie permalink
    June 6, 2018 5:06 pm

    I used to think that our politicians were deliberately deceiving us to conceal some ulterior motive such as the pursuit of global wealth redistribution. I’ve now come to the conclusion that nearly all of them are so politically correct, spineless and irredeemably brainwashed by their own propaganda and pseudo-science that they haven’t a clue what they are doing. The same applies to establishment figures like the Governor of the Bank of England who thinks that most of the planet’s fossil fuel reserves will have to be kept in the ground.

    I’ve just been through the same experience as your reader. It was prompted by a climate alarmist article by Ruth Davidson in a national newspaper and I used her as a proxy to have a go at the wider climate alarmist establishment. It led me to post this online: https://edmhdotme.wordpress.com/the-climate-change-emperors-new-clothes-part-2/

    I had a reply from BEIS on behalf of Claire Perry and Greg Clark which was unbelievably delusional and intelligence-insulting. I wouldn’t be surprised if the civil servant who penned it moonlights writing articles for Skeptical Science or the environment pages of The Guardian!

    • dave permalink
      June 6, 2018 5:53 pm

      “…climate alarmist establishment…”

      Put simply and coolly: they are morons.

      On another matter, worldwide cyclonic activity measures have been updated here:

      http://wx.graphics/tropical/

      Normal levels prevail.

      It should be noted that “normal” is in fact “a hurricane a week, somewhere.”
      This, of course, allows for perpetual hurricane-porn.

  6. June 6, 2018 8:28 pm

    This very small statistical sample of MPs adds weight to the hypothesis that most Labour MPs are basically very thick (lacking in basic intelligence and commonsense). I’m sure the same applies to Conservative and LibDem MPs.

    • Ian permalink
      June 7, 2018 8:06 am

      I think that’s a little unfair, Phillip. In any case, if you look at those with their noses in the trough, you’ll see a disproportionate number of Tories and Libdems there.

      • Gerry, England permalink
        June 7, 2018 12:49 pm

        Only Labour MPs were sent to prison for expenses fiddling and the main expense troughers in the Lords are also Labour. Not that I would defend the Tory scum but that Labour were worse expense fiddlers – even the Home Secretary, Jackboots Jackie Smith claimed her sister’s spare room was her main home.

  7. john cooknell permalink
    June 6, 2018 8:34 pm

    You asked an MP? and expected a logical reply? Do not look for logic when there is none!

    Politics reflect human society and belief, as human beings we believe all sorts of stuff, over half the world genuinely believe in the supernatural, based on no evidence whatsoever. The other half of the world think they must be mad!

    Climate change is just another belief, you either believe it or you don’t. Science follows belief, it always has and provides proof to the belief, and it is only the brave or foolish who go against the consensus.

  8. BLACK PEARL permalink
    June 6, 2018 8:44 pm

    It just highlights that your wasting your time contacting an MP
    You will already know what reply you’ll get ….. waffle and a statement of official propaganda, a totally pointless exercise. Vote prostitutes keeping themselves in a job whatever it takes.
    (Most normal thinking people dont aspire to become an MP)

    • Gerry, England permalink
      June 7, 2018 12:45 pm

      At first I tended to agree but on reflection if we do point out their ignorance and stupidity, then come the day of reckoning they won’t be able to claim that they weren’t warned.

      • BLACK PEARL permalink
        June 7, 2018 4:30 pm

        …. and still will not be held to account … ‘just following orders’

  9. June 6, 2018 8:59 pm

    The job loss argument against renewables is weak, in fact the ever growing workforce must be one of the reasons for rising electricity bills. Rather than a fixed or slowly diminishing number of jobs at (say) 100 proper power stations, there is an ever growing army of technicians employed to maintain an ever growing number of tiny generators in stupid places, such as on hills or in the ocean.

    There is also the cast of thousands employed in the fake game of competition for the right to send you your bill.

    Labour and other self-styled progressive politicians should be obliged to explain why they appear to have no real concern for bill payers, despite the ritual wailing whenever the inevitable price rises are announced.

    • Gerry, England permalink
      June 7, 2018 12:46 pm

      I believe every ‘green’ job destroys over 3 real jobs.

    • June 7, 2018 2:47 pm

      Quick googling (2016 figures):

      Nuclear power in the UK (10 GW of steady power): 65,000 jobs
      Wind power in the UK (0 to 10 GW of intermittent power): 208,000 jobs

  10. J Martin permalink
    June 6, 2018 9:03 pm

    Wind and solar are not low carbon, only nuclear and hydro are. A recent study of UK wind power by a UK professor of economics showed that wind power saves no co2.

    • markl permalink
      June 7, 2018 3:21 am

      Even nuclear and hydro require CO2 to build. TINSTAFL

  11. Jacob Frank permalink
    June 7, 2018 1:37 am

    It reminds me of when David Suzuki was asked a very basic question about ocean currents from an audience member and he just had this thousand mile stare like the guy was speaking Sumerian. Never underestimate stupidity.

  12. Ian permalink
    June 7, 2018 8:17 am

    What surprised me is that the MP has tried to reply personally instead of just acting as a postbox for the fair Claire, who would have just signed something her civil servants prepared anyway. This has made him look like a fool instead of the minister. This may also account for the delay in replying to Paul’s questions. In my experience, though, the reply is just not worth waiting for as it just creates more questions.

    There are MPs, like Graham Stringer, who’re sceptical but don’t seem to get any traction. Perhaps it’s like the early days of the immigration issue, where any mention was shouted down. Perhaps the advance of the next cold period will wake up enough of them to make a difference.

    • Old Englander permalink
      June 7, 2018 10:40 am

      Er, I think Rashid is Labour. Apparently we have a Conservative government, to which the “fair Claire” belongs. I know it’s hard to discern any difference, but I think the way it goes is if you’re on the Govt side you get the civil service to answer your letters, if you’re in the Opposition you don’t.

      But certainly a terrifying example of utter cluelessness. And he really thinks he can spout whatever ideological fantasy his party line decrees, and can expect to be taken seriously.

      Our problem as a country is not so much that our MP’s are thick; more that the stupider yet we are for voting for them. We have tribal politics, in which there is genuinely conservative tribe, who continue, like lemmings, to vote for the so-called “Conservative” party which isn’t conservative at all, and acts contrary to the wishes and interests of its own supporters. There is a so-called working-class tribe, who traditionally vote for the Labour party, but showed some signs of rebellion over Brexit. A different tribe of lemmings, they now think it’s safe to vote Labour again, having not noticed that Brexit isn’t a done deal, and the Labour party will act contrary to *their* wishes and interests. Just like Tory supporters, in fact. Both sides will point to the dreadful prospect of “the other side” winning as a reason to vote for them. But if they are indistinguishable, why bother to vote at all ?

      A properly functioning democracy requires political party organisations that actually seek to represent the interests and values of their supporters. Rich or poor, left or right, we don’t have that choice any more. Instead, political parties merely seek to follow and puff whatever ideologies seem to them to be dominant. “Decarbonisation” is one such ideology, so of course they’re all in favour of it. Party affiliation is irrelevant if they think there’s votes in it.

      None of this will change until we stop voting for them.

      • Ian permalink
        June 7, 2018 12:30 pm

        You’re wrong OE. My MP’s Labour and she has no problem getting a minister to reply.

      • Gerry, England permalink
        June 7, 2018 12:51 pm

        I stopped voting years ago as it is pointless. The Harrogate Agenda has been drafted to introduce democracy in the UK to end our current sham.

  13. June 7, 2018 8:23 am

    he appears to be under the delusion that the power grid can run with large amounts of intermittent generation from wind.

    Even short-attention-span MPs should be able to understand small numbers…

  14. Dave Ward permalink
    June 7, 2018 10:18 am

    The mere fact that he quotes from the “Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit” is concerning:
    https://notalotofpeopleknowthat.wordpress.com/2017/12/22/eciu-resort-to-outright-lies-about-power-bills/

  15. jasg permalink
    June 7, 2018 11:52 am

    It’s a paradox that left-wingers seem to have far more optimism that the free market will just magically provide solutions than the right-wingers do.

    • Ian permalink
      June 7, 2018 12:31 pm

      It’s not optimism so much as the ostrich effect.

  16. sch permalink
    June 12, 2018 10:29 pm

    According to Bloomberg, UK has been in wind doldrums in early June for ~8 days with low wind speeds predicted for much of month.
    https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-06-07/u-k-wind-drought-heads-into-9th-day-with-no-relief-for-weeks

    We need more talking heads.

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