The New American
by William F. Jasper
The European Commission, under the leadership of its new president, Jean-Claude Juncker, is continuing the suicidal “climate change” policies of his predecessor, José Manuel Barroso, that have driven energy costs in the European Union sky high, devastated its industry and agriculture, destroyed jobs, and put the entire EU economy on the skids.
Even the Washington Post, ordinarily a boisterous cheerleader for every policy proposal that claims to be combatting the non-existent threat of anthropogenic (human-caused) global warming, or AGW, editorially acknowledged last year that the EU “has become a green-energy basket case. Instead of a model for the world to emulate, Europe has become a model of what not to do.”
Dr. Benny Peiser, director of the London-based Global Warming Policy Foundation warns that the EU’s climate policies are especially harming Europe’s poor. “As wealthy homeowners and business owners install wind turbines on their land and solar panels on their homes and commercial buildings, low-income families all over Europe have had to foot the skyrocketing electric bills,” Dr. Peiser told the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works on December 2. “This winter millions of families will have to choose between heating and eating. Many can no longer afford to pay, so the utilities are cutting off their power.”
Nevertheless, the EU Commission is piling on still more regulations, pressing for even more unsustainable “green energy,” and pushing for adoption of a more stringent global treaty at the UN’s climate conference in Paris in 2015.
At a meeting on December 17 in Brussels, EU environment ministers reached an agreement on new EU-wide rules for CO2 emissions from ships. They also agreed on new rules to limit the use of lightweight plastic bags across the EU and new rules restricting emissions from medium-size combustion plants.
Pressure From Above and Below
In a blog post the following day, December 18, entitled “Fighting for a Happy Ending to Global Climate Talks,” Miguel Arias Canete, President Juncker’s European commissioner for energy and climate action, called upon “the world’s citizens to put sustained pressure on their leaders over the next twelve months.”
Referring to the upcoming UN Paris confab, Canete wrote: “What is clear is that there will be an even greater need for the world’s citizens to put sustained pressure on their leaders over the next twelve months to get them to face up to their responsibilities. Public pressure helped push EU leaders to set our own climate targets in October this year.” (What Canete doesn’t mention, of course, is that — as in the United States — the “public pressure” he credits with winning the support of EU leaders for the destructive climate policies, has been provided by phony “grassroots” NGOs lavishly funded by governments, Wall Street billionaires, and the huge tax-exempt foundations).
“So my priority over the next few months will be making sure that other countries match our level of ambition in their own pledges, and they show how they will actually meet those pledges,” Canete continued. “Ultimately though, peer pressure can only achieve so much. It needs be accompanied by pressure from below. World leaders will only act, be ambitious, and sign a deal if they are held to account by their citizens, not just their fellow leaders.”
“That is why,” says Canete, “we must all do what we can to speak out, keep the pressure on all countries to be as ambitious and transparent and possible, and make sure climate change has a top billing for the next year.”
In his Senate testimony, Dr. Benny Peiser provided a compelling, detailed explanation of why the EU should not follow Commissioner Canete’s destructive recommendations, and why the United States should reject the path already taken by Europe. “For the last 20 years, Europe has felt a duty to set an example through radical climate policy-making at home,” said Dr. Peiser. “European leaders were convinced that the development of a low-carbon economy based on renewables would give Europe a competitive advantage. It was in this political climate that the EU heads of state and government launched the so-called Lisbon Strategy in March 2000, with the goal of making Europe ‘the most competitive and dynamic knowledge-based economy in the world, capable of sustainable economic growth with more and better jobs and greater social cohesion.’”
This was followed by the European Commission’s European Climate Change Programme (EECP) and the EU’s approval of the UN Kyoto Protocol.
“Today, 14 years after the EU adopted these key policies,” noted Peiser, “the economies of most EU member states are stagnating or in decline. Last week the OECD warned that the crisis-ridden EU poses a major threat to the world economy.”
In terms of impact on global climate, the EU’s climate program has been all pain (for taxpayers and consumers) and no gain — except for the corporations that have cashed in on the “green” programs and/or shifted their production to less regulated developing countries. “Even though EU policy has managed to reduce CO2 emissions domestically,” Peiser notes, “this was only achieved by shifting energy-intensive and heavy industries overseas: to locations where there are no stringent emission limits, where energy and labour is cheap and which are now growing much faster than the EU.” Most products consumed in the EU today, he points out, are imported from countries without any binding CO2 targets. “It is no surprise that while the EU’s domestic CO2 emissions have fallen, if you factor in CO2 emissions embedded in goods imported into EU, the figure remains substantially higher,” says Peiser.
Wealth Transfer From Poor to Rich
According to Peter Lilley, a member of the British parliament and member of the Parliamentary Energy and Climate Change Committee, the U.K.’s 2008 Climate Change Act is perhaps the most costly government program since the introduction of the Welfare State, with an impact of over £17,000 per household.
Open Europe estimates that in 2013, as a direct result of the EU’s unilateral climate policies, the average energy bill for a medium-sized business was increased by nine percent (£130,000/ $200,000) due to EU regulations or U.K. implementation of EU-defined targets. By 2020, EU-related climate regulations or targets will have increased medium sized firms’ bills by 23 percent (£350,000/$550,000).
“In the EU, hundreds of billions are being paid by ordinary families and small and medium-sized businesses in what is undoubtedly one of the biggest wealth transfers from poor to rich in modern European history,” says Dr. Peiser.
Germany’s renewable energy policy, which subsidizes “green” energy production, rose from €14bn to €20bn in just one year due to the huge expansion of wind and solar power projects. As predicted, energy prices shot through the stratosphere.
“The German Association of Energy Consumers estimates that up to 800,000 Germans have had their power cut off because they were unable to pay the country’s rising electricity bills,” Peiser testified.
The director of the Global Warming Policy Foundation wound up his Senate testimony noting:
The EU’s unilateral climate policy is absurd: first consumers are forced to pay ever increasing subsidies for costly wind and solar energy; secondly they are asked to subsidise nuclear energy too; then, thirdly, they are forced to pay increasingly uneconomic coal and gas plants to back up power needed by intermittent wind and solar energy; fourthly, consumers are additionally hit by multi-billion subsidies that become necessary to upgrade the national grids; fifthly, the cost of power is made even more expensive by adding a unilateral Emissions Trading Scheme. Finally, because Europe has created such a foolish scheme that is crippling its heavy industries, consumers are forced to pay even more billions in subsidising almost the entire manufacturing sector.
“Europe’s climate policy failure demonstrates beyond doubt that its unilateralism has been a complete fiasco,” Dr. Peiser told the Senate committee. “The lessons of this self-defeating debacle are clear: don’t make the same mistake. Policymakers would be well advised to heed this warning.”