Britain has just had its Rosa Parks moment.
1) Brexit Victory Boosts Climate Sceptics
The UK may take a more skeptical approach to addressing man-made climate change in future due to the victory of the “leave” forces in last week’s Brexit referendum to quit the European Union.
Prominent leaders of the “leave” campaign — including Conservative MP and former London mayor Boris Johnson, now being touted as a potential prime minister — are viewed as climate skeptics, at least compared to their counterparts on the losing “remain” side, headed by British PM David Cameron.
Cameron has announced he will resign in the wake of his referendum defeat, setting off a race for leader of the Conservative party, who would also become PM.
While Johnson has never denied man-made climate change and described last year’s United Nations’ Paris climate treaty as “fantastic,” he also wrote in a Dec. 20 Telegraph column, quoting prominent U.K. climate skeptic Piers Corbyn, that human beings tend to confuse weather with climate and overestimate their impact on the natural world.
As Johnson put it: “I am sure that those global leaders (who drafted the Paris treaty) were driven by a primitive fear that the present ambient warm weather is somehow caused by humanity. And that fear — as far as I understand the science — is equally without foundation.”
Other leaders of the “leave” campaign such as Conservative MP Michael Gove — another possible candidate for PM — Nigel Lawson of the Global Warming Policy Foundation and Conservative MP and former environment minister Owen Paterson, are climate skeptics.
So is “leave” forces leader Nigel Farage, head of the U.K. Independence Party (UKIP), another big winner to emerge from the referendum campaign.
While climate change wasn’t an issue in the referendum campaign, a recent poll of 1,618 people divided evenly between “leave” and “remain” supporters by the marketing research firm ComRes, found “leave” voters almost twice as likely to believe climate change is not caused by humans as “remain” supporters.
They were also more distrustful of scientists and media reporting on climate change, more likely to oppose wind farms and more likely to support fracking.
Nothing will happen in the short-term to the U.K.’s current ambitious target to reduce its industrial greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions linked to climate change to 80% below 1990 levels by 2050.
For now, the U.K. remains a supporter of the Paris climate treaty and part of the EU, until it negotiates its way out.
The UN says when the U.K. leaves the EU, a major supporter of its climate change agenda, a “recalibration” of the Paris treaty will be necessary.
Climate activists fear the “leave” victory will distract the EU from climate change as its biggest priority becomes negotiating the U.K.’s exit from the 28-nation alliance and dealing with independence movements in other EU countries given new life by the Brexit vote.
2) Brexit, Climate Alarmism And The GWPF Myth
One knowledgeable friend to whom I spoke about Brexit when I was in Britain recently said that he knew that the EU was doomed, but that he was going to vote to stay. Why? Because if Britain left, it would be blamed for the EU’s inevitable collapse.
That’s why it is important to refute the idea that Britain’s vote to leave the EU has endangered, or doomed, a fundamentally viable entity. The EU is a failed project because, to turn one of the favourite mantras of Eurocrats back on them, it is “unsustainable.” The immediate problem for Britain is that the Scaremongers of Stay, who have spent recent months preaching disaster, now have to face the consequences of their alarmism, which unfolded in falling global stock markets, and a falling pound, on Friday.
Turbulence was exacerbated by the fact that the alleged “smart money” had bet that the British bulldog would choose to continue — like the proverbial frog — sitting in the slowly heating pan of regulation rather than make the effort to jump out. It is a bit rich for Bank of England Governor Mark Carney — who is still lauded by the CBC for “shepherding” Canada through the post-2008 crisis (which we are arguably still in) — to declare the bank will take “all necessary steps” to calm markets when it was Carney who helped roil them so much in the first place.
Like “sustainability,” “all necessary steps,” or “whatever it takes” are foundational conceits of the macrostabilizers, betraying the belief that bad policy consequences can always be kicked down the road. A majority of voting Brits have now concluded it’s the road to serfdom.
Among those with omelette on their face is President Obama, who threatened that Britain would be sent to the “back of the queue” when negotiating future trade deals. The fact that he used the British term “queue” rather than “line” suggests that the Conservative government actually wrote his speech. But did he never consider how close the phrase “back of the queue” is to “back of the bus,” with its implications of flagrant discrimination?
In fact, Britain has just had its Rosa Parks moment.
On the other hand, the last thing Brexiteers needed was congratulations from Donald Trump, who was in Scotland opening a golf course. That’s because approval from The Donald provides ammunition for all those bien pensants who claimed that Brexit was all about the racism and the xenophobia of Little Englanders.
Concern about control of the country’s borders was certainly a factor, but the more fundamental issue was regaining control of the country’s laws and regulations, and thus avoiding more omnivorous supra-nationalism.
Not merely does Brexit promise to unwind — or slash — a Gordian knot of red tape, it points a welcome dagger at the heart of the greatest supra-national bureaucratic pretension since the Soviet Union: to manipulate global climate.
One of the many strong arguments against the EU is its Brussels-generated role in the pushing climate alarmism and draconian policy. The Climate Agenda is of the Eureaucracy, by the Eureaucracy and for the Eureaucracy, and is cheered on by their wonkish brethren around the world. Science has been corrupted and misrepresented. Skeptics have been cast as deranged “deniers” or shills for Big Oil, while wind, solar and biofuel policy disasters have been resolutely ignored.
Despite all the sunny talk about last year’s Paris conference being a “breakthrough,” the issue has descended into bureaucratic zombie-hood, which is just fine with the bureaucrats. There’s nothing they like more than cleaning up a mess, even if it is of their own making.
Britain has, until now, participated fully in this policy of economic self-immolation. However — as the green left has pointed out with horror — many of the leading Brexiteers are openly skeptical about the Climate Agenda. Indeed one of them, Boris Johnson, the former mayor of London, is in line to become the next British prime minister.
Some have even cast the entire Brexit campaign as a plot by the London-based Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF), a skeptical think tank founded by Lord Nigel Lawson, a former Chancellor of the Exchequer. Lawson was one of the most convincing campaigners for the Leave side. Another key Brexiteer was Conservative Justice Secretary Michael Gove, who had also campaigned against the bias of climate education on the basis of a critical, and entirely accurate, GWPF report.
But claims of a GWPF plot are pure paranoia. While other prominent associates of GWPF, such as journalist and best-selling author Matt Ridley, have written about the wild exaggerations of the Don’t Leave brigade, I personally know two leading figures in the GWPF who were on the Remain side. Indeed one of them was the individual I described at the beginning of this column.
3) Brexit: Paris Climate Agreement Will Have To be Rewritten
Top UN climate change official Christiana Figueres said Britain’s decision to leave the EU meant the Paris agreement would need to be redrawn.
This could delay EU ratification of the deal, which is already under pressure because India and Russia have said they were unlikely to sign this year.
Unless the Paris agreement is ratified this year by countries representing more than 55 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions, it will be vulnerable to being scrapped completely by a future Donald Trump presidency in the US.
Australia is a minor contributor to total global carbon dioxide emissions but federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt said “our commitment to the Paris agreement remains rock-solid”. […]
Green groups are concerned the Brexit result will sap momentum from the global climate change response and have linked the successful Leave campaign to high-profile climate sceptics such as Margaret Thatcher’s former treasurer Nigel Lawson.
Lead Brexit campaigner and potential future British prime minister Boris Johnson has also been portrayed as a climate sceptic after dismissing warmer-than-usual summer temperatures as being linked to climate change. Global Warming Policy Foundation director Benny Peiser said the decision by the British people to leave the EU would have significant and long-term implications for energy and climate policies. Carbon prices in the EU’s emissions trading market plunged 17 per cent in the wake of the Brexit referendum result.
“It is highly unlikely that the party-political green consensus that has existed in parliament for the last 10 years will survive the seismic changes that are now unfolding after Britain’s independence day,” Dr Peiser said.
“Perhaps the most important aspect of the EU referendum has been the astonishing self-determination and scepticism of the British people in face of an unprecedented fear campaign.”
France became the first major industrialised nation to ratify the Paris agreement, on June 15, but the EU cannot officially join until all 28 member states have agreed to do so. The exit of Britain from the EU means the EU agreement will need to be changed and Britain will have to negotiate its own agreement.
Concerns about what the Brexit might mean for Britain’s climate policies has seen the European carbon market plunge more than 17 per cent in the wake of the poll.
4) Brexit Calls EU Climate Action Into Question As Top MEP Quits
The European Union’s plans to reform its broken carbon market have been thrown into turmoil after the British lead MEP on the bill to revise the Emissions Trading System resigned after the UK voted to leave the bloc.
Ian Duncan, the only Conservative MEP for Scotland, tendered his resignation just hours after it became apparent that Britain has chosen Brexit. […]
Revamping the world’s biggest scheme for trading carbon emissions allowances is a vital part of the EU being able to meet the Paris Agreement commitments it made to cap global warming at the UN Climate Change Conference.
The Paris Agreement – in the process of ratification – will now need to be rewritten.
Speaking yesterday, the executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change Christiana Figueres said, “From the point of view of the Paris Agreement, the UK is part of the EU and has put in its effort as part of the EU so anything that would change that would require a recalibration,” she said at a press conference.
EurActiv exclusively reported that British conservatives are planning to call a general election in November to hand a mandate to a new ‘Brexit government’.
The leading figures of the Leave campaign are likely to have significant roles but, as well as being Eurosceptic, some are also climate-sceptic. That has fuelled further uncertainty over the future of British climate action.
5) Big Blow To Obama As India Delays Paris Ratification Indefinitely
NEW DELHI: India’s high energy, high profile campaign to get into the NSG failed Friday morning, as China remained adamantly opposed to even considering the issue.
After a plenary meeting in Seoul, which saw Chinese diplomats attempt to block even a discussion, the 48-member nuclear cartel could not take a decision on India’s membership.
A last minute diplomatic outreach by Prime Minister Narendra Modi with Chinese president Xi Jinping also failed to cut any ice.
A big outcome of the NSG failure is that India will now not ratify the Paris Agreement anytime soon. That agreement is a key element of US President Barack Obama’s legacy.
The Indian statement says clearly, “An early positive decision by the NSG would have allowed us to move forward on the Paris Agreement.” This will be a big blow to the Obama administration which wanted India to ratify the pact so it could enter into force.
It was understood that an NSG membership would help India clear the Paris Agreement.
6) Brexit: Implications For Energy Policy And Legislation
The decision by the British electorate to leave the European Union has major and on balance positive implications for the UK’s energy policy. However, it is also possible that Brexit will increase the cost of EU climate and renewables policies for the remaining members, since the UK’s burden share was large and it was a leading customer for renewable energy equipment manufactured in the EU.
Disentangling the EU’s legislation as it bears on UK law will be a necessary activity for the government in the coming years, but this will not be simple. The bulk of law is large, and much is supported by legislation enacted by Westminster. Some may even be worth retaining.
However, since the UK will need to sail fast and free if it is to prosper post-Brexit, the economic engine must be fuelled as cheaply and efficiently as possible, a requirement that is incompatible with currently applicable EU regulation, and much of it will consequently have to be rejected.
The scale of the undertaking can be judged from the number of Directives, regulations and implementing decisions with effects on energy supply. The following document lists 230 items with a direct impact:
However, many other areas also bear on the energy sector, for example, the numerous environmental regulations listed here:
While all of the legislation described above will have to be examined, there are a number of elements that are of pressing concern and may prove controversial:
1. The Industrial Emissions Directive (IED), the successor to the Large Combustion Plant Directive (LCPD), which constrains UK flexibility in the construction and management of its conventional electricity generation.
2. The Renewables Directive (2009), which requires the United Kingdom to obtain 15% of Final Energy Consumption in 2020 from renewable sources.
3. The EU Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS).
The first and last of these are very largely responsible for the counter-economic minimisation of coal in the UK generation fleet. While the IED may be relatively easy to set aside, the damage already done, due to under-maintenance and early closure of plants, is not easy to rectify. Without the IED, some plant could perhaps be brought back online, and if the UK ceases to operate within the ETS, investment may flow more freely into conventional generation, particularly if the UK abandons the Renewables Directive, which has a powerful market distorting influence weakening investment signals.
Cancelling the Renewables Directive would also offer consumers prospective relief, since in the absence of the EU targets there is no need to award new subsidies, to offshore wind for example, offering a very welcome saving of three or four billion a year in 2020. However, the subsidy entitlements already granted, which are currently costing over £4 billion a year, will extend for many years into the future, and have a legal life quite independent of the Directive itself. Government might be unwilling to tamper with these subsidies, though they would in effect be redundant and the public might well wonder why they were continuing to pay when there was no obligation at EU level.
Overall, backing out of the various EU energy and climate commitments looks likely to be beneficial, and necessary. But UK withdrawal is probably not positive for those remaining in the EU, and this can only make negotiations difficult. The problem arises because the UK’s burden share in meeting the EU’s 2020 Renewable Energy target, is not only large (some 230 to 270 TWh of energy), but unbalanced.
Indeed, when the UK’s Dept. of Business looked into this matter in 2007 it concluded that the UK would be facing considerably upwards of 25% of the total EU-wide costs of the Renewables Directive (2009). It is arguable that to some degree the UK has been shielding other member states from costs by shouldering this exceptional burden. For example, the UK has been importing many of the technologies required, such as wind turbines, from Danish, Spanish, and German companies. Without these exports the net economic effect of the targets within Europe may begin look much less attractive.
It is obviously too soon to say that Brexit will significantly increase the net cost of the renewables targets for the remaining EU members, but there is clearly some doubt about the matter, and this will inevitably make negotiations controversial, and it can only add to the pressure on other member states to seek significant changes to the EU’s climate and green energy policies.