“One day, son, all this will be wind farms and solar panels!”
Today, in that bastion of liberty and open markets the European Parliament, the Prince of Wales argued fervently for the inalienable right of our children and grandchildren to enjoy a worse standard of living than their parents.
Not, of course, that he put it quite so explicitly:
“There is, surely, no way round the fact that we have to move away from our conventional economic model of growth, based, as it is, on the production and consumption of high-carbon intensity goods.
“We need to meet the challenge of decoupling economic growth from increased consumption in such a way that both the well-being of Nature’s ecology and our own economic needs do not suffer.”
But which ever way you gloss it, the opposite of the “economic growth” is economic stagnation. That means a shrinking economy. That means – especially when you take into account population growth – a decreased GDP per capita. That means less disposable income, fewer creature comforts, fewer amenities, poorer healthcare, less travel and less leisure time for everyone. (Well, those whose kids aren’t heirs to the Duchy Originals fortune and who don’t own half of Cornwall, say) And apparently – so our future king thinks – we should accept all of this with joyful hearts because it’s for our own good.
Hard to believe that this is the son of a man who during the 1970s wrote learned papers on free market economics and is a patron of the classical liberal Mont Pelerin Society (founded by FA Hayek). Small wonder that the Prince Of Wales and his rather brighter father Prince Philip do not often see eye to eye.
It would be nice to dismiss all this – as Dan Hannan has done much more politely than I ever would – as the Neo-Malthusian drivel of a certified eco loon. The real worry, though, is not that the future King of Great Britain and Northern Ireland thinks this way, but that so too does our both our current administration and its Opposition.
Today in Westminster, the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change Chris Huhne has been hosting an inquiry into perhaps the most exciting energy revolution in our lifetime. Shale gas will not only provide the world with cheap energy for many years to come but also free us from the shackles of our reliance on energy from such unstable places as Russia and the Middle East.
You might have thought this would be good news all round. And so it is. Shale gas is little short of miraculous: cheap, abundant, and available right on our doorstep. It is, as this article puts it, a global game changer. (H/T Global Warming Policy Foundation)
The distribution of shale gas is so widespread that locally produced shale gas may become the standard fuel in many places. Traditional gas imports (by pipeline or as LNG) may become incremental sources.
The potential of shale gas implies a loss of political leverage for some sellers. For example, Russia has used threats of interruptions – and actual interruptions – like old-time gunboats, notably with Ukraine, but with other European countries too.
I recently attended a conference on shale gas in Poland on behalf of Mayer, Brown. The Poles share with other Europeans concerns about fracking, water recycling, and environmental issues. They have no tradition of American-style entrepreneurship. What they do have is reliance on Russia’s Gazprom in a power-constrained economy. They want to accelerate the development of their shale gas reserves. This story is repeated many places.
So whose advice is our Government is seeking on our energy future?
Well here, as Bishop Hill has noted, is a meeting which took place this morning in the House of Commons:
9 Energy and Climate Change
10.00 am Room 19 (private) 10.15 am (public)
Subject: Electricity Market Reform.
Witnesses: Riverstone, Citigroup Global Markets, Virgin Green Fund, and Climate Change Capital; RSPB, Greenpeace, WWF, and Friends of the Earth (at 11.15 am).
Hello. Excuse me. What on earth do environmental activist lobby groups have to do with Britain’s energy policy?
And here, as Bishop Hill has also noted, are some of the expert from this morning’s shale gas inquiry.
Who will give evidence?
At 9.45 am
- Nigel Smith, Geologist, British Geological Survey, and
- Professor Richard Selley, Petroleum Geologist, Imperial College London
At 10.45 am
- Jenny Banks, Energy and Climate Change Policy Officer, WWF, and
- Professor Kevin Anderson, Tyndall Centre, University of Manchester
Yep. A geologist and a petroleum geologist. Fair enough. But Kevin Anderson of the Tyndall Centre – the deep green activist group which recently called for a “managed recession” in order to curb the economic growth which is supposedly harming our environment? And a woman from the World Worldlife Fund?
Huhne’s is the same department, let it not be forgotten, which has now committed British energy users to paying an annual £360 million every year (to be added on to their electricity bills) in order to subsidise the feed-in tariffs for the country’s entirely pointless solar energy programme.
Britain is in trouble. Big trouble. Its energy policy is a disaster and it seems no one in any position of power has the courage or knowledge to speak up and explain why it’s a disaster. So while Prince Charles may hold forth in his airy, ill-informed, irresponsible way about climate “sceptics”
I would ask how these people are going to face their grandchildren and admit to them that they failed their future.
the poor deluded fellow is talking out of his hat. It’s people like him, David Cameron and Chris Huhne who pose the real threat to our grandchildren’s future. Not all those decent, principled sceptics who are merely trying to observe above the shrill screeching of the mob that the climate emperor is wearing no clothes.