It is uncertain whether the UK will leave the EU on 31st October 2019. Even if we do, there is much work to be done to overturn nearly five decades of EU directives, regulations and rulings which have been imposed on the UK.
One of the most egregious examples of such a law is the Climate Change Act 2008. (1)
The Climate Change Act implements Directive 2003/87/EC which establishes an EU wide carbon trading scheme, and Decision 2002/358/EC which commits EU members to implement the requirements of the Kyoto Protocol to reduce 'greenhouse gas' emissions. The EU has since set binding targets on its members to reduce emissions by 20% by 2020, 40% by 2030 and at least 80% by 2050, compared to 1990 levels. (2)
This is based on the false premise that rising CO2 levels will lead to a climate catastrophe, even though many of the predictions of climate catastrophists have proven false. In 2009, Al Gore predicted that there would be no Arctic Sea Ice at all by 2015. (3) This not only proved false, but the thickness and extent of Arctic Sea Ice is now increasing!
It also set up in UK law the entirely fabricated concept of carbon budgeting. The UK is now committed to having an allowance in how much CO2 it can produce, and this amount is to reduce gradually until 2050. This is despite the fact that most countries in the world do not subscribe to carbon budgeting, including the United States and developing areas which are responsible for rapid increases in CO2 emissions such as China, India, South-East Asia and now also Africa. EU member countries are thus condemned to economic uncompetitiveness by an ideological fallacy.
As we found out this week, the Climate Change Act allows itself to be amended by the use of statutory instruments, making its already destructive economic effects even worse over time. Section 1 of the Climate Change Act is entitled 'The Target for 2050'. It commits the government to ensure that "the net UK carbon account for the year 2050 is at least 80% lower than the 1990 baseline."
However, Section 2 (1)(a) of the Act allows the Secretary of State to amend the 2050 target in Section 1 with a statutory instrument. This is what the government did this week on 24th June by changing the target from 80% reduction to a 100% reduction. (4)
Thus, the UK is now committed to becoming 'carbon neutral' by 2050. This seems a long way off, but the effects of this law will be profound and destructive. This change has already been estimated at costing the UK £1 trillion, but it means is a total transformation of our way of life and even the very physical fabric of our nation in a manner which is completely unimaginable at the present time. Homes, transport, farming and industry will be targeted and forced to change until they are 'carbon neutral' or even 'carbon negative'.
Some of the policies and laws that Theresa May's government has already committed to are totalitarian in nature.Sales of new petrol and diesel cars are to be banned from 2040. (5) Gas central heating will be banned in new homes from 2025. There is already a government edict in place that no new buildings should have gas boilers. (6)
The government and Ofgem are trying to convert all homes be controlled by Smart Meters, although there is not yet a legal requirement to do so. Smart Meters can control gas and electricity use, electrical appliances and even be able to control water usage remotely. A Big Brother climate alarmist government would be able to use smart meters restrict cut off the energy supply to individual homes at will. Plans for the roll-out are well behind schedule however, as most people see the danger in the state potentially having complete control of your home. Homeowners in general have not convinced by the propaganda and are not having them installed.
Most of the UK's coal power plants have already been shut down or converted to burn wood pellets. There are currently only 5 left, and the government is committed to closing the rest by 2025. Although burning wood is far more environmentally destructive than coal, and produces more carbon dioxide, it is deemed to be carbon neutral by the EU and the UK government. In the crazy system of carbon accounting, chopping down vast swathes of primary forest in the USA, pulverising millions of trees into wood pellets, shipping them across the Atlantic and burning them in Drax and other power station is deemed to be eco-friendly. The useful idiots who believe this and advocate it are literally destroying the planet to 'save the planet.' It would be better to continue burning coal. (7)
This is all part of a wider UN project known as Agenda 21 or Agenda 2030. (8) The UN has 17 'Sustainable Development Goals' which are viewed almost religiously as a given good by the progressive intelligentsia. The EU is fully on board as an agent of change in implementing these goals across its 28 member states.
The Blair, Brown, Cameron and May administrations have been fully aligned with the mission of the UN and the EU to implement these goals without much thought as to the consequences for our nation beyond virtue-signalling their own green credentials.
Traditional homes have already been condemned by climate alarmists as having a high 'carbon footprint' and therefore an intrinsic problem. Instead of building new homes in traditional styles, towns, cities and even villages all across the country are being blighted with ugly soulless carbuncular blocks of flats which are approved as being 'carbon neutral'. It is not beyond the bounds of possibility to imagine that some climate activists would like to knock down all of our beautiful, historical buildings and rebuild the whole country in hideous blocks of glass and steel for the sake of being 'carbon neutral'. Thus, in the future, fewer and fewer new homes will be built in traditional styles as people are corralled into soulless blocks of flats in densified Human Settlement Zones. This is concurrent with Target 11 of the UN's Agenda 2030 which calls for 'Sustainable Human Settlement Planning'.
London, under Sadiq Khan, is already progressing toward being a densified hell. It is the specific policy of the Mayor to densify areas around transport links by building blocks of flats regardless of the damage to the historical character of the area or the wishes of the local people. Outer London has dozens of soulless visually-brutal tower blocks earmarked for construction in areas which are currently quiet, pleasant places to live. This is the horrible reality of 'Sustainable Development'.
Leaving the EU presents a golden opportunity to ditch the idiocy of climate alarmism and return to common sense politics and economics with regard to energy and the environment.
It is of course wise to promote energy efficiency and new technology which is genuinely effective in improving energy efficiency. The best way to achieve this is to allow the market in energy innovation to be genuinely free. At the moment it is anything but: huge subsidies are given out to fund ideas which are often ridiculous on the basis that they are new and green. It would not be surprising if many start-ups which are based of very bad but 'green' technology would collapse the moment government subsidies are withdrawn. This is the exact opposite of the free market, where the government does not interfere by giving companies a competitive advantage if they comply with the state-backed ideologies and narratives.
After Brexit, it is to be hoped that a new, sensible and thoughtful government will look into the false narrative of climate alarmism far more thoroughly that the Blair/Brown/Cameron/May administrations. On leaving the EU, the UK will be able to repeal the Climate Change Act 2008 and free the nation from the strait-jacket of carbon budgets and carbon targets.
We can stop burning wood pellets to pretend we are carbon neutral. We can stop and chopping down rain forests to produce palm oil to make biodiesel as a wholly unnecessary replacement for petrol and diesel. We can stop artificially promoting and subsidising the electric vehicle industry and turning a blind eye to the child slave labour exploited in the cobalt and lithium mines of Congo from where we get the minerals needed for the electric batteries. (9)
We may also save the physical fabric of our country, and save our beautiful historical towns and villages from being razed in favour of oppressive 'green' flats with smart meters.
In short, we must stop destroying the planet to save the planet. Whoever has the courage to reject climate alarmism as a fallacy, and begins to bring common sense back into environmental policy will be doing us all a great service.
Brexit Alliance London Assembly Member