5STRAIGHT TALKING January 2016
Roger Helmer’s electronic newsletter from Strasbourg
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COP21: The dust settles
In December, some 40,000 folk assembled in Paris for the UN Climate Conference, COP21. High hopes were expressed for a binding and enforceable climate agreement. And today in parliament (to coin a phrase) MEPs are still congratulating themselves on its great success. The reality is slightly different.
The previous Kyoto Protocol (never ratified by the USA) set emissions targets. These were challenging, but at least emissions per country could be reasonably estimated and targeted. The new Paris deal targets not emissions but global temperatures. Much more difficult – almost impossible – to predict and target with any accuracy. Indeed in my recent blog on “externalities” I pointed out that given the very sketchy correlation between temperature and CO2 levels, it is simply risible to talk about targeting global temperatures to one place of decimals.
And the policy also fails for the same reason that our UK targets for 2050 fail. If we don’t hit the targets by 2050, whom do we send to jail? (My preference is Ed Miliband, who was Environment Secretary at the time of the 2008 Climate Change Act – but he may not be around by then). In any case can you imagine imposing penalties in 2016 based on targets set in 1974?
Nevertheless, taking their estimates at face value, the bids made by participating countries in Paris are projected to “keep global warming down to 2.7oC”, way over the 1.5 to 2.0oC target range. And even these bids are not firm, but conditional. India says it needs $2.5 trillion (that’s a lot of money) between now and 2030 from the West to deliver its bid. But the USA wisely saw to it that there was no legally binding requirement on Western countries to provide that aid. Congress would never have ratified the deal otherwise.
There is no mechanism for requiring states to deliver on their bids, or for sanctioning them if they do not. Nor is there any mechanism for tightening the screw to bring that 2.7oC figure down below 2.0oC, other than a commitment to “a global stock-take in 2023”.
This is as near as it gets to kicking the problem into the very long grass. Most of today’s politicians will be retired by then – it will become someone else’s problem. And as lawyers like to say, “An agreement to agree is no agreement at all”.
Please also see my blog on the extraordinary potential consequences of COP21 recommendations.
Cañete’s lap of honour
On Tuesday January 12th I attended the European Energy Forum Dinner Debate, at which Commissioner Cañete presented the results of COP21, and basked in the adulation of assembled MEPs (though the input from industry representatives was a little more measured). During the course of the evening I tweeted several times, and if it’s not too self-indulgent I’d like to share the Tweets with you.
• Commissioner Cañete’s analysis of COP21 was a master-class of irrelevance and self-delusion.
• Commissioner Cañete is Spanish (from Jerez — I was there earlier this month). I am reminded of Don Quixote tilting at windmills.
• Perhaps the main outcome of COP21 will be to give investors the confidence to go for massive green projects … leading to bankruptcy.
• Commissioner Cañete says we’ll reduce emissions by 80% by 2050, because “that’s the road map”. Follow the yellow brick road!
• Cañete is talking about e-mobility. But when he says it, it sounds so much like “immobility”. Perhaps appropriate.
As I was doing this I noticed a very senior executive from an oil major (no names, no pack-drill, as my old Mother used to say) on the other side of the table, looking at his phone, and then glancing up at me with a broad smile – he’d been following my Tweets. I think it was the third one that caused his reaction.
ADDE, the Alliance for Direct Democracy in Europe
The ADDE is the think-tank which we’ve been able to establish using parliamentary funding available to our EFDD Group. You may want to check out the ADDE Facebook Page.
Here are a couple of short films which the ADDE has produced:
Another view on COP 21: Professor Marko:https://www.facebook.com/addeurope/videos/vb.841404122614353/950638181690946/?type=2&theater
Nigel debates with Welsh First Minister Carwyn Jones
Perhaps the first major debate of the Brexit campaign: Nigel head-to-head with the Welsh First Minister in Cardiff. It’s an hour long, but nonetheless worth watching.
I should particularly like to draw attention to Jones’ comment in his final statement, a comment which was certainly wrong, and as Nigel had explained previously why and how it was wrong, it is difficult to avoid the idea that Mr. Jones was deliberately telling porkies. He said (as near as I recall) “Nigel wants a status like Norway, where Britain would still have to pay for access to the Single Market, still have to obey EU regulations, but have no say in making them”.
Nigel had made it absolutely clear that while there are interesting lessons to be learned from Norway, he wanted a quite different British solution in which we would become an independent state like other independent states. We should not have to pay for market access (do Canada or Korea pay for access to the European market?), and we should not have to obey EU rules. But the Europhiles will keep repeating these lies right up to the referendum.
An assault on free markets
The political establishment adopts a climate alarmist line, and farcically seeks to blame high energy prices on “a lack of competition in the market”, rather than the stifling cat’s cradle of emissions targets, subsidies and taxes which have closed low-cost generation and replaced it with intermittent, unreliable and expensive renewables. See my recent blog about Amber Rudd’s comments on energy and Brexit.
They have urged consumers to “shop around”, and are now alarmed that so few seem to bother. I was genuinely shocked to see that there is a proposal in the pipeline from something called “The Competition and Markets Authority” suggesting it become compulsory for consumers to choose a new electricity tariff every year.
It’s one thing to regulate businesses – and we do a good deal too much of that. But to seek to enforce competition by requiring customers to review the market and choose a new “package” is to cross a fundamental line and to subvert the freedom of the individual. If I am dissatisfied with the terms I get from my electricity supplier, I am perfectly capable of shopping around. If I choose not shop around, then this shows that I am indeed satisfied – or perhaps that I judge the potential savings don’t justify the effort of shopping around. My message to the Competition & Markets Authority: this is my decision, not your decision. Back off and butt out.
There is a rather parallel debate over “smart meters”. They tell me that with a smart meter, I can monitor my electricity consumption on a minute-by-minute basis (and presumably turn off the television in the middle of War & Peace in order to save tuppence ha’penny). Of course what they really want to do is to be able to monitor my consumption, and later on (with smart appliances) to reach into my home and turn off the freezer if the wind stops blowing. Again, this is a gross interference in my right to spend my money as I think fit.
I believe in free markets – in consumers using their own judgement to buy, or not to buy, a product or service. There is something Orwellian and deeply disturbing about these attempts by “Authorities” to interfere and subvert our decisions.
The first Earth Day, 1970
I recently found a website listing eighteen catastrophic predictions made by environmental alarmists in 1970. Needless to say, they were so far off the mark that they are simply funny today. Civilisation would end by 2000. Up to 200 million people would be starving to death by 1980. “Most of the people who will die in the world’s greatest cataclysm are alive today”, wrote Paul Ehrlich.
Well worth a look, and a salutary reminder that we should not believe the alarmist fantasies: Read and laugh. Or cry.
RIP Bob Carter
Professor Bob Carter was a climate scientist and a great champion of common sense. He was also a very warm and agreeable individual. We shall miss him.
Could weather forecasts be better…and cheaper?
The Met Office has made itself a laughing stock by predicting (for example) “barbecue summers” ahead of cool, damp summers. One is tempted to conclude that we should expect the opposite of whatever the Met Office forecasts.
There does seem to be a more reliable source of weather forecasts. Weather Action, run by Piers Corbyn, brother of Jeremy Corbyn, has a remarkably good record of medium-term predictions, perhaps because Piers looks at the world as it is, rather than through the distorting lens of climate alarmism. The objective of a weather forecast is, after all, to tell us what the weather is likely to do — not to provide propaganda for a particular (and increasingly improbable) world-view.
A month ago, Piers was warning of a very cold February to come in the UK. Suddenly I notice that everybody and his uncle now seem to be predicting an “Arctic Snow Bomb” in late January and February.. Maybe it’s time to close the Met Office, and appoint Piers Corbyn in its place.
The Dutch Referendum
The United Kingdom is not the only country facing a referendum.
Last year the Dutch grass root organisation GeenStijl (comparable to Breitbart) launched a campaign for a referendum about the EU association agreement with the Ukraine. And guess what: they got it! It will happen on April 6th – and it’s causing a lot of excitement.
According to GeenStijl, the European Union is ignoring European citizens by neglecting to give them their democratic voice. In 2005, after the EU constitution referendum, that voice was totally abolished when over 60% voted against, but later the document was established as the Lisbon treaty after all. GeenStijl hopes to raise awareness and force the government to listen to its people this time.
The association agreement is a binding contract between the Ukraine and the EU that aims for ongoing (economic) cooperation and can be considered a portal to eventual membership.
If our UK referendum is to be in the summer, then headlines in the UK press saying “Dutch vote against EU” will be just what the doctor ordered!
Tories turn turtle on Turkey
(I’m sorry but I always did love alliteration – perhaps a throw-back to Anglo-Saxon poetry). On Wednesday Dec 16th, in the Strasbourg Hemicycle, Tory MEP Syed Kamall, leader of the ECR Group, was asked about the prospect of Turkish accession to the EU, and stated, in very clear terms, that it wasn’t going to happen. Which is interesting, given that Conservative policy is clear and strong in supporting Turkish accession (and the right, therefore, of 75 million Turks to come and live on a street near you).
I later asked one of his colleagues (naming no names) about his remarks, and she replied that it was a matter of timing – clearly Turkey could not join the EU now, but “Never say never”. Maybe after Recep Tayyip Erdogan ceases to be Turkish Prime Minister, she added. I also challenged Syed himself (in many ways he’s a very sound chap), and he rationalised as follows: “It’s a simple statement of fact that Turkey can’t join the EU”: But it remains a Tory objective? I asked. The answer became confused.
It will be fun to see how the Tory Press Office tries to extricate itself from this confusion.
Forty sound MEPs
During voting sessions in the parliament, it is possible to table a last-minute oral amendment to an existing text on which we are voting. This will become part of the text, and be voted on, unless at least forty MEPs indicate their opposition by standing up. We in UKIP rather dislike the idea that we are obliged to make a decision in seconds on an oral amendment which we have had no opportunity to consider and discuss, so if in doubt we tend to stand up.
On Tuesday December 15th, one of the extreme Greens in the parliament, Mr. Claude Turmes, came up with an oral amendment on a report on the Paris Climate Conference COP21. The substance of the amendment was fairly innocuous, though it drew attention to the farcical proposal to “limit global warming to 1.5oC” (as if we could!).
But on the general principle of opposing Green Extremism, we in UKIP had already decided to stand. Of course our delegation with 22 members could not hit the threshold of forty, and on green issues our numerous Italian colleagues often take a different view. However a significant number of other MEPs rose to the challenge, and we easily mustered the required forty. The text (without the oral amendment) was then passed by a small margin. Nonetheless our success with the oral amendment was a moral victory, and showed that at least some MEPs in the house are prepared to stand up publicly against warmist orthodoxy.
This sent the Labour spin machine into a frenzy, since several of the non-EFDD MEPs who stood were associated with the ENF: the Le Penn group. So Labour were Tweeting “UKIP stands with the Fascists”. An absurd proposition. For a start, after Marine Le Penn’s creditable efforts to “decontaminate the brand” (something Cameron has tried to do in the Tory party), it’s difficult to describe the NF as “fascist”. Besides with nine groups and dozens of national parties represented in the parliament, and only three ways to vote (for, against and abstain), again and again we find on particular votes we are taking the same position as parties with whom we fundamentally disagree on other issues.
For the record, we broadly (but not in detail) share with Le Penn her concerns on European integration, on unlimited immigration, and now, it seems, on greenery. But we profoundly disagree with her economic policies, her statism and dirigisme and protectionism and corporatism, and her high-tax/high-spend economics. And of course we disagree with her party’s previous racist postures, from which Marine Le Penn is diligently seeking to dissociate herself.
It’s amusing to note that the British media, led by the BBC, persist in describing the French National Front as “far right”, when many of their policies are in fact to the left of Jeremy Corbyn.
Singapore stands for free trade
On December 16th I attended a meeting of the European parliament’s interparliamentary delegation with ASEAN, the Association of South East Asian nations, and inter alia chatted with the Ambassador from Singapore, His Excellency Ong Eng Chuan. I have known Ambassador Ong for several years, and in his case I believe his honorific title is entirely justified. I was sorry to hear that he will be leaving Brussels and returning to Singapore in April, so the December ASEAN joint meeting was the last he’ll be able to attend (they are a twice-a-year fixture).
I was put in mind of a meeting I had with a predecessor of Ambassador Ong. We went together to then then EU Trade Commissioner Pascale Lamy, a big hitter who subsequently became director general of the WTO. Our objective was to lobby Commissioner Lamy in favour of an EU/Singapore trade deal. But it soon became clear that Lamy had an entirely different view of trade agreements. For me, and for the Singapore Ambassador, an EU/Singapore FTA was about promoting trade to the mutual benefit of both parties. To Lamy, it was a sort of prize, or bribe, offered to Singapore (rather as a Prince might throw a coin to a pauper) as an inducement to Singapore to do Brussels’ bidding.
In this case, Lamy wanted to force deeper integration onto ASEAN, explicitly on the EU model, and dangled the prospect of an EU/ASEAN (including Singapore) trade deal if only ASEAN would oblige. But Singapore alone was not in a position to comply, even if it had wanted to do so. Today, of course, the EU model is so tarnished that no one is likely to want to emulate it.
So the not inconsiderable benefits of a trade deal were to be denied to European economies so that Brussels could play king-maker to the world. And Brussels continues to do so, using what trade clout it has to promote “European values” – an extreme human rights and global warming agenda.
EU/Singapore trade negotiations have been going on in a dilatory fashion for years, and will probably continue for many more years. Meantime Singapore has looked elsewhere. It has a free trade deal with the USA, and this clearly gives the US a competitive advantage over the EU in Singapore, and to an extent in ASEAN.
It is amusing to note that in the Brexit debate in the UK, I am frequently told that we need the EU for “clout” in trade negotiations, and that Britain on its own, “isolated and marginalised”, could never close a trade deal with the USA because “we’re too small”. But the USA has bilateral trade deals with around twenty countries, every one of which has a smaller economy that the UK. Every one. Including Singapore. UK GDP is around nine times larger than Singapore’s.
Oh, and Iceland (GDP about 0.6% of the UK) has its own trade deal with China. We in the UK, meantime, have no trade deal with either China or Singapore, and can’t start to negotiate one until we leave the EU. Truly, the only way is Brexit.
A bit of fun
Barack Obama dies. 10 years later, he gets bored and asks the Lord to let him go down to earth and see how his country is doing. God lets him go. Obama goes to New York and enters a bar, orders a beer, and asks the bar tender how the country is doing, how it is developing and what problems it is facing.
Surprised, the bar tender says:
— What problems could there be? We’re a great empire, everything around us is ours.
— Whattaya mean, ours? Even Iraq and Afghanistan?
–Yep, it’s all ours!
— Even Europe, Africa, the Middle East?
The bar tender reaches under the counter, pulls out a globe and proudly spins it.
— I’m telling you, we’re an empire, the whole world belongs to us!
Obama beams proudly, looking self-satisfied. He finishes his beer and says:
— Well, thanks, buddy! How much do I owe you?
Bartender: One rouble and 20 kopecks, please.
I recently Tweeted: “So. Quisling Tories characterise independence, freedom & democracy as “a leap into the void”. Other countries can have independence. Not us”.
I was quite surprised by the type of criticism I then received on social media — some, rather bizarrely, suggesting a similarity between my Tweet and the kind of mindless abuse and invective that characterised the Scots Nats’ independence campaign.
So let me clarify. I do not apply the term “Quisling” to all Tories, not do I apply it to a majority of Tories. I certainly wouldn’t suggest that it remotely applied to people like Peter Bone MP (Wellingborough), or Tom Pursglove MP (Corby), who are key players in the cross-party GO Campaign to energise local resistance to the EU (see below for the launch event), or to Philip Davies MP (Shipley) — or to dozens of others too numerous to mention.
Nor would I apply it to most Tory party activists and members. I recall that in the East Midlands, party members voted me top of their MEP candidate list three times running. This was not despite my being a robust eurosceptic, but because I was a robust eurosceptic. I firmly believe that most Conservative members, and activists, and voters will vote to leave the EU.
Nonetheless there are clearly those in the Tory Party who are committed to maintaining the UK’s status as an off-shore province in a larger and wholly undemocratic polity — the EU. My Tweet was a direct response to the news story that a new Conservative campaign group has been formed: “Conservatives for Reform in Europe”, which aims to keep Britain in. Their very name is mendacious, because we all know that the EU doesn’t do reform — or at least, not the type of reform they imply. The EU only understands Ever Closer Union, the Acquis Communautaire, the occupied field. In the EU, power goes only one way — to the centre.
My understanding of the term Quisling is that it applies to those who support the occupying power in their country rather than fighting for freedom and independence. I rest my case.
“GO” Campaign launch meeting
There’s still time to apply for tickets to the big GO rally in Kettering on Saturday Jan 23rd at 2:00 p.m., which will be addressed by Nigel Farage, by Kate Hoey MP and Peter Bone MP, and chaired by our own Margot Parker. Apply for tickets athttps://www.ticketsource.co.uk/grassrootsout
Allison Pearson: Quote of the Month
On January 13th, Allison Pearson wrote a stonking article in the Telegraph. She said that many women were uncertain how to vote in the Brexit Referendum; that she herself had been “Euroclueless”. But she concluded (I quote at length):
“I’m no longer weighing up the economic arguments for In or Out. An EU that loses control of immigration, jeopardises its own, precious, civilised values, then lies about it because “it doesn’t want to spread a bad mood” doesn’t deserve my support.
After Cologne, the EU Referendum is about nothing less than the safety and security of British women. We, the Euroclueless, need to woman-up and vote for the right of our daughters and granddaughters to live as they choose and to smile in the street. No more Mrs. Don’t Know – let’s get the hell out”.
Also have a look at the UKIP MEP web-site www.ukipmeps.org