George Osborne's CO2 tax will double UK electricity bills
02 October 2012
Posted by: SAIT Technical
By Christopher Booker (The Telegraph)
Fast approaching, if largely unnoticed, is yet another massive shock the Government has in store for us with its weirdly distorted energy policy. It is surprising to see what an abnormally high proportion of the electricity needed to keep our lights on has lately been coming from coal-fired power stations. Last Wednesday evening, for instance, this was over 50 per cent, with only 1.3 per cent coming from wind power. Yet by next March, we learn, five of our largest coal-fired plants, capable of supplying a fifth of our average power needs, are to be shut down, much earlier than expected, under an EU anti-pollution directive.
One reason why these plants are being hammered through their remaining quota of hours allowed by the EU is that a new UK tax comes into force next April, which aims to make fossil-fuel power significantly more expensive. In 2010, George Osborne announced his intention to impose, from April 2013, a "carbon floor price” of £16 on every tonne of CO2 emitted by British industry, rising to £30 a tonne by 2020 and £70 a tonne by 2030.
An explicit purpose of this tax is to make the cost of electricity from fossil fuels so uncompetitive compared with "renewables” that it will, in the Treasury's words, "drive £30‑£40 billion” of investment into "low carbon” sources such as wind and nuclear. On paper, the effect of Osborne's new tax on our electricity bills looks devastating.
Using the latest figures from the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC), our power plants burnt 40 million tonnes of coal in 2011, emitting 116 million tonnes of CO2. They also generated 175,000 gigawatt hours from gas, at just over half a tonne of CO2 per gigawatt. At £16 a tonne, this CO2 would cost £3.5 billion – on top of our total current wholesale electricity cost of some £19 billion. Thus the new impost would represent nearly 20 per cent added to our electricity bills next year, and would almost double them by 2030.
Some of this, however, we already pay through the EU's Emissions Trading System (ETS), which counts towards our £16 floor price. Osborne's calculation in 2010 was that, initially, we would have to chip in less than an additional £2 per tonne to make up the £16 price. (The ETS price at that time was predicted to continue rising towards £40.) Since then, however, with falling demand due to the EU's recession, the price of EU carbon permits has fallen dramatically. To reach the initial £16 level, the Treasury says we will now have to pay nearly another £5, making our electricity significantly more expensive. But since it made that guess the EU price has slipped still further, to well under £6 – leaving a gap of £10 a tonne to be made up by Osborne's tax, rapidly rising every year thereafter.
Thus, to meet that tax level in the years after 2013, we in Britain will have to pay electricity bills soaring to a level far higher than any others in Europe. All this is to promote the building of thousands more heavily subsidised windmills, which will in turn require us to build more gas-fired power stations to provide back-up for the constant fluctuations in wind speed. And these will be paying Mr Osborne's fast-rising tax on all the CO2 they emit, with the bill to be picked up by the rest of us on a scale which, within 18 years, could alone almost double the cost of our electricity.
In short, the Treasury has made an incredibly damaging miscalculation. Even if there is little chance that our Energy and Climate Change Secretary, Ed Davey, could get his head round such lunacy, perhaps someone might lay out for Mr Osborne the bill that his delusional new tax is going to land us all with.
The great Arctic ice scare melts away as Antarctic ice hits record highs
In September 2007, when the summer melt reduced Arctic ice to its lowest level since satellite records began in 1979, there were hysterical predictions that within five years, thanks to runaway global warming, Arctic summer ice would have vanished completely. When Nasa satellites showed last month that this year's melt was about to break even that 2007 record, the same hysteria recurred.
All the usual suspects, from the BBC's Roger Harrabin and The Guardian to Greenpeace and WWF, piled in to proclaim that the end was nigh. Prof Peter Wadhams, that tireless alarmist, intoned that "the final collapse… is now happening and will probably be complete by 2015/16”. But then, as the sea recently began to refreeze, Nasa itself put up a video showing how a severe cyclone in early August had "wreaked havoc on the ice cover”, pushing vast amounts of it into warmer waters further south where it melted. (Reuters headlined its report: "Nasa says Arctic cyclone played 'key role' in record ice melt”.)
A Nasa surface temperature graph has long shown that the Arctic was considerably warmer in the late 1930s than it has ever been since. Furthermore, what the warmist scaremongers always forget to tell us is that polar ice at the other end of the world has been reaching record highs in recent years. Last week, Antarctica's sea ice area was only just short of the greatest extent ever recorded at either pole.
A graph on the science blog Watts Up With That, charting the combined global sea ice area over the past 33 years, shows the overall extent having remained virtually constant ever since 1979. But isn't the point about this warming that it is meant to be "global”?
Don't expose aid corruption – or DfID will fire you
One man who has followed with particular interest The Sunday Telegraph's exposure of waste and corruption in aid programmes sponsored by the Department for International Development is Howard Horsley, whom I wrote about here in August 2005. In 1999, having won plaudits as headmaster of one of the toughest comprehensive schools in Grimsby, Mr Horsley went to Ghana to run the biggest educational programme DfID had ever funded. He was horrified to see evidence of corruption on all sides (in particular, a sum of £18 million sent out to Ghana had simply vanished). Encouraged by the new Public Interest Disclosure Act, the so-called "whistleblower's charter”, he reported his suspicions back to London.
Coming to London himself, however, Mr Horsley met with a response only too familiar to whistleblowers. He was astonished to be told by senior DfID officials that he was to be sacked, for reasons they refused to disclose. Returning to Ghana to gather evidence, he found that, on orders from DfID, his office locks had been changed and his computer records wiped.
Back in London, he found doors slammed in his face by every senior official and politician he approached. The only one who listened was the head of the National Audit Office. His officials, sent to Ghana, confirmed that what Mr Horsley had reported was true – but he said he could take no action.
Eventually Mr Horsley told his story to his MP, Austin Mitchell, who confirmed the extent of the official cover-up and laid it out in a trenchant speech to the Commons. He was rebuffed by a junior DfID minister, who merely responded that DfID was reputed to be "the top-performing UK Government department”. When Mr Horsley's present MP, Philip Dunne, raised the scandal in the Commons again, in 2010, he was similarly ignored.
Only now, with The Sunday Telegraph's campaign, has the story re-emerged. Mr Horsley has written to Justine Greening, DfID's new Secretary of State, hoping she will look into his case as a glaring example of the corruption and waste she says she is determined to root out. She may find she is taking on more with those DfID officials than she knows.
More means less to Maude
While the slow-motion train wreck of the eurozone continues, the £14.4 billion our Government borrowed in August set a new record for that month, confirming our public spending deficit (the one the BBC tries to ignore) as the highest in Europe.
In July, when I asked how Francis Maude (left) could claim he was slashing the Government deficit, after months when it had been having to borrow more than £4 billion a week, the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister instantly demanded a "correction”. The Government, it insisted, was indeed cutting the deficit, even though it was still rising – a point repeated by Mr Maude himself in a letter we published the following Sunday.
To claim that the Government is cutting its deficit, when the gap between its spending and its income grows ever greater, sounds like the kind of thing that Alice heard after stepping through that looking glass.