I read Owen’s speech and attended the dinner to discuss how we should carry work forward on new measures to give us cheaper energy in the UK.
He made some important points in his remarks. He did not doubt the science of greenhouse gases, but did ask why climate models have failed to predict recent temperature trends. He did not even propose that governments should ignore the impact of energy production on the environment. Instead he illustrated how EU/UK policy is neither delivering cheap energy nor getting carbon dioxide emissions down in the way the dash for gas in the USA is doing.
I am glad he has now decided to speak out. Some criticise him for not doing so when in government, and for voting for numerous EU measures which this coalition has been required to put through under the current terms of our membership of the EU. I do not share this view. I think we Eurosceptics and climate change sceptics do need representation in the cabinet and have to accept that to stay in a cabinet of a member state of the EU you do have to make compromises whilst arguing against the worse abuses of public policy as you see them.
I know from private conversations with Owen when he was a Minister that it was always difficult for him because he fought battles from within that needed fighting. The story of Owen’s tenure of the Environment office is the story of EU domination of parts of our government and the need for change in that relationship. We cannot now have a European Commissioner who is a long standing public Eurosceptic, and it is difficult to have an Energy or Environment Secretary who disagrees with the fundamentals of EU belief and policy in these important areas. That is why we either need a new relationship or need to leave the EU.
When the history of the EU comes to be written, after it has broken up, I suspect the disastrous energy policy will rank second after the economic and social damage wrought by the ERM/Euro to the jobs and living standards of western Europe. I stressed at the dinner my consistent belief that we need to have a policy based on competition and the drive for cheaper energy. The current policy is stripping much industry out of the EU, as aluminium, steel., ceramics, glass and other heavy energy using industries go elsewhere. It is also a cruel policy for people on low incomes, who have to spend a disproportionate part of their money on keeping warm and fuelling domestic appliances.
When the UK joined the EEC against the wishes of some of us we were told that it was about creating greater prosperity for all. It turns out to be a wealth and income destruction machine for many, especially for those who have signed up to the Euro, and bad news for the many who now have to face such high energy bills.