Businesses will welcome yesterday’s sensible decision by the European Commission to drop nationally-binding targets for renewable energies. Germany, one of the countries which has gone furthest in pursuit of the target, pays out around €24bn (£19.66bn) a year in subsidies for renewables. This has pushed up energy prices to the point where households are suffering and intensive energy users are being forced to leave the country, the German industry federation has warned. They are not the only ones to be alarmed. The International Energy Agency recently suggested Europe could lose 10 per cent of its energy-intensive industries over the next decade because of high energy costs. Energy policy must be much more agile, allowing the UK to make decisions on its energy mix including developing shale resources. The ultimate aim has to be lower emissions, a broad mix of energy sources and, most importantly, competitive businesses. James Sproule is chief economist at the Institute of Directors.
The European Commission has finally begun rolling back the EU’s ruinous climate and green energy policies. But its modest climbdown does not signal the end of the climate hysteria that has dominated Brussels for nearly 20 years. The proposed targets have triggered protests from energy-intensive industries across Europe. Eurofer, an umbrella group for Europe’s steel producers, has called on leaders to weaken the targets much further. The roll-back is in part an acknowledgement that Europe’s green agenda has been an unmitigated fiasco, causing skyrocketing energy prices across Europe and harming competitiveness. But the old guard of commissioners are trying to salvage a green legacy before they are replaced in the autumn by a set of commissioners more concerned about Europe’s economic future. A more significant retreat from unilateral climate policies is likely to gather speed, and the proposed targets may not survive. Dr Benny Peiser is the director of the Global Warming Policy Foundation.