George and the green dragon: Why Osborne is right to hold off Greenpeace

Osborne's blocking of Greenpeace-backed policies are a plus point for the Chancellor

Upsetting Greenpeace can only ever be a good thing
The Commentator
On 4 August 2012 06:51

All is not well with George Osborne.  A recent poll indicated that the Chancellor of the Exchequer has become a liability to David Cameron’s government, with some 44 percent of adults calling for him to be sacked—including a fifth of Conservative voters. 

Despite the Prime Minister assuring us of his position, his unpopularity will constrain both him and those around him over the coming months, unless the public are made to understand that he is actually fighting the right battles in some areas.

No doubt we have our reservations over Osborne.  We’d like to see more pro-growth policies through rationalising tax policy, as well as real – read significant – cuts in spending. But at the very least the Chancellor should be commended for fighting back against policies supported by the likes of Greenpeace. Policies that would further jeopardise the health and well-being of the British economy.

The Independent recently revealed that a Cold War between Osborne and Ed Davey, the Secretary of State for Energy, pertaining to “the future level of Government support for wind power and future targets for “decarbonising” the economy.” 

Hardly surprising given their disdain for wealth creation and the free-market, but Greenpeace, siding with Davey, accused Osborne of “running an alternative energy policy out of the Treasury. There are now two totally parallel and incompatible energy strategies being pursued.”

Given what Davey and Greenpeace are actually advocating, Osborne’s intervention is welcome. 

Britain, just in case Greenpeace have not yet noticed, has run out of money, resorting to Weimar-style printing to finance both future and past debt obligations. Plans to “decarbonise” the economy away from cheap energy to heavily subsidised green energy is, at present, a preposterous idea that will only imperil British jobs and the overall economy.

But it’s also worth considering what Greenpeace actually want Davey – and the British taxpayer – to invest in. Green energy, as the Adam Smith Institute (ASI) pointed out, does “little to reduce carbon emissions, as they need large-scale back up generating capacity to compensate for their intermittency.” 

What’s more, given that Britain’s coal-fired stations and nuclear reactors look set for decommissioning, there is not a snowball's chance in hell that renewables will be able to compensate for the loss of supple. The ASI notes that even without considering the cost issues over renewables, “problems of intermittency mean that renewable technologies are incapable of making a major contribution to energy security.” The troubles being encountered in India are a warning sign—not a guidebook. 

If anything, Osborne should be supporting plans to further exploit Britain’s vast natural gas reserves. A clean – and reliable – source of energy that will help alleviate our reliance on supply from hostile countries such as Russia. 

But that matter, of course, is for another day.  The policy agenda being encouraged by Greenpeace and many enviro-MPs in the British Parliament would destroy our competitiveness, throwing our economy back into the dark ages. 

The Commentator remains convinced that Osborne is not yet pursuing the right path to let the British economy grow itself out of recession. But frankly If Osborne has upset Greenpeace, this can only be a good thing.

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