The drive to renewable energy in the UK and the EU is leading to some very unpalatable outcomes – the Law of Unintended Consequences strikes again.
Today we learned that (as the headline to the Times article puts it) in a major blow to domestic zero-emission car assembly, BMW is to move production of electric minis from the UK to China:
BMW is to axe all UK production of the award-winning electric Mini and switch it to China, dealing a major blow to hopes that Britain could be a global hub for zero-emission vehicle manufacture.
BMW makes 40,000 electric Minis a year at its Cowley factory on the outskirts of Oxford. Production will end next year as part of plans to reshape the carmaker’s line-up from 2024.
It is another hit to the UK’s pretensions to become a leader in global electric car manufacturing, following Honda’s decision to quit Britain not long after the decision to leave the European Union in 2016. The Japanese carmaker decided to end plans to make electric cars for the European market at its factory in Swindon, switched production back to Japan and shut the plant with the loss of more than 3,000 jobs.
BMW’s decision comes amid reports that Britain’s only planned large-scale battery factory, being built by Britishvolt in the northeast of England, will go bust if it does not receive a £200 million rescue package.
Only a year ago, Boris Johnson, then prime minister, promised at the Cop 26 climate change summit in Glasgow to fund a “£1 billion electric car revolution” in the UK “creating hundreds of thousands of jobs”. His predecessor, Theresa May, intended that Britain would become “a world leader” in electric vehicle manufacturing and made it one of the “pillars” of her short-lived industrial strategy.
Given that we are told (wrongly) that “in the UK, renewables are now a staggering nine times cheaper than gas” one might well reasonably ask, where did all the green jobs go? Not least since China, the destination of choice for the jobs, still relies heavily on coal to generate most of its electricity while the UK’s National Grid boasts about how much of the UK’s electricity comes from renewable sources (albeit the boast is mostly about 2020, and there is a distinct reticence when it comes to talking about 2021, the year of the great wind drought).
Meanwhile, over in mainland Europe, it seems that there is a crisis brewing for the future of ancient forests. Today Politico tells us that Europe’s “[e]nergy crisis means a ‘very dark winter’ for Europe’s forests”. And “NGOs say they speak for the trees, which they worry countries seem to be chopping as fast as they please”.
What’s the story, and how has it come about?
Faced with soaring energy prices and potential blackouts, many EU governments are relaxing logging rules and encouraging people to burn wood to keep their houses warm — something campaigners say spells disaster for Europe’s already vulnerable forests.
Who would have thought that insisting on reducing Europe’s energy security by demanding it stops producing its own coal, gas and oil, thus making it dependent on supplies of those products from a country run by a warmonger, might ever cause a problem?
Well, it might have occurred to a few of us sceptics, but apparently it never occurred to well-meaning “greens”. And now, with domestic fossil fuel production at desperately low levels, imports curtailed, and winter coming, it seems that the trees will have to pay the price, since renewables just don’t hack it, especially in winter, when demand for energy is at its height. What a surprise that people object to being left in the cold and the dark. What a surprise that wood is going to be burned in larger quantities than for some time. There’s that Law of Unintended Consequences again, “green” policies causing yet more environmental destruction.
Apparently, “the problem is set to be particularly acute in Central and Eastern Europe.” Romania’s poor record looks set to get worse. Slovakia’s illegal logging and wood theft is reported to be on the rise. Hungary has lifted restrictions that protected woodlands, and Latvia and Lithuania have authorised increased logging. A lot of people in Poland are “busy cutting trees to gather enough wood for the winter”.
Meanwhile, in Germany, the Green Party has backed keeping nuclear plants open until April (which will help the country through the winter) but not beyond that date.
Germany’s plan to shut its three remaining reactors amid Europe’s worst energy crisis in half a century has come under scrutiny from both within and outside of Germany. This week, climate activist Greta Thunberg questioned the logic of closing down nuclear power only to replace it with greenhouse-gas-producing coal.
Admittedly the “logic” does seem questionable to anyone other than “greens”. But then what’s it to be, Greta? If your “green” pals rule out nuclear, if renewables are unreliable and expensive (and of little use in winter), what are people to burn to generate electricity?
Cutting down living trees that provide important habitats for flora and fauna or burning dead ones in the form of coal? As someone who cares about the environment, I think that’s an easy choice. “Greens”, on the other hand, are now in a bind.
via Climate Scepticism
October 15, 2022