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Allister Makes Case Against Green Hysteria

13 September 2011

Below is the text of Mr Allister’s speech from yesterday’s debate on the green economy.

The green economy is one of those fashionable topics to talk about, around which, when I listen to most discussions, I conclude that all critical faculties have been suspended. We have had some examples of that today. The apple-pie aura that envelops it makes it unpopular to ask any difficult questions, but ask them I will. That is not because I oppose in any way a clean, efficient economy or a clean, efficient energy policy, but because I am concerned about what we can afford and what works. It is also because I refuse to be swept along by the green hysteria, and that is nothing to do with the colour, it is about the topic.

Look at our energy prices and ask how renewables have assisted. They have not. Some renewable energy sources are among the most expensive and inefficient. The wind is only of use when it blows. The drive forward into offshore wind energy will be the most expensive venture of all. Some use the whole green debate and hype it to such an extent that they get carried away into thinking that we have to put green taxes on everything. Now, if you want to fly, you pay exorbitant prices.

Mr Agnew: Does the Member not accept that all our energy sources, whether they are fossil fuel based or renewable energy — oil, gas or nuclear — have required subsidies?

Mr Allister: The subsidy is greatest on the renewables, compounding the energy cost situation. The EU has imposed wholly unrealistic targets on emissions, which has imposed huge costs on industry as we struggle through the worst recession in years.

I have not heard too much reference in the debate to any outside deliberations. However, I noticed that the TaxPayers’ Alliance produced some interesting figures that show that the burden of green taxes and regulations is in excess of £26•4 billion. In large measure, that is driven by the increasing price on emissions under the trading policy and the increase in the costs that we as a nation must bear because of the renewables obligation. All of that increases electricity prices, which we have recently seen go through the roof again.

Spain’s economy is worth considering. Under its socialist Government of a few years ago, it went head over heels for a massive green economy programme. Where is it today? An independent report commissioned in 2009 by the Juan de Mariana Institute demonstrated that every green job created in Spain cost 2•2 ordinary jobs because of the export of jobs that resulted from swingeing restrictions and the subsidies that were directed towards the green economy. How many jobs are those in the House who advocate this policy going to create and how many are they going to lose? That is the question that few wish to face.

The USA introduced a green new deal in 2009. It promised to spark economic recovery and create three million jobs. Where are they? Since then, unemployment has increased. How is the great collective brain that is the local politic going to be able to do what the United States and Spain could not do? At the heart of all of this is responsible spending and learning to live within what is affordable. Jobs cannot be conjured up just by saying, “green new deal”. Spain and the USA are testament enough to that.

Northern Ireland needs to see a dramatic fall in energy costs, and everything points the other way. One of the fuellers of that is the headlong, unthinking push for the green new deal. My goodness, we cannot even buy cheaper light bulbs any more. However, this motion calls for more of the same: more of the same crippling green taxation, more restraint on the operation of business, more jobs driven abroad and more increases in energy costs. I certainly do not. Therefore, I oppose the motion.

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NI politics