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« Climate physician, heal thyself! | Main | Modular nukes: coming soonish. »

Would Brexit allow us to escape the clutches of the green blob?

So it's all very exciting. We're finally going to get a referendum on the EU. 

Now the EU hasn't been a regular topic of this blog since the distant time before I started to specialise in climate and energy matters, but we can at least wonder about what Brexit might mean for the green blob.

It seems reasonable to assume that it would be a bitter blow for those fake charities like Friends of the Earth who campaign to order on behalf of the Brussels bureaucracy - witness the wads of cash that are sent FoE's way, and their sudden interest in air quality at around the time that Brussels issued its new standards.

It's also interesting to wonder whether an independent UK would stick with absurd Brussels recycling targets and renewables targets and directives on flood management and so on. I'm sure readers can suggest further examples. 

I don't think Brexit would be a panacea - EU membership has given us the green blob and there is now a huge vested interest that will fight tooth and nail to keep their rents. 

But at least, with Brexit, we might be in with a chance.

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Reader Comments (86)

Very agreeable piece by Matt Ridley

The way in which Volkswagen, using carbon-dioxide emissions as a cover, got the rules rewritten to suit diesel engines and discriminate against petrol engines, despite the fact that nitrogen oxide and particulate emissions from diesel were far higher and more dangerous, was only the most visible such scandal.

Sir James Dyson was amazed to find that Brussels set energy ratings for vacuum cleaners without testing them filled with dust, because this suited the German bagged vacuum cleaner manufacturers that he threatened: “Washing machines are tested with washing in them, cars are tested with people in them, and fridges are tested with food in them. But when it came to our request to test vacuum cleaners with dust in them, the big German block of manufacturers complained.”

Then there’s the need to get agreement among 28 member nations, which leads to agonisingly slow convergence on lowest common denominators. Look at how the use of biotechnology in agriculture,

with its proven ability to cut pesticide use, has been stymied by green politicians from certain implacably conservative countries.

Then there’s the “precautionary principle”, formally written into EU thinking and widely interpreted to mean that only the harms, not the benefits, of new technologies must be considered. This has repeatedly prevented the displacement of bad technologies by better ones.

In any case, as Mr Gove says, for innovation you need diversity. It is abundantly clear that trial and error is the story of almost all change. Different people come up with different ideas, try them out and many fail. Those that succeed then recombine their ideas with those of others to produce new ideas. The EU’s obsession with harmonisation militates against such experiment.

In encouraging innovation, there is a role for international standard-setting, for sure. But not at the level of one continent. Standards in finance, the internet, food or cars are increasingly decided at the global level. The EU is little more than a substation of the process and a foot-dragging one at that.

The EU says it favours innovation, but what it means by this is not encouraging a ferment of new start-ups à la Silicon Valley, but top-down spending of taxpayers’ money on pet projects in science and technology. Yet even here there is no justification for an officious European Commission. The flagship science collaborations of Europe are not confined to the EU at all: they include countries such as Israel, Switzerland and Turkey. CERN’s accelerator crosses an EU border.

Feb 22, 2016 at 3:25 PM | Registered CommenterLord Beaverbrook

The wind policy is directly driven by the EU and when we leave we would leave a group intent on green=gullible economic suicide.

Feb 22, 2016 at 3:35 PM | Registered CommenterMikeHaseler

TerryS: "Treaties can't simply be torn up and tossed into the bin (unfortunately)."

Yes they can. Because a treaty is only an agreement to agree between two countries. And if one side decides that it no longer wishes to have the treaty it can simply tear up the agreement - because unlike domestic law there is no one to enforce a treaty except the parties themselves.

In contrast, countries who disagree can IF THEY BOTH AGREE go to none-binding arbitration.

Feb 22, 2016 at 3:44 PM | Registered CommenterMikeHaseler

Lord Beaverbrook & MikeHaseler

The former USSR decided how many toothbrushes it's ctizens required per year, and set manufacturing capability to match.

The EU decides which technologies it likes, and makes legislation to match.

In the EU, key manufacturers/suppliers get to 'advise' on the new legislation. The experiences of VW and Dyson are good examples. In yachting, the European market is led by two companies, one is French, the other is German. It is difficult for others to compete against them.

I drive a VW, and have sailed yachts made by Bavaria and Beneteau. However, I have never owned or used a Dyson.

Feb 22, 2016 at 4:01 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

I am always amazed at the complete ignorance in the UK of the 2013 EU decision that, "At least 20% of the entire European Union budget for 2014-2020 will be spent on climate-related projects and policies, following the European Parliament's approval today of the 2014-2020 EU budget. The 20% commitment triples the current share and could yield as much as €180 billion in climate spending in all major EU policy areas over the seven-year period."

This was led by Connie Hedegaard, EU Commissioner for Climate Action (a journalist by training). She said: "Today is an incredibly important day for Europe and for the fight against climate change. At least 20% of the entire EU budget for 2014-2020 will be climate-related spending.This is a major step forward for our efforts to handle the climate crisis. Rather than being parked in a corner of the EU budget, climate action will now be integrated into all the main spending areas. This underscores yet again Europe's leadership in the fight against this crucial challenge. I believe the EU is the first region in the world to mainstream climate action into its whole budget."

No wonder the EU economy is suffering.

Feb 22, 2016 at 4:12 PM | Unregistered CommenterBillB

There are rules already set up consistent with the EU. Wouldn't they have to be rescinded, and wouldn't that be too much trouble for the politicians?

Nrw laws are one thing. Getting rid of the old is really hard.

Feb 22, 2016 at 4:13 PM | Unregistered CommenterDoug Proctor

Golf Charlie -

We've been through a few Dysons. After the third one gave up, just out of warranty, we moved to the wonderful Henry. After eight faultless years, it gave up, and we had to buy a new EU-weedy one (600W) and it still does the job. The old Dysons are cluttering up the attic. Only now - too late - have I found someone on t'intenet who will rebuild your old Henry, still using 1100W motors!

Feb 22, 2016 at 4:37 PM | Unregistered CommenterCharlie

Seeing as you ask, and I didn't think anyone would be interested.

As individual citizens have precious little influence on how a country is run and politicians and bureaucrats run a country or union of countries then I think the feeling of well being from being in or out is purely psychological. For the things that matter to people the scapegoat for why they aren't perfect, and they won't be, is the only difference.

Things like this worry me more than being in the EU
UK has 1% of world's population but 20% of its CCTV cameras. Good or Bad but not down to EU
Britain also has the most speed cameras in Europe.Good or bad not down to the EU.
Vehicle movements on UK roads are recorded by a network of nearly 8000 cameras capturing between 25 and 30 million ANPR ‘read’ records daily. Good or bad not down to the EU.

When the UK repeals (Churchill's advocated) Human Rights Act that's an awful lot of surveillance in private and government hands.

Feb 22, 2016 at 4:48 PM | Unregistered CommenterSandyS

As self styled Green politicians, who have been notable for their failure to make much impact in the UK, are prominent in many continental countries and within the EU, it is unarguable that they have had undue influence on the UK.

Had we wanted a Green party in power, we would have voted for one.

But then, that is how the EU works.You get what you're given.

Feb 22, 2016 at 4:52 PM | Unregistered CommenterUncle Badger

American ratings agencies rule the world and they are telling us to stay in OR ELSE. That's what will happen.

"Ratings agencies reiterate Brexit would hurt UK economy

Fitch Ratings said "Brexit" would come with a short-term economic cost and "significant" long-term risks, and Moody's Investors Service said it would assign a negative outlook to the country's Aa1 credit rating.

"A decision to leave the EU would be credit negative for the UK economy," said Kathrin Muehlbronner, a senior vice president at Moody's.

Feb 22, 2016 at 4:55 PM | Unregistered Commenteresmiff

Does the UKIP shadow cabinet feature a Minister of Dung?

Feb 22, 2016 at 5:03 PM | Unregistered CommenterRussell

A point of information, m'lud.

esmiff writes of ;'American Ratings agencies' and mentions Fitch.

Fitch is actually French.

Feb 22, 2016 at 5:16 PM | Unregistered CommenterUncle Badger

I wouldn't count on Brexit getting rid of the Green Blob altogether.

However it will for sure remove their EU funding and force the Blob to lobby nearer home.

The great thing is that whatever may happen we will as electors have much more influence on the decisions made.

Feb 22, 2016 at 5:19 PM | Unregistered Commenterdave

A point of information on the previous point of information, m'lud.

"Fitch Ratings Inc. is one of the three nationally recognized statistical rating organizations (NRSRO) designated by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission in 1975, together with Moody's and Standard & Poor's, and the three are commonly known as the "Big Three credit rating agencies".[3]

Fitch Ratings is dual-headquartered in New York, USA, and London, UK.[4] On April 12, 2012, "

Feb 22, 2016 at 5:26 PM | Unregistered Commenteresmiff

A definitive point of information, m'lud:

"The Big Three credit rating agencies are Standard & Poor's (S&P), Moody's, and Fitch Group. S&P and Moody's are based in the US, while Fitch is dual-headquartered in New York City and London, and is controlled by the France-based FIMALAC. As of 2013 they hold a collective global market share of "roughly 95 percent"[1] with Moody's and Standard & Poor's having approximately 40% each, and Fitch around 15%.[2]"

Feb 22, 2016 at 5:29 PM | Unregistered CommenterUncle Badger

We can hardly blame it all on the EU. The Blair government had the wildest Green dreams and promised way in excess in terms of 'emissions' reduction of what even the EU demanded. Then we had Miliband as Minister for expensive unreliable energy. Even the coalition handed energy and environment over the the Limp Dems

Feb 22, 2016 at 6:17 PM | Unregistered CommenterGeary

The EU is going to self-destruct. Whether we cause it to do so by getting out, or wait within for it to happen .... which would one prefer?

Feb 22, 2016 at 8:24 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Constable

John Constable - my thoughts too. The effect of Brexit on the EU itself will be far more pronounced than on the UK. That's if events outside the (seeming) control of the EU don't do for them first.

I suspect we are a sideshow for the 'main event'.

Feb 22, 2016 at 8:55 PM | Unregistered CommenterDave_G

Other EU states will probably follow the UK in leaving.

Only a core: France Germany etc will be left....

Feb 22, 2016 at 10:04 PM | Unregistered CommenterSteve Richards

@Steve Richards. 10:04 pm: "Only a core: France, Germany etc will be left...."

Wouldn't bank on France. most pro-EU supporters there seem to be ex-pats, rather than natives. The French love affair with the EU seems to have gone off the boil, since Merkel and the Germans became best friends with the Eastern European incomers.

Feb 22, 2016 at 10:20 PM | Registered CommenterSalopian

John Constable
It's much more likely that the subsequent breakup of the UK will trigger a lot of pressure for separation of areas like Brittany, Catalonia, Basque Country, Galicia, Flanders, Wallonia, Corsica, Sardinia, Faroe Islands, Transylvania who are amongst the better known regions with established separatist movements. What the final result will be is anyone's guess. Just as what the final result for the unity of the UK is anyone's guess.

Feb 22, 2016 at 10:31 PM | Unregistered CommenterSandyS


I bought a French made Renault car when I lived in the USA and then got moved to The Netherlands and decided to take it with me. To Import it into the Netherlands took a ten minute visit to the post office to fill in a simple form and a fee of 20 Guilders. A few years later I was moved to London and drove the car over on the ferry. It took six weeks of bureaucracy, inspections, verifications and £400 in fees to register it in the UK!

I also bought a small boat built in England to a 50 year old design and the surveyor suggested that I check its Status under the EU Recreational Craft Directive - the RCD ( designed, as you observe, to protect the French and German mass production boat builders from US competition - because

on a level playing field the US builders would destroy them). Anyway a check of the RCD showed it was a short very simple document - about 4 1/2 pages - and it was clear that it did not apply to the boat I was buying. The Surveyor advised me to check the Act passed law bringing the RCD into UK law. It was about 80 Pages long with a raft of complex Appendices.

Bad and all as the EUrocrats are they have nothing on the UK Civil Service!!

I lived in the Netherlands for a total of ten years in three stints. The Dutch treat all Belgians and the EU Brussels based bureaucracy with complete contempt and simply ignore any EU regulations they think don't make any sense . You Brits are far too spineless and treat all EU regulations as if they were the Magna Carta instead of the output of a mass of professional pen pushers in Brussels and Strasbourg.

The UK Civil Service LOVES the EU1

Feb 22, 2016 at 10:40 PM | Unregistered CommenterSpectator

The EU is undemocratic and corrupt.
What other reasons do we need to vote "leave"?

Feb 22, 2016 at 10:41 PM | Unregistered CommenterDon Keiller


What makes you think that all/any of the areas that you mention will wait for the 'breakup of the UK', before they decide to devolve and try to make their own deals to remain/leave the EU? And BTW, you forgot to mention that Germany is a federation, that could separate, if its States decided to do so?

Under the current EU treaties, there is no mechanism for an 'area' leaving a Member State, to remain within the EU, if their Member State leaves the EU. They would have apply to join as a new member, unless there is another major treaty revision, which would require referenda across the EU.

Feb 22, 2016 at 10:58 PM | Registered CommenterSalopian


Sorry but how about you sort your own political messes before you start taking sanctimonious digs at us? WTF did you colonial idiots think you were doing electing tossers like Reagan, Bush, Clinton and Obama as your president, and why is Trump even being considered as a replacement?

Feb 22, 2016 at 11:43 PM | Registered CommenterSalopian

This outsider looking in has a great deal of time for Britain and things British.
It has never seemed logical to dilute the British way with continental European ideas. These nations, in history, have nothing like the British record of winning, inventing, teaching by example and so on.
So, naturally, from this Australian you get a solid recommendation to sever those ties and be proud again of your heritage.

Feb 23, 2016 at 12:03 AM | Unregistered CommenterGeoff Sherrington


I don't think the UK has a monopoly of self seeking tax funded bureaucrats and their corporate chums.

Bureaucracy is akin to invasive species in gardening.

If no gardening is performed - eventually the results are usually unacceptable to everybody.

What we have as much as anything else is an absence of real constraints to the growth of parasitic enterprises - very little in the form of real, physical consequences for getting it wrong - yet...

I've seen dramatic differences in the way countries are run on a day to day basis across the EU and it's clear to me that if the federal "one rulebook for all" mandate is extended and enforced it will trigger serious revolts. For all the effort being put into suppressing dissent - Europe is pressurizing and the over-promoted inept venal nonentities purportedly in control don't know what to do... (e.g. Kaff Ashton...) or are meddling and trouble making (e.g. Jens Stoltenberg - The Norway option!)

The EU is a bureaucracy and one with an immense appetite / vision for unaccountable and arbitrary power. I'd vote in if I thought it was amenable to change and adaptation to reality - it has proven endlessly that it isn't. Maybe that makes me a "What have the Romans done for us?" sort - but compared to Rome - we've hardly started.....

As to the escape from the Green Blob - that's going to take confrontation, evidence and unparliamentary language :-) The next few months look like being a time for strong and at times intemperate language and that is in my estimation long overdue.

Feb 23, 2016 at 12:49 AM | Registered Commentertomo

Spectator, interesting to read your experiences, particularly with the RCD (Recreational Craft Directive) written by/on behalf of Beneteau and Bavaria, who do make boats that sell well, particularly suited to the Mediterranean market.

Some manufacture is outsourced to the former Eastern Europe, many bits 'n' bobs from suppliers are East Asian. I am not sure if hulls and decks have yet been outsourced to East Asia, but it is inevitable.

Island Packet is the only US yacht builder I can think of with a presence in the European market, and RCD & VAT are the 2 major problems that prevent more Brits from buying cheaper second hand yachts in the US, and bringing them back.

Feb 23, 2016 at 3:23 AM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

Do we kid ourselves, I think we do, though and earnestly we need to commence a process and not before time. I hate the politics of lies and particularly the green guff but there is a far bigger play going on and it is all about us - the people of Britain.

There have been some good points made on this thread, not least the plain fact that, maybe the EU isn't the real enemy but actually only the excuse, erm an umbrella organization under which, our very own UK administration more EUropean than EUropean bureaucrats to veil and indeed hide themselves under.

There is so much to say here, and indubitably we were led up the path - into the 'common market' on a whopping great lie - it always was a federal project. 'Le grand projet' ie so designed, purposefully to disconnect national democracies and deconstruct all of the sovereign nation states which had previously made up Europe and next, to combine these said states under one flag, one authority and one political and economic governance.

Having said all that, British bureaucracy, and exacting control though the power and means of central government, became a means to an end. It is very hard not to conclude that, the UK government, its administration has always been an anti democratic monster. Some writers point to WWII, during which UK central government granted itself powers that it never relinquished in the peace time that has ensued.
During the late 40's and early 50's, the UK nationalized just about anything which moved, inclusive of the NHS, Railways, Electrical generation, Coal mines and much else besides, in effect we had become a command economy, Marxism had triumphed and yes we changed governments but actually nothing changed.
Even from the times of "end" of the "rotten boroughs", from the era of the Chartists to the modern times, we exercise our franchise but not much happens and from 'our' government: we get more or less the same nebulous BS of 'hope and change' - "soon" but global warming is the threat "NOW".
Suffice to say, what we have here in Britain is what we've always had. In other words, we live under an elective dictatorship and TPTB like it that way and will cut you down if you go against the tide.
Witness, what happened to Farage in Thanet South - where alack! six ballot boxes went awol they set off on a trip to Dover and never were they accounted for. Six! ballot boxes! just somehow took it upon themselves to do a runner.... they were just "disappeared". Gadzooks, our much vaunted democratic institution of the grandly titled Electoral Commission...what did they do, uh huh, they washed their hands of it all, that's what........what a joke it all is and the local plod did they very same. Wow and woe - how's that for a modern system of democracy and the joke is still very much on us, because TPTB moved heaven and gerrymandered Farage out of a seat in Westminster, "we couldn't have that, now could we?"

All during WWII and in the aftermath, the senior panjandrums, the establishment in cahoots with the Pentagon and Washington interests and particularly post the Suez crisis decided in their universal omniscience that, Britain had had it. Further that, America and Russia were the new super powers and Britain's time was over and where Britain's best bet was to fall into line and join up with the Brussels Iron and Steel Community.
Until, twenty seven years of a Marxist inspired and run command economy its toll was beginning to tell economically speaking, Britain was a basket case. Through and with very serious competition from the far east, in ship building, car manufacture and a bit nearer home - from Holland and Germany - joining in with the "success" of the ECSC (European Coal and Steel Community) was deemed by our political elite and not least Ted Heath to be a very good idea.............another layer of unaccountable bureaucracy - was just what we needed?

In 72/73, it should be recorded after years of 'ground work' we were dragged in and Brussels became our new focus, it wasn't put to a vote because TPTB knew very well, what the people's answer would be.

History records thus, we are where we are.

International tort - one thing I do know is that, unless we get out and away of the Aegis of the ECJ-ECHR our very own Marxist judges will ensure all freedoms which we kid ourselves we still have - will be gone.

I beg. To commence to ensure true, real democracy in Britain. Would it not be a very good beginning if, we first knocked away the crutch of EUrope which is propping up our very own corrupt system? Logically and at the very least, decoupling ourselves with Brussels and its corrupt ideas their enforcement and via bent EU jurisdiction, of unaccountable law drafting............... it would be a start, a small step on a very, very long, dangerous and rocky road.

Vote for your country - vote out.

Feb 23, 2016 at 8:00 AM | Unregistered CommenterAthelstan.

"It's much more likely that the subsequent breakup of the UK"

Sandy, what makes you think this will happen?

If Scotland leaves the UK we're definitely out of the EU.....

Driving ourselves to penury (especially with the oil price collapse) to protest leaving the EU, by taking ourselves out of the EU, doesn't make sense.

Remember the old saying, you can tell Sturgeon is lying when her lips are moving.

Feb 23, 2016 at 9:30 AM | Unregistered CommenterNial

Think how people of our generation in the 1960 70s imagined the next century and look at what we got.
We got the Buck Rogers futuristic looking glass plated cities and the Star Trek flip up communicators but not the optimism Still got the hunter gatherer mentality still fighting over Resources and Tribal Religion

Sad how things have never changed Voting ourselfs out off Europe (I don't say the EU) and voting for Trump are the only two viable alternatives.

Feb 23, 2016 at 9:46 AM | Unregistered CommenterJamspid

Brexit would deprive one of the world’s leading forecasters of important research grants and undermine collaboration with the continent, Dame Julia Slingo said on Thursday.

“We… benefit enormously from being in the EU in terms of research funding that we can bring in to
actually accelerate the quality of the models and quality of advice that we give,” she told an event at
the UK’s national academy of science in London…

The UK’s top climate change envoy Sir David King described the Met Office as the country’s “jewel in the crown”, and whose modelling of future climate impacts was “the best in the world”…

British science was “extraordinarily strong” in part due to the money it received from EU grants and
attracted “top rate research academics” due to free mobility through the 28-member bloc. “If we lose out on that’s a real disbenefit,” he said…

Thanks to commenter Pat at WUWT,

Feb 23, 2016 at 10:10 AM | Registered Commenterdennisa

I keep hearing that Britex is a leap in the dark but the main things are certain we will still hold our place in the world with the 5 largest economy. Hopefully we will still have an effective nuclear deterent. We will make our own laws and hopefully repeal all the rubbish forced on us by the EU.
On the other hand if we stay in we will be joining a basket case that is the EU. Lost control of external boarders, With Greece, Portugal etc financial meltdown. Crazy Energy policy. Non elected law makers justifying the own existance. That is not a leap in the dark it is a leap into the furnace.

Feb 23, 2016 at 1:47 PM | Unregistered CommenterRoss Lea

Ross Lea, You are right, but it could be even worse. We will not get merely the status quo. A vote to remain will be a signal to Brussels that we have capitulated. So we will probably be using the euro here, and driving on the right, and be little more than a few offshore regions of the EU Empire within a decade. The UK will just cease to exist, and the dream of European tyrants through the ages will be fulfilled.

Feb 23, 2016 at 4:12 PM | Unregistered CommenterBudgie

There is already a proposal from the EU to switch the UK to drive on the right. They are going to start with Lorrys and Buses for a week and if that is OK the cars will switch the next week :-)

Feb 23, 2016 at 4:40 PM | Unregistered CommenterRoss Lea


I have no idea why you think I am an American- ie from the USA - as a matter of fact I am not.

Have another guess at my nationality.

Feb 23, 2016 at 6:23 PM | Unregistered CommenterSpectator

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