By UKIP Energy Spokesman Roger Helmer:
Concerned citizens from across the European Union are calling for lower energy prices, and for the suspension of the EU’s climate and energy package, which mandates aggressive targets for expensive renewables. They are using a mechanism called the European Citizens’ Initiative, created under the Lisbon Treaty, to set out their demands. This requires the collection of a million signatures from across the EU by November 2013, including 54,000 from the UK.
If successful, the European Commission will have to respond to the initiative, and hearings will be conducted in the European Parliament. The initiative will not force the commission to comply, but it will hugely raise the profile of the issue, and put pressure on the EU institutions for a rational and affordable energy policy.
In the UK, EU targets will require 30 per cent of energy generation from renewables, mainly wind, by 2020, potentially adding £150 to £200 a year to household bills. The idea for the initiative started out in Poland, which is 90 per cent dependent on coal for electricity, and is impacted even more severely than the UK by the EU’s ultra-high-cost approach. The huge costs of the programme in the UK are largely the result of dependence on wind farms. These are expensive to start with. Then they require conventional back-up, greatly increasing costs. And they also require massive new investment in the grid to cope with distributed and intermittent generation.
The initiative has the support of a number of MEPs, including Scottish Conservative Struan Stevenson, Polish MEP Jacek Kurski of Solidarna Polska and myself. As Kurski has said: “Most of us understand how important it is to stop the harmful EU climate policy wasting billions of euros on ineffective unilateral climate policy in the middle of a worldwide economic crisis. This petition allows citizens a voice to demand the EU stop its harmful policies and demand cheaper energy.”
The EU’s climate and energy package, with its very aggressive targets for renewable energy, is driving up energy costs. It is forcing millions of households and pensioners into fuel poverty. It is undermining industrial competitiveness in the UK and Europe, and driving energy-intensive businesses, with their jobs and investment, out of the EU altogether. But it will have little or no effect on the environment, since the EU accounts for only around 13 per cent of CO2 emissions. Meantime around the world there are some 1,200 new coal-fired power stations in the pipeline.