‘Net Zero’ crumbling in Europe in face of soaring costs

Popular protests force politicians to change course

By Climate Realists of British Columbia, July 3, 2023

In what should be a serious warning to Canada, the consensus in the United Kingdom and the European Union around “Net Zero” carbon emissions is falling apart as the soaring costs of the disastrous new energy policies begin to bite.   

Rapidly rising energy prices, flowing largely from these policies, are feeding inflation, and beginning to impact on living standards. The results is increasing public criticism of the so-called “Green” energy initiatives, in some cases to street protests, and to growing political dissent, including the emergence of new political parties opposed to the new climate-related policies.  

In the Netherlands and Ireland, for example, farmers have banded together to oppose government plans to cull dairy and beef herds and to reduce the number of farms in the name of protecting the environment.  Last year, an alliance of Dutch farmers formed to fight government measures and to save the Netherlands’ highly efficient agricultural sector won around 20% of the vote in recent elections to the Senate. 

Some European industries have also begun to threaten to move their production facilities offshore to avoid the increased financial burdens associated with the “Net Zero” policies.

In Germany, a country noted for its strong commitment to “Green” energy policies, the coalition government, which includes the Green party, the Social-Democrats, and the pro-business FDP, is now in some disarray and riven with dissension over the climate agenda.  The once-popular Green party has seen its ratings tumble in the polls, a new political protest party, Bürger in Wut (Furious Citizens), has recently won 10% of the vote in elections in the city-state of Bremen, and in Eastern Germany the climate-skeptical right-wing AFD has entered local government for the first time. 

Both British parties questioning Net Zero policies

In the United Kingdom, where commitment to “Net Zero” by both major parties has traditionally been strong, public criticism of the cost of “Green” energy has been growing as well, and there is now open disagreement within both the Labour and the Conservative parties over the wisdom of current climate policies.

In some cases, the European government response to increasing public dissatisfaction has been to water down “Net Zero” commitments without necessarily admitting loss of faith in the wisdom of the “Green” policies.  However, some governments have been more outspoken than others. 

For example, French President Emmanuel Macron, who was long seen as strongly committed to “Net Zero,” has called publicly for a “regulatory pause” in the introduction of new climate policies. The Italian Prime Minister, Georgia Meloni, has called the EU Green Deal “climate fundamentalism,” and objected to EU measures designed to “destroy industry in the name of climate change.”  

Although other countries, particularly in the Nordic region, have moved more quietly, some real changes in climate policies appear to be under way. 

For example, the Swedish government has recently announced that it is cancelling its target for “100% renewable energy” and pledged support for the nuclear industry (which had been scheduled for phase-out). The new Finnish government is expected to reduce its climate-change commitments.   The Norwegian government, in turn, has called for more drilling for oil and gas in Norway.

In the Central and Eastern Europe countries, which have tended to be skeptical of EU Net Zero goals, governments also appear increasingly reluctant to implement the transition away from fossil fuels, for which they have been criticized by climate activists.

Repercussions are also being felt at the EU level, where the EU Commission has been forced to abandon its expensive plans to create a large “European Sovereignty Fund” to help European industry compete with President Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act, and the German government has joined the French government in opposing more climate measures by the Commission.

As public patience with European environmental activists begins to wear thin, the activists may also be starting to lose some of their Teflon-like immunity from the law.  In Germany, for example, some have been subject to police action; in Britain ordinary citizens have been seen interrupting the “Just Stop Oil” protests, and in Italy the government has announced that it will impose fines up to Euros 60,000 on activists caught damaging monuments or cultural sites. 

There should be a warning in all of this for the various levels of Canadian government that are committed to destructive “Net Zero” policies.  The question is: Will Canada fail to learn the lesson in time, or will famously docile Canadians actually follow in the steps of their European counterparts and force their governments to deal with climate change in a rational manner and change course?  The future of our standard of living will depend on the answer.

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