Going for Gas

Further to my report a week back on the Demise of the Greensthe rout of the Greens continues.

The new chairman of the Climate Change Committee, Lord Deben (aka John Gummer) has written to Ed Davey, the secretary of state for energy and climate change, expressing “great concern” over a statement by Davey in July that indicated that Britain must continue to rely heavily on gas to produce electricity. They also urged him to impose a maximum emissions limit on power generation of 50 grams of CO2 per kilowatt hour (kWh), which would rule out both coal and gas.

Davey dismissed their calls, restating his view that Britain urgently need a massive new investment in gas generation.

So the first message of last week was that the once hugely influential Climate Change Committee in effect has been kicked into touch. In the name of keeping Britain’s economy running, the government seems now determined to break its own law.

What makes all this even more significant, however, is that it is taking place against the background of a truly astonishing worldwide energy revolution. Country after country is now rushing to exploit the shale gas that, in the past four years, has more than halved gas prices in the US. China, Germany, France, Russia, South Africa and others all have immense reserves that promise to provide the world with cheap energy for centuries to come.

And, here in Britain, determined moves are at last being made to reverse the government’s grudging negativity towards our own vast shale gas reserves, led by our new environment secretary, Owen Paterson, who seems to be winning surprising support for his enthusiasm for shale gas from key officials in his own department and the Environment Agency, which has regulatory responsibility for this new industry.

After years when our energy policy was being dictated by green wishful thinking, by the likes of Gummer and by state-subsidised pressure groups such as Friends of the Earth (which first invented, then helped to draft, the Climate Change Act), reality is at long last breaking in.

The green make-believe that has cast such a malign spell over our country for far too long is finally on the run.

So when will antismoking make-believe, which has cast an even more malign spell over Britain for even longer, be finally put to flight? After all, it’s as much wishful thinking to want to make Britain ‘smoke-free’ as it is to want to make it ‘carbon-neutral’.

When is the UK’s hugely influential Scientific Committee on Tobacco and Health going to be kicked into touch by a minister calling for a massive new investment in Britain’s hospitality industry in order to attract customers from the whole of British society, and not just from its non-smoking sector?

I’m sure it will happen one day. And the current rout of the Greens suggests that simple common sense is beginning to slowly percolate through government, banishing wishful thinking of every kind.

And as a semi-detached member of the moribund EU, it really ought to be a lot easier for Britain to break its own antismoking laws (as it is now setting out to break its own climate change legislation) and relax the smoking ban, than it is for most other countries in the EU. The result would be a swift recovery of Britain’s hospitality industry, and perhaps even a flood of visiting smokers from many European countries. Over the past 5 years, Britons have been heading for European countries to escape its draconian antismoking laws. But if Britain were the first to relax those laws, Europeans would start visiting Britain, rather than vice versa, which would provide an even greater impetus to its hospitality industry, and an even swifter recovery from the current depression.

What I don’t understand about John Selwyn Gummer is that I thought he was a Conservative. He was a minister in Margaret Thatcher’s government, after all. So when did he metamorphose into a Green?


About Frank Davis

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27 Responses to Going for Gas

  1. Frank, if you go to http://kuneman.smokersclub.com/economic.html and read over the study that I did with Dave Kuneman back about eight years ago, you’ll get an idea of what it might mean for the UK if it reversed its smoking ban today. When you examine anti-smoking economic studies, you’ll generally find that they share to one degree or another three very serious faults:

    1) Cherry picking of locality
    2) Cherry picking of years examined
    3) Lack of adequate control comparisons.

    In our study we used standard neutral measures to determine what localities to include, selecting the strongest antismoking states and the strongest free choice states, covering a population on the order of 100 million people. The years we chose covered almost a full decade, covering the entire relevant period in which similar economic measurements were being made for the states. For control comparisons we had the two categories of states opposed to each other and both categories of states compared to the economic situation of the country as a whole.

    As you will see when you read down through our study, the economics effects of the smoking bans seemed to be very, very severe. Most notable is the fact that these bans were, by today’s standards, relatively mild. None of the four states with the strictest antismoking laws actually banned smoking in bars, although they did limit smoking in bar/restaurants. Despite that you’ll see an economic difference in the growth rate between those two categories of states that is absolutely astounding. Extrapolating from our findings just for one of those states, although the largest, California, it’s not unreasonable to estimate that during the first 10 to 15 years of its ventures into smoking bans that California lost on the order of $100 billion to its overall economy.

    If our findings are actually representative of a cause and effect relationship between smoking bans and overall economic effects, and if we assume (a not unreasonable assumption) that smoking bans covering all pubs and clubs have an even stronger effect, then, a complete reversal of the government imposed smoking ban in the UK could result in an economic boost over the next several years of as much as 30 to 50% – an absolutely incredible figure.

    Try comparing the rates of economic growth of the most draconian anti-smoking states in the US during the 1990s with the rates of those states with the most freedom and then try applying that kind of a comparison to the economy of the UK over the next 5 to 10 years and see how many pounds difference it makes. I think the figure you come out with might raise some eyebrows.

    – MJM

    • Frank Davis says:

      As you will see when you read down through our study, the economics effects of the smoking bans seemed to be very, very severe. Most notable is the fact that these bans were, by today’s standards, relatively mild.

      And the UK ban is among the most severe, of course. So the impacts are greater.

      But if the Greens in the UK government can be turned back, then I’m sure that the antismokers can be too.

  2. Harleyrider1978 says:

    Frank look to sometime very soon for news on the ban. Gut feeling

  3. jaxthefirst says:

    I think there are a few extra hurdles to overcome for any UK Government wanting to overturn the smoking ban, as opposed to challenging the environmentalists. For starters, there’s the fact that I think people feel much more passionately about the ban (both for and against it), so that whichever way the Government jumps (if they jump at all), is going to bring howls of outrage from the other side of the fence. Currently the howls are coming from our side, but they will be just as loud and just as enduring from the other side if there is any official relaxation of the ban. Secondly, there’s that wretched FCTC Treaty that we signed up to which, as far as I understand it, although it doesn’t call specifically for the kind of outright ban that we’ve got, does indicate that once a country has gone down that route, as we have, then any relaxation is likely to be seen as going back on the conditions of the Treaty. Then there’s the EU. As we know, as far as health is concerned, the EU is run by a bunch of dyed-in-the-wool antis and, as we also know, the EU are basically the ones who pull the strings of our own puppet Government. It would take a brave Government – which none of ours seem to be – to displease their puppet-masters by a repeal of the ban, although risking their displeasure through defying the demands of the EU Green lobby is an encouraging sign. And of course there’s the public image of anti-smoking which is a far cry from the public image of Greenery. Anti-smoking spokesmen are Doctors and Nurses and Chief Medical Officers and Scientists, i.e. seemingly well-educated, upright, respectable citizens, whereas the Greens have always been rather tarred by the brush of hippies and tree-huggers and new-age travellers who started the movement going in the first place, despite efforts in recent years to smarten up their image. But all the time the Green movement has the aforementioned hippies and oddballs rooting for their cause there’ll always be a reluctance amongst many of the public to take them absolutely seriously. So challenging the Climate Change adherents is, relatively speaking, an easier task. And of course, there’s also the small matter of the fact that although the smoking ban only alienates a quarter of voters and makes them hate the Government, all those carbon-saving schemes and what have you affects everybody. And no Government, no matter how daft and idealistic, wants to alienate everyone!

    I’ve always said that if there’s to be any relaxation or repeal of the ban, then for all the reasons mentioned above, it won’t be done with any great announcements or fanfare or declarations in Parliament – it’ll just be quietly shelved. For starters, as is happening now, the funding to anti groups will be cut. Councils – already facing severe cutbacks – will be “advised” to utilise their EHO’s in more productive ways than checking on a ban which is, to all intents and purposes, largely being complied with all by itself, such that the risk of prosecution will become increasingly low. The courts will be quietly “advised” to adopt a softly-softly approach to those few landlords who are found to be breaking the ban, so that the small penalties handed out will be worth the risk as far landlords are concerned. More and more pubs will start allowing smoking, hesitantly at first and then, with the ensuing lack of consequences, increasingly boldly so that eventually pretty much everyone will know where the “smoking” and “non-smoking” pubs are, although few people will admit to it, because just as now smokers largely don’t smoke in pubs because they don’t want to get landlords into trouble, so too will people be reluctant to “split” on their local landlords who allow smoking for the same reason.

    From smokers’ point of view, I think that this is actually the best way for the ban to go. Without any great pronouncements, there’s not very much for the big anti groups to protest against. For sure, they can bring out studies and stories about how many pubs are now allowing smoking and how many people are going to drop dead in minutes as a result, but that’s not quite the same as making a specific objection to a specific Government decision and it doesn’t have the same power and impact. It does, of course, mean that we don’t get the satisfaction of seeing the antis openly getting a bloody nose and their leading lights being pilloried and humiliated, but if that’s the price we pay for getting our pubs (and our economy) back on their feet and our social lives back, then so be it.

    • Barry Homan says:

      I think there’s something to that. If you ask me, the toughest thing about confronting antis is that is exactly what they really crave: the confrontation. It’s because that antis, whether it be individuals or as a group, are people who are just deprived of attention – much like the bratty child who always tries to cause trouble, because it’s the only way he can get anyone’s attention – though he’s not consciously aware of the process.

      The anti is much like that, it’s not the health or the smell on his clothes after being in a smokey pub that really concerns him; it’s not that he just wants things “his way” either. The anti just wants to be noticed…he’s the fellow that everyone hopes won’t sit at his table, we all know the type – he’s a silent outcast and he knows it.

      If government were to make a big fanfare about repealing the ban, the anti would scream and wet his pants (time to change me!) and cause a big hoolabaloo – dramatize it to maximum effect. A quieter, more subtle way to end the ban might be the only workable solution.

  4. Junican says:

    What I find interesting about this report is that Davey seems to have ‘routed’ very quickly the green enthusiasts in his department. I find that very surprising and encouraging. For me, it just goes to show how quickly things can change if a Minister is strong and puts his foot down. I read recently that Cameron said (in Parliament, I’m pretty sure) that every ministry must have the objective of improving the economy (which presumably includes the Health Ministry). I would assume that ‘jam tomorrow’, in the form of the long-term perceived gains from tobacco cessation, will not be given much credibility. The same also ought to apply to ‘alcohol control’ – what are the gains/losses now of minimum pricing? It seems obvious to me that only (economic) ‘losses’ will occur in the short term. If the new Health Sec has any sense, he will shove the Holy Zealots of Tobacco Control and Alcohol Control (also a WHO objective) aside and concentrate on his core responsibility – the NHS.

    By the way, despite what that silly person named Milton MP said about the UK having to comply with the FCTC, the fact is that it is ONLY a treaty. The reason that treaties are not normally passed individually by Parliament is that they are only as strong as the parties to the treaty wish them to be. Any party to a treaty can simply stop abiding by it at any time. They have no actual legal effect at all. They are, in effect, mere ‘gentlemen’s agreements’.

    I don’t quite agree with JaxtheFirst about smoking pubs ‘creeping in’. Pubcos are losing so much business that they really must demand (as best they can) some sort of relaxation of the ban. It may well require a face-saving explanation, which could be improved air-cleaning equipment. Of course, very strict regulations will be applied regarding the quality of the equipment – but the breach will have been made. After that, Jax’s expectation will almost certainly take effect.

    Well, that’s what I think…..

  5. harleyrider1978 says:

    When a ban comes in overnite and by slight of hand it can go out just as quickly!

  6. waltc says:

    Your mouths to God’s ear. But meanwhile, over at Snowdon’s place, he breaks the news on what the EU is planning next. Not pretty.

    OT or on yesterday’s T, if Richard 3 is your thing, ever read Josephine Tey’s “The Daughter of Time”? A neat tour de force in which a contemporary (well, c 1950s) detective unravels Richard’s story.

  7. nisakiman says:

    I’m inclined to agree with Junican in that I can’t see the UK hospitality industry defying the law where smoking is concerned, not even on a creeping basis.

    I think the only way we will ever see any relaxation of the law is if some body like the Institute of Economic Affairs or The Adam Smith Institute did an in-depth study into the economic impact of the smoking bans, as per MJM’s study in the US. This would by necessity be a more formal study. If this study also addressed and incorporated the real risks posed by SHS and a study of the ventilation systems available today, it could be shown that not only are blanket bans unnecessary, but also hugely damaging to the economy at a time when we are trying to pull out of a recession. Both the IEA and the ASI are reported by the MSM, and also paid attention to by politicians.

    Of course, the wormtongues of TCI would be whispering in their ears, but if the economic message was strong enough, the government might be persuaded that a re-think on the issue was due. But as Junican points out, it would be imperative that the fig leaf of efficient ventilation was available as a face-saver.

  8. pubcurmudgeon says:

    And Ed Davey is a LibDim, whereas Selwyn Gummer is (supposedly) a Tory. Strange times…

  9. Rick S says:

    I’ve just come back from Switzerland, and It will be interesting to see what happens there a week from today: they’re having a national vote on whether or not to make their smoking ban more stringent. At the moment it’s down to the individual cantons – for example, you can’t smoke indoors in Graubuenden at all, while I had a couple of lovely evenings in a smoking bar/restaurant opposite the town hall in Lucerne – but the new initiative is about creating one law for the whole country. What was interesting was that there were as many posters against the initiative as in favour of it, and – particularly encouragingly – they were to be see in hotels and bars all over the country, as well as on roadside hoardings. It seems that people in the hospitality industry there are making the sort of stand that should have occurred in this country leading up to 2007.

    • Frank Davis says:

      Reinhold and I are starting work on translating an interview with Grieshaber about this. Well, Reinhold’s started. I’ll be polishing the English when he passes it over to me.

  10. harleyrider1978 says:

    More marches in spain and portugal over austerity measures and high taxes passed against the people by eu direction. These people now hate the EU!

    Portuguese and Spanish march as anger over tax hikes grows

  11. harleyrider1978 says:

    Reuters) – Over 150,000 Portuguese marched on Saturday against planned tax hikes that have shattered the consensus behind austerity imposed by an EU/IMF bailout, and tens of thousands more marched in Spain, seen as the next country needing to be bailed out.

    The rallies in Portugal were mostly incident-free, but a young protester of about 20 was taken to hospital with burns after an attempted self-immolation during the protests in the northern town of Aveiro. RTP television quoted firemen as saying his life was not in danger.

    Organized via the Internet, the rallies brought together Portuguese from all walks of life, chanting: “Out of here! IMF is hunger and misery!” and calling on the centre-right government to resign.

    “Stop this government before it halts the country!” read one placard in Lisbon, where more than 100,000 crammed the main Republica thoroughfare and nearby streets, marching past IMF offices cordoned off by riot police. Some threw tomatoes and bottles at the building.

    The rally ended at the vast Square of Spain near the Spanish embassy to express solidarity with protesters across the border in Spain after tens of thousands rallied in Madrid earlier on Saturday against spending cuts and tax rises.

    A huge rally was held in Porto and smaller ones in other cities and towns.

    “People are fed up with being robbed by this government’s policy, which now threatens to strangle us,” said bank worker Joao Pascual, 56, marching in Lisbon.

    Andre Pestana, a 35-year-old unemployed teacher, said: “It’s time to say enough to robbery and lies. The government has failed on all its promises … I hope this rally is the first step in the process of changing things.”

    Tax hikes and spending cuts imposed since last year’s bailout have contributed to record unemployment above 15 percent and pushed the economy into its worst recession since the 1970s.

    On Thursday, the main opposition Socialists threatened to end cross-party backing for the 78-billion-euro bailout by voting against the 2013 draft budget unless the government drops its planned increase in the social security levy for all workers to 18 percent from 11 percent.


    Broad political consensus behind austerity had until now differentiated Portugal from other euro zone strugglers like Greece, the scene of frequent unrest over austerity.

    The government will not present the draft budget until mid-October and many protesters said they hoped the administration would rethink its policy.

    Two opinion polls, including one by Eurosondagem pollsters published on Saturday, have shown support for the ruling centre-right Social Democrats falling behind the Socialists for the first time since the June 2011 election.

    There are also signs of tensions within the ruling coalition that includes the rightist CDS-PP party.

    Expresso weekly newspaper on Saturday quoted CDS-PP leader and Foreign Minister Paulo Portas as saying: “I will not throw the country into an irresponsible political crisis, nor will I strip the CDS of its identity”.

    President Anibal Cavaco Silva has called a meeting of his consultative State Council for next Friday. Although the president’s role is largely ceremonial, he can veto bills including the budget and also act as mediator between the government and opposition.

    Many of the banners carried by protesters called on the president to intervene and block the tax hike.

    Criticism of the tax hikes grew louder this week after Portugal’s lenders agreed on Tuesday to relax the country’s fiscal goals under the bailout.

    In Spain, teachers, nurses and social services workers thronged the capital’s central Plaza Colon a day after Madrid said it would present new economic reforms at the end of September likely to contain more austerity measures.

    One in four is out of work in Spain and it is mired in its second recession in three years.

    The cuts are seen as a precursor to an economic program which Spain will have to implement in return for receiving support from euro zone rescue funds and the European Central Bank to help lower its borrowing costs.

    • Frank Davis says:

      I’ve read that in Spain there’s been a run on the banks, with Spaniards taking their money out of the country. In addition, from the Slog:

      With Spanish house prices still falling, the implications for Iberian bank balance sheets are obvious. A million properties remain unsold. Spanish television is being pretty open about about the massive pressure on Madrid, but there is an undercurrent to all of it suggesting that Spain could break up as a nation. After all, if the banks’ finances are so shot to pieces, what help can the Government be to the regions?

      Catalans in particular are being increasingly open about becoming an independent state, and only a fool would ignore the old Civil War enmities that still exist between Barcelona and Madrid. The fully justified fear is that Madrid’s power to resist a schism has been diluted by having to turn to Brussels for help. Some MSM titles are suggesting that, on the quiet, Galacia and Andulucia are also preparing to leave Madrid rule. Given that the latter has a 68% unemployment rate, there is a horrible reality to this possibility.

      Tomorrow in Portugal, a big protest in the capital is planned. For the first time since 1974, the military have made an official statement that they ‘will protect the people of Portugal’. The imputation is clear: the army is asking whether the Government still deserves to be the sovereign power in the land.

      These are just two examples in Europe of how conscious EU/Troika policy has created the necessary conditions for nation States to break down.

      • harleyrider1978 says:

        Thanks Frank I had no idea spain was so fragile as the post implies. I just wonder what the bathe seperatists have going on right now! Independence Id guess.

  12. harleyrider1978 says:

    Dem proposes bill allowing some products to be labeled ‘cancer-free’ (7/26/12, thehill.com) Rep. Ted Deutch (D-Fla.) on Wednesday proposed legislation that would allow companies to apply to the government to allow their products to bear a “cancer-free” label. “It’s time to help consumers choose safer products for themselves and for their loved ones,” Deutch said on the House floor Wednesday. “That’s why today I’m introducing the Cancer Free Label Act. My bill will give companies the chance to market to consumers the fact that the products that they make are free of carcinogens.” Under his bill, H.R. 6191, the Food and Drug Administration, Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Agriculture and Consumer Product Safety Commission would set up rules for approving the use of “cancer-free” labels. It says approved labels would state, “This product does not contain known or likely carcinogens that increase your risk of cancer.” To get approval, companies would have to send in a list of ingredients or substances used in the product. Agencies could approve the use of the label if it finds no carcinogens are used, and the company is making, storing and transporting the product in a way that does not pose a risk of cancer. The bill also requires agencies to conduct random testing of products to ensure they are in fact composed of substances listed in the application. And, it allows agencies to charge a “reasonable fee” to administer the program. Finally, the bill makes it illegal to label products as cancer-free without government approval, subject to a fine of no more than $100,000.


    • beobrigitte says:

      Rep. Ted Deutch (D-Fla.) on Wednesday proposed legislation that would allow companies to apply to the government to allow their products to bear a “cancer-free” label.
      Can I add my tobacco to it? After all, no-one around me in the last 43 years has suffered from “passive smoking” induced cancer….

  13. harleyrider1978 says:

    Does the FEEL GOOD antics ever end OMG!

    CDC E-Cards: Electronic greeting cards are an effective way to share health and prevention information with your family, friends, coworkers and organizational partners – with more of a personal touch. CDC has an extensive selection of Health-e-Cards on a variety of topics including healthy living, nutrition, parenting, and heart health. Sending a free eCard is easy. Simply choose from the over 100 colorful greetings available, type in an email address and name of the intended recipient and press send. See CDC’s E-Cards related to cancer topics.

  14. harleyrider1978 says:

    Looks like they gave us a free insider information number!

    reminder) Smoke-Free Kentucky is a coalition of organizations and individuals who support making all public and work places 100% smoke-free in order to protect citizens and workers from the proven dangers of secondhand smoke. Periodically Smoke-free Kentucky hosts teleconference calls to update coalition partners (individuals, businesses, community organizations) about what is happening with the Smoke-free Kentucky Campaign. Upcoming

    Smoke-free Kentucky Coalition call date: Thursday, November 08, 2012 12:00 PM-1:00 PM. The call-in number is 877-366-0711 and participant passcode is 56658420.

    Nov 8 is also my real birthday! Lmao I guess you know what I will be doing while eating my cake!

  15. harleyrider1978 says:

    Amazing they even have dedicated classes for being a grant whore!

    The Renaissance Learning (RL) Funding Center is proud to present a new feature, “Grant
    Tip of the Month”. In this series, expert grant tips will be presented to help educators
    seek out grant funding, tell a compelling story to the funding agency, and successfully
    write a winning grant application.


  16. harleyrider1978 says:

    NRT sales must be miserable in kentucky! This is it in a yearly call in after a media blitz,I can only imagine what it is in other states. Seems to me its a waste of time and money. But hey Big Pharma wasnt sponosring this media blitz it was CDC ie the taxpayers.

    Every demographic category experienced an increase in terms of call volume
    during the Tips From Former Smokers media campaign. Both male and
    female callers increased significantly, with males rising from 212 in 2011, to
    556 in 2012. Female callers to the quitline doubled, jumping from 419 in
    2011, to 943 in 2012. African American callers increased from 60 in 2011, to
    242 in 2012. Although data from 2011 is unavailable, statistics on the large
    number of uninsured callers during the media campaign are encouraging.


  17. garyk30 says:

    “This product does not contain known or likely carcinogens that increase your risk of cancer.”

    It would be nice if the nannies had to tell us how much of a product that contains carcinogens we would have to use to be worried.

    We would see things like this:

    “The carcinogens in this product are only a risk for cancer if you consume 50 pounds of it every day for 50 years.”

    or this:

    “The carcinogens in this product are a risk for cancer if you are a laboratory rat. If you are NOT a laboratory rat, ignore this warning!!”

    or this:

    “The carcinogens in this product are a risk for cancer; however, these cancers are very rare and if you consume this product your chances of NOT getting these cancers are the same as those who do not consume this product.”
    An example:
    “Cigarettes can cause lung cancer; however, lung cancers are very rare and if you consume this product your chances of NOT getting lung cancers are the same as those who do not consume this product.”

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