Posts Tagged ‘Europe’

Every EU country has a fertility rate below the replenishment level

March 14, 2019

Any group of people will eventually become extinct if its fertility rate stays below the replenishment level (2.1 births per woman).  The EU faces the parallel dilemmas of how to

  1. reconcile decreasing fertility rates with any growth strategy
  2. avoiding cultural fragmentation while increasing “non-European” immigration
  3. pay for pensions and the care of the ageing population with a declining “native-born” working population

Eurostat has released its “Birth and Fertility” statistics.

5.075 million babies were born in the EU in 2017, down from 5.148 million in 2016. The total fertility rate reduced to 1.59 births per woman, also down from 1.60 the year before. No country came anywhere near the 2.1 births per woman needed to replenish any population.

France had the highest fertility rate at 1.90 births per woman, followed by Sweden (1.78), Ireland (1.77), Denmark (1.75), and the United Kingdom (1.74). The lowest fertility rates were in Malta (1.26), Spain (1.31), Italy and Cyprus (both 1.32), Greece (1.35), Portugal (1.38), and Luxembourg (1.39).

The average age of first-time mothers is also increasing, at 29.1 compared to 29.0 years in 2016.

The politically correct belief in the EU is that getting a large number of migrants from Africa will boost the work-force and allow pensions and healthcare for the elderly to be maintained. However this has been shown to be a little naive. Many new downsides have been introduced by the new migrants since they have been – relatively – unschooled, unskilled, reluctant to integrate and often requiring a much greater degree of state support, and for a much longer time, than the politicians had hoped for. Many migrants have been slower to enter the work-place than hoped. New stresses are being introduced by the reluctance (or the inability) of the migrants to adapt.

Using immigration alone as an alternative to having children can never work. It only ensures the extinction of the “native population”. Having fewer children in all cases will always lead to the native population becoming extinct. Having fewer children and simultaneously having more immigration, only means that the native born population is swamped and suppressed before becoming extinct. EU politicians are often so enamoured of their pet theories that they are in denial about reality. Immigration can help to provide a demographic breathing space for a limited period and provided the number of migrants can be assimilated. But a permanent, continuous stream of immigration to keep a country alive, while the native population declines, is absurd.

The simple demographic reality (which a few of the Eastern European countries have started to realise) is that any population – if it wants to survive – needs to replenish its children.

The Hungarians have been criticised by the politically correct part of the EU for introducing incentives for having children. This criticism is particularly short-sighted (if not plain stupid). The EU needs fertility rates to increase and soon. Incentives for having children are inevitable and will become standard in almost every country.


 

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Poland demonstrates that the EU is not one country – yet

October 26, 2015

Poland has moved quite decisively to the right and towards an anti-EU stance. It demonstrates once again that the dreams of a New Holy Roman Empire in the form a single European nation state are more than a little premature. A single state can only follow a levelisation of living standards and a natural homogenisation of fiscal and monetary policies. Brussels has to learn (and so do Hollande and Merkel) that a single EU state cannot be imposed by dictat or by fiscal and monetary coercion. The Euro has to be a consequence of levelisation. As a tool for levelisation, it is a very blunt and ineffective instrument.

Colours of the EU

Colours of the EU

BBC:

Poland’s conservative opposition Law and Justice party has won parliamentary elections. Exit polls suggest it has enough seats to govern alone, with an anticipated 39% of the vote.

Its eurosceptic leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski has claimed victory, and the outgoing Prime Minister, Ewa Kopacz of the centrist Civic Platform party, has admitted defeat.

Law and Justice has strong support in Poland’s rural areas. If the numbers suggested by the exit poll are confirmed, it will be the first time since democracy was restored in Poland in 1989 that a single party has won enough seats to govern alone, the BBC’s Adam Easton in Warsaw says.

“Euthanasia is both profitable and cost effective”

July 28, 2014

I think an individual should be able to choose, and be assisted, to die peacefully and painlessly – provided he is of sound mind and is suffering from a terminal and painful illness.

But I am afraid that part of the building momentum for euthanasia in Europe is cost driven and not driven by a concern for the individual. Countries with aging populations and with well developed public health programs are facing increasing costs for the care of the elderly. In Sweden and the UK for example this care is often “out-sourced” or privatised. Many of these establishments are owned by risk capital companies – which is a little strange – but not fundamentally wrong. But the “quality” requirements they are required to meet are set by the public institutions doing the out-sourcing. Inevitably these “quality” requirements are specified in such a way that the out-sourcing succeeds and contracts are let. To ensure this the requirements always allow the service provider sufficient room to make a profit. There is a clear incentive for the service provider to “increase the throughput” and reduce the cost per person they are tasked to care for. That – in turn – is leading to a deterioration in the care provided especially to the aged who are no longer competent or able to complain about the service received. It is clearly cheaper to allow a general reduction of service, and to only do more than the minimum if and when a complaint from a relative is received. Of course, relatives have only limited opportunities to notice any deterioration of service. The “out-sourcing” itself is driven by cost. There have been many “scandals” (such as this one) associated with the “quality” of service in “privatised” homes for the aged. But it is not by accident that the State and the municipalities and health authorities have pushed these scandals into the “privatised” sphere rather than to be found wanting themselves. Part of the reason for out-sourcing these services has clearly been to also out-source the scandals waiting to come as care of the elderly inexorably deteriorates. The more the care of the aged deteriorates the more attractive a voluntary euthanasia scheme becomes – for all parties involved.

I have a clear perception that in Sweden the quality of public medical and palliative care for the elderly is already driven by cost considerations. It is illegal in Sweden but age discrimination is endemic. We hear about procedures and expensive treatments being denied to the elderly for many ostensible reasons, but in reality because the patients are – in the judgement of the care-providers – just too old and too big a drain on costs. For public medical and palliative care, a form of unwritten age-discrimination is already in place. The aged patient has little recourse except to opt for private treatment and then euthanasia may be a much more cost effective solution..

The euthanasia debate is picking up steam in Europe but my fear is that though much of it is carried out under the guise of concern for an individual’s right to die, much of the debate is actually being driven by public health cost considerations. Many of the statements by politicians seem to me to be trial balloons or electoral posturing – but they have an underlying smell of preparing for curbing the costs of caring for the increasing number of the elderly.

It may be very cynical but I note that a healthy growth rate in voluntary euthanasia among the aged has many public and social and economic benefits. The cost of health care for the aged is both capped and reduced. The demographic of the ratio of elderly to working population is improved. Medical resources are freed for the more valuable, younger patients. And the aged patient gets what he or she wants.

A true win-win!

BioEdge: 

Euthanasia might be needed for poor people who cannot access palliative care, the new Lithuanian Health Minister has suggested. Rimantė Šalaševičiūtė was sworn earlier this month, but already she has made waves by backing an open discussion of the legalisation of euthanasia.

Without making any specific proposals, she told local media that Lithuania was not a welfare state with palliative care available for all and that euthanasia might be an option for people who did not want to torment relatives with the spectacle of their suffering.  

The minister has also raised the idea of euthanasia for children. She noted that this option had been approved for Belgian children after a long public debate. It was an option which might be appropriate in Lithuania as well after public debate.

Ms Šalaševičiūtė will face an uphill battle in her campaign to introduce Lithuanians to euthanasia. Many doctors and the Catholic Church oppose it. Dr Andrius Narbekovas, who is both a priest and a doctor, and a member of the Health Ministry’s bioethics commission, told the media:

“The Ministry of Health should protect health and life, instead of looking for ways to take life away. It goes without saying that it is … profitable and cost effective … But a democratic society should very clearly understand that we have to take care of the sick, not kill them.”

Lithuania merely reflects the debate all over Europe which is probably most advanced in Belgium where even involuntary euthanasia (is that not murder?) has been proposed.

Politicians and many aged sufferers could find this irresistible: “Euthanasia is both profitable and cost effective”.

Two of my friends have utilised the services of Dignitas. So, for whatever reasons it may come, I do hope that voluntary euthanasia is available to me when my time comes.

The EU’s green sickness: Competitiveness and shale gas at Davos

January 28, 2014

It is my contention that the spread of perverse “Green” energy policies in Europe are partly responsible if not for the financial crisis itself, certainly for its prolongation and for slowing down the recovery. It is also my contention that it is the deadening and oppresive inertia that is represented by the “obese” and self-preserving nature of the EU bureaucracy in Brussels which has prevented individual countries in Europe from taking fast corrective actions when needed.

It is now energy costs for industry (and not just labour policies) which is increasing the competitiveness divide between Europe and the US. It seems that this competitiveness – or lack of it – was of some passing interest at Davos:

CNBC

One of the biggest themes at Davos this year — and one that was not there last year — was “competitiveness.” You encountered it whether in the public sessions in the Congress Center, or in the private sessions, and at the various dinners in the hotels strung along the Davos Platz.

This particular rivalry pits the United States head-on against Europe. And, no question — at Davos this year, the United States was judged the clear winner, much to the dispirit of the Europeans trudging back along the icy, snowy streets of this mountain village.

Of course, competitiveness among nations gets measured in many different ways. …… But this year at Davos, it was calibrated along only one axis — energy. And that measure is creating great angst for European industry. …… It all comes down to shale gas and the energy revolution it has triggered in the United States. As a result of the rapid advance of shale technology, the United States now has an abundance of low-cost natural gas — at one-third the price of European gas. European industrial electricity prices are twice as high as those in some countries and are much higher than those in the United States. To a significant degree, this is the result of a pell-mell push toward high-cost renewable electricity (wind and solar), which is imposing heavy costs on consumers and generating large fiscal burdens for governments. In Germany, it was further accentuated by the premature shutdown of its existing nuclear industry after the 2011 Fukushima nuclear accident in Japan. 

All this puts European industrial production at a heavy cost disadvantage against the United States. The result is a migration of industrial investment from Europe to the United States — what one CEO called an “exodus.” It involves, not only energy-intensive industries like chemicals and metals, but also companies in the supply chains that support such industries. …….. a senior European official declared that Europe needs to wake up to the “strategic reality” that shale gas in the United States is a “total game changer.” Without a change in policies at both the European and national levels, he warned, Europe “will lose our energy intensive industries — and we will lose our economy long term.” ……..

And the first signs of a potential change of policy abruptly emerged in both Brussels and Berlin during Davos week. European policy makers, struggling with already high unemployment, have begun to visualize the further job loss that will result from shutting down European plants. They have also started to pay attention to the 2.1 million jobs in in the United States supported by the unconventional oil and gas revolution.

In Brussels, coinciding with the first day of Davos, the European Commission released a new policy paper on energy and climate. It reiterated the commitment to substantial growth in renewable electricity and a “low-carbon economy.” But, for the first time, it put heavy emphasis on the price of such policies and called for a “more cost-efficient approach” to renewables. ….. Despite the fervent opposition to shale gas in some quarters in Europe, it pointedly included shale gas as among the domestic low-carbon energy sources that member countries can pursue.

……… A similar message resounded at exactly the same time from Berlin. Sigmar Gabriel, the social democratic minister of economy and energy in Germany’s coalition government, called for reform in Germany’s Energiewende — or “energy turn” policy — which has heavily subsidized the rapid growth in renewable electricity. He warned that the “anarchy” in renewable energy and its costs in Germany had to be reined in. ……… Up until now, the Energiewende in its present form has been sacrosanct, supported not just by the Greens but all across the political spectrum. Gabriel — and Chancellor Angela Merkel — aim to maintain the commitment, but reduce subsidies, focus more on costs, and, as Gabriel said, “control the expansion of renewable energy.”

His comments reflect the recognition that, if the course remains unchanged, Germany could be facing what Gabriel called “a dramatic deindustrialization.” ………. Exports are responsible for over 50 percent of German GDP, compared to 27 percent for China, which is generally considered to be the workshop of the world.

Gabriel’s comments stirred up criticism from environmentalists; indeed, they may seem strange words coming from the leader of the Social Democrats (the SPD). But the Social Democrats are very close to the trade unions, for which loss of competitiveness translates into loss of jobs.

In 2 decades of green profligacy, I estimate the “jobs lost” by the ” growth prevented” to be around 17 million just within the EU.

EU opposition to shale fracking is crumbling

January 27, 2014

The cost of gas in Europe (from the North Sea or from Russia) is about 3 times higher than in the US (from natural gas onshore and offshore and from the fracking of shale). The high gas price in Germany has led to a return to coal in a big way. Yet Europe has substantial reserves of shale which could give both oil and gas. Gas and energy prices are leading to the EU now increasingly trailing the US in competivity. Jobs are being lost. And it is the instant, knee-jerk reactions of the Greens in Europe, who have set themselves against fracking, which has slowed the deployment of shale gas. This mindless opposition is unsustainable and is beginning to crumble.

The UK has already declared its intentions to now pursue fracking in a big way. Other countries will have no option but to follow suit. The moratoriums against fracking in a number of countries (France, Germany …) will have to be withdrawn. Even Russia – which has a vested interest in keeping the price of natural gas high – is beginning to move on fracking of their vast reserves.

Europe has to frack. But politicians need a “decent”, politically viable interval to make their inevitable U-turns and give up their unsustainable positions. Fracking is becoming politically acceptable if not yet politically correct.

OilPrice

EU Readies for Shale Gas Breakthrough

  • Ukrainian company Nadra Ukrayny, along with co-sponsor International Gas Union, hosts a summit May 20-22 to discuss maximizing the benefits of shale exploration in the European community. Organizers say the event will have a pan-European focus, with strategy sessions focused on the shale potential from Eastern Europe to Great Britain.
  • Polish shale ambitions, meanwhile, were stymied in part by a decision from Italian energy company Eni to pull out of the country, the third company to do so since 2012. Eni said the geology was too complex to exploit now, leaving behind an estimated 187 trillion cubic feet of shale gas reserves. That too should pique future interest once technology evolves. Chevron remains one of the few players still in the Polish shale.
  • Rainer Seele, chairman of German energy company Wintershall, told delegates at a Berlin energy conference it was time for an honest debate about shale exploration. Late last year, German leaders agreed to keep a moratorium in place on hydraulic fracturing. Several European states have expressed reservations about the controversial drilling practice dubbed fracking. For Seele, it’s time for “an informed debate and legal clarity” because now, he said, the conversation is at a standstill. In 2012, a report found there may be as much as 100 trillion cubic feet of technically recoverable gas locked on German shale.
  • Spain too entered the fray last week when the central government filed a challenge against a decision to ban fracking in Cantabria, a region near the coast of the Bay of Biscay.  Regional leaders voted unanimously to ban fracking out of environmental concerns last year, but with Spain importing more than 70 percent of its natural gas needs, the 70 years’ worth of gas in Cantabria is too rich to ignore.
  • France and Bulgaria are among other European states with fracking bans in place. Last week, the European Commission embraced a series of recommendations meant to ensure appropriate safeguards are in place for members that choose to go ahead with shale exploration. The EU said the recommendations were part of a policy framework meant to guide regional energy policy through 2030. EU Environment Commissioner Janez Potocnik said shale gas is “raising hopes” in Europe. With energy companies clamoring to get in line, Europe may be on the cusp of a shale breakthrough.

Europe increasingly adopting English for higher education

October 11, 2013

Competition for international students is leading to Universities in continental Europe increasingly offering higher education courses in English. There has been a ten-fold increase in the number of English courses offered since 2002.

Times Higher Education reports:

Thousands of international students may be shunning the UK in favour of continental Europe, where a growing number of courses are being offered in English, a study suggests.

A total of 6,407 taught master’s programmes in the language were offered on the Continent in June this year – a 38 per cent rise on the 4,644 courses available just 18 months earlier, according to a report by the New York-based not-for-profit organisation the Institute of International Education.

That total was 10 times higher than the overall number offered in 2002, says the report, titled English-Taught Master’s Programs in Europe: A 2013 Update.

The new briefing paper published by IIE’s Center for Academic Mobility Research suggests that the number of English-taught Master’s Programs in Europe has increased significantly since 2011. The paper, English-Taught Master’s Programs in Europe: A 2013 Update”, is an update of a report published by IIE in June 2011, and provides a data-driven look at the continued growth of master’s programs in Europe taught entirely or partially in English.

Growth of English courses in Europe

Growth of English courses in Europe

In recent years, European countries in which English is not the primary language of instruction have developed an increasing number of programs taught either fully or partly in English in order to serve domestic demand for higher education in English and to attract students from around the world. …..  The authors examine the growth of English-taught master’s programs in Europe, including the total number of programs offered by country and academic discipline, their duration, and data on prospective students.

According to the report, as of June 2013 the total number of English-taught programs in Europe was 6,609, a 42 percent increase since 2011. The top host countries for English-taught Master’s programs are: Netherlands, Germany, Sweden, France, and Spain.

Growth of English courses by country and year

Growth of English courses by country and year

Genetic study shows Ashkenazi Jews descend from men from the Levant and their European wives

October 8, 2013

Social distinctions between Mizrahi and Sephardi Jews. and the Ashkenazim still persist and of course the Ethiopian Jews are a class apart. This latest study published in Nature Communications which shows that the Ashkenazim derive from male ancestors from the Levant who moved to Europe and took local women as wives will not be without its detractors.

Marta D. Costa, Joana B. Pereira, Maria Pala, Verónica Fernandes, Anna Olivieri, Alessandro Achilli, Ugo A. Perego, Sergei Rychkov, Oksana Naumova, Jiři Hatina, Scott R. Woodward, Ken Khong Eng, Vincent Macaulay, Martin Carr, Pedro Soares, Luísa Pereira and Martin B. Richards, A substantial prehistoric European ancestry amongst Ashkenazi maternal lineages, Nature Communications 4, Article number: 2543, doi:10.1038/ncomms3543

Abstract:The origins of Ashkenazi Jews remain highly controversial. Like Judaism, mitochondrial DNA is passed along the maternal line. Its variation in the Ashkenazim is highly distinctive, with four major and numerous minor founders. However, due to their rarity in the general population, these founders have been difficult to trace to a source. Here we show that all four major founders, ~40% of Ashkenazi mtDNA variation, have ancestry in prehistoric Europe, rather than the Near East or Caucasus. Furthermore, most of the remaining minor founders share a similar deep European ancestry. Thus the great majority of Ashkenazi maternal lineages were not brought from the Levant, as commonly supposed, nor recruited in the Caucasus, as sometimes suggested, but assimilated within Europe. These results point to a significant role for the conversion of women in the formation of Ashkenazi communities, and provide the foundation for a detailed reconstruction of Ashkenazi genealogical history.

There is a belief that all Ashkanazim are descended from just 4 women who migrated to Europe but this study contradicts that. The NYT reports that some opposition to the results is already evident:

….. The finding establishes that the women who founded the Ashkenazi Jewish community of Europe were not from the Near East, as previously supposed, and reinforces the idea that many Jewish communities outside Israel were founded by single men who married and converted local women.

The study, published Tuesday in the journal Nature Communications, is based on a genetic analysis of maternal lineages. A team led by Martin B. Richards of the University of Leeds in England took a fresh look at Ashkenazi lineages by decoding the entire mitochondrial genomes of people from Europe and the Near East. ….

This uncertainty seemed to be resolved by a survey published in 2006. Its authors reported that the four most common mitochondrial DNA lineages among Ashkenazis came from the Near East, implying that just four Jewish women were the ancestresses of nearly half of today’s Ashkenazim. Under this scenario, it seemed more likely that the Ashkenazim were the result of a migration of whole communities of men and women together. ….

With the entire mitochondrial genome in hand, Dr. Richards could draw up family trees with a much finer resolution than before. His trees show that the four major Ashkenazi lineages in fact form clusters within descent lines that were established in Europe some 10,000 to 20,000 years ago. The same is true of most of the minor lineages.

“Thus the great majority of Ashkenazi maternal lineages were not brought from the Levant, as commonly supposed,” Dr. Richards and colleagues conclude in their paper. Overall, at least 80 percent of Ashkenazi maternal ancestry comes from women indigenous to Europe, and 8 percent from the Near East, with the rest uncertain, the researchers estimate. …

Dr. Richards estimates that the four major lineages became incorporated into the Ashkenazi community at least 2,000 years ago. A large Jewish community flourished in Rome at this time and included many converts. This community could have been the source of both the Ashkenazim of Europe and the Sephardim of Spain and Portugal, given that the two groups have considerable genetic commonality, Dr. Richards said.

EurekAlert: In the vast majority of cases, Ashkenazi lineages are most closely related to southern and western European lineages – and that these lineages have been present in Europe for many thousands of years.

This means that, even though Jewish men may indeed have migrated into Europe from Palestine around 2000 years ago, they brought few or no wives with them. They seem to have married with European women, firstly along the Mediterranean, especially in Italy, and later (but probably to a lesser extent) in western and central Europe. This suggests that, in the early years of the Diaspora, Judaism took in many converts from amongst the European population, but they were mainly recruited from amongst women. Thus, on the female line of descent, the Ashkenazim primarily trace their ancestry neither to Palestine nor to Khazaria, but to southern and western Europe.

Europe does not like it’s Roma

September 25, 2013

Freedom of movement in Europe is much touted. European nations like to think of themselves as being in the vanguard of civil rights. But gender equality (for those of the correct ethnicity) and the rights of ethnically correct minorities clearly take precedence over the rights of Europe’s Roma populations. The harassment of Roma – who don’t make much effort to change their way of life to fit in with the rest of society – is evident across most of Europe.

The Roma today constitute a second, lower class of Europeans.

They are walled off in communities in Romania, are forcibly sterilised in Slavakia, and confined to ghettos in Bulgaria. They are an easy target for the neo-Nazis of Hungary and Germany and the Czech Republic and Greece and Italy. They are currently being expelled from Germany, Sweden, Denmark and France – often to Kosovo. Their ways are too strange. They dress strangely. They resort to begging far too often. They are feared and disliked by the majority of Europeans.

In just the last few days they have been much in the news.

Greece Street Musician

Roma girl being kicked in Greece (via Greek reporter)

  1. Sweden: The Skåne police force has become embroiled in a fresh controversy over the Roma registries after it emerged they didn’t admit the records were on file when asked by the Swedish Commission on Security and Integrity Protection last year.
  2. France: Interior Minister Manuel Valls on Wednesday insisted he stood by a controversial call for tens of thousands of ethnic Roma to be kicked out of France. Valls has triggered an outcry from human rights groups, the European Commission and some of his government colleagues by saying any Roma not working should be “delivered back to the borders”, describing their way of life as “extremely different from ours,” and claiming they will never integrate into French society.
  3. Greece: A photograph of a female shop owner pushing a little Roma girl street musician on a pedestrian walkway under the Acropolis to send her away has taken off on the Internet and set Greek authorities to investigate the apparent abuse. 
  4. UKNigel Farage will vow today to put the expected influx of Romanian and Bulgarian immigrants to Britain from January at the heart of the UK Independence Party’s campaign in next year’s European elections.

“Global warming is the opiate of the upper middle class”

April 9, 2013

That “global warming” is a religion I have no doubt. But we could be going through a Martin Luther or perhaps a Galileo Galilei  moment for this religion as its foundations crumble. “Heretics” are gaining ground steadily as the high priests of the global warming religion continue to roar and bluster and threaten hell-fire and damnation.

The “religion” theme is succinctly put by Henry Payne in The Detroit News. Considering the soporific and addictive nature of the religion and its ability to induce a feeling of being superior I thought that being “an opiate of the upper middle class” was particularly apt.

Paris, France – From Anglicanism to Catholicism, Europe’s history is full of state-based religion. In secular 21st century Europe, the unofficial state religion is the GreenChurch. Environmentalism inspires a devout, pro-Kyoto devotion here quite different than the more skeptical American outlook.

But France’s strident green political and media voices are curiously silent this year. Perhaps it’s the bone-chilling spring.

Parisians used to leafy April vistas shiver past leafless trees on Paris’s beautiful, tree-lined parks. Temperatures are in the mid-40s, well below the 60s-normal. Average temperatures across the continent are, on average, 4-8 degrees below normal with March registering colder average temperatures than January. Snow fell in England, France, and Germany this spring- an unusual occurrence. The cold snap follows the frigid London Olympics last summer and over a decade of flat temperatures worldwide. Hardly the stuff of global warming. But the GreenChurch is firm in its doctrine – and the global warming high priests must be obeyed.

If Christianity was the opiate of the masses in centuries gone by, then global warming is the opiate of the upper middle class.

As such, politicians here have imposed draconian laws on their masses, from high gas taxes to high utility costs – a situation so extreme in Germany that the term “electric poverty” has become a common term. Unable to afford high energy costs imposed by government censor of sinful coal power, thousands have had their power shut off.

Here in Paris, French citizens suffer under $7.50 a gallon gas even as hey huddle at the pumps in winter overcoats. They pay their sin taxes, but, they may ask, to what end?

Low energy prices with shale gas leading to shift of jobs from Europe to US

December 28, 2012

It is inevitable that investment and jobs – and especially in energy intensive industries – will migrate to regions of low energy costs. Over the next few years the lead that the US has developed over the rest of the world in the exploitation of shale gas will cause European companies to shun the high energy costs at home and shift to the US.

Reuters: Austria’s group Voestalpine is considering a plan to build a $1 billion plant in the United States that would convert iron ore into concentrate used in steelmaking, Trend magazine reported. ………. Trend said the plant was envisioned for a coastal city in the southern United States, given cheap and reliable supplies of natural gas, political stability and efficient port infrastructure.

And the problem has been the unnecessary and misguided European obsession with chasing a mirage.  A meaningless and unjustified pursuit of “low carbon” energy; profligate subsidies for ineffective renewable energy; wasteful – and eventually corrupt – attempts to bias the market with carbon credits and the shutting down of perfectly viable coal and nuclear power plants has given the highest energy costs in the world. Gas prices in Europe are 4 or 5 times as high as in the US. Europe has plenty of shale gas potential but development is lagging far behind the US largely because of the political opposition from the “Green” lobbies. As the New York Times reports:

High Energy Costs Plaguing Europe

.. Asked whether he had considered building the plant in Europe, Voestalpine’s chief executive, Wolfgang Eder, said that that “calculation does not make sense from the very beginning.” Gas in Europe is much more expensive, he said.

High energy costs are emerging as an issue in Europe that is prompting debate, including questioning of the Continent’s clean energy initiatives. Over the past few years, Europe has spent tens of billions of euros in an effort to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. The bulk of the spending has gone into low-carbon energy sources like wind and solar power that have needed special tariffs or other subsidies to be commercially viable.

“We embarked on a big transition to a low-carbon economy without taking into account the cost and without factoring in the competitive impact,” says Fabien Roques, head of European power and carbon at the energy consulting firm IHS CERA in Paris. “I think there will be a critical review of some of these policies in the next few years.” 

Both consumers and the industry are upset about high energy costs. Energy-intensive industries like chemicals and steel are, if not closing European plants outright, looking toward places like the United States that have lower energy costs as they pursue new investments.

BASF, the German chemical giant, has been outspoken about the consequences of energy costs for competitiveness and is building a new plant in Louisiana.

“We Europeans are currently paying up to four or five times more for natural gas than the Americans,” Harald Schwager, a member of the executive board at BASF, said last month. “Energy efficiency alone will not allow us to compensate for this. Of course, that means increased competition for all the European manufacturing sites.”

And it beomes increasingly clear that the chase for politically correct “brownie points” by European  governments as they have demonised carbon dioxide quite needlessly while spending massively on renewable subsidies is not sustainable. Just as Japan must now waste political energy in “reviewing” their hasty decisions about the use of nuclear energy after Fukushima , Europe will have to spend the next decade in “reviewing and reversing” the spate of bad decisions made based on climate alarmism.

The expansion in renewables will probably ensure that Europe will meet its target of reducing greenhouse gases 20 percent from their 1990 levels by 2020. But it has been a disappointment on other levels. For one thing, emissions continue to rise globally. In a sense, Europe is likely to have exported its emissions to places like China, where polluting economic activity continues to increase while the European economy stagnates.

A striking indicator that the European effort has not achieved all that it intended to is the continued rise in the burning of coal, by far the biggest polluter among fossil fuels.

The International Energy Agency, a Paris-based group formed by consumer nations, recently said that coal was likely to catch up with oil as the world’s largest source of energy in a decade.

Much of the increase in coal use can be blamed on China and India, but not all of it. Europe has increased its coal use this year, and that has led to an increase of about 7 percent in carbon dioxide emissions from power generation, according to IHS. Coal use is increasing in all regions except the United States, the I.E.A. said.


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