Peter Rhodes on arrogant protesters, energy from wind and bizarre logic in Whitehall

Read the latest column from Peter Rhodes.

Clean energy - a breeze
Clean energy - a breeze

Demonstrators daubed in fake blood held up banners at one of this week's Extinction Rebellion (XR) events in London declaring: “The financial industry is bleeding the Earth dry.” So XR members don't have mortgages, then? Or credit cards? Or pension funds? Is this another example of XR's unofficial slogan: “Do as we say, not as we do.”?

In a recent radio interview, one of XR’s co-founders, Dr Gail Bradbrook, revealed that she drives a diesel vehicle and once racked up 11,000 air miles on a holiday in Costa Rica. I, on the other hand, drive a cleaner petrol car and settled for a fortnight in Devon. I'm sure you can understand why people like me object to people like this week's XR irritants blocking our roads and telling us how to live our lives. They get their kicks preaching awareness to the already-aware.

XR's platform is based on the grotesquely arrogant assumption that a) only they know how to save the planet and b) governments are doing nothing. The truth is that almost everyone accepts that global warming is happening, and governments are actually doing a hell of a lot. New petrol and diesel cars will be banned from 2030. Under successive governments, Britain has demolished coal-fired power stations and erected more than 10,000 wind turbines. On some days, half this nation's energy comes from wind. And that's “doing nothing”?

How Whitehall thinks. It was reported this week that the Government is waging war on single-use plastics – including disposable nappies. A Whitehall source told the Daily Mail: “The next single-use plastic item we are looking at is nappies. But you couldn’t ban them – that would be too tough for parents. It would need to take some form of a tax.” Breathtaking, isn't it? Some in Whitehall apparently believe that it would be unfair to prevent parents using disposable nappies, but it's fine to wallop them with a nappy tax. As if making families poorer will somehow save the planet.

This bizarre logic-leap takes me back. A few years ago another bright spark in the corridors of power seriously suggested imposing a tax on people who stay in the same home for many years, on the grounds that, by not moving house, they were “dodging” stamp duty. These people need watching.

If the name fits. The BBC reporter bringing us news of Covid-19 spreading in Europe is one Simon Dedman.

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