Renewed debate

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In response to my letter (15 February) Niall Stuart attempts to correct “some of the common misconceptions” around renewables (Letters, 16 February).

Asserting that renewables have a positive effect on the Scottish economy, Mr Stuart cites renewable jobs and investment. However, renewables are usually inefficient in producing energy and displace investment from elsewhere.

His argument is akin to my boasting that I have spent £30,000 on an electric car,
ignoring that I could have spent £12,000 on a diesel car with similar net CO2 emissions and a host of functional advantages.

Professor Gordon Hughes of Edinburgh University addresses the issue in a recent paper, The Myth of Green Jobs. His closely argued analysis deserves reflection or rebuttal from Mr Stuart.

As Prof Hughes notes in a related paper: “The casual assumption that expenditures on green technology represent an efficient and economic use of scarce resources is a convenient fairy tale for troubled times.”

Mr Stuart also appears to conflate tax and subsidy. He refers to support for oil, coal and gas of more than £3.6 billion compared with the subsidies received by renewable energy.

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development report in question refers to a figure of £3.63bn almost entirely representing the difference between the lower rate of VAT of 5 per cent for domestic fuel and the standard rate of 20 per cent. That reduction is available to renewable energy. It is not a 

Finally, twice Mr Stuart resorts to argument from authority – in both cases politicians being the authority. I have resolved to 
examine the evidence for myself.

(Cllr) Cameron Rose

City Chambers