I can just about see what's upsetting the Eurocrats: they don't like capitalism, they don't like fossil fuels and they don't like Britain. Green objections are harder to understand: here is a clean, secure supply of power that will benefit everyone, but will disproportionately benefit the least well off, who spend a higher proportion of their income on energy bills. When I spoke in the European Parliament in support of fracking, most of the negative comments I received did not focus on specific safety concerns. Rather, they complained in general terms that fracking would 'poison the planet' or 'bleed Mother Earth' for no higher cause than 'greed'.
What is meant here by 'greed' is the desire for material improvement that has driven every advance since the old stone age. Someone sees an opportunity to offer a service that other people will pay for and, in consequence, wealth is created where none existed before. What happened with coal in the eighteenth century could happen again now: prices will fall, productivity will increase, and people will be released to new jobs, raising living standards for everyone. 'Greed', in this sense, is why we still have teeth after the age of 30, why women no longer expect to die in childbirth, why we have coffee and computers and cathedrals. 'Greed' is why we have time to listen to Beethoven and go for country walks and play with our children. Cheaper energy, on any measure, improves our quality of life.
But this is precisely what at least some Greens object to. What they want, as they frankly admit, is decarbonisation, deindustrialisation and depopulation. They regard the various advances we've made since the old stone age – the coffee, the computers, the cathedrals – with regret. What society needs, they tell us, is not green consumerism, but less consumerism. Which is, of course, precisely what most Western countries have had since 2008. The crash brought about all the things that eco-warriors had been demanding: lower GDP, less consumption, a decline in international trade. Yet, oddly, when it happened, they didn't seem at all satisfied. There's no pleasing some people.