Years of inconclusive negotiations on a global agreement to limit greenhouses gases probably made it inevitable that Europe’s expensive policies to encourage renewables would come under increasing threat. This week gave some excellent examples.

Germany’s “massively expensive Energiewende” policies are not simply unaffordable, they are counter-productive says a commentary piece in Europe’s largest news magazine, Der Spiegel (the link is to the English version). The Energienwende is “is morphing into an environment killer. It burdens the climate, accelerates the greenhouse effect and causes irreversible damage.”

In the UK, the argument is more nakedly self-interested. A former deep green, the LIberal Democrat Chris Huhne acknowledged last month that US firms are now paying up to two thirds less for their energy than European ones due to the impact of American fracking (but said that World Trade rules should force the US to export its gas thus reducing the competitive advantage from the technology). This week, the UK Prime Minister called for a reduction in the green levies used to fund renewables to bring down fuel bills at home. For a man who once promised to lead the most environmentally-friendly government ever, the twists of domestic politics must be very painful.

German overseas development assistance may still be targeted to encouraging renewable energy but the overall message is clear: don’t expect Europe to continue to cut greenhouse gas emissions if the US, China and the rest of the world refuse to accept limits on their own activity. In any case, expect a lot of fine-tuning of the European régime