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UK’s Competition Watchdog proposes changes to Competition Laws because “Climate Change”

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The UK’s competition watchdog, the Competition and Markets Authority (“CMA”), is preparing to make changes to competition law to assist the Government in achieving its United Nations’ net-zero targets.

The fundamental aim of competition law is the protection of consumer welfare. In late 2021, CMA launched its Green Claims Code claiming it provided businesses with “clear guidance” on ensuring that their environmental claims do not fall foul of consumer law.

As pro-climate alarmist global law firm Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer noted: given the investment-heavy nature of many green initiatives, it is hardly surprising that businesses are often keen to work together to achieve sustainability goals.

So where is the assurance that changing competition laws will not result in companies collaborating to increase prices and disadvantage consumers?  There is none as CMA is keeping the proposed changes secret.

As our regular readers will know, the false “climate change” narrative being promoted by the UK government is a sham which is being used to remove our rights and freedoms while at the same time giving more power, control and wealth to Globalist organisations.

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Competition Law “Barriers” to Climate Collaboration to be Eased

CMA chief executive Sarah Cardell delivered a speech at the Scottish Competition Forum last week, on 24 January, confirming that the body will consult next month on strategy changes designed to enable business collaboration on initiatives that would reduce emissions or improve climate adaptation across the economy.

She said the changes will “ensure that competition law is not an unnecessary barrier to companies seeking to pursue environmental sustainability initiatives”, as the UK works towards its “legally binding” 2050 net-zero target. “We hear increasingly that firms want to tackle these issues but are worried that competition law may prevent or impede them from working together to address them,” said Cardell.

The speech comes as the EU and US continue to engage over the latter’s $369bn subsidy package for climate action, which the former has argued may undercut its own market for technologies like electric cars without stronger competition considerations. The EU is now on the verge of launching its own subsidy package to compete, which will be called the ‘Net-Zero Industry Act’.

Cardell said she was not in a position to disclose full details of the CMA’s proposals, but did state that climate change mitigation and adaptation could fall under the “fair share” exemption to antitrust rules which prevent business-to-business collaborations which may undermine competition in the market.

Read more: Competition law ‘barriers’ to climate collaboration to be eased in UK, Eddie, 25 January 2023

This is a problem for consumers. Currently, companies are banned from entering into anti-competitive agreements unless the benefits outweigh the harms and customers receive what is considered a fair share of benefits. Chapter I of the Competition Act 1998 (“CA 98”) prohibits agreements between competitors which could have the effect of raising prices or otherwise disadvantaging consumers. Chapter I generally precludes rivals from sharing sensitive price or supply data as that may rig the competitive process.  Equally, competitors are not allowed to agree to allocate markets or customers between each other.

Government Disapplies Competition Law for Fuel Suppliers

Faced with fuel supply shortages across the country, Secretary of State (“SoS”) for Business Enterprise and Innovation, Kwasi Kwarteng announced on 26 September that the Government had triggered the “Downstream Oil Protocol”, a mechanism which suspends the application of CA 98 to the fuel supply industry for the purpose of optimising supply.

The 1970s saw the UK beset by a series of fuel shortages brought on by international geopolitical events.   While it has been subject to a number of amendments, the Energy Act 1976 (“EA 76”) is still on the statute books and bestows on the Government certain emergency powers to deal with fuel shortages. The National Emergency Plan for Fuel (“NEPF”) summarises these powers and sets out in more detail how the Government may use them.  One tool available to maintain fuel supply is the Downstream Oil Industry Protocol.

When activated, the Downstream Oil Protocol temporarily exempts the industry from the CA 98 to optimise supply in the face of disruption and allows for information sharing, joint planning and coordinated supply action. It is unclear whether the Protocol exists as a standalone document.  If it does, Beale & Co wrote in October 2021, that does not appear to be publicly available.

The communications allowed between rival fuel suppliers could have harmful anti-competitive effects which outlast the fuel crisis.  The sharing of sensitive commercial information may allow rival companies to align their commercial behaviour, inflate prices artificially, or at least reduce uncertainty as to their intended future conduct.  Given the criticality of fuel to a range of industries as well as to motorists, the potential magnitude of that harm to the wider UK economy should not be underestimated.

Read more: A Crude Or Refined Approach?: Government Disapplies Competition Law For Fuel Suppliers, Beal & Co, October 2021

The Coronavirus Precedent

You don’t have to go back to the 1970s to look for a previous example of competition law being suspended (or at least subject to modified enforcement) to address supply shortages.  In 2020, the covid crisis triggered an unprecedented spike in demand for certain medicines and personal protective equipment (“PPE”).  Panic buying of essential items took hold in supermarkets across the UK, as consumers made provisions for the coming lockdown.

There were concerns that competition law could impede any effective measures to maintain supplies of essential goods.  Competition law was relaxed in relation to certain industries.  For example, a statutory instrument temporarily excluded supermarkets from the application of CA 98, allowing them to collaborate in rationing scarce supplies to stores across the country.

The way in which the law was enforced was also temporarily adjusted.  Competition regulators issued guidelines allowing increased leeway for cooperation between competitors (subject to conditions and limitations).  The CMA issued guidance entitled “approach to business cooperation in response to covid-19.”

The Good Law Project has been investigating the PPE contracts issued during the “covid crisis.”  As of 26 January, Good Law Project had estimated that PPE losses had risen to £14.9 billion. This exceeds by almost £2bn the aggregate sum spent on PPE.  Two days before, in the latest on the “covid crisis” supply scandal, Good Law Project revealed that a politically connected broker made £17 million profit on a “VIP” PPE contract.  Later this year, on 12 October, a hearing in the Supreme Court has been granted for Good Law Project’s case regarding two PPE contracts given to Pharmaceuticals Direct, worth £131m in total.

Beal & Co noted that the steps taken by the Government to combat the fuel shortages in 2021 lacked transparency and structure in comparison with the relaxation of the regulatory regime in response to covid-19.  Considering the corruption that was unleashed during the “coronavirus pandemic” when there was relative transparency – how much corruption was there during the fuel crisis? Worse still, how much more corruption is there to come when proposed changes to competition laws are being kept secret, especially as the reason cited for the changes is based on a spurious “net zero” narrative?

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1 month ago

When are these idiots going to take their heads out of their backsides and wake up to this climate hoax? Just stop and think about their predictions of doom over the last fifty years. How many of them have even come close to being correct? Zilch comes to mind. Just think about what they are trying to achieve. They want to decrease the amount of the gas that is necessary for all life on Earth. Life on Earth is carbon-based. The level of carbon dioxide is only just recovering from it’s lowest amount. The fact that food growers pump it into greenhouses in order to promote growth and yield of their crops. Photos from space show that land is getting greener. The powers that be want to take us back to a time where growing crops will be less productive and they are bankrupting the world to do it.

Bob - Enough
Bob - Enough
1 month ago

Hey Rhoda, do not take the attitude regards the funding. You state “Less than 0.1% of readers voluntarily support The Expose,
while 99.9% fund their own oppression without question.” nor patronise us.

I have already made a comment on this but was ignored by the powers that be at The expose …and it is a simple 2 part comment, in that 1. No chance shall I give away my personal details, including bank account, full name and address etc. (although I am sure you already have them) SO NO INTERNET transfer PLUS I do not and will not use Paypal and the other crap..and 2. I would be happy to send you a few quid (not a lot), but a note or two whenever I can afford it; so give us an address.

Think a few others agree with me; so get your act together or shut up about it; also take that tracking device down – buses and traffic lights.

Dave Owen
Dave Owen
1 month ago

This is how I see climate change.
Over Yorkshire, UK, Monday. Twenty chemtrail planes in the air at 8 in the morning, laying the cross hatch pattern.
Tuesday, gusting high wind and low cloud.
Last time I checked on Planefinder, all the aircraft were coming from Saudi Arabia.
Who has bases there, any American military ?

Dave Owen
Dave Owen
Reply to  Dave Owen
1 month ago

Just to prove a point.
Heavy chemtrailing over Yorkshire again, blotting out the Sun.
Wednesday 1st Feb.
The weather has been controlled for years.

Dave Owen
Dave Owen
Reply to  Dave Owen
1 month ago

Just to carry on.
Monday 6 Feb, Yorkshire UK.
Total chemtrailing all day, from morning to night.
Then on the way home, following a salt gritting lorry.
What have they planned for us ?