This forum is about wrong numbers in science, politics and the media. It respects good science and good English.
What a amazes me about such declarations is that the "scientists" and "skeptics" out there don't immediately jump on this and say "WTF?"
This should make them say "No, NO, Hello NO!" People disagreeing with a proposition are to be embraced NOT imprisoned.
It wouldn't surprise me if some green fanatic euro MP has mouthed such stuff off but the source alone makes me somewhat skeptical.
In any case the parliament has no power of legislative primogeniture and the EU's competency in criminal matters is restricted to cooperation between member states - cave, of course those who exercise power always want more of it. I can't think of anything that is a crime because the EU says it is, but I could be wrong. Even EU legislation I am familiar with has criminal consequences for failing to follow it (not that most people will ever come across things like the clinical trials directive let alone be at risk of prosecution because of it) in most if not all member states but this is not prescribed in European legislation. Ultimately if a member state (such as the UK, mentioning no names) chooses to implement a directive in such a manner that criminal sanctions are used to enforce it, that is their business.
The worst case scenario is some member state criminialises AGW denial and seeks to extradite prominent skeptics from other countries (or merely by putting them on their wanted list makes it difficult for them to travel there). While the UK leads the way in judicial suppression of free speech by claiming jurisdiction for libel for just about any statement made anywhere and uniquely placing the burden of proof on the defendant, this is at least not a criminal matter.
Such a development would not be a positive one and I doubt it has legs. I'd also want to hear it from a mouth other than Mr Griffin's. At risk of being accused of ad hominem, pretty much anything he says needs to activate your bµllsh!t filter just because it's him saying it.
In a case like this it would be best to wait to see what the reaction of the British left-liberal media is to this story. To the British left, Griffin is their major hate figure, and it is very unlikely that they wouldn't publish an article attacking Griffin and the BNP if they can prove that Griffin's claim is fabricated.
So if you don't see a debunking article in the Guardian in the next few days, that means there could be quite a bit of truth in the story.
The story was picked up as a blog post on WUWT for a few hours, but the URL: http://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/07/19/climate-skepticism-could-soon-be-a-criminal-offence-in-uk/ now gives page not found. I suspect Anthony Watts has been warned the story might be fabricated and so removed the blog post.
I doubt the story is fabricated, but it is well-spun. Criminalising climate change denial on an EU-wide level would require major changes to the treaties or perhaps invocation of some obscure emergency power designed for a war or civil catastrophe, if any such things exist. It would be strongly resisted by several governments and fall at the Council - the Parliament simply can't do this kind of thing on its own, let alone some sub-committee that Griffin is on. It would also be a spectacular own-goal. So the leap from half-baked policy wish (of probably one deranged individual) to criminal offence is a big one.
It's a common eurosceptic tactic (Griffin is firmly in that camp) to equate some lunatic policy proposal, particularly one beyond the competencies of the EU, with the next great police superstate power.
I'll take your word for it James that the EU can't impose European-wide criminal legislation. But you do see newspaper articles from time to time where MEPs appear to think they are able to influence things to go in that sort of direction.
To give an example from last year, the European Parliament's transport committee announced that they wanted serious maritime pollution (like oil tanker spills) made a criminal offence, and they also wanted certain cases of minor maritime pollution made a criminal offence:
It looks like the link has gone behind a paywall but I happen to have a copy of the text:
Maritime pollution 'should be a criminal offence'
By Zoë Casey
17.02.2009 / 17:50 CET
MEPs wants to criminalise serious maritime pollution.
Cases of serious maritime pollution should be made a criminal offence, the European Parliament's transport committee said today.
Voting on 17 February, MEPs also said that minor cases of pollution at sea should be made criminal if they were repeated, deliberate or caused by serious negligence. Penalties should apply to anyone involved in a pollution case, from ship-owners to classification societies.
The committee was broadly supportive of the Commission's proposal, known as the Erika III package because it is the third bundle of maritime safety proposals since the Erika oil-tanker sank off the coast of France.
MEPs said that a case of serious pollution, classified as an incident that degrades water quality, would be subject to criminal penalties at a level to be decided by national authorities. Minor cases would be considered only as “administrative infringements”, MEPs said.
Luis de Grandes Pascual, a Spanish centre-right MEP, said the measure was “essential” for preventing future environmental disasters. The move should stop those sea-polluters who would rather pay an administrative fine than prevent pollution, the Parliament said.
De Grandes Pascual also said the European Maritime Safety Agency should be given powers to monitor cases of pollution.
The vote by the transport committee paves the way for the full Parliament to vote its position at the March plenary session. More detailed negotiations will then begin with member states in the Council of Ministers.
© 2010 European Voice. All rights reserved.
OK, it seems the EU does now have this competency, and interestingly it was effectively conferred by the ECJ rather than by treaty. It was the Trafigura case you referred to that actually kicked it off.
What little I can find suggests it's only been used in this case and intellectual property (at which point it was decided the commission cannot set penalties), and that effectively unanimity among all member states is required. No doubt there is a way around that somewhere in Lisbon.
For the record I don't consider it a positive development.