I saw a headline on the BBC News web-site, “Brown faces Climate Bill Revolt”, and for one glorious moment I thought that perhaps the Labour Party had had an outbreak of sanity. But it was not to be. It seems that 80 Labour MPs have signed up to an amendment to the Climate Bill that would require even deeper CO2 cuts by 2050 — 80% rather than the current draft figure of 60%.
This is a disaster for several reasons. I have covered on my blog a range of reasons why climate hysteria is misplaced. The slight increase in global temperatures since 1850 is totally consistent with the natural cyclical trends of global climate over many thousands of years. The observed pattern of warming, in terms of both latitude and altitude, is wholly different from that predicted by CO2-based climate models. The logarithmic nature of CO2’s climate forcing effect means that today’s levels of CO2 generate virtually all the greenhouse effect that CO2 can cause, and further emissions will make little difference. And to cap it all, the world has got slightly cooler over the last ten years. How long do we have to live with stable or cooling temperatures before climate hysteria runs out of steam?
Even the more modest EU CO2 reduction target of 20% by 2020 (15% for the UK) is unachievable, and will cause huge economic damage. The government is relying mostly on wind power, and it simply won’t get the turbines in time. When it does get them, it will find it difficult if not impossible to balance the grid with a high percentage of randomly variable wind power, and the costs and emissions of the necessary conventional back-up will off-set most of any environmental benefits.
Of course even if the UK could reduce its CO2 emissions to zero by next year, our shortfall would be made up by emissions growth in China alone in the same time-scale, so our impact on climate change (even if you accept the alarmist scenario) would be zero.
Perhaps the worst thing about a 2050 target is this: that none of today’s politicians will be there to carry the can in 2050 when our grandchildren find the lights have gone out and the economy is ruined. 2050 is 42 years away. How many political commitments from 42 years ago — 1966 — do you remember today? None. All too often a long-term target is a cynical device to get good headlines without doing anything. It’s a cheap promise for today’s politicians to make, because they know they won’t be around to deliver.
I’d be much more impressed if they would tell us what they’re going to do this year to ensure our energy security in ten years’ time. They could start by committing to a substantial new build programme of nuclear and coal-fired generators.