Climate Charge? Who is paying? And for what? This was the title of a Conference organised by that indefatigable climate campaigner the Revd Philip Foster, in the Churchill Barn at St. Ives, Huntingdonshire, on Saturday March 19th. I was delighted to meet, amongst others, the renowned weather guru Piers Corbyn (see photo, and www.weatheraction.com), who has conspicuously out-performed the Met Office in delivering accurate long-term weather forecasts. Perhaps that’s because he studies the real world and real weather systems rather than theorising about man-made global warming.
May I crave your indulgence for a personal reminiscence? In 1973, returning to the UK from my first expat job, in Hong Kong, I went to work as Marketing Manager for Clive (now Sir Clive) Sinclair at his St. Ives company Sinclair Radionics, and I bought a house in Needingworth Road, St. Ives. Last Saturday, on my way to the conference, I passed the end of Needingworth Road, and couldn’t resist the temptation to drive down and photograph the old house. This was where I brought both my children home as new babies from the Addenbrookes Hospital in Cambridge. It was because I was in Saint Ives, and active in the Huntingdon Constituency, that I found myself sitting on the selection committee which chose John Major to be the local MP. I may say in my own defence that I had him marked down as a good hard-working back-bencher, and was somewhat taken aback when he later became Prime Minister.
At the conference on Saturday, I preached my sermon (or you could say gave my usual rant), using as my text the slogan from my recent poster campaign: “Our green policies are probably unnecessary, certainly ineffectual, and ruinously expensive”.
Probably unnecessary: The very small changes in climate we have seen over the last hundred years are entirely consistent with well-established, long-term, natural climate cycles, and don’t require any special or anthropogenic explanation.
Certainly ineffectual: Even if you accept the Gospel according to the IPCC, the best environmental economists consider that the actions being planned will make a difference almost too small to measure in mean global temperatures by 2100. With China building a new coal-fired power station every week, and India not far behind, our emissions targets are not only unachievable — they are futile.
Ruinously expensive: On the government’s own estimates, our Climate Change Act, requiring an 80% reduction in CO2 emissions by 2050, will cost a trillion dollars over forty years in the UK alone. Domestic electricity prices are set to rise 60% by 2020. A million additional households will be driven into fuel poverty. And the competitiveness of our economy will be decimated by just about the highest electricity prices in the world.
I was hugely impressed by the very professional presentation given by Professor Stephen F. Bush, from the University of Manchester. He analysed the government’s plans for energy over coming decades, and proposed an alternative plan with more use of nuclear. His plan had three key benefits. First, a much better spread over time of capital investment, avoiding the peak in the current decade which appears in the government’s plans; secondly, avoiding the pinch-points in supply in the current plan, which may well lead to black-outs later this decade; and third, critically, avoiding the massive hit to our balance of payments implicit in the government’s plans, relying as they do on massive gas and power imports.
I intend to return to this subject when I have a copy of Prof. Bush’s paper. It should be compulsory reading for our energy ministers.
Answers: (1) No — or at least, not anthropogenic; (2) You; (3) Nothing.