I welcome comment on my blog, and negative comment makes for a lively debate. I take some brickbats, but hell, that’s politics. But just now and again, there’s a comment so egregious that I really feel a significant rebuttal is called for. An anonymous contributor with the handle Catalanbrian made the routine accusations of ignorance, selective data and so on, but added the following:
“Your problem is that, like most politicians from minority parties with limited horizons, you only ever hear the sound of your own voice and of those that agree with you”.
This is so hopelessly far from the truth that I felt I had to set the record straight. Necessarily, therefore, this piece will have the character of self-referential self-justification, so I apologise in advance. (If you don’t fancy it, you can stop reading now!).
I’ve been in the European parliament since 1999, and I’ve sat for many years on the environment committee. I am currently on the Industry & Energy Committee. Far from “only hearing voices that agree with me”, I am, on the contrary, constantly surrounded by voices that disagree. Check my speech last week, where I had to brush off several interruptions from pro-renewable MEPs.
I started taking an interest in climate and energy issues in 2007, and organised a conference in Brussels in April of that year, where we heard, amongst others, from Lord (Nigel) Lawson, former Chancellor of the Exchequer, who had recently published his book “An Appeal to Reason”, calling for a step-by-step approach to climate adaptation, as and when needed, rather than a massive up-front investment in mitigation, which might be ineffectual and was based on highly speculative science. We also had Benny Peiser, then of Liverpool John Moores University, now with the Global Warming Policy Foundation. And we had Roger Bootle on the economics of climate policy.
I have cooperated over the years both with British MEPs from other parties, and with MEPs from many countries, on these issues. I have regularly attended meetings of the European Energy Forum, under the Chairmanship of Conservative MEP Giles Chichester, where we have had presentations and debates with the IEA, and with numerous energy industry organisations and companies. It has been a great learning experience.
I have had the privilege of working with distinguished scientists in the field like Fred Singer of the University of Virginia, and Bob Carter of the James Cook University in New Zealand. I have attended climate conferences in the UK, in the USA and in the Far East, where I have had the privilege of meeting Richard Lindzen of MIT , Henrik Svensmark of the Danish National Space Institute , Paul Reiter, a tropical diseases expert from the Pasteur Institute in Paris , Hans Labohm, formerly of the Netherlands Institute of International Relations, , and many others. A number of these have been advisers and reviewers to the IPCC, although none agrees with the main thrust of its findings on man-made climate change.
I have also corresponded with economists active in this field, including Ruth Lea and David Henderson, and recently I have met with Prof Alan Riley of London City University, and summarised his presentations on my blog. I have naturally also been in touch with many journalists, not least Christopher Booker and James Delingpole, but also others on the opposite end of the spectrum — like Leo Hickman of the Guardian.
I have visited the University of East Anglia and discussed the Climategate scandal with scientists from their Climatic Research Unit (I shall shortly be reviewing A.W.Montford’s new book “Hiding the Decline”). I have debated climate issues with climate scientists at Leicester University. This last encounter was filmed by the BBC and broadcast on their Politics Show. And I have visited Loughborough University to see their work on thin-film solar PV, and Rolls-Royce in Derby for a presentation on their developments in tidal turbines.
I knew former Energy Secretary Chris Huhne, of course, as he was an MEP 1999/04. I have had dealings with former Energy Minister Charles Hendry, and with current Energy Minister John Hayes (who is from my East Midlands Region), and indeed with the excellent Owen Paterson, Environment Minister.
I have attended two of the UN COP Climate Conferences, COP14 in Poznan in 2008, and COP 16 in Cancun in 2010. (Not many “voices of those who agree with me” there, Catalanbrian!). I decided not to go to Doha this year, since the UN COP process is clearly dead on its feet, and of little interest.
I have been in contact with many think tanks and lobby groups who take an interest in climate. I wrote a book for the Bruges Group, “Cool Thinking on Climate Change”. I’m in regular touch with the Global Warming Policy Foundation, and the Renewable Energy Foundation. I’ve met with British Energy, and I will be addressing the Conference of the Major Energy Users’ Council (MEUC) next week.
So, Catalanbrian, disagree with me if you will. That’s your privilege in a free country — even when you’re wrong. But don’t try to pretend that I haven’t engaged widely with the subject.