Following a recent blog piece, one of my regular (and not always sympathetic) correspondents “Catalanbrian” raised a complaint that I hear all too often: that UKIP has ‘only one policy’
To be fair, another contributor, “Flyinthesky”, pointed out the obvious — that the EU is the over-riding policy that affects just about everything else, from the City of London to the remote hillsides of the Celtic fringes.
In any case, Catalanbrian is wrong in his own terms, as I pointed out to him. Indeed I was rather affronted, as I have done a huge amount of work on UKIPs’ energy policy (for which I am the spokesman).and I’m sorry to see it ignored in this cavalier fashion. But Catalanbrian was not about to stand corrected. He came back with: “Roger, your energy policy on which you state that you have spent a huge amount of time is unclear, unrealistic and is based on the premise that there is no climate change and that CO2 emissions are good for the planet! I am not too sure that that is a policy that can be taken seriously”.
Sorry, Catalanbrian, wrong again. Our UKIP Energy Policy is a great deal clearer and more realistic than what passes for energy policy in Brussels and Westminster, and what’s more it would deliver the secure and affordable energy that we — and our economy — so desperately need.
Let’s take the global warming point first. We have both theoretical and observational grounds for rejecting the IPCC paradigm. The IPCC makes a very high estimate of climate sensitivity (the response of global temperatures to changes in CO2 concentrations), based on postulated positive feed-backs which cannot be proven and have not been demonstrated. Many scientists, especially astronomers are arguing that the modest late 20th C warming was the result of an exceptional solar maximum, which now seems to be over and unlikely to be repeated any time soon. Some of them are suggesting that we could now face a period of global cooling (as we did between 1945 and 75). This again is unproven, but it rather undermines the idea of “a scientific consensus” in favour of AGW — which in any case was always based on highly suspect figures
But if we turn from hypotheses to real observational facts (which pace the IPCC, should be the basis of science) we see that real global temperatures have gone nowhere for 17 years, flatly contradicting the Warmist theories (flatly in both senses, now I come to think of it). But what does the IPCC do when the facts challenge their computer models? Why they stick by the computer models, of course! Everyone knows that theories are more important than facts (especially when their reputations, their salaries and their grant funding depend on backing the theory).
But my point goes deeper than that. Even if you accept the IPCC position, our current policies are deeply damaging and counter-productive. The European Commission loves to set nice clear objectives for emissions reductions. 20% by 2020. 30% by 2030. 50% by 2050. (Wonderful how the numbers fit together, isn’t it? We could call it “Numerical Alliteration”). Maybe instead they should look at the impact on climate (under their own IPCC theory) as a result of their policies. Not enough work has been done in this area, but what has been is deeply disheartening for green policy. Bjorn Lomborg, using broadly the IPCC assumptions, found that US$120 billion spent by Germany on solar panels would by the end of this century delay the trajectory of global warming by a mere 37 hours Given that the world hasn’t warmed in 17 years, we can say that a 37 hour delay in warming is effectively zero. $120 billion for nothing.
EU policies are forcing the investment of trillions of €uros for activity which will have little or no effect on climate. Realistically we can expect global CO2 emissions to keep rising for several decades. If HRH Prince Charles was right that we have only a few years (or was it minutes?) to save the planet, we may as well give up now.
This is gesture politics writ large. We politicians can tell the voters that “we’ve done something” about global warming. Indeed we have. We’ve squandered eye-watering sums of the voters’ money. But we’ve had a trivial effect — if any — on the climate.
So green policies fail in their own terms. We have done huge damage to our economies, and to our competitiveness, today, in the hope of a trivial mitigation of a highly speculative problem in many decades’ time. At least the politicians responsible for today’s policies won’t be alive to see the failure of their plans, just as Rajendra K Pachauri of the IPCC may not be around to see the ultimate collapse of his theory.
But it gets worse. In Brussels, the talk is of “carbon leakage”, which is a polite way of describing the massive migration of industries, investment and jobs out of the EU altogether, to other jurisdictions with lower energy prices and, in many cases, with lower standards (China, for example). Indeed there are signs that the out-going EU Commission was starting to get the message, and starting to panic. They wouldn’t listen to the sceptics, but they are forced to listen when large, energy-intensive businesses tell them that industry is moving out. That’s why out-going Industry Commissioner Antonio Tajani spoke of creating “an industrial massacre in Europe”.
This exodus of industry and investment is not merely damaging our economy, although that is bad enough. By going to jurisdictions with lower environmental standards, it may well also increase emissions of CO2, and accelerate global warming (if you still think that’s what CO2 does).
So we have a current UK/EU policy which:
1 Damages our economy, undermines competitiveness, drives investment abroad
2 Fails to deliver in its own terms, or to have any significant effect on the environment
3 May arguably exacerbate the very problem it’s designed to solve.
Talk your way out of that one, Ed Davey.