A Member of the European Parliament Dissents on Climate
On Tuesday I attended an "Exchange of Views" with the European Commission on their negotiating position for the up-coming climate talks in Lima, ahead of next year's Paris conference, and I shared with them some robust and unpopular views. Part of the package seems to be a proposal for a $10 billion Fund to help developing countries deal with "the effects of climate change."
We in UKIP, the United Kingdom Independence Party, take the view that climate mitigation on the Kyoto model is probably unnecessary; certainly ineffectual; and ruinously expensive.
Unnecessary, because the science underpinning climate alarmism is highly speculative. There has been no global warming for nearly two decades. The computer models on which it is based have repeatedly failed to deliver on their predictions. Far from being settled, there is a lively scientific debate about the sensitivity of the climate system to atmospheric CO2. The IPCC favours a figure of 3oC (5.4°F) per doubling of CO2. Many scientists, looking at recent temperature trends, believe that 1oC (1.8°F) would be nearer the mark. The IPCC figure depends on heroic estimates of positive feed-back effects. But there are both positive and negative feed-backs, and many scientists suggest that the net balance may be negative.
Ineffectual, for many reasons. First, there are reportedly 1200 new coal-fired power stations in the global pipeline (including, perhaps surprisingly, 20+ in Germany). Global emissions will increase whatever we do. The recent decline in US emissions is based on the switch from coal to gas – not on climate mitigation or renewables. The Chinese have agreed that their emissions will peak by 2030 – or in other words, they've kicked it into the long grass. And anyway, by 2030 their demographic decline will have begun, so emissions may well decline anyway. And no one counts the inefficiencies in fossil fuel back-up as it runs intermittently to complement intermittent renewables.
Ruinously expensive: renewables were supposed to become competitive when fossil fuel prices went up. But they're going down. Former EU Industry Commissioner Antonio Tajani said that we are creating "an industrial massacre" in the EU with energy prices. We are driving energy-intensive businesses off-shore, taking their jobs and their investment with them. And we are forcing households and pensioners into fuel poverty. We are damaging our economy whilst exporting both jobs and emissions.
We have seen climate summits come and go: they always disappoint. In a triumph of hope over experience, negotiators are now talking-up their expectations of success in Lima and Paris. I predict first, that they will be disappointed again; and second, that even if they strike a deal on paper, it will largely fail on delivery.
British voters and British industry (and I daresay continental voters and industry as well) are already smarting under the cost of energy, the massive up-front investments made in a futile attempt to mitigate highly speculative problems in the distant future, the job losses and factory closures. Now in addition they are expected to contribute to a massive fund to help developing countries deal with problems that have not yet occurred and will probably never occur.
So what is UKIP's approach? We should be monitoring events, looking at the data, revisiting the science in the light of the actual climate trends. And then we should invest modest sums in adaptation, as and when and if needed, rather than multi-billion investments up-front on solutions that won't deliver and may not be needed at all. Future generations will look back in astonishment and disbelief at the vast waste of resources generated by climate alarmism in the early 21st century.
Roger Helmer is a member of the European Parliament. He is also the leader of the 24-strong UKIP delegation to the European parliament – the largest British delegation and is the Party's Spokesman on Energy