A Weblog monitoring coverage of environmental issues and science in the UK media. By Professor Emeritus Philip Stott. The aim is to assess whether a subject is being fairly covered by press, radio, and television. Above all, the Weblog will focus on science, but not just on poor science. It will also bring to public notice good science that is being ignored because it may be politically inconvenient.

Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Behind the UK warming waffle, the energy realities.....

I think our American cousins may be less than pleased to read the following facts when they recall how the UK always tries to take the high ground over any moralistic view of 'global warming':

From the latest study by the Sustainable Energy Policy Network, a cross-Whitehall body comprising representatives from 16 government departments and organisations:

+ In 2003, Britain's CO2 emissions rose by 1.4 per cent (they are meant to be declining);
+ In 2003, the proportion of electricity generated from 'green' sources fell from 3 per cent to 2.9 per cent (the aim, you may remember, is to increase this to 10% by 2010);
+ Between 1990 and Labour coming to power in 1997, CO2 emissions fell by 7.3 per cent; since when, they have fallen by just 0.2 per cent;
+ When the Energy White Paper was published a year ago, it was estimated that greater energy efficiency in the home might reduce CO2 emissions by a total of 5 million tons. This figure has now been prudently cut to 4.2 million tons.

[See for further comment: 'Government set to miss greenhouse gas targets' (The Independent, April 27)]

Hey ho! And this wondrous performance has been achieved despite a constant diatribe from government and daily hyberbolic doomsday scenarios in gloompapers like The Groaniad and The Indy, not to mention daft climate-change levies and unfair taxation! Alice-in-Blunderland.

Yet, looked at sensibly, the figures are a credit to Blair and Brown. How? Because, unlike most of the EU, they mean that we have an exciting and growing economy. Well done lads. Long may it continue. But it won't if you wreck the energy sector by trying to adopt 'green' utopias like wind power.

There is only one sane policy. Predicate energy policy on true energy needs, not on environmental myths and magic. And, even if you foolishly don't do this, ordinary folk will, because, being largely sane, they recognise intrinsically that maintaining a strong, flexible economy is the only guarantee that you can cope with change, whatever its ultimate direction, cold, hot, dry, wet, or all four at once.

As the engineer, Indur M. Goklany, has written: adaptation comprises "measures, approaches and strategies that would help cope with, take advantage of, or reduce vulnerability to the impacts of global warming." (See: Adapt or die. The science, politics and economics of climate change. London: Profile Books, 2004, Chapter 3).

Philip, about to adapt with a cup of well-earned coffee.

[New counter, June 19, 2006, with loss of some data]

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