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.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Climatic chutzpah.....

European chutzpah over climate change and 'global warming' knows no bounds. On the very day that Mr. Blair had to admit that the UK is falling lamentably behind in its own efforts to curb so-called 'greenhouse-gas' emissions [levels are embarrassingly identical to those when New Labour came to power in 1997: see 'UK "failing on greenhouse gases"' (BBC Politics News, December 8)], we learn that he has a 'secret plan' to secure George Bush's backing for a new form of international climate treaty, a kind of 'Kyoto-lite', in which there will be no set targets but merely statements of agreement on the 'science' of climate change and on the need for carbon-reducing technologies. When will the man stop trying to save the world?

This will not, however, make Mr. Blair popular with either the fanatical 'Greens', who regard such a ploy as letting 'the demon' Bush off the hook, or with the ever-arrogant France, whose representatives have been confidently, if quite stupidly, saying that Bush will rejoin the original Kyoto treaty. France also loathes the whiff of an Anglo-Saxon stich-up over anything, never mind climate change.

But the European reality on emissions is a disgrace. Last December the EU was forced to point out that Sweden and the UK were the only countries anywhere near to meeting their Kyoto Protocol targets. The situation in countries like Spain and Portugal is risible, emissions having risen by well over 30%. The gall of Europe, and especially of countries like France and Spain, in lecturing America on this issue just beggars belief.

Moreover, there is quite another spin to be put on those UK emission figures. What they really mean is that the UK economy is doing pretty well, thank you, and that it is (thank goodness) experiencing precisely the kind of economic growth that the Chancellor, Gordon Brown, requires to cover the rather large spending black hole revealed only last week in his Pre-Budget Statement. Is this another deep rift between the Chancellor and the PM, I wonder?

So, long may our economic growth continue. This, of course, is precisely why the US so wisely rejected the Kyoto Protocol in the first place, identifying all too well the nasty and unwanted curbs it could put on both the US and the world economies.

The best analysis of Blair's new little scheme is undoubtedly to be found in today's The Times - the essay on p. 36 by the Foreign Editor, Bronwen Maddox, is, as ever, seminal and this is coupled with a very sound Editorial Comment on p. 19. Unfortunately, for copyright reasons, I am unable to give direct hyperlinks to these - so please go directly to The Times to read them.

In the meantime, just raise two fingers to France and Spain. At least the effort from Blair is, I believe, genuine.

Philip, renewed to fight for climate realities. Coffee time.

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

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