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.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Carbon claptrap from left to right, and in the centre....

This week the climate-change caravanserai sensibly bypassed Europe with the first Asia-Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate (AP6) held in Sydney, Australia.

By contrast, in the UK, the wishy-washy political consensus over climate is sapping adult, serious debate, especially with regard to economic decision-making and energy policy. The last thing we want is a soggy cross-party agreement. We are crying out for some hard-headed politicians to take a tough, realistic look at climate change and energy (cf., for example, this).

Kyoto isn't working, and, in truth, the Protocol has presided over a massive increase in carbon dioxide emissions worldwide. The Montreal conference will make no change to this. There is even evidence that carbon trading results in rising emissions. Yet, UK politicians still feel bound to mouth the rhetoric of Kyoto. Accordingly, the political gap between fact and rhetoric grows ever wider - a chasm of carbon claptrap. And this is a divide eagerly exploited by the big energy companies, who will happily play 'global warming' every which way, chasing the money wherever it politically pops up.

Carbon sequestration
Internationally, it is increasingly obvious to any objective observer that the focus of the debate has already shifted to adaptation to inevitable climate change, to technological innovation and transfer, and, as clearly demonstrated by the meeting in Australia, from Europe to the dynamic countries of the Pacific Rim.

Tony Blair knows this, but, perhaps unsurprisingly, he now lacks drive, being embroiled in domestic battles and EU squabbles. The 'Little Britain’ Green stance taken by the new Conservative leader, David Cameron, is potentially a disaster, and it does make one wonder about his inexperience and to question whether he is too enmeshed in thirties-year old, Notting Hill agenda-setting. Moreover, how does this stance square with his comments about needing more roads, making the UK more competitive, and cutting red tape for business? Meanwhile, back in Toytown, the Liberal-Democrats have, with the forced resignation of their leader, Charles Kennedy [as predicted on EnviroSpin], extended the pantomime season, and, if they are not careful, they could be blown away with their utopian wind farms.

Thus, climate-change politics in the UK has something of the nursery about it. We are crying out for a brave, senior politician who can openly declare that the Kyoto Protocol is a disaster and that we must put our efforts into maintaining a viable and flexible economy, one that can support technological innovation and transfer, which can sustain economic growth, and which can adapt to climate change, whatever it throws at us.

It is surely time to look East...

... And watch electorally-exciting(!) Canada too: 'Tories would turn back Kyoto' (CBC, January 13).

Moosic to my ears.

Philip, always pushing for a serious, grown-up approach to climate change in the UK. A strong morning coffee and miniature Danish pastry first, of course. Yummy. [Image: carbon sequestration, including deep geological storage: in the public domain, from Wikipedia]

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

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