Climate Change - a Brief Overview
by Cllr. Derek Tipp
The whole basis of climate science (formerly known as global warming) is based on the premise that the world is warming at a sufficient rate to alter the climate in an adverse way, AND that it is caused by man-made emissions of CO2. Most climate scientists agree that man is emitting CO2 and that this will cause some warming (approx. 1 degree Celsius for a doubling of CO2) if nothing else changes.
After that there are many disagreements, most fundamentally about the effect of other natural changes that could occur. Those who predict catastrophe believe other changes will reinforce the warming. There are many others who believe changes will mitigate the warming, or almost cancel it out. The future is very uncertain.
What is absolutely clear to anyone who discusses this subject privately with politicians in our Party is that there is certainly no consensus on how to deal with it. While some still believe the IPCC represents the science, an increasing number are having private doubts and a few are prepared to air them in public.
The dilemma faced by Western political leaders is that they have invested huge political capital in elevating the "cause" of reducing CO2 emissions to a very high priority. In fact the UK government has gone further than any other, by passing the Climate Change Act (CCA). This Act enshrines a road map to 80% decarbonisation by 2050. It is now virtually impossible for them to ditch these policies without a massive loss of face. Not only that, but considerable numbers of the public still remain convinced that the CO2 climate hypothesis is correct, which is hardly surprising after a huge propaganda campaign by the government as well as numerous other bodies.
So, even if the evidence is moving in the direction of climate change not being such a major problem, or even not a problem at all, political leaders will still be likely to stick to their current policies. It would almost need the onset of an ice age before they would be forced to change tack. But there is another problem that is beginning to face our hapless political leaders, that is that the cost of decarbonising the economy is getting more and more expensive.
The measures they have taken so far are the least expensive and even these are causing hardship to many individuals and businesses as the cost of energy is rising quite rapidly. The next tranche of measures will be even tougher and so more unpopular. The dilemma they face is, which is worse, ditching the CCA or carrying on with a policy that leads to ever dearer electricity and the consequent job losses? Will they be brave enough to tackle the transport sector and start to phase out the petrol and diesel engine? Just imagine the huge cost of doing so!
The question that anyone looking at the facts would ask is, why are governments in the developed world prepared to spend very large sums of money to reduce CO2 emissions based on such uncertain evidence? The answer, I believe, is that this hypothesis has attracted a great deal of support from a number of different political causes.
It suits the agenda of the UN itself which wants to have a bigger role in world governance. It suits the agenda of the Environmental movement, which includes those former communists who have infiltrated and made common cause with them. Curiously it appears to suit the democratic leaders of many Western nations, perhaps because it has the support of many high profile celebrities and "green" organisations and charities as well as a vocal minority of voters. Finally and very obviously, it suits the developing nations, who stand to gain very large sums of money.
I do not believe there is a giant conspiracy going on. It is simply that the science of global warming due to increased atmospheric CO2, provides the imperative for action to reduce emissions and all the wealth transfer and increased taxation that flows from it. Of course it is obvious to anyone that world emissions will not be reduced unless all industrialised nations are signed up to the same level of cuts.
However the UN has come up with a system whereby the developed nations have to make significant cuts and the developing world have been exempt. As part of the package the policy has resulted in developed nations transferring significant sums of money to the developing nations either directly or through their industry purchasing "carbon credits".
Extraordinarily, the West has gone along with this and accepted the argument that they must accept responsibility for their "historic emissions" of CO2. Up to the present this policy has, as expected, not halted the increase in world emissions of CO2, largely because the rise of Chinese and other developing nations' industry using fossil fuels, has meant that their increase in emissions is greater than cuts made by the developed nations. It is now clear that any future agreement must include these nations. Developing nations can no longer be allowed to benefit from this, yet this is the main reason why the whole thing is being supported by them.
The next major conference on climate change is to take place in Paris in December 2015. The ambition of the UN is to get a world-wide binding commitment from all nations to make cuts in emissions of CO2, but the problem is that it is highly unlikely that all nations will agree, as the cuts will impact much more severely on some than on others.
President Obama would like to sign up, but he may have a tough time getting a deal through the Senate. The Australian, Canadian and Japanese governments have already indicated they are not happy to sign a deal that would affect them negatively. The Germans too seem to be off-message, despite a strong Green contingent in their government, as they increase coal usage while phasing out their nuclear power.
It looks as though the UK will be ready to sign up to any new treaty, whether it's David Cameron or Ed Miliband as our PM. It will be interesting to see if there is any more resistance from our MPs who were almost unanimous in passing the CCA. The political future, like the climate is very uncertain.