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Conservative dissent on climate change

CloudsYesterday the House of Commons continued to debate the Climate Change Bill. In particular, the Government is eager that emissions from shipping and international aviation be reduced. They have not been included in the Bill's target of an 80 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, however.

Instead amendments have been introduced that would require the Government to publish regular projections for emissions from international aviation and shipping. Within five years shipping and international aviation should be included in the Government's targets or an explanation laid before Parliament as to why they have not been.

The Conservative front bench has welcomed this development. However, some Conservative MPs have dissented.

Hitchin & Harpenden MP Peter Lilley (a former Secretary of State for Social Security) offered this observation:

"In the speeches of a number of hon. Members, it has been assumed that the whole House is unanimous on the measures before us, and on the Bill that they amend or add to. Historically, the House has made its worst mistakes not when it is divided, but when it is virtually unanimous; not when it is adversarial, but when MPs switch off their critical faculties in a spasm of moral self-congratulation. My concern is that, in considering these measures, we are displaying that tendency. It is vital that we bring the House back down to earth by considering the hard costs and benefits of, and alternatives to, what is proposed and what we are doing. We have not done that very much so far in the debates in the House. Only once in Committee was mention made of the costs and benefits of what we are proposing."

Christopher Chope, MP for Christchurch, suggested that the measures would have little impact on the environment, but a massively negative impact on the economy:

"The issue that we are discussing needs to be put into context. A paper that PricewaterhouseCoopers produced, entitled “The world in 2050”, projects that the United Kingdom will produce only 1.2 per cent. of global emissions in 2050—without the increased targets in the Bill and without including emissions from shipping and aviation. We must take that into consideration. Even if we eliminated that 1.2 per cent., would it make any difference to the world? I do not think that it would—indeed, the burdens on our economy would be even more enormous than they are already likely to be, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Hitchin and Harpenden (Mr. Lilley) explained so well.

My right hon. Friend was one of five who voted against Second Reading. When the history books are written in 2050, people will ask why only five people voted against Second Reading of the ludicrous measure. However, he failed to say that, as we export more of our manufacturing industry, we will depend all the more on international shipping and aviation for our imports. The new clauses therefore deal with matters that are highly relevant to our viability as a nation.

The TaxPayers Alliance produced an important research note, which shows that, if we achieved an 80 per cent. reduction in emissions, UK gross domestic product in 2050 would have to be 3.8 per cent. lower than it was in 1990. We know of the public dismay and, indeed, even the Prime Minister’s concern, about the fact that we have now entered the first quarter of negative growth since 2007. What would 3.8 per cent. negative growth in 2050 compared with 1990 mean for the people of this country? It would be a disaster on a massive scale and unacceptable to the people. Not enough has been done to spell out the implications of the Bill."

Andrew Tyrie is MP for Chichester. He has consistently spoken out against the Climate Change Bill. He spoke once again, and passionately, yesterday. In reference to a report by a German scientist which showed dissent among scientists who worked on the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Mr Tyrie commented:

'Professor von Storch, who is probably Germany’s leading climate scientist, undertook that survey. Unfortunately, it has not been given a wide enough circulation. That same survey showed that one third of climate scientists did not believe that the lion’s share of recently observed warming was anthropogenic in nature. Is the hon. Gentleman aware that a significant proportion of IPCC scientists have resigned in disgust because their views have not been reflected in the reports? They include some of the world’s leading climate scientists, such as Professor Richard Lindzen, who has said that

    “only the most senior scientists today can stand up against this alarmist gale”.'

("Anthropogenic" means caused by humans.)

These MPs are to be congratulated for demonstrating that there is absolutely not, contrary to what we are constantly told, a consensus among scientists on climate change. Nor is there an absolute one among Tory MPs!


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