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The dog that didn't bark on Thursday during Energy questions

by Paul Goodman

The Commons provides no shortage of opportunities for my favourite Chamber observation - that what isn't said is as important as what is.

Thursday's energy questions contained questions about energy prices, carbon reduction, smart metering, energy schemes, nuclear power stations, low-energy carbon products, and marine renewables.  Much as usual, you might say.

Except for this: almost no-one, in the space of the best part of an hour, mentioned global warming - especially in the context of it being driven by human activity.  One Labour MP, Gregg McClymont, referred to "fighting climate change".  And that was about it.

This is all the more striking since Chris Huhne's only recently returned from the Cancun summit, where he was a big cheese.  Mark Pritchard congratulated Huhne on "his success in Cancun"; Caroline Lucas, the sole Green MP, mentioned the Cancun agreements at the very end of topical questions.  But garlands for the loqacious Climate Change Secretary were otherwise in very short supply.

Indeed, five of the topical questions were about the present cold weather, and its consequences for older and poorer people.  So were a significant tranche of the earlier ones.

Politicians follow trends. Leaner economic times, the "climate gate" scandal and - not least - our recent autumn and winter weather seem to have moved public opinion on man-made global warming.  MPs have picked this up - and quietly, tacitly, without display or ostentation, they're silently moving in a different direction.


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