400 reasons per million to challenge UKIP’s energy policy
But Will (Straw, in the Times), if we’ll talk about fracking gas, will climate sceptics talk about climate science? UKIP is dragging climate denial along the coattails of its get-out-of-Europe campaign. In a rational world, you can readily negotiate between equivalents: different forms of energy needed in our energy mix, for instance: the benefits of wind power vs fracking shale gas, as Will Straw rightly argues. But would climate sceptics really trade ideology for science? They’re not equivalents. Last Thursday, global atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide, as measured at Hawaii’s Mauna Loa volcano, reached 400 parts per million. Is that debatable with UKIP that says, “climate change is so last century”?
UKIP’s official energy policy, launched by Roger Helmer, the party’s energy spokesman, last autumn, says, “More and more scientists are challenging the conventional wisdom on Global Warming.” How do we know? Because in 2004, a “ground-breaking Channel Four film, The Great Global Warming Swindle, said so. As been said, to make its case, the programme relied not on future visionaries, but on people whose findings linking global temperature variations to sunspot cycles had already been proven wrong.
In fact, current CO2 levels haven’t been this high for at least 3 million years, meaning that we are likely to see changes to the climate never experienced by humans before.
But for UKIP, “Brussels drives up energy costs”, even though they don’t particularly. Promoting wind turbines is pointless because “the net reductions in CO2 emissions are trivial or zero”. Even though it’s not true. A pamphlet published by Nigel Lawson’s lobby group for climate change sceptics, the Global Warming Policy Foundation, was found by researchers at Imperial College to contain fundamental flaws, including serious underestimates about the level of emissions cuts.
What about those green jobs? UKIP asks. “Renewables are not about green jobs. They’re about green unemployment.” What? A million green jobs in the UK’s low carbon economy sectors, according to BIS, aren’t really there? UKIP quotes a 2009 Spanish study, the Effects on employment of public aid to renewable energy sources by Professor Gabriel Calzada Alvarez at King Juan Carlos University, that questions whether “green jobs” are worth the public investment. Published by an Exxon-funded think tank, Instituto Juan de Mariana, and promoted by the Koch Industries network, its elementary errors were challenged by the Spanish government, the Wall Street Journal, the Centre for American Progress, and the US National Renewable Energy Laboratory .
In the real world, where climate refugees are to be increasingly found, Europe’s climate change and energy strategy helps ensure that we play our part in efforts to secure a global agreement on climate change. EU policy underpins much of the UK’s national effort. It helped provide the rationale for the UK’s 2008 Climate Change Act, with binding commitments to cut carbon emissions. We are sourcing 15% of our energy from renewables by 2020 to comply with an EU Directive to which all EU 27 contribute. Across the EU, we’re closing polluting coal pant to comply with another EU Directive.
If we opt out, what would following UKIP cottails lead us to? There’s no Planet B, as they say.