I blogged earlier about the Saint Ives Climate Conference last Saturday. One of the speakers was Fay Tuncay of www.repealtheact.co.uk.
The Climate Change Act 2008 was perhaps the most expensive piece of legislation ever passed by a British government. Virtually all MPs voted in favour, with a very few honourable exceptions like Peter Lilley, Christopher Chope and Andrew Tyrie. One can only assume in charity that the remainder didn’t quite understand what they were voting for. Or as the Good Book says, “Father forgive them for they know not what they do”.
Did they know that the Act will cost a trillion dollars in the UK alone? (Yes, a trillion -- that’s a million million, or ten to the twelfth power). The government estimates the cost at £18 billion a year over forty years. It will undermine the UK economy by giving us just about the most expensive energy in the world (while France enjoys the benefit of lowcost, reliable nuclear power). It will force a million extra families into fuel poverty. We may well see domestic electricity prices up 60% as early as 2020. Even on the government’s own estimates (based on their blind commitment to climate alarmism) the costs of this programme far outweigh any conceivable benefits.
The EU requires the UK to cut CO2 emissions by 20% by 2020, and they’re even talking about upping that figure to 25 or 30%. But the Climate Change Act commits the UK to an eye-watering reduction of 80% by 2050. As Christopher Booker and others have said, this could only be achieved by the de-industrialisation of Britain. What’s more it’s an entirely unforced error. No other country has made such a commitment, nor is likely to. We may pretend to lead by example, but no one will follow. We would be the one lemming jumping over the cliff, while the rest looked on with a mixture of sorrow and derision.
We have made this decision because our political establishment (all three main parties, together on the issue, as they are on the EU) has bought into one side of a hotly-contested scientific dispute. Yet there is increasing evidence that the small changes we have seen in climate are driven by wellestablished, long-term, natural climate cycles, and have nothing to do with human activity. For those who accept the IPCC line, there are weighty economic studies showing that even if we were to meet the 80% target (which of course we won’t), it would have practically no effect on the earth’s climate. And as we’ve seen, it would decimate our economy and impoverish our grandchildren.
And there is a broader constitutional issue. Policy must be decided by the government of the day, in response to current conditions. In the UK, no government can bind its successor. So what is the point of an Act that sets a target for forty years out? How would we feel today if our government were bound by economic targets set in Acts of Parliament passed in 1971? For the one thing we can be sure of is this: that we understand the needs of 2011 a great deal better than the 1971 parliament did.
The point of a law is to specify things that a person (individual or corporate) must do, or must not do, and to set penalties accordingly. I may not rob my neighbour. If I do, and if I am apprehended and convicted, I can be sent to jail (although thanks to Ken Clarke I’d probably get twenty hours of community service, to be spent doing crosswords and drinking six-packs).
Governments frequently miss the targets they have set themselves. If UK PLC misses the 80% target in 2050, as be assured it will, who carries the can? Who pays the fine? Who goes to jail? You know the answer as well as I do: no one. The Act is mere gesture politics. But it’s hugely damaging gesture politics nonetheless, and arguably unconstitutional. It needs to be repealed before it does any more harm. Please sign the petition today on www.repealtheact.co.uk.