Eerder schreef ik over de departementale reorganisatie onder de nieuwe regering in Groot-Brittannië, waarbij het DECC (‘Department Of Energy And Climate Change’) als zelfstandige eenheid werd opgeheven en ondergebracht bij een nieuw ministerie: het ‘Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy’.

Door velen werd dit gezien als een signaal dat het klimaatbeleid in het VK op een lager pitje werd gezet. Maar als men de retoriek van de kersverse minister, Barones Neville-Rolfe (Con.), mag geloven, is dat niet het geval.

In het Hogerhuis verklaarde zij onlangs:

My Lords, I am very pleased to address the House as the new Minister for Energy and to open the debate on the Carbon Budget Order 2016. This order fulfils the requirement under the Climate Change Act 2008 for the Government to set five-year carbon budgets on the path to our 2050 target of an 80% reduction in emissions. ….

As noble Lords know, I am brand new to this area and have not had a chance to look at, let alone review, the policy. However, it is well established and very important, and passed with considerable cross-party support—although that is not of course a reason not to reflect in a practical way on how we can do better, looking at the underlying facts, the economics, issues of security and resilience, and our international commitments on climate change. There is also an interaction between security of supply, price and industrial competitiveness—a key objective of our new Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. …

Before discussing the order, I will reflect briefly on the UK’s Climate Change Act and what it means at the current time. Leaving the EU will bring challenges and opportunities to the UK. However, it does not change the fact that climate change remains one of the most serious long-term risks to our stability. The main direct threat to the UK relates to an increased risk of flooding, and the floods we saw in parts of the north of England last year, which were tragic for those affected, could become more common. ..

I turn to the Carbon Budget Order 2016, which will set the level for the fifth carbon budget at an equivalent 57% emission reduction on 1990 levels. This budget level is in line with the recommendations of our independent advisers, the Committee on Climate Change, and reflects the views of the devolved Administrations.  …

Een kersverse minister, die de materie niet kent, is natuurlijk een willig werktuig in de handen van haar ambtenaren, die allen tot de ‘Groene blob’ behoren. Vandaar dat het geen verwondering wekt dat zij niet afwijkt van de mantra van het Britse klimaatbeleid.

Zij werd van repliek gediend door Viscount Ridley (Con.) en Lord Lawson (Con.) (zie afbeelding boven), destijds minister van financiën onder Margaret Thatcher.

Viscount Ridley (Con.):

… I beg my noble friend to pause and reconsider on the Motion. The fact that the Liberal Democrats are enthusiastically in support encourages me to beg even harder. This order is a piece of economic self-harm. It is against government policy, it will do precisely no good for the climate of the planet, it will hurt the poorest people in the country and cost jobs, and it will cripple our ability to grow the economy. …

The EU in Paris last year promised cuts of 40% by 2030. Here we are promising 57%. That is a unilateral offer to go almost one and half times as fast.  …

[…] how much would this extra 17% cut in the fifth carbon budget reduce global temperatures, if it could be achieved? The UK produces 1.1% of world CO2 emissions. Reducing those by an extra 17% would reduce global emissions by 0.15%. The total warming expected by 2090 is between 0.8 and 2 degrees centigrade, depending on whether you choose the RCP 4.5 or the RCP 6 emission scenario and whether you choose the Lewis or the CMIP model sensitivity. So our unilateral action would reduce global warming by 2090 by between 0.001 and 0.003 degree centigrade.

[…] for that infinitesimal achievement we are being asked to pay with the jobs of British workers, the lives of British pensioners, and the standard of living of every person in this country. In the Government’s low fossil fuel price scenario for 2030, domestic households would see prices 60% higher than they would otherwise be in 2030, while medium-sized businesses would see increases of 114%. Those latter increases will necessarily be passed through to domestic households in the costs of goods and services, giving a much greater total cost of living effect than that found in household energy bills alone. To these must be added electricity system costs for grid expansion and management. My noble friend says that we are meeting the targets in the carbon budget, but we are doing so at the cost of jobs in energy-intensive industries.

Meanwhile, fuel poverty currently kills several thousand people a year. …

All this adds up to a terrible cost and—worse still—a terrible opportunity cost to the British economy. It comes at a time when the UK needs to become dynamic as never before to make our way in the world post Brexit. Affordable energy is the very cause of prosperity. It amplifies the work of individuals, dramatically raising productivity. The attempt to force an energy transition way ahead of the learning curve and against a far steeper cost gradient than was ever envisaged when fossil fuel prices were high is genuinely hazardous. A coerced return to the thin, costly and variable flows of renewable energy that characterised the medieval economy risks causing deep and lasting economic harm, as well as jeopardising the broader environment, for only prosperous countries can afford to care for the natural world.

Aldus Matt Ridley. Ook Nigel Lawson had felle kritiek op de openingsspeech van Lucy Neville-Rolfe, die hij op de hem zo karakteristieke, onnavolgbaar hoffelijke wijze naar voren bracht.

Lord Lawson of Blaby (Con.):

My Lords, as a former Secretary of State for Energy, I, too, congratulate my noble friend on her appointment as Minister for Energy. I realise that she is so early in her job that she is not a great authority on the issue, but bearing in mind how well she has performed in her previous role, I am sure that it will not be long before she is very well-versed. She will come to realise that the speech she made introducing this debate, which was obviously written for her by her officials, contained numerous blatant, glaring errors of fact. I shall refer to only one.

She mentioned, in particular, flooding. I draw her attention and the attention of the House to the latest issue of Science in Parliament. It includes an article from Professor Paul Bates of the School of Geographical Sciences at the University of Bristol, entitled “Flooding: What is Normal?”. He finishes:

“In conclusion, in terms of national scale annual losses we can see that, contrary to the standard media narrative, flooding during winter 2015/6 was, by recent experience, entirely normal”.

All the myths that are trotted out have been demonstrated to be false by experts such as Professor Roger Pielke of the United States, who is not a climate sceptic but has shown clearly that there has been no increase in extreme weather events. …

[…] as my noble friend Lord Ridley pointed out, the Climate Change Act, of which these orders are a derivative, is an Act of manifest, acute self-harm, very particularly for the poorest among us and for much of British industry. It does no good to anybody. I do not want to repeat his points, but I hope that when she winds up my noble friend will refer to all the points that he made because they are very important. There is no case for this. It is bizarre that we are doing this.

At this point, I warmly welcome my right honourable friend Theresa May, the new Prime Minister. At the start of her time as Prime Minister, she has made an excellent beginning with the abolition of the Department of Energy and Climate Change. That will not transform everything overnight, but it is clearly an important step in the right direction and signals her recognition that what matters is getting affordable and reliable energy, which is what the people of this country want—the people she said she cares about most in her opening statement of her position. That is what they are calling for: affordable and reliable energy.

The Minister also said something about the reduction we have achieved in carbon emissions in this country. What I think she may not yet be aware of is that the main reason we have achieved it is that energy-intensive industry has gone abroad. This has become particularly topical in the case of the steel industry. There has been no reduction in global emissions; it is just that the emissions are coming from China, India or wherever, and not from the United Kingdom. This boasting about the United Kingdom’s reduction in global emissions is completely meaningless.

I encourage my noble friend, for whom I have a very high regard, not to be caught up in any of this nonsense and to look at the thing afresh in a rational way …

Aldus Nigel Lawson.

Lees verder hier en hier.

Zelden zal een minister op zulk een subtiele en hoffelijke wijze te horen hebben gekregen dat zij als nieuweling niets van de materie afweet en dat als zij het beleid zou voortzetten knettergek zou zijn.

De ‘Climate Change Act’ van 2008 was een toppunt van klimaatverdwazing en alles behalve common sense waar de Britten zo bekend om staan. Gelukkig zijn er nog moedige politici als Nigel Lawson en Matt Ridley die het hoofd koel houden en trachten het Britse beleid weer op het rechte spoor te krijgen. Laten we hopen dat zij daarin zullen slagen.

Mutatis mutandis zijn bovenstaande argumenten ook op het Nederlandse klimaatbeleid van toepassing.

Voor mijn eerdere bijdragen over klimaat en aanverwante zaken zie hierhier, hier, hier en hier.