Even the freezing weather failed to bring cold reality home to the global warming posse in Cancun.
It is probably fair to say that, in the real world, the need to fight runaway global warming was not at the top of most people’s agenda last week. The Central England Temperature record, the oldest in the world, showed the last week of November and the first of December as the coldest ever recorded since the measurements began in 1659. North of the border, Scotland’s First Minister, Alex Salmond, had to call in the Army as much of his country ground to a halt in up to three feet of snow.
None of this, however, remotely concerned the warmists, who were in fuller cry than ever. In the Mexican resort of Cancun (where, for six days running, local temperatures also fell to their lowest, for the date, since records began 100 years ago) Lord Stern, that high priest of the international warmist establishment, proposed that Britain should raise an extra £15 billion a year in “green taxes”, on petrol, flights and domestic energy, to punish people with a “high-emission lifestyle” for the damage they do to the environment. Ten per cent of this, said Lord Stern, could go to the new Green Climate Fund (agreed late on Friday, to a standing ovation) to help poorer countries develop “low carbon economies” by building wind turbines and solar panels, while the rest could be kept by the British Government as an “incentive”.
Back in Britain we had the latest report of the Climate Change Committee, set up under the Climate Change Act, chaired by Lord (Adair) Turner. This bunch of academics now proposes that Britain should lead the world by cutting its carbon emissions by 60 per cent in the next 20 years. One of the chief ways to do this, says Lord Turner, will be to ensure that there are 11 million electric cars on Britain’s roads by 2030. Quite how 11 million motorists will be persuaded to pay more than £20,000 a time for these vehicles when, for little more than half that, they could buy a Ford Focus, Lord Turner does not say – nor why they should opt for a car that will drive for barely 100 miles before its batteries have to be recharged for several hours. As for who will provide the millions of charging points necessary, Lord Turner suggests that electricity companies could be forced to do this as a licensing condition. But he overlooks the fact that almost all the electricity they need would come from fossil fuels, which with transmission losses, would largely if not wholly negate any supposed savings in CO2.
No sight was more poignant in Britain last week, however, than that of Mr Salmond, whose self-styled “government” was so caught out by all that nasty white global warming covering Scotland.
Mr Salmond’s proudest boast is that, within 10 years, 80 per cent of all Scotland’s electricity will come from renewable sources, most of it from thousands more wind turbines. Like many other politicians, Mr Salmond does not seem to have registered that the wind is not always blowing. Last Tuesday evening, when many places in Britain were registering their lowest temperatures on record, UK electricity demand was a staggering 60 gigawatts. But the amount coming from wind turbines was just 0.2 per cent – one 500th of what we were using. Ten times as much was coming from nuclear reactors in France, through the interconnector under the Channel.
Mr Salmond insists that he will not allow any replacements for the nuclear and coal-fired power stations in Scotland which will be forced to close in the next few years, although they currently generate almost as much as Scotland’s average demand of 4GW. So any hope of keeping Scotland’s lights on will rest on being able to import much of the power it needs from the hated English. So much for Scottish independence.
But what if England too has by that time lost 40 per cent of its generating capacity, as is on the cards? The price we may all have to pay for this green idiocy will be very much higher than the £15 billion a year Lord Stern wants us to pay in new taxes to help build windmills in Africa.