Those who read this blog regularly may be a little surprised to learn – because it is not the sort of stuff i tend to post here – that i am also getting to be something of an expert on topics related to climate change and more interestingly, governmental response to same.
Which is why a series of stories that have recently appeared in the Mail on this subject have been so utterly depressing.
Let’s start with the qualifications. Yep. Over the last couple of years, i’ve written six major reports – best part of a quarter of a million words – plus a couple of quite respectable academic papers on subjects like renewables, carbon pricing and smart grid.
Add in that i’ve probably read or skimmed most of the major publications, from the various IPCC reports on climate shange thru top the Stern Review – which was actually a 700 page review of the subject by Sir Nicholas Stern, and not just a pretty strict piece of reporting – and i guess i probably qualify as some sort of expert.
So i know what’s going on to a degree that maybe the average Mail reporter does not. I know that irrespective of whether climate change is a real issue and whether what we are doing to the atmosphere now is going to rise global temperatures by 2 degrees Celsius over the next 50 years – or a civilisation erasing 17 degrees, as one model forecasts – we need to do something about energy because…
Well, because fossil fuels are running out. Peak oil. You may have heard of it: tis the year at which increase in demand for oil outstrips new finds. The year when that fuel begins to run out.
We passed it. Last year if you believe the optimistic forecasts. Six or seven years back if you’re pessimistic. Gas comes next, in the next 30 to 50 years. The coal, some way further out.
The detail does not matter. Whether or not we have fried the planet, our future is going to be very dark indeed, unless we find alternatives to fossil fuel.
Little England shrivels in the cold
And you know what? We are. Lsat year, Austria – little Austria! – generated almost 70% of its electricity from renewables. Norway generated enough electricity from renewables to export some of it. Swede n managed over half. Spain, Portugal and Denmark all turned in around one third of their electricity requirements from renewable sources.
And the UK? Er, under 7%!
Similar dire picture for other (non-electrical) energy generation. The average EU target for 2020 is 20%. Many countries are targeting above that. The UK is hoping to achieve 15% – athough the current gap between what it does now and its target is one of the largest in the EU.
Partly because the way it has opted to provide support (through a quota system) is widely regarded as financially inefficient. Partly, though, because of the Daily Mail and Mail-reading Tory MP’s, over 100 of whom were agitating in the Commons last week not to expand our renewables programme, but to cut it back.
Because this climate change lark, you see: its “not proven”. And besides, these targets come from Europe and…now here’s a fib: the UK is almost alone in the world in setting such crippling renewables targets.
Er, no. Several US states have higher targets than the UK in proportional terms. OPne of the leading exponents of renewables (wind power) in the US is Texas, who you might think would know a bit about energy. Across the globe, country after country after country is setting strenuous targets for renewables.
Its about security, stoopid!
Because whether they believe in global warming or not, they all know that fossil fuels are running out and, when that day comes, those countries that have not prepared will have a stark choice: kowtow to every little tinpot dictatorship that has access to the remaining reserves; or swwitch off the lights.
Which is what makes me so angry, in the end, about the DM’s blinkered take on this subject…and the blind following by Tory MP’s who one might hope would know better.
This is not an issue where petty nationalistic politics makes sense. And you don’t need to be some sort of tree-hugging green to get that.
Its about survival. Of the nation: of the citizens of this nation. And it seems to me that those cheering loudest now for us to stick two fingers up to brussels may one come to rue their ignorance on this subject.