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Lord Taverne: My Lords, I have no very clear view about climate change. Indeed, I am somewhat worried that many people seem to be so sure. The issue is one of great complexity. There are so many factors that interact and have to be judged over such a long timescale that it makes predictions hazardous. About 75 per cent of expertsmost, although not all, as some claimagree that man-made greenhouse gases are a significant factor in global warning and everyone agrees that global warming is taking place. I feel that I must accept that majority view about the contribution of man-made factors, but how much warming will there be, how soon will it happen, what effect will it have and what should we do about it?
On the one hand, there are Sir David King's persuasive warnings both in his evidence to the committee and in his Zuckerman lecture; then there are reports of the melting of the glaciersto which the noble Lord, Lord Haworth, referred in his eloquent maiden speechand the polar ice, the recent findings of the heating of the oceans and the potential changes to the Gulf Stream. All of those suggest that we may
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be facing imminent catastropheby imminent, I mean some time in the next 50 to 100 years. Yet, let me list some doubts. The first, the hockey stick model often cited by the IPCC, which shows centuries of no rise in warming with a sudden increase as we started the massive use of fossil fuels has been effectively discredited by Hans Von Storch and others and also by Macintyre and McKitrick who demonstrated that the model was so designed that whatever data is fed into it ends up with a hockey stick curve.
Next, the IPCC's future scenarios are based on economic forecasts. These have been convincingly shown by David Henderson and Ian Castles, two eminent economists, to be flawed. It is likely that they exaggerate future emissions of greenhouse gases. The cavalier dismissal of this careful critique by the panel's president shows him to be a partisan advocate and not an objective chairman. He also likened Lomborg to Hitler. He does not inspire confidence.
An early draft of the IPCC's report stated cautiously that:
"Studies . . . suggest that anthropogenic greenhouse gases are a substantial contributor to the observed warming, especially over the last 30 years. However, the accuracy of these estimates continues to be limited by uncertainties in estimates of variability, natural and anthropogenic forcing, and the climate response to external forcing".
The final summary report said something slightly differentmore definite:
"In the light of new evidence and taking into account remaining uncertainties, most of the observed warming over the last 50 years is likely"
that means, by their definition, a 66 per cent to 90 per cent chance
The document seems to have been sexed up.
Recently, Dr Landsea, the panel's leading hurricane expert, resigned in protest, because the IPCC attributed recent hurricanes to global warming. One year's events were taken as evidence, but, interestingly, barometric fluctuations in Stockholm have shown no systematic change in the frequency and severity of storms since Napoleon's time.
There is evidence that ocean levels in the Maldives are steady and have not risen significantly in the past 1,000 years. There is photographic evidence showing high-water marks in the past higher than those at present.
Next, do we know what percentage of warming is due to solar activity? Some experts say 30 per cent, some say 70 per cent to 80 per cent. What of clouds and aerosols, which can have a cooling effect?
I mention these uncertainties, not because I am a climate change denier, but because we should not be dogmatic. There is a sort of political taboo about the issue. If you express doubts, you must be in the pay of the oil industry or a Bush supporter. There is a slight whiff of eco-McCarthyism about.
I support measures to curb emissions of carbon dioxide, of which the most important would be, first, investment in nuclear energy and then carbon
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sequestration. I do not see it as a mortal sin to question the Kyoto Protocol, which will reduce warming by one-fiftieth of a degree Celsius by 2050, at considerable economic cost. I doubt if its targets will be reached, and there are no sanctions if they are not. I suspect that there will be less costly and more effective ways of dealing with whatever prospects lie ahead than the Kyoto straitjacket.
Lord Faulkner of Worcester: My Lords, I am delighted to join all other speakers in congratulating the noble Lord, Lord Renton of Mount Harry, on the way he introduced the debate. I would like to add my own congratulations to the committee on producing such an excellent report. It contains a clear and positive analysis and endorsement of the climate change control policies that are being developed and adopted by the 25 EU member states. It is a wholly welcome contribution to the debate.
The report is also very clear that, while the science of climate control is unambiguously accepted at EU level, current policy options, such as the EU emissions trading scheme, are the first small, but very necessary, steps on a difficult journey.
I was particularly pleased to see that the committee made a special effort to analyse and comment on the huge growth forecast in UK air transport climate change emissions over the next 30 years. I welcome the statement in paragraph 126, on page 42:
"It is clear that a great deal more action needs to be taken urgently to limit the effects of aviation on climate change".
In this context, I should declare an interest as chair of the All-Party Group on Sustainable Aviation.
The committee was right to recommend that air transport should be included in the developing European emissions trading scheme. It was interesting, on reading the report, to find that airlines such as British Airways and Virgin Atlantic and airport operators such as BAA called for their industry sector to adopt the "polluter pays" principle. So while it makes a refreshing change to see an industry apparently keen and willing to join a scheme involving both rationing and paying more for its vital raw resource, the sector's enthusiasm for emissions trading schemes is perhaps not that surprising. If air transport were included in the European scheme by 2008itself a very ambitious timetableit has been estimated by the Aviation Environment Federation, which gave evidence to the committee, that for British Airways the added cost to a single journey could be as little as 33p, or 66p on a return ticket. While such small incremental cost increases might be the way in which to start such schemes, over time a much higher price for CO2 will be needed to drive both supply and demand side changes, perhaps in excess of £90 per tonne.
This is an incredibly complicated area, as the report shows, and the committee is particularly to be congratulated on making relatively simple a concept that is so very complicated. But European policy makers seem to understand that ratcheting down sector allowances and lowering economy-wide CO2
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targets, will also be necessary to hit the kind of 60 per cent reductions in CO2 emissions that are the UK's target for the middle years of this century.
I welcome the fact that the Government have a menu of market-driven approaches to control and reduce greenhouse gas emissions from aircraft, including the possibility of a fuel tax, en route emissions charges and emissions trading, and have won the right to implement that package of measures at least within Europe. But to make a real difference and show that we take climate change reduction responsibilities more seriously, it will be necessary to persuade the International Civil Aviation Organisation that the current worldwide fuel tax exemption must be removed.
Environmental taxation can bring huge benefits; not only does it generate revenue which government can spend on things that they believe to be important, but it can also make a real contribution to tackling the effects of climate change by limiting the future growth of air passenger demand. That might not mean flying less than we do today, but it would mean that some of the more extravagant forecasts of growth in air passenger numbers would be lower than the industry currently forecastsand it undoubtedly means paying more for our air travel.
There is no doubt that all sectors of our economy must play their part in reducing greenhouse gases as we move towards a low-carbon future. At the moment Defra and the Environment Agency have a campaign called "Doing your bit", which exhorts us all to cut energy use and fight climate change by putting lids on our saucepans whenever we cook, among other suggestions, thus aiding energy efficiency and reducing emissions. All of us may need in future to put a lid on the frequency with which we fly if we are serious about doing our bit to combat climate change.
I commend the committee on producing a significant analytical report that makes a powerful contribution to the climate change debate. We must all do our bit to get global warming under control, starting now.
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