Previous Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page

It is essential that these allegations are independently and rigorously investigated. Naturally, I welcome the appointment of my old colleague, Sir Muir Russell, to lead this investigation; a civil servant with a physics degree is a rare beast indeed. He needs to establish what the documents really mean and recommend changes in governance and transparency which will restore confidence in the integrity of the data. This is not just an academic feud in the English department from a Malcolm Bradbury novel. The CRU is a major contributor to the IPCC process. The Government should not see this as a purely university matter. They are the funders of much of this research and their climate change policies are based on it.

We need to purge the debate of the unpleasant religiosity that surrounds it, of scientists acting like NGO activists, of propaganda based on fear for example, the quite disgraceful government advertisement which tried to frighten young children, the final image being the family dog being drowned-and of claims about having "10 days to save the world". Crude insults from the Prime Minister do not help.

The noble Lords, Lord Krebs and Lord May, and their eminent colleagues on the CCC have a choice. They can take the policy framework as given, the policy responses as given, the costs as given, and the science as given, and then proceed to churn out more and more sophisticated projections, or-as I hope-they can apply the formidable intellectual firepower they command and start to find answers to many of the unsolved questions.

7.33 pm

Lord Hunt of Chesterton: My Lords, this is an important time to be discussing the first report of the climate change committee. It is a great pleasure to follow the very cogent analysis of the noble Lord, Lord Turnbull.



8 Dec 2009 : Column 1055

This report was produced with commendable speed. I declare my interests as a professor of climate modelling at University College, a director of an environmental company and an active member of two NGOs. Over the past 10 years the temperatures over the land areas of the world have been rising steadily; indeed, over China-as it reports-they have risen by 1 degree in 10 years, a remarkable rate, so the 4 degrees expected in China by 2100 may well be exceeded. The UK, thanks to ministerial intervention-the noble Lord, Lord Lawson, was present at that time-publishes temperatures over the land areas of the world, unlike most countries and the IPCC, which present data over the land and the sea.

The constant global average temperatures over the land and sea for the past 10 years are due to one of the periodic, but huge, fluctuations in the oceans' temperatures when cool water is brought to their surface, and this cooling affects the global climate. We are probably now moving again into the El Niño phase when the surface waters warm and the climate changes. When this happened in 1998, some leading United States climate scientists, who should have known better, erroneously hailed the sharp rise in global temperatures at that time as a signal of global warming, and that has caused some of the subsequent confusion. Indeed, the IPCC 2001 report could have been clearer on that point. Parliamentary aficionados with long memories may remember that in 1971 Prime Minister Heath blamed inflation on the rising price of cattle feed due to the El Niño phenomenon, so even economists should believe in this phenomenon.

At a recent conference, Met Office climate scientists stated confidently that the long-term rise of global warming would be seen in annual temperatures as we moved forward. I share with other noble Lords the belief that vigorous debate on this is very important. John Stuart Mill wrote in his essay On Liberty that opinions and practices, particularly those central to government policies, should be questioned and debated.

The urgency of dealing with climate change still needs to be debated. However, my criticism-no other speaker has made this criticism in the debate-is that, even in this fortnight of the Copenhagen conference, people are right to be somewhat sceptical about the real commitment of Governments and leaders in this and many other countries. Why is the heating in buildings still set so high? By contrast, in Japan in the summer people now turn down the air conditioning. As noble Lords know, the Japanese Prime Minister no longer wears a tie. They call this "cool biz" in the summer. In the winter, people in the Mitsubishi offices wear jerseys, and they call that "warm biz". However, these symbolic changes are absent elsewhere.

I return to the report. Its central recommendation is for the UK to press ahead with non-fossil energy sources-wind and nuclear. However, I take the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Reay, that gas is a very important part of our energy, and has a lower carbon impact than coal. Not everyone may know that Denmark has a significantly higher carbon use per head than the UK because it uses coal for 80 per cent of its energy-only 20 per cent is wind-and there are, I believe, seven pigs per person in Denmark, as the noble Lord, Lord

8 Dec 2009 : Column 1056

Dixon-Smith, will know. This leads to a very substantial carbon impact. I believe that the House of Lords kitchens use Danish pork. There has been a debate on that matter.

The important point about wind is that we should certainly focus on wind energy offshore. Again, I support the views of the noble Lord, Lord Reay, on that matter. However, as a fluid dynamicist and meteorologist, one notes that the highest winds are often very close to the coast on a lee shore, as sailors well know, so there are aesthetic and planning problems. There is still a lot of science and engineering to overcome in the design and operation of wind farms. However, the reliability is significantly increasing, so the slightly pessimistic estimates on that of the noble Lord, Lord Reay, may well be vitiated shortly. However, the major worry about wind-others have commented on this-is that with climate change there will be substantially more periods in the summer with very low winds, and these will extend over large parts of north-west Europe. But the wider the area covered by wind machines, the likelier it is that at least some parts will be in a windy environment in these extreme conditions, so we need wind energy but we also need back-up systems of nuclear power stations. In France in 2003-I say this to show the danger here-and in Germany many of the nuclear power stations had serious difficulties in operating as the rivers heated up and their water levels fell.

The Government, with the support of the Conservative Party, and, as I hear-this is confidential-the support of 45 per cent of the Liberal Democrats, are now strongly promoting nuclear, although I am surprised at how long it has taken for this consensus to emerge. When going round the country, talking to groups, I have certainly noticed that wherever there is a nuclear power station, there is considerable enthusiasm for having another one-for example, in Middlesbrough, which has been afflicted by the loss of its steelworks. I hope that Middlesbrough will push ahead with new nuclear.

There are two ways in which the new energy policy and the work of the Committee on Climate Change could be improved. First, it should be by considering the integration of mitigation and adaptation policies, as the noble Earl, Lord Selborne, and my noble friend Lord Giddens mentioned. I hope that I am wrong in my impression that economists find integration a difficult concept. Many environmental economists have made this point. The noble Lord, Lord Stern, will speak after me, and he may deny this canard. However, the fact that we have the noble Lord, Lord Krebs, on both committees will enable us to keep this integration.

For example, in the Netherlands wind machines are placed on the dykes, which are constructed to avoid flooding and sea-level rise. If you put a windmill on a dyke, its cost is reduced because 40 per cent of a wind machine is the foundation. That requires, even in Holland, two government departments to get together. It was quite a struggle for them to do it, but they have done it. If you fly into Rotterdam you can see all the windmills on the dykes. That does not happen in the UK, although it may happen on the Severn barrage.

This assumes that the UK knows where it wants its coastal defences to be. There is no clarity on that, except as regards the preservation of London. That

8 Dec 2009 : Column 1057

also affects the planning of future nuclear power stations along our coasts, which are clearly the places where they should be. Again, an integrationist policy may be needed in which nuclear power stations' massive foundations could usefully be part of coastal defences.

There is another aspect to nuclear power stations. They provide warm water. It is well known that in Essex-the noble Lord, Lord Dixon-Smith, will know this-they help the oyster farms in Bradwell, and a member of the Conservative Front Bench involved in the fishing industry makes use of the warm water from Gravelines nuclear power station for breeding fish.

The most significant contribution to integrated policies would be to establish district heating in housing near power stations. That was the initiative of Woking borough, which, as many noble Lords will know, is the exemplar in the UK. It reduced energy by about 50 per cent and carbon by 70 per cent over 10 years in all the buildings and structures owned by the council, and district heating through combined heat and power was one of its methods. This only goes to show that intervention can be local as well as national, and I endorse the remarks of other noble Lords on the importance of a directed approach. The other important point is that the scheme was local. Globe and other NGOs mentioned this afternoon are working with many local groups to enlarge target-setting measurements, not only of temperature and pollution but to demonstrate to communities that working for climate change also helps their environment. It was one of the tragedies of the recent document by the Prime Minister on the future of Britain that he mentioned climate change but not the environment. The two are intimately connected.

The Government should be integrating their actions and policies on climate change mitigation as regards sustainable economic growth. Perhaps the Government should even consider delaying some of their installation plans for wind and nuclear, until the UK has the manufacturing capacity to carry out much of the work in the UK. At present, if there is a massive drive in this direction, it looks like it will all come from imports. The UK does not have a steel plant to make the forgings for the nuclear power stations, nor the manufacturing plants to construct the tall towers of wind machines, although I understand that we will have a new plant for the fabrication of blades. However, as I learnt recently, Sheffield and Wales continue to have world-class steel technologists and the know-how.

The last time that there was a surge of building power plants in the UK was in the 1960s, as the noble Lord, Lord Reay, said, when I worked for the CEGB, and I was a trade unionist there. All the plants were built in the UK and exported. This is a critical moment for the UK, where we have enormous investment potential; but where do we have the industry to do that? There is no doubt what Mr Sarkozy would do, but will Mr Brown and my noble friend Lord Mandelson? Unless we do this, the message to students and engineers will not be as positive as it should be.

We need an imaginative leap, as well as this revolution, in the presentation of the urgency of this issue. I was going to ask how many people in the Danish big building will be wearing jerseys this week. We must

8 Dec 2009 : Column 1058

somehow connect with people, but we must also think strategically and politically in leading forward to new economics and lifestyles. The revolution mentioned by my noble friend Lord Giddens is exactly in the right direction.

7.45 pm

Lord Stern of Brentford: My Lords, I warmly welcome the report of the Committee on Climate Change and I thank noble Lords who have made kind comments about the Stern review. The climate change committee is doing its job. It is charting a path and is holding the Government to account. It is doing that, as can be seen in its recent progress report, with a clarity and quality of analysis that we should warmly welcome. It is an excellent model for other countries, as is the cross-party support for the work of the committee. This is mostly about private investment. That is a long-running story, and private investors need to have the confidence that the rules will not suddenly change and that there is a broad shared understanding. That is an important part of what we have seen in the UK.

The report, as a first progress report, sets a strategy and lays out key indictors. It has done that clearly, but it has also sent a clear message to us all that we need a very strong acceleration. It is called a step change in the report. We have been reducing our emissions by less than 1 per cent per annum. We have to increase that figure strongly to 2 per cent or 3 per cent. As the Minister said, that is consistent with the low-carbon strategy that the Government set out in July 2009, but the climate change committee has sent a strong and important message that we have to move very fast if we are to have any chance of achieving the most sensible targets that have been set.

The good news is that we can see how to do it. We can see the technologies and how rapidly they are developing. It is hard to give a talk on this subject without having with your pockets filled with the business cards of people who are making new discoveries. Even if only 20 per cent of those are sane and 80 per cent are whacky, we still have a rate of technical progress that is enormously encouraging.

We can see the economic policies, too. Regulation and standards will be part of the story. But in large measure this is about correcting a market failure associated with not paying for the damage that you do when you emit greenhouse gases. This is about making markets work well; it is about policies that correct markets, work with them and promote the right kind of private investment.

What will it cost? We estimated in the Stern review that to achieve concentrations of less than 550 parts per million of CO2 equivalent, it would cost about 1 per cent of GDP. I now argue, and have been arguing, that we should stay below 500 ppm, and that is why it may cost us a little more-perhaps 2 per cent of GDP. That is equivalent to a one-off 2 per cent increase in prices. You shift over, do things differently, it is a bit more expensive, and that is why it is a one-off cost in increased prices across the economy as a whole. That is significant, but surely it is something that we can absorb. As we learn over time, those costs will reduce, and we are learning rapidly. Those are the

8 Dec 2009 : Column 1059

estimates that I have been working with. In response to the question of the noble Lord, Lord Turnbull-my friend and former colleague in the Civil Service-if he looks at other estimates such as those of International Energy Agency, McKinsey or the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, he will find that most estimates are lower. However, we should not see these as costs and burdens, but as investments of great creativity and enormous importance.

The main focus of my remarks is on COP15-the Conference of the Parties No. 15 of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, which has already begun in Copenhagen. I believe that, given what is at stake, it is the most important international gathering since the Second World War. I should declare an interest in the sense that I will be at Copenhagen for the second week, working very closely with the European Commission. I am an adviser to President Barroso, as a member of his so-called high level committee on energy and climate change. I shall also be working very closely with the Prime Minister of Ethiopia, who is speaking on behalf of the African Union, and principally with the Danish authorities in trying to put a good agreement together. I also declare an interest in that I sometimes speak and advise on this subject, including to HSBC and IDEAglobal, but I have no shares in these or any other companies, and I am not a director of any company, be it connected with climate change or anything else.

What about Copenhagen? What are the stakes that we are playing for? We have heard from the distinguished scientists here today. If we do nothing and allow emissions to accumulate, they will reach around 750 parts per million CO2 equivalent by the end of this century. The level is already at around 435 and we are adding two and a half per year. Therefore the figure is going up and, with business as usual, we will add at least 300 parts per million over the course of the century and will reach 750 parts per million. That implies roughly a 50:50 chance, although of course we do not know these things for certain-this is about risk management and probabilities. However, we would have roughly a 50:50 chance of being either side of 5 degrees centigrade-a level that this planet has not been at for about 30 million years.

In pre-industrial terms, which are the benchmark here, the planet has not been at 3 degrees centigrade above the norm for about 3 million years. We, as humans, even on a very generous definition of homo sapiens, have been around for about 200,000, and we have never seen anything like that. The temperature reached 5 degrees centigrade lower quite recently-in the last ice age, about 10,000 or 12,000 years ago. The ice sheets came down to a latitude roughly where Watford is and people lived closer to the equator. These kinds of temperature increases rewrite the physical geography and therefore the human geography of the world and thus dictate where people can live. A rise of 5 degrees centigrade upwards would have the same effect. It would reconfigure the coast, the rivers and the track of hurricanes. Hundreds of millions-perhaps billions-of people would have to move, and that would lead to severe global conflict. Those are the stakes for which we are playing.



8 Dec 2009 : Column 1060

What about the other route? What if we go for low-carbon growth? We can see some of that and will discover lots more of it along the way. I believe that the transition over the next two or three decades will be the most exciting period in economic history. It will seem bigger than the introduction of the railways or electricity; I agree with my colleague at the LSE, my noble friend Lord Giddens, about that. What does low-carbon growth look like? It is more energy-secure and is cleaner, quieter, safer and more biodiverse. Surely the choice is crystal clear. The noble Earl, Lord Selborne, made very clear the appropriate risk analysis in this area. If we go ahead and ignore the warnings of the science, it will be very difficult to back out of the position that we find ourselves in because of the longevity of greenhouse gases, particularly CO2. If the risks turn out to be lower than we currently think them to be and we go down the more sensible route, we will have a more energy-efficient society, we will have an economy and new technologies, and we will be more biodiverse. On any commonsensical analysis of risk, surely the path to follow is clear.

What should we be looking for in Copenhagen? We should be looking for strong results on emissions reductions and on finance. On emissions reductions, we should be looking for a path that gives us roughly a 50:50 chance of being either side of 2 degrees centigrade. Above 2 degrees centigrade, the risks, as the scientists have taught us, get bigger and bigger. So what do we have to do? The answer concerns initiatives. We are currently at a level of around 47 billion tonnes of CO2 equivalent a year, and these numbers matter. The figure would have been about 50 billion had it not been for the slowdown in the world. We need to get that figure down to about 44 billion tonnes in 2020, well below 35 billion tonnes in 2030 and well below 20 billion tonnes in 2050. That target for 2050, or a good bit lower than that, is what my noble friend Lord Krebs described as around 2 tonnes per capita, compared with the 10 or 11 tonnes per capita that is currently the case in the UK. That is the measure of the required radical change.

The good news here is that, if you add up the pledges that people have made over the past few weeks and months, you will see that we are not far away from that target. We could get a good result in emissions reductions in Copenhagen if everyone moved to the upper end of their ranges and if we found just 2 billion or 3 billion tonnes more. We could reach the emissions reduction target, but more worrying is where we are on finance. This is a profoundly inequitable phenomenon. The rich countries are responsible for the bulk of the greenhouse gases in the atmosphere but the poor countries will get hit earliest and hardest, although we will all be very badly hit unless we control emissions in a responsible and sensible way. However, the situation is deeply inequitable. We must support the developing world in the action that it takes. I have argued, and continue to argue, that that support should be at least $50 billion per annum by 2015 and at least $100 billion per annum by 2020. The target of $50 billion per annum by 2015 equates to 0.1 per cent of rich-country GDP. How can we tell the people of the world, and how can we argue to ourselves, that climate change is the most important challenge that we face and

8 Dec 2009 : Column 1061

not find 0.1 per cent-one in a thousand-of rich- country GDP to provide assistance to the developing world?

The priorities should be adaptation in vulnerable countries, particularly in Africa, strong support for the battle against deforestation, and strong support for the development and deployment of new technologies in the developing world. I believe that we can find new sources of finance but we must make sure that they are additional to development aid. We do not want any funny accounting which takes out of one pocket and gives to another. We can do all those things, particularly if we find new sources of finance, which might be auction revenues, carbon taxes, taxes on international aviation and maritime taxes. We can look at using the special drawing rights that have just been created in the International Monetary Fund and we can look at Tobin taxes. We can, and should, investigate a whole range of new instruments to make sure that the money that the rich world offers for 2015 and 2020 is truly additional.

I welcome the start-up funds, which are now under intense discussion and will be discussed in the European Council at the end of this week. I trust that tomorrow in the Pre-Budget Report we will see strong additional start-up finance in the next two or three years that will enable us to provide strong support for the developing world. We will be looking to tomorrow's Pre-Budget Report to take the UK on to a path which could, in about 2015, mean $3 billion or £2 billion of support per annum, roughly in proportion to its share of rich-country GDP.

I believe that we can get a strong result in Copenhagen. I believe that the support of the British Government, acting directly and through the EU, will be very important. I welcome and support the fact that the Prime Minister is urging the EU to go to its 30 per cent target. Finally, I believe that the Committee on Climate Change has shown that country by country, community by community, we can make the changes that will make a difference here and that, in doing so, we will find a creative and attractive path to low-carbon growth.

8 pm

Lord Lea of Crondall: My Lords, I mentioned to the noble Lord, Lord Teverson, that my name was intended to be on the list, but owing to a misunderstanding it was left off. As it happens, I have set out my analysis of this question in this week's House Magazine, so I can be relatively brief.

The debate has been interesting in that it has been rather polarised-highly polarised in some respects. No harm in that-I would say that it is rather healthy. That is how we often make progress. I find myself, very scientifically, exactly half-way between the two polar opposites. I am afraid that I cannot join my noble friend Lord Giddens in paying homage to the noble Lord, Lord Stern. I think that his report was overpraised. It did not solve the Rubik's cube on the economic side; I am nearer to the noble Lord, Lord Turnbull, on that. A good deal of the report was wishful thinking, but I repeat that I am not a member of either of the two main camps. I support the EU position in Copenhagen. Surely the China, India and USA offers are largely

8 Dec 2009 : Column 1062

referring to reductions in their carbon co-efficients of growth-now called carbon intensity of growth. I do not think that they are talking about absolute reductions at this stage, as the noble Lord, Lord Stern, implies.


Next Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page