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Benny Peiser: We Should Listen Carefully To Cardinal Pell

Your Eminence, Cardinal George Pell,

Distinguished Guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is my great pleasure to welcome you tonight to the Global Warming Policy Foundation’s second Annual Lecture.

It is my particular honour to welcome His Eminence, Cardinal George Pell, the Archbishop of Sydney, and his distinguished guests.

Allow me also to extend a word of welcome to the ambassadors and diplomats from more than a dozen nations.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The climate debate is much more than just a battle over scientific theories and environmental statistics. At its core is the question of which approach our societies should take in view of a serious concern that could possibly turn out to be a real problem some time in future.

What rational societies and policy makers need to ask is: what are the most reasonable and the most cost-effective policies that neither ignore a potential problem that may possibly materialise in the distant future nor the actual economic costs of such policies here and now.

Fundamentally, these are social, ethical and economic questions that cannot be answered by science alone but require careful consideration by economists and social commentators.

Because climate policies are having a detrimental impact on many families, not least the poorest in society, we should listen carefully to the social and ethical concerns raised by Cardinal Pell.

After all, it is the poor who are paying the price for expensive green energy policies. Heating and electricity bills are going up and fuel poverty is increasing in the name of saving the planet.

It is quite apparent that over the last 12 months there has been a huge public backlash against these unpopular policies, in particular in Britain but also in other countries.

Instead of using the cheapest form of energy which would help the poorest, who are increasingly struggling to pay their bills, the government is forcing us to subsidies highly-expensive green energy.

Ever since we launched the Global Warming Policy Foundation two years ago, we have argued that Britain’s unilateral climate policy is indefensible, both socially and economically and that it should be suspended in the absence of an international agreement.

Today, our realistic concern and assessment has finally been acknowledged by the government. In fact, the Chancellor George Osborne has recently promised that Britain will no longer be bound by unilateral policies that cut CO2 emissions in Britain faster and deeper than other countries in Europe. We certainly welcome the government’s new realism which, in many ways, reflects the public’s growing scepticism.

This change in public mood is likely to have other consequences too. In this week’s issue of Church Times, the weekly journal of the Church of England, Peter Forster, the Bishop of Chester and one of our Trustees and who, I am happy to say, is with us tonight in the audience, wrote:

“The Churches have tended to follow climate alarmism with uncritical enthusiasm, but it is now time to take stock. The moral issues surrounding climate policy, as well as the underlying scientific and economic issues, are much more complex than is usually acknowledged. It is time for the Churches to recognise this, and to lead a debate which helps our society to a more sensible set of policies.”

I believe that nobody has done more to raise these awkward questions within the Catholic Church than Cardinal Pell. It is an irony of our bewildering times that it is a courageous churchman who dares to question one of our society’s most entrenched dogmas – but that is exactly what he will do tonight.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Please join me in welcoming our distinguished speaker, His Eminence Cardinal George Pell.