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Ed Davey: The Earth Continues To Heat Up

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Ed Davey, Department of Energy & Climate Change

The pause in surface temperature is a false summit. Surface temperature is but one indicator among many. As a whole, the Earth continues to heat up.

[…] Of course there will always be uncertainties within climate science and the need for research to continue.

The world’s climate is one of the most complex and chaotic natural systems.

Forecasting and modelling will never be 100% perfect.

There will be divergences between modelling systems, re-appraisals of evidence or adjusted projections.

Healthy scepticism is part of that process.

We make progress by building on what we know, and questioning what we don’t.

But some sections of the press are giving an uncritical campaigning platform to individuals and lobby groups who reject outright the fact that climate change is a result of human activity.

Some who even deny the reality of climate change itself.

This is not the serious science of challenging, checking and probing.

This is destructive and loudly clamouring scepticism born of vested interest, nimbyism, publicity seeking contraversialism or sheer blinkered, dogmatic, political bloody-mindedness.

This tendency will seize upon the normal expression of scientific uncertainty and portray it as proof that all climate change policy is all hopelessly misguided – from pursuing renewable energy to emissions targets themselves.

By selectively misreading the evidence, they seek to suggest that climate change has stopped so we can all relax and burn all the dirty fuel we want without a care.

This is a superficially seductive message, but it is absolutely wrong and really quite dangerous.

Take the issue that the Head of the Hadley Centre, Prof. Stephen Belcher addressed in his talk: the smaller than expected rise in average global surface temperature in the last decade.

As has been explained today, this pause in surface temperature is a false summit.

We have seen this before in the recent past, periods with little warming after which global temperatures have continued to rise.

The early 20th century and a period around the 1950s for example.

These are consistent with climate models which show similar plateaus.

Nothing in the basic physics of climate change has altered.

And surface temperature is but one indicator among many.

As a whole, the Earth continues to heat up.

The seas have continued to warm and sea levels to rise.

Arctic ice continues its long-term decline.

We have continued to see record-breaking weather events around the globe, and while each instance cannot be accurately attributed to climate change, we see the pattern and it should be a warning to us all what is at risk.

So climate change is most definitively not in reverse.

Unless we do something about it, the world is going to continue to get warmer and warmer – and the consequences for future generations will be severe.

The science tells us we cannot afford to relax, let up or wait for a miracle.

Those who argue against all the actions we are taking to reduce emissions, without any serious and viable alternative, are asking us to take massive gamble with the planet our children will inherit, in the face of all the evidence, against overwhelming odds.

No Government worth its salt would take that gamble.

And no political party worth voting for would make that argument.

So let me turn to how, politically and practically, this Government is getting on with bringing emissions down

Full speech