In the national interest, the Global Warming Policy Foundation wishes the new Conservative/Liberal Democrat coalition government every success. We welcome the fact that its first priority is to reduce substantially the alarming and unsustainable deficit in the public finances, which is leading to a rapidly-growing burden of public debt. In the circumstances, it is clear that the UK cannot afford, above all unilaterally, to move to a low carbon, let alone a zero carbon, economy. A low carbon economy means a high energy cost economy.
“At the very least, given the financial and economic state we are in, the new Government should phase out all energy subsidies of all kinds, and suspend unilateral targets until such time as all other major nations have signed up to the same course,” said Nigel Lawson, the GWPF’s chairman.
It might be possible to make a case for decarbonisation if it were undertaken on a worldwide basis. But the recent Copenhagen Summit showed that there is no prospect of this.
“For the UK, which accounts for less than 2% of global carbon emissions, to go it alone is not merely suicidal but pointless,” said Dr Benny Peiser, director of the Global Warming Policy Foundation.
Decarbonisation requires growing subsidies from the taxpayer and sharply increased energy bills for business, industry, and the householder. This would make little sense at any time, but is particularly damaging at a time when our public finances are in a mess and the economy is weak.
At a time when painful public expenditure cuts are unavoidable, it makes no sense whatever to increase the scale of the cuts required in the public services by committing to spending, wholly unnecessarily and to no practical purpose, increasing sums on non-carbon energy subsidies.
Nor does it make sense to make British industry – and manufacturing in particular – uncompetitive, or to drive it overseas, and thus greatly weaken our economy, by gratuitously driving up energy costs.
Nor, particularly when times are going to be harsh enough as it is, does it make sense deliberately to increase fuel poverty in this way.
A final attempt to reach a binding global agreement on decarbonisation is to be made at the next climate summit in Cancun, Mexico, in seven months time.
The Global Warming Policy Foundation calls on the new government to suspend all action on unilateral UK decarbonisation at the present time, and to hold a fundamental review of UK climate and energy policy in the light of the outcome of Cancun.