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The Final Insult To British Taxpayers, Courtesy Of Mr Huhne

Mr Huhne is a political polar bear, standing on his little piece of shrinking ice. With luck, he will float gently off into the distance.

Of all the expensive idiocies inflicted on us by our leaders, two are by common consent the most spectacularly unpopular.

One is the unfathomable attachment to spending increasing billions on foreign aid, much of which is either handed to comparatively wealthy countries like China and India or stolen by dictators and gangsters in less favoured places.

The other is the imposition of punishing green taxes. There is deep resentment over taxes that subsidise despised wind turbines and push gas and electricity bills beyond reasonable levels.

It has taken a specially tin-eared politician to combine both into a single breathtakingly useless device for throwing money away.

Chris Huhne has announced that, in line with David Cameron’s promise to lead the greenest government ever, more than £1 billion has now been devoted to ‘helping developing countries tackle and cope with the effects of global warming’.

Foolish: Chris Huhne has added £1bn to foreign aid to help developing countries combat global warming

Foolish: Chris Huhne has added £1bn to foreign aid to help developing countries combat global warming


 

What effects?, you might wonder. Not even the BBC’s most assiduous environment correspondent has yet managed to find a low-lying island which has sunk. Not in 25 years of looking. The polar bears stubbornly refuse to die off.

There were, according to the UN six years ago, going to be 50 million environmental refugees by 2010. That’s about the population of England and Wales. They must be hiding somewhere. If anybody finds them, let Mr Huhne know.

Ah, but you wait, says Mr Huhne. ‘Africa is one of the areas which will feel the impacts of climate change first…climate change is the greatest challenge of the 21st century.’

So where is our £1 billion – and there is going to be more where that came from unless George Osborne stops it – going to go?

A tidy package of £150 million is on the way to Nigeria to pay for low carbon public transport systems and promote energy efficiency, helping to save 47 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent.

Nigeria has plenty of energy. It is awash with oil. It is also viciously divided by fighting between Muslims and Christians and plagued by near-universal corruption. Its biggest energy problem is the rickety power system which means frequent cuts even for those who do have electricity. On any sane list of the things Nigeria needs most, low carbon public transport is going to be below a blue-water aircraft carrier.

Another £15 million will ‘develop Ethiopia’s ability to respond to climate change’ and produce ‘an ambitious national strategy on climate change’.

Two thirds of the population of Ethiopia are illiterate. I would bet that £15 million spent with a respectable aid agency might help at least some children learn to read and write. But then, illiteracy isn’t a big enough challenge for Mr Huhne.

There’s £30 million for ‘least developed countries especially vulnerable to the impacts of climate change’. Presumably this is to buy off some of those small-country chieftains who go on a lot about the climate threat, with the purpose of securing cash in return for their votes at climate summits.

Funnily enough, there’s a set of international climate talks going on in Durban right now, where the EU is trying to put together a plan for a worldwide climate change programme. The bribe, sorry, climate fund, for poor countries is going to be worth £64 billion by the end of the decade.

The thing about climate change is, since it isn’t happening, you have to believe that it will. This makes it as much a religion as Christianity or Islam, but without the intellectual foundation.

Unhappily for Mr Huhne, belief is slipping. According to the British Social Attitudes survey, which has been reporting on people’s thinking for nearly 30 years, 37 per cent now say many claims about environmental threats are exaggerated, up from 24 per cent in 2000.

The share of the population willing to pay much higher prices for the sake of the environment is down to 26 per cent, from 43 per cent in 2000.

It is becoming clear that lies about climate change from the UN and Al Gore are having an effect. When people read about e-mails by eminent scientists which appear to refer to fixing their findings, they are beginning to work out that a state-subsidised climate change expert is out of a job if there is no climate change.

Mr Huhne is a political polar bear, standing on his little piece of shrinking ice. With luck, he will float gently off into the distance.

Daily Mail, 7 December 2011