Reporting on Climate Change

Nicholas Stern wrote a report a few years ago. Everyone praised it, not because it contained any illuminating insights or great original thinking; environmentalists have been making the points that Mr Stern raised in his report years earlier when Mr Stern was in charge of dishing out money to environmentally damaging projects at the World Bank, but because it was a report made by a member of the establishment about climate change. He was suitably rewarded and hailed as a wise man. That is fine by me; anyone who puts climate change into the minds of the establishment has done well. Continue reading

Climate change and government inaction

I do not often agree with the Energy Savings Trust, which I think tends to serve as an organisation that gets more public funding than it merits, having regard to its results, but When Phillp Sellwod, Chief Executive of the Energy Savings Trust recently criticised the Government he and I were singing off the same hymn sheet. Continue reading

The great persuader and climate change policies

Someone who consults for JP Morgan Chase and Co and also for the Zurich Insurance Group is trying to persuade countries like China to drastically cut their carbon emissions. You may ask what JP Morgan Chase & Co and the Zurich Insurance Group have done themselves to cut carbon emissions; the answer is not very much.

When you understand that the consultant in question is none other than Tony Blair you might be even more puzzled.Mr Blair was Prime Minister for ten years and during that time he had plenty of opportunities to legislate for the UK to cut carbon emissions. He did nothing of the sort. Although during his period of leadership the UK’s carbon emissions did fall marginally, the fall was really due to Mrs Thatcher’s fight with the coal mining unions Continue reading

Green Taxes, reports gathering dust, and polluters that should pay

I decided in October last year to “blog” about the environment and have posted articles almost every day since then. I called this “Ideas for the Environment” because ideas about improving life sometimes turn into real improvements and without the ideas there will be no improvements.  Continue reading

No tax relief for the environment

Governments are notoriously reluctant to change. Some months ago I was talking to a Treasury official about the best ways to incentivise microgeneration and solar thermal in particular. I explained that I thought that a simple income tax allowance of the amount spent on a thermal solar system would be a good idea.

This is what Austria has done and it has led to a massive use of thermal solar and a corresponding gain in environment benefits and in energy security.  His reply was disappointing but not unexpected. Continue reading

Climate Change and what we do – Truth and Lies

I wrote this for H&V News, and lots of people wrote to me saying that they agreed with my sentiments. It will be an interesting start to my weblog.

Some truths are virtually self evident; one is that climate change is the greatest challenge facing the world today which we can only really mitigate by emitting less carbon dioxide.

Lies are not self evident. The late and unlamented Josef Goebbels said that if you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it people will eventually come to believe it.  When you couple a big lie with a self evident truth, you cause the greatest harm.

The truth about climate change is being coupled with the big lie that the government is doing something about it and leading the world in the fight against climate change. DEFRA on its climate change web page claims “The UK is acting now to adapt to climate change and to reduce the risk by reducing our contribution to the causes”. I do not believe that. It is a lie. 

The truth is that the United Kingdom government does less about climate change than any virtually of its EU partners, and less than most countries in the world. For example, due entirely to lack of government encouragement the solar thermal industry in the UK is around 5% of that of Germany and we see a very modest growth rate in its take up here.

Countries, like France, Portugal, Italy and Spain which traditionally had only slight more solar thermal than the UK are now experiencing double digit growth as a result of the policies of their own government. Our government it seems need to be convinced that this is a viable technology, or do they? 

We see articles in the Guardian in August that government officials from DBERR have secretly briefed that the UK has no hope of meeting its climate change targets and have suggested ways of fiddling the figures or wriggling out of its commitments.

The Guardian also reported that the Department of Communities and Local Government will now abolish the Merton Rule, requiring all new buildings to generate 10% of their energy needs on site, less than a year after the housing minister urged all Councils to adopt it. 

Whenever I have met officials involved in climate change work, I have been usually surprised at their lack of ability to understand the benefits of renewable technologies; I always put this down to lack of intellectual quality. I thought that they were genuinely attempting to achieve a greater uptake of renewables but were simply incompetent in understanding how to do this. 

Now, with the latest revelations and coupled with the government intention to regulate the solar thermal industry in a way that even a massive market, like Germany would baulk at, I need to change my mind. I think that the government is simply repeating the big lie in the hope that people will believe it while actually by their policies making no real effort to mitigate climate change.

The truth is that the Government is indifferent to climate change.  They are talking a lot but doing very little.

If they had spent the £2 million that the Stern report cost on microgeneration measures I believe it would have boosted the renewable industry tremendously and in the long run saved far more carbon than a report which no one now reads and whose recommendations are parked on a shelf gathering dust. 

I cannot understand the need to regulate closely the heating and plumbing industry in relation to solar thermal. Genersys is the largest supplier in the UK of solar thermal panels and last year we have had no complaints about installers and none so far this year.

Every time I get my electricity bill, and see that they have again taken out too much money or find that they have failed to earth the supply properly, I know who really needs regulation. 

In November last year the Government introduced Phase 2 of the Low Carbon Building Programme, after a virtually secret bidding process which led to the vast majority of solar thermal manufacturers (many of whom have far better products than those chosen by the process) and virtually all of the selling and installation companies being excluded from this significant market for no possible reason; fossil fuel energy companies, are for the government, the best way to deliver renewable micro-generated energy, notwithstanding the lack of experience, expertise and the conflict of interests inherent in the big suppliers of gas and electricity. 

Of course, a big lie can only be maintained if the government can shield its people from the consequences of that lie. You might be able to repress dissent in some cases but the big lie that the government tells about its climate change policy will ultimately be exposed because you cannot shield people from the laws of physics and from nature. I take no pleasure in that thought, because by the time the lie is commonly understood to be a lie, it will be too late.