Ex-environment minister declares war on UK climate policy

Owen Paterson will call for the Climate Change Act to be scrapped in a speech to sceptic think-tank on Wednesday

Owen Paterson wants to scrap the UK's Climate Change Act (Pic: Flickr/Canterbury Diocese)

Owen Paterson wants to scrap the UK’s Climate Change Act
(Pic: Flickr/Canterbury Diocese)

By Megan Darby

A former environment minister is calling for the UK to scrap its seminal Climate Change Act unless other countries announce their own carbon cutting laws.

Owen Paterson, who was sacked from government in a July reshuffle, says the green energy path is too expensive and raises the risk of blackouts.

The act commits the UK to cut greenhouse gas emissions 80% by 2050 – a level Paterson says is unachievable and not matched by other countries.

He is due to make the argument in a speech to the Global Warming Policy Foundation, an influential climate sceptic think-tank, on Wednesday.

The Telegraph previewed his speech and published a supportive editorial, followed by a comment piece from columnist Christopher Booker asking: “Can Owen Paterson save us from an unimaginable energy disaster?” (His answer seems to be “yes”.)

Paterson is expected say: “Blind adhesion to the 2050 targets will not reduce emissions and will fail to keep the lights on.

“The current energy policy is a slave to flawed climate action.

“It will cost £1,100 billion, fail to meet the very emissions targets it is designed to meet, and will not provide the UK’s energy requirements.

“In the short and medium term, costs to consumers will rise dramatically, but there can only be one ultimate consequence of this policy: the lights will go out at some time in the future.

“Not because of a temporary shortfall, but because of structural failures, from which we will find it extremely difficult and expensive to recover.”

He will criticise wind power, one of the main renewable sources of energy supported by government policy, as “unreliable”.

Instead, the Conservative MP advocates a policy based on combined heat and power plants, mini nuclear reactors and demand side response.

Paterson is putting together a think-tank, provisionally called UK/2020, to develop “a radical Conservative vision”.

On leaving government, he lashed out at the “green blob” in an opinion article for the Telegraph.

This was his dismissive label for environmentalists and renewable energy advocates he accused of seeking to “spoil [the countryside] with wind turbines at vast cost to ordinary people”.

INTERVIEW: Three Conservatives talk climate change

Ed Davey, the  Liberal Democrat energy and climate change secretary, said scrapping the Climate Change Act would be “one of the most stupid economic decisions imaginable”.

He added: “The overwhelming majority of scientists agree that climate change exists, while most leading British businesses and City investment funds agree with the coalition that taking out an ‘insurance policy’ now will protect the UK against astronomical future costs caused by a changing climate.”

The UK’s Conservative prime minister, David Cameron, attended UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon’s climate summit in New York last month.

He described climate change as “one of the most serious threats facing our world” and reiterated his aim to lead “the greenest government ever”.

Read more on: Climate Politics | |