‘Widely exaggerated’: Climate skeptic MP blasts UK emissions target

‘Widely exaggerated’: Climate skeptic MP blasts UK emissions target
Former Environment Secretary Owen Paterson will claim in a speech on Wednesday that maintaining the current climate goals for 2050 will “fail to keep the lights on” in Britain.

In a speech to the Global Warming Policy Foundation, Paterson is expected to say that the current climate change predictions are “widely exaggerated” and that to “blindly” follow the current economic plan would require unsustainable levels of investment.

The current climate goals, outlined in 2008, enforce an 80 percent decrease in carbon dioxide emissions by 2050. Paterson believes this cannot be achieved without significant investment. He will urge the UK government to abandon the plan.

The Conservative MP, who was replaced as Environment Secretary by Liz Truss in the July Cabinet reshuffle, questions the scientific evidence surrounding climate change and describes the levels of warming linked to carbon dioxide as “uncertain.”

This latest speech makes him the most senior politician to openly criticize the government’s economic policies.

Over the past 35 years, the climate has changed “nothing like as fast” as it was predicted, Patterson will say, claiming the current government strategy will see the lights go out “within a generation.”

Some of the claims laid out in his speech, however, have been refuted by Richard Black, the Director of ECIU (Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit).

British Environment Secretary Owen Paterson.(AFP Photo / Leon Neal)

However, Black claims there is narrowing headroom between peak demand and peak supply, “none of the major players in the field – DECC, the National Grid, Ofgem – believe the lights are about to go out.”

Black further states ministers would be unable to simply suspend work on the current climate goals. He claims there is no simple get-out clause.

The only way in which ministers could amend the emission reduction target is if “there have been significant developments in scientific knowledge about climate change, or European or international law or policy, that make it appropriate to do so.”

This isn’t the first time Paterson has courted controversy. Previous policies as Environment Secretary earned him a reputation as a “pro-hunting, pro-badger cull, anti-wind, pro-fracking” minister, who remained a staunch climate skeptic.

His removal from office was gladly received by Friends of the Earth, who called him “the worst Environment Secretary the UK has had in decades.”

Whilst the Conservative Party have been known to host climate skeptics, such as Nigel Lawson and Peter Lilley, the speech from Paterson goes against the climate plans laid out by Prime Minister David Cameron during the UN Climate Summit in September.

Cameron announced that “climate change is one of the most serious threats facing our world.” He added that “it is not just a threat to the environment. It is also a threat to our national security, to global security, to poverty eradication and to economic prosperity.”