Daily Mail July 6 2005
http://politics.guardian.co.uk/lords/story/0,9061,1522251,00.htmlLords question Kyoto deal
Tim Radford, science editor
Wednesday July 6, 2005
The government should lead the world in exploring new ways of dealing with global warming, a House of Lords committee says today. But their report adds that:
· the Kyoto agreement to limit carbon emissions will make little difference and is likely to fail
· the science of climate change leaves "considerable uncertainty" about the future
· there are concerns about the objectivity of the international panel of scientists that has led research into climate change
the positive aspects of global warming "appear to have been downplayed"
· the UK's energy and climate policy contains "dubious assumptions" about renewable energy and energy efficiency.
But Lord Wakeham, chairman of the Lords select committee on economic affairs, denied the committee had taken the US administration's line on climate science.
"We are ... saying what we think the government should do. We think this is along the lines of the types of agreements that the United States could be persuaded to go along with."
The committee said Britain's nuclear power capacity should be maintained at its present level even after existing plants had been decommissioned.
"We think the balance between mitigation, reducing emissions, and on the other hand adaptation, responding intelligently to the inescapable changes, needs to be examined," said Lord Wakeham.
"The costs of mitigation are pretty uncertain and so are the benefits and they are certainly very distant. However, adaptation, which includes things like flood defences, water conservation, modified agriculture, have measurable costs and calculable benefits.
"We also want to see a far more serious effort into research and development of new carbon-free technologies ... we suggest such an effort might be compared to the scale of resources given to the US Apollo programme that put the man on the moon."
Peers push for climate change review
As G8 leaders prepare to discuss climate change, a committee of peers has urged wholesale policy changes on the issue.
The Lords economic affairs committee said the government should review its policies on climate change, renewable energy and energy efficiency.
Wednesday's report comes as Tony Blair attempts to secure a new deal to combat climate change,
The peers also suggest that the UK should take a lead - especially through its current presidency of the G8 and EU - in international negotiations that would explore new approaches to dealing with global warming.
Their report also backs a renewed focus on carbon-free technology and diffusion.
Committee chairman Lord Wakeham called on the government to "give the Treasury a more extensive and more rigorous role in examining the costs and benefits of climate change policy and presenting them to the UK public".
"We are also concerned about aspects of the work of the inter-governmental panel on climate change and want to see the Treasury more involved in this," he added.
In their report the committee warned that the science of climate change leaves "considerable uncertainty about the future".
"The balance between mitigation and adaptation needs to be re-examined," it added.
"The costs of mitigation are uncertain, as are the benefits which are also more distant."
Peers note that the Kyoto protocol will make "little difference" to rates of global warming.
"Because a continuation of the same approach focusing excessively on emission reductions is likely to fail, the UK should take a lead in exploring alternative approaches based on agreements on carbon-free technology and its diffusion," argued the study.
The committee also suggests that government policy includes some "dubious assumptions" about the roles of renewable energy sources and of energy efficiency.
On energy, the report says that UK nuclear power capacity should be maintained at least at its present level even after existing plants have been decommissioned.
And it goes on to suggest that the current UK climate change levy should be replaced by a carbon tax "as soon as possible".