by Robert Maynard
The chairman of the Commons Energy and Climate Change committee has recently expressed doubts over the role humans play in global climate change. Check out the story from the UK Telegraph:
The chairman of the Commons Energy and Climate Change committee said he accepts the earth’s temperature is increasing but said “natural phases” may be to blame.
Such a suggestion sits at odds with the scientific consensus. One recent survey of 12,000 academic papers on climate change found 97 per cent agree human activities are causing the planet to warm.
Mr Yeo, an environment minister under John Major, is one of the Conservative Party’s strongest advocates of radical action to cut carbon emissions. His comments are significant as he was one of the first senior figures to urge the party to take the issue of environmental change seriously.
He insisted such action is “prudent” given the threat climate change poses to living standards worldwide. But, he said, human action is merely a “possible cause”.
Asked on Tuesday night whether it was better to take action to mitigate the effects of climate change than to prevent it in the first place, he said: “The first thing to say is it does not represent any threat to the survival of the planet. None at all. The planet has survived much bigger changes than any climate change that is happening now.
He went on: “Although I think the evidence that the climate is changing is now overwhelming, the causes are not absolutely clear. There could be natural causes, natural phases that are taking place.”
“But there is at least a risk that the increased concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is a possible cause. We’ve just gone through the 400 parts per million [a measure of the atmospheric concentration of CO2] this year. I think a prudent policy would say if we can do things about that which are no-regrets polices like being efficient in the use of energy, looking at none-fossil fuel sources, I think that’s prudent to do so.”
Mr Yeo has previously spoken with great certainty about the science of climate change. He said in 2009: “A significant number of core Conservative voters – mostly among older people – are reluctant to accept the evidence. I don’t think they [doubting Tory MPs] will be a significant influence in the next parliament and will gradually diminish in the population.
“The dying gasps of the deniers will be put to bed. In five years time, no one will argue about a man-made contribution to climate change.”
Mr Yeo, who was speaking to an audience of energy industry representatives and diplomats at the Westminster Russia Forum, renewed his call for the Government to build a third runway at Heathrow. He said waiting for Sir Howard Davies’ report on aviation capacity which is due after the next election was a “ludicrous response to a clear national need.”
He said without better air links to east Asia, Europe risks becoming a “sort of third world backwater quite quickly.”
Asked about the comments this afternoon, Mr Yeo said: “It is possible there are natural causes as well, but my view has always been that – for twenty years – I have thought the scientific evidence has been very convincing. The strong probability is that it is man-made causes contributing to greenhouse gas concentrations.”