Ed Davey attacks 'blinkered' climate change sceptics

Industrial chimneys The Energy Bill debate begins in the Commons on Monday

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Energy Secretary Ed Davey is to make an unprecedented attack later on climate change sceptics.

In a speech, the Lib Dem minister will complain that right-wing newspapers are undermining science for political ends.

He is set to accuses climate sceptics of nimbyism, publicity-seeking, and "blinkered... bloody-mindedness".

It comes ahead of a crucial Energy Bill vote, during which Mr Davey will be accused by backbenchers of betraying his party's green credentials.

Mr Davey gave way last year to demands from the chancellor to drop a commitment in the bill for almost all electricity to be generated from low-carbon sources like wind and nuclear by 2030.

The Chancellor insisted that a decision on 2030 should be delayed until 2016 at the earliest (after the election) but many Lib Dem and Conservative MPs are expected to join Labour in voting for an amendment to introduce the target immediately.

Privately frustrated

Mr Davey claims the bill will still prompt a major change in the way power is generated.

Start Quote

This is destructive and loudly clamouring scepticism born of vested interest”

End Quote Ed Davey Energy Secretary

His colleagues will suspect that his speech on climate sceptics and the media is a way of bolstering his party’s credibility on the issue.

The speech is an explosion of anger from a politician who has long been privately frustrated about the extent to which right-wing newspapers have swung Conservative back-benchers behind the climate sceptic cause.

He believes editors are corrupting public understanding of science and making it more difficult to impose measures to tackle the emissions that are disrupting the climate.

Last week, for instance, the green-minded Tory MP Tim Yeo, who has laid the amendment calling for 2030 targets, was "outed" as a closet climate sceptic after saying there was a chance that climate change could be natural.

Mr Yeo insists that he went on to say that the overwhelming consensus is that climate change is man-made, but this crucial fact was drowned out.

Meanwhile, a newsletter from Lord Lawson’s Global Warming Policy Foundation trumpeted: "We are all climate sceptics now."

'Serious science'

Mr Davey says climate change is being turned into a political football.

Ed Davey Mr Davey gave way last year to demands from the Chancellor

In a draft of his speech, he says: "Of course there will always be uncertainties within climate science and the need for research to continue.

"But some sections of the press are giving an uncritical campaigning platform to individuals and lobby groups.

"This is not the serious science of challenging, checking and probing.

"This is destructive and loudly clamouring scepticism born of vested interest, nimbyism, publicity seeking contraversialism or sheer blinkered, dogmatic, political bloody-mindedness.

"This tendency will seize upon the normal expression of scientific uncertainty and portray it as proof that all climate change policy is hopelessly misguided.

"By selectively misreading the evidence, they seek to suggest that climate change has stopped so we can all relax and burn all the dirty fuel we want without a care.

"Those who argue against all the actions we are taking to reduce emissions, without any serious and viable alternative, are asking us to take a massive gamble with the planet our children will inherit, in the face of all the evidence, against overwhelming odds."

Green economy

The speech at a Met Office event in London takes place as 55 organisations from green groups to manufacturing bodies issued a joint statement calling on MPs to vote in favour of the 2030 decarbonisation amendment.

It says: "We represent different parts of society but are united in the belief that the Energy Bill represents a major opportunity to put the UK firmly on track to becoming a world leading low-carbon economy, boost employment and show genuine leadership in the fight against dangerous climate change."

The list of signatories includes SSE electricity, the Royal Society of Arts and Commerce; Dong Energy; Renewable UK; the Carbon Capture and Storage Association; the Solar Trade Association, the Renewable Energy Association; Business in the Community; the Church of Scotland; the National Farmers Union and the TUC.

An additional 50 organisations have also added their support.

The organisations believe that fixing a clean electricity target will drive investment in renewable industries that will create jobs and wealth in the UK.

Critics fear that the measure will make UK power prices uncompetitive and divert investment from other industries.

They say the UK should not commit itself to a "green" economy while there is no comprehensive global climate agreement obliging all nations to follow suit.

The chancellor thinks the UK’s energy future lies with an expansion of power from gas.

Follow Roger on Twitter @rharrabin

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