Tuesday 24 November 2009

Lawson steps up climate sceptic challenge

The loneliness of Nigel Lawson was captured in an unusually personal interview in Saturday's Telegraph, in which Lawson gives an impression of trying to live out the life of the Rational Economic Man to be found in the classical textbooks.

But the Tory Peer and former Chancellor might expect his latest venture - the Global Warming Policy Forum - to find him many new friends among the climate change sceptics who dominate the Tory blogosphere.

Lawson argues that Copenhagen will fail - and quite right too. Left Foot Forward were unimpressed - but very willing to debate the evidence in a factual and rational way.

Lawson is telling media interviewers that the new body will focus on challenging the policy response to climate change, rather than the evidence for global warming itself.

That isn't entirely the impression I got from the early material on the website, including the "global cooling" graph icon on the home-page. This seems to offer a good idea of what the GWPF's stated mission - "to restore balance and trust in the climate debate" will mean. Scientific advisors include Ian Plimer who is polemicising against the hoax of global warming, among a large number of 'great and good' voices from different backgrounds and parties.

Lawson himself wrote in The Times that he "has no idea whether the majority scientific view" is right. While he is pretty keen to raise questions about that too, his main argument is that the policy response would be wrong if the science was right.

The new foundation is a registered educational charity, but there does not yet seem to be any acknowledgement or public information about its initial financial supporters at this early stage.


Those who want to see a strong cross-party consensus deepened and maintained will be glad that the Conservative frontbench are continuing to stress their commitment to green issues, including climate change in a series of speeches. (Something that is going down very badly with commenters at ConservativeHome).

There is now quite a lot of evidence that support for strong action on climate change is very thin in the Tory party, outside the Shadow Cabinet.

While the Tory party officially backed the climate change Bill, only about 40 Tory MPs voted for it, the vast majority frontbenchers. Indeed this followed the decision to impose only a one-line whip because a sizeable rebellion was threatened: this led most Conservatives to stay away, while five voted against.

And 86% of Tory activists in a ConservativeHome poll were sceptical about giving higher priority to climate change than energy prices and availability.

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