Ed Davey, the Liberal Democrat Energy and Climate Change Secretary, has been having another rant.
This time he’s calling climate change sceptics “crackpots and conspiracy theorists”.
And he asks corporate leaders to get on board. He tells them that if their companies were assessing the risks attached to climate change, as the government has to do, they would act to reduce CO2 emissions.
Taking a gamble on climate change wouldn’t be just incredibly stupid, it would have you locked up in jail for corporate negligence.
And so the government’s commitment to wind power whirls on. And of course the newspaper comment columns are filled with outraged comments from those climate sceptics.
Let’s leave aside for a minute the debate about climate change though, and ask ourselves another question: how serious is the government really about climate change, and how much of its current policy is driven by special interest groups rather than any real desire to cut emissions?
One of the first acts of this government in 2010 was to stop the Severn Barrage scheme. That scheme would have provided up to 5% of our electricity for 100 years – with the only carbon dioxide emissions being the ones caused during its construction.
As recently as December last year, Mr Davey himself was pouring cold water on the idea:
A study was done in the early part of the coalition government and it was decided that while the government wouldn’t take forward any proposals if a private consortium wants to put forward proposals we would study that.
But at the moment we haven’t seen proposals which we could back with any financial regime.
Meanwhile, there is £32 billion available to build the highly controversial HS2 high speed rail link – the business case for which looks distinctly dodgy, which would cause environmental devastation along its route, and which would INCREASE CO2 emissions (because high speed trains use a lot more power than normal ones).
So, Mr Davey, how about abandoning that HS2 scheme and spending the money on building the Barrage instead? (The government’s cost estimates suggest the Barrage would be significantly cheaper than HS2.)
That move should delight environmentalists (apart from the loony ones who just hate any development); it would be a huge relief to the thousands of people who have been quite rightly battling to stop HS2; and it would be the greatest showcase ever for British engineering around the world.
Best of all, it would give us a huge dollop of electricity for 100 years. The price for that electricity looks fairly expensive now, but once the Barrage was built, would be fixed for its lifetime – as I said, over 100 years.
What’s not to like?
Unless you are the hapless Ed Davey, being blown around by events instead of trying to shape them.