Greenhouse gas emissions questionable

I HAVE been following the feverish debate about climate change with disbelief. My postbag is now full of people demanding to know what the European Parliament is going to do about rising global temperatures.

I HAVE been following the feverish debate about climate change with disbelief. My postbag is now full of people demanding to know what the European Parliament is going to do about rising global temperatures. The proponents of the highly debatable theory that the world is getting hotter because of man's emissions of greenhouse gases, seem to be relying on endless repetition of doom laden predictions to induce hysteria, leading to Government action.

The problem is that it is creating opportunities for the British Government and the real government in Brussels to push through an agenda that may end up costing us all huge amounts of extra taxation and needless restrictions on our way of life. The Stern Report with its apocalyptic predictions has added a huge amount of fuel to the fire.

I don't think anyone would dispute the need to be sensible about greenhouse gas emissions. There is nothing wrong with tax incentives to encourage people to insulate their homes properly and to use more fuel efficient cars. However, all of these measures have to be placed in context. Britain's manmade output of greenhouse gases is 2% of the total world output, so whatever measures we bring in will have only a minimal effect. Countries like America and China have a vastly larger output and are not really interested in doing very much about it.

Furthermore, statistically, the facts are that the rise in temperature over the past century, 0.6C (plus or minus 0.2C), is far from exceptional, and that clouds and water vapour are far more significant presences in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide. In addition, according to the International Panel on Climate Change, sea levels are not rising. There is also considerable evidence that the statistics are being bent to suit. For instance, the fact that temperatures were much warmer in medieval times than they are now is quietly being written out of the history of temperature change. I am old enough to remember that thirty years ago, the newspapers were full of stories about our being faced with a new ice age!


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Unfortunately, the position Britain is rapidly taking as a leader in tackling greenhouse emissions is likely to have a disastrous effect on the competitiveness of British business. Business will certainly face a disproportionately large burden of the extra costs, undermining their ability to compete with and, indeed, losing capacity to overseas operations, whose carbon output per unit is likely to be greater than here, which is somewhat self-defeating, to say the least!

Some sectors of our industry which are heavy consumers of carbon based energy are particularly vulnerable. The Climate Change Levy could well be the beginning of a series of huge additional taxes on business. What people haven't really caught on to yet is that the Levy is a general energy tax and not a tax specifically on carbon.

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In short, let's not get climate change out of all proportion.

Jeffrey Titford is a Member of the European Parliament for the East of England, representing the UK Independence Party.

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