Lord Nigel Lawson recently testified before the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment & Public Works -- testifying on the Kyoto Protocol and assessing the status of efforts to reduce greenhouse gases. Lord Lawson is a former Chancellor of the Exchequer [i.e. Treasurer, Finance minister] in the British government. A seat in the House of Lords is permanent so members can speak their minds without fear or favour. And Tony Blair's reforms have greatly enhanced the authority and expertise of the House. How annoying for Leftists that the world's most "anachronistic" parliamentary body should also arguably be the wisest -- not that Leftists would admit it, of course. An excerpt of Lord Lawson's very comprehensive statement is below:
"I am grateful for your invitation to testify before you today. I am aware that you have been provided with the Report of the House of Lords Select Committee on Economic Affairs on The Economics of Climate Change in advance of these proceedings, so I intend simply to summarise our key findings and to provide some commentary of my own. By way of background, the Economic Affairs Committee is one of the four permanent investigative committees of the House of Lords, and fulfils one of the major roles of our second chamber as a forum of independent expertise and review of all UK government activity. It is composed of members of all three main political parties. Its climate change report, which was agreed unanimously, was published on 6 July 2005, just ahead of the G8 summit at Gleneagles in Scotland....
I cannot of course speak for the Committee as a whole, but my own understanding of the issue is clear:
* The IPCC's consistent refusal to entertain any dissent, however well researched, which challenges its assumptions, is profoundly unscientific;
* Although its now famous "hockey stick" chart of temperatures over the last millennium, which inter alia featured prominently in the UK Government's 2003 Energy White Paper, is almost certainly a myth, the IPCC refuses to entertain any challenge to it;
* The IPCC's scenarios exercise, which incidentally incorporates a a demonstrably fallacious method of inter-country economic comparisons, manifests a persistent upward bias in the likely amount of carbon dioxide emissions over the next hundred years. For example, a combination of steadily increasing energy efficiency and the growth of the less energy-intensive service economy has led to a steadily declining rate of growth of carbon dioxide emissions over the past 40 years: all the IPCC's scenarios unaccountably assume an abrupt reversal of this established trend.
So why is the IPCC so adamant that it will not revisit its conclusions? It may be that they are so profoundly concerned about the perils of global warming that the darkest possible picture is painted in order to secure urgent action. There may also be the inevitable institutional characteristic of making the problem more serious than it is in order to command greater attention. This too may be a consequence of the way research funding is administered - it is a cold, isolated world for the climate change contrarian in the modern scientific community.
Whichever reason - and I suspect it may be both - the IPCC's absolutist position is unhelpful. The world faces a number of other, and arguably more imminent, challenges and competing claims on resources: the threats from nuclear proliferation and international terrorism, and the need for humanitarian aid for the world's poorest, are obvious examples. Choices always have to be made, and they need to be based on rational assessment....
* The IPCC and its acolytes make only the most perfunctory acknowledgment of adaptation. Their estimates of the damage from global warming are based on the assumption that very little adaptation occurs, and focus almost exclusively on the need for mitigation. In my view, however, the most important conclusion of the House of Lords report is that adaptation needs to take centre stage. . * Numerous studies have shown that adaptation is the more cost-effective option, which is hardly surprising. Not only is that the way in which we normally come to terms with climatic vagaries, but there are benefits as well as costs from global warming. There are, of course, regional variations: in northern Europe, for example, including Britain, for the rest of this century the benefits are likely to exceed the costs, whereas for the tropics the reverse is the case. But adaptation, which implies pocketing the benefits while acting to diminish the costs, has obvious attractions......
In conclusion, I believe that the IPCC process is so flawed, and the institution, it has to be said, so closed to reason, that it would be far better to thank it for the work it has done, close it down, and transfer all future international collaboration on the issue of climate change, where the economic dimension is clearly of the first importance, to the established Bretton Woods institutions.
It is profoundly important that all governments, most importantly their Treasury departments, make their own independent and rigorous economic analysis of the issue. At the time the Lords committee was taking evidence this, for whatever reason, had not happened in the UK. I very much hope that, following our report, it will. We appear to have entered a new age of unreason, which threatens to be as economically harmful as it is profoundly disquieting. It must not be allowed to prevail."
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