Monday, March 10, 2008

New climate chief is government patsy

Lord Adair Turner, in day one of his job as chair of the so-called "independent" Committee on Climate Change revealed in a Radio 4 Today interview this morning that he is not going to give the government a hard time.

The committee is supposed to be a sharp-toothed watchdog criticising Government progress towards reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Under repeated questioning by John Humphreys, he said he would not query specific government policies, and supported the 'dream' (Naughtie's word) of carbon capture and storage (CCS).

CCS is not proven or costed. But the business world is counting on it to deliver business as usual.

So is the government. Business Secretary John Hutton said today power generation from fossil fuels would continue to play a "key role"

The Government is considering whether to give the go-ahead to build Britain's first new coal-fired power station in over 20 years, at Kingsnorth in Kent.

Hutton said: "Our leadership role is best promoted by the actions we take on capping emissions, carbon pricing and supporting the development of new carbon capture and storage technology. Not by gesture politics."

Gesture politics is something the government is very good at when it comes to fighting climate change.

Turner and Hutton are of the same mold.

Who is Turner?

Baron Turner of Ecchinswell is a British businessman, academic, a non-executive director for a number of business groups including Standard Chartered plc, United Business Media plc, Siemens plc, Paternoster Ltd.

He is a former Director-General of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), and a former vice chairman of Merrill Lynch Europe.

He knows a thing or two about business as usual, and has plenty of vested interests to pursue.

I would imagine that his discussions with fellow committee member Michael Grubb, the Chief Economist at the Carbon Trust, will be quite heated. Grubb is a lot more realistic about the dire straits we're in.

But when Turner eventually gets round to publishing his first report from the committee - not until December - what a sense of urgency - you can expect it to be as criticial as an interview with Michael Parkinson.

Let's be clear. Digging carbon out of the ground is something we should phase out asap. CCS is not going to work or be prohibitively expensive.

No comments: