By Christopher Booker – Daily Telegraph 7:26PM GMT 13 Nov 2010 (Pointer NZBR)
Nothing more poignantly reflects the collapse of the great global warming scare than the decision of the Chicago Carbon Exchange, the largest in the world, to stop trading in "carbon" – buying and selling the right of businesses to continue emitting CO2.
A few years back, when the climate scare was still at its height, and it seemed the world might agree the Copenhagen Treaty and the US Congress might pass a "cap and trade" bill, it was claimed that the Chicago Exchange would be at the centre of a global market worth $10 trillion a year, and that "carbon" would be among the most valuable commodities on earth, worth more per ton than most metals. Today, after the collapse of Copenhagen and the cap and trade bill, the carbon price, at five cents a ton, is as low as it can get without being worthless.
Here in Britain, as the first snows fall, heralding what may be our fourth cold winter in a row, it is time we addressed one of the most glaring political "disconnects" in our sadly misgoverned country.
Next Friday is the first anniversary of the leaking of the "Climategate" emails – the correspondence of a small group of scientists at the heart of the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPPC). By exposing their manipulation of data and suppression of dissent, these called their reputation as disinterested scientists seriously into question. But that was only the first in a series of events that, in the past year, saw the climate scare going off the rails.
Next month sees the anniversary of the Copenhagen conference – the largest ever held, with upwards of 100,000 people present – which collapsed in an acrimonious shambles, without the treaty that would have landed the world with the biggest bill in history. This was followed by all those scandals surrounding the IPCC itself, hitherto regarded as the supreme authority on global warming. It emerged that the most recent IPCC report was riddled with errors, and that many of its more alarming predictions were based, not on proper science, but on claims dreamed up by environmental activists.
Since then, despite a series of unconvincing attempts to clear the Climategate scientists, it has become clear that the 20-year-old climate scare is dying on its feet. The money draining away from the Chicago exchange speaks louder than all those inquiries – and the same point will be made obvious in a fortnight's time in Cancun, Mexico, as the UN attempts to salvage something from the wreckage at a conference that will draw scarcely a tenth of the numbers that met in Copenhagen.
But to all this deflation of the bubble our political class in Britain remains quite impervious. Our governments in London and Brussels charge on with completely unreal and damaging policies which increasingly look as much of a shambles as the warming scare which inspired them. Scarcely a single politician dares question the Climate Change Act, by far the most expensive law in history, which commits Britain, uniquely in the world, to reducing its CO2 emissions by 80 per cent in 40 years. By the Government's own estimates, this will cost up to £18 billion a year. Any hope that we could begin to meet such a target without closing down most of our economy is as fanciful as the idea that we can meet our EU commitment to generate 30 per cent of our electricity by 2020 from "renewable" sources, such as wind and solar.
It was recently reported that farmers are rushing to cash in on the ludicrous subsidies which could earn them £50,000 a year for covering 35 acres of their fields with solar panels bought from China. These yield, on average, only 8 per cent of their capacity. Last year, all the solar panels in Britain generated an average 2.3 megawatts, barely 1/500th of the output of a single medium-sized coal-fired power station. Yet our Government wants us to pour billions of pounds into this scheme, just when Spain, Germany and Australia have drastically reduced their own solar subsidies, because the billions they lavished on them turned out to be a total waste of money for virtually no return.
Our Government also wants us to pay £100 billion through our electricity bills for thousands more wind turbines over the next 10 years, with another £40 billion to hook them up to the grid. Yet it's predicted that by 2013, thanks to soaring costs and technical problems, orders for turbines will have fallen by 93 per cent.
The EU continues to set targets to power our transport with an increasing percentage of biofuels, when a new report from some of its own advisers finds that meeting its 2020 target will mean taking an area of farmland as large as Ireland out of food production, and that producing biofuels requires up to 167 per cent more energy from fossil fuels than they theoretically save.
None of this, of course, will do anything to save Britain from the looming crisis when the ageing nuclear and coal-fired power stations which supply 40 per cent of our current electricity needs are forced to close. The other night when it was very cold I checked to see how much of our electricity was, at that moment, coming from wind. The answer was 0.1 per cent, or a thousandth of all the power we were actually using to keep our homes lit and warm.
It appears that Chris Huhne, our Energy and Climate Change Secretary, is so obsessed with the half of his job relating to climate change that he can happily ignore the other half, to do with keeping the lights on. But Mr Huhne is far from alone. Not a single MP of any party has yet found the courage to mount a properly briefed challenge to all this lunacy. So what do we pay them for?