Spectator reveals worrying insight into direction of Tory policy on climate

Paul Mobbs mobbsey at gn.apc.org
Mon May 13 09:45:45 BST 2013


Spectator reveals worrying insight into direction of Tory policy on

Peter Lilley hypes up shale gas with poor analysis, woolly thinking and
an apparent hatred for environmentalists

Bob Ward, Environment Guardian Blog, 10/5/2013

This week's issue of the Spectator provides a worrying insight into the
possible future direction of Conservative party policy on energy and the
climate. The front cover promotes an article by Peter Lilley, the MP for
Hitchin and Harpenden, which hypes up the benefits of shale gas, based
on poor analysis, woolly thinking and an apparently visceral hatred for

Lilley, who was social security secretary in John Major's government,
makes the extraordinary, and unsubstantiated, claim that Britain may
have shale gas resources that are comparable to those of the United
States, and accuses the Department for Energy and Climate Change (Decc)
of holding back an energy revolution because of lobbying by "Big Green".

The article is sprinkled with the usual climate change "sceptic" claims
that global warming stopped 16 years ago, and shows other signs of not
being properly fact-checked, with a reference to the mythical "Bowman
shale" in Lancashire: presumably Lilley means the Bowland shale, where
exploratory drilling has taken place.

Lilley dismisses residents' concerns about the environmental risks
associated with drilling for shale gas as "comparable to the MMR scare",
and simply ignores the fact that widespread use of gas-fired power
plants with unabated emissions beyond 2030 would be wholly incompatible
with the UK's climate change targets. Rather predictably, the article
also neglects to mention Lilley's part-time employment as vice-chairman
of Tethys Petroleum.

It is perhaps not surprising to find an article in the Spectator that
rejects the science of climate change and attacks alternatives to fossil
fuels – after all, it does employ James Delingpole as a columnist. But
what is noteworthy about this is that Lilley is growing in influence
within the Conservative party.

In October, his backbench colleagues voted him on to the House of
Commons select committee on energy and climate change, and two weeks ago
he was appointed to the prime minister's new parliamentary advisory
board which will help mould the Conservative party's policies before the
next election in 2015.

Lilley is an avowed climate change "sceptic", and produced a campaign
pamphlet for Lord Lawson's Global Warming Policy Foundation which used a
mixture of inaccurate science and bad economics to attack the review
carried out in 2006 for the Treasury by Lord Nicholas Stern (now chair
of the Grantham Research Institute, where I work).

But it is the fact that Lilley was one of only three MPs who voted
against the bill to introduce the Climate Change Act in 2008 that might
be an indicator of his true policy intentions. With the Conservative
party now worrying about losing supporters to Ukip, it is turning to
those on the right of the party, like Lilley, to come up with a plan to
win back disillusioned voters.

Ukip's energy and climate change policy is based entirely around climate
change denial and the promotion of all fossil fuels, including coal. Its
leader, Nigel Farage, frequently attacks wind power, apparently
oblivious to the overwhelming public support it enjoys.

So will Lilley recommend a strategy for outflanking Ukip by proposing
that the Conservative manifesto for 2015 should promise the UK's
withdrawal from the European Union Emissions Trading System and the
repeal of the Climate Change Act?

Even if that is so, all may not be lost for the Conservatives as there
are some more moderate voices within the party, such as William Hague,
Oliver Letwin and Tim Yeo, who are likely to insist that policy should
be based on rational analysis rather than extreme anti-green ideology.
The question is who will prevail ahead of the next general election?


"We are not for names, nor men, nor titles of Government,
nor are we for this party nor against the other but we are
for justice and mercy and truth and peace and true freedom,
that these may be exalted in our nation, and that goodness,
righteousness, meekness, temperance, peace and unity with
God, and with one another, that these things may abound."
(Edward Burrough, 1659 - from 'Quaker Faith and Practice')

Paul Mobbs, Mobbs' Environmental Investigations
3 Grosvenor Road, Banbury OX16 5HN, England
tel./fax (+44/0)1295 261864
email - mobbsey at gn.apc.org
website - http://www.fraw.org.uk/mei/index.shtml
public key - http://www.fraw.org.uk/mei/mobbsey_public_key-2013.asc

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