Speaking at the TUC’s climate change conference today, John Gummer, the Conservative head of the Climate Change Committee, launched a stinging attack on the Daily Mail.
Former Tory minister Gummer, who now sits in the upper house as Lord Deben, said:
“If you only read the Daily Mail you will not learn the facts on gas.”
“The people who think there will be cheap gas for all have not read the facts. Fracking is only possible because of high energy prices.”
“What’s he referring to? Because i write about gas. Using facts and everything… I suspect we’re unlikely to move in the same circles. Good to know he’s contemptuous of ordinary people though, bless ‘im.”
Deben also said anyone who thinks the ‘dash for gas’ is a solution has “learned none of the lessons of the last 40 years”, and called for cross-party left-right cooperation in the future on green issues. He said the Climate Change Act was done by Parliament, not Labour or the Conservatives, and The Treasury were, as they are, reluctant – they need to be told to do green things, they institutionally don’t get it. Parliament “is the answer”, getting the Climate Change Act through “agaisnt the wishes of the Treasury and prime minister at the time”.
Climate change opposition is nothing to do with the government as a whole, he said, but the Treasury – which will always be the key obstacle; the Treasury puts no weight on the future, so all the rest of us must ensure the best decisions are taken. Climate change, he said, is crucial as it forces governments to think outside the electoral cycle. He said those that care about green issues must work together across party lines or we will all fail; party politics needs to be taken out of the move to a green economy, we need unity, Deben said, adding: “It must be respectable to be green in every part of the political spectrum.”
We must learn from the Eurosceptics’ domination of the UK debate on Europe and cannot let climate sceptics dominate the climate debate in the same way, he insisted, adding the “biggest issue of all” is “whether our grandchildren are able to live on this planet”.
Last month, Lord Deben criticised coalition energy policy, writing to David Cameron to warn the prime minsiter the government was in danger of breaching its own commitments on climate change through its strong backing for new gas-fired power stations.
The Guardian reported:
In his first public act as the new chairman of the Committee on Climate Change (CCC), the statutory body set up to advise ministers on how to meet its legal commitments to cut carbon, Lord Deben wrote to “express great concern about the recent government statement [in July] that it sees gas as continuing to play an important role in the energy mix well into and beyond 2030″.
He pointed out that such an extensive use of gas-fired generation “would be incompatible with meeting legislated carbon budgets [and] unabated gas-fired generation could therefore not form the basis for government policy”.
Unabated gas means gas power stations that have not been fitted with carbon capture and storage technology to stop the carbon emissions resulted from burning it entering the atmosphere and contributing to climate change.
Deben has a tough job on his hands – and he’ll need the support of all progressives, across all parties, to succeed against the climate sceptics in the press, the Tory Party and elsewhere.