Climate Change and Global Warming
Delivered in Plenary 25th October 2000
The issue of global warming, although not yet proven beyond doubt, is of the greatest concern for the world at large and knows no respect for national boundaries. It is very much part of the concept of Gaia, or geophysiology. As a supporter of free markets and the huge prosperity and freedom which they have brought to countless millions, I welcome the harnessing of market mechanisms wherever possible to facilitate environmentally-desirable goals such as the reduction of CO2 emissions, as proposed by the Commissions Green Paper and Mr. Moreira Da Silva’s report, which I welcome broadly, and will help, no doubt, achieve the Kyoto targets.
I put down two amendments, one calling for further research into the other greenhouse gases such as methane, soot CFCs etc. I believe that the tradable quota system may need to be extended to these, as in many ways their reduction would be far more cost-effective and less destructive to the world’s economy.
The second amendment I put down was for the granting of credits to national quotas for planting of forests, which, as my colleague Lord Inglewood pointed out before, act as carbon sinks. They are desirable in terms of supporting the beauty of the countryside and they are also eminently policeable by satellite technology. I also believe new ideas such as planktonic oceanic seeding to irreversibly fix CO2 to the ocean bed, need further investigation.
I should like to touch on two controversial topics in the report. One is the issue of an EU-wide carbon tax, which I reject both because it encroaches on prerogatives on taxation and because it would drive jobs offshore to non-EU jurisdictions, in my view, and be damaging to our economies. The other is the issue of grandfathering rather than national auctioning of the CO2 quotas. I personally support grandfathering along US lines to prevent penalisation of existing heavy energy using industries and doubly rewarding those industries which have made energy savings in the past and hence savings on their electricity costs.
Lastly, I too, like my colleague Mrs. Kauppi, support nuclear energy as the only long-term solution to reducing CO2.