Why UK climate change policies are pointless – Robin Guenier

Adaptation vs mitigation

Following the release earlier this week of the IPCC’s report on “Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability”, there has been much discussion of the idea that drastic mitigation (i.e. major reduction of greenhouse gas emissions) is just not going to happen, and that the realistic policy focus should be on adapting to global warming if/when it happens.

Robin Guenier’s paper

Robin Guenier has written a concise  paper on Why UK climate change policies are pointless, which includes references and a brief biography.  He explains that under the 1997 Kyoto agreement, developed countries were supposed to reduce emissions, but developing countries were not under any obligation. Since then, some developed countries have abandoned the agreement while emissions from other countries such as China have soared, leaving only the UK and some EU countries committed to reductions. The next climate conference will fail to achieve a global mitigation agreement, as all previous ones have.  Regardless of what one believes about the science of climate change, UK emissions reductions policies are pointless and damaging;  “we should come to terms with international political reality by prioritising a strong economy, underpinned by reliable affordable energy, and by focusing on long-term adaptation to whatever climate change may occur”.

Other related links

There have been so many articles saying much the same thing recently that it’s hard to keep up with them. But before we get too carried away by this theme, we should remember that the Monday’s IPCC Report was from Working Group II, “Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability”, so it is not too surprising that adaptation is being widely discussed.

Economist Andrew Lilico has written a series of articles on this subject:

Graham Readfearn in the Guardian reports that the IPCC has been putting out the same alarmist message since its first report in 1990, but since then, despite all the dire warnings, global emissions have gone up 60%.

The Today Programme on Monday (see two snippets here) discussed the increasing importance of adaptation.

Cambridge Professor of Engineering Michael Kelly  has written a document on the enormous costs of decarbonisation, concluding that “Adaptation as necessary should be pursued” while the case for “mitigation through decarbonisation of the economy remains unproven”.

Researchers from Manchester University call for more emphasis on building resilience to weather events.

Cliff Mass gives  A Biblical Lesson in Communication about Climate Change“Joseph did not propose taking action to stop the drought, but to promote adaptation and preparation for this severe climatological event”.

The IPCC report takes us from alarmism to adaptation says Simon Jenkins in the Guardian.

The Atlantic reports on  The UN’s New Focus: Surviving, Not Stopping, Climate Change.

This week’s Spectator features an article by Matt Ridley on how adapting to a warming planet is far more effective than trying to stop it.  He points out that it now appears that the IPCC agree with Lord Lawson, who made this argument in his 2008 book An Appeal to Reason.

Leon Clifford blogs on the dilemma of “effective adaptation versus costly curbs”.

The US Financial Post picks up the same theme.

 John Christy writes that drastic mitigation would cause energy costs to skyrocket, and he would prefer to see his grandchildren have wealth and energy, so they are able to face what the future climate might throw at them.

The Economist joins the chorus,  saying that the right policy is “to adapt to change, rather than attempting to stop it” (discussed at Bishop Hill).

Finally, here is a paragraph from the conclusion of Lawson’s book:

One of the central messages of this book is that, in the light of the uncertainty that exists about the science, and the inevitable uncertainty there is about the future in general, it must make more sense to rely on autonomous adaptation, buttressed where necessary with positive policy measures to assist it, than to pay a very heavy price to try and secure a drastic reduction in emissions without even any realistic likelihood of achieving this.


Josh illustrates the Ed Davey policy:



5 thoughts on “Why UK climate change policies are pointless – Robin Guenier

  1. And now James Lovelock is singing from the same hymnbook:

    In your latest book you advocate not trying to halt climate change but exercising what you call a sustainable retreat. Why is that?

    I think it is the better approach. To rush ahead and advance is very much the Napoleonic approach to battle. It is far better to think about how we can protect ourselves.

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