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February 12, 2013 11:29 pm
Ed Davey, the energy secretary, has launched a blistering attack on “dogmatic and blinkered” climate change deniers who ignore scientific evidence that “screams out from decade upon decade of research”.
“The basic physics of climate change is irrefutable,” he told a Royal Society meeting on Tuesday, in one of the most aggressive assaults any minister has delivered on the contentious issue since the coalition came to power in 2010.
“Two hundred years of good science – teasing out uncertainties, considering risk – has laid the foundation of what we now understand,” he said, adding it was clear that human activity was “significantly contributing” to the warming of the planet.
Mr Davey, a Liberal Democrat, avoided any mention of the fact that a Conservative party minister in his own department, John Hayes, is a hearty opponent of emissions-lowering onshore wind farms, along with dozens of other backbench Tory MPs.
Nor did Mr Davey dwell on tensions with George Osborne, the chancellor, who has opposed moves to set a decarbonisation target for the power sector, and once told a 2011 party conference: “We’re not going to save the planet by putting our country out of business.”
Instead, the energy secretary said the coalition was “putting muscle and flesh on the bones of the Climate Change Act” introduced by the previous Labour government to create a low carbon economy.
In response to those who claim such policies risk damaging the UK’s competitiveness with rivals abroad, he said countries around the world backing similar efforts, including China, the US and Europe.
“When I am confronted by some of the most dogmatic and blinkered people who deny that climate change is happening, I am reminded of the sentiment of the famous USA Today cartoon – ‘If we really are wrong about climate change, we will have created a better world for nothing’,” he said.
“In reality, those who deny climate change and demand a halt to emissions reduction and mitigation work, want us to take a huge gamble with the future of every human being on the planet, every future human being, our children and grandchildren, and every other living species. We will not take that risk.”
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