UK Government: "energy security and climate change"

On 5 March 2007 David Miliband MP delivered a lecture titled "The transition economy: a future beyond oil?" Full text available here. The 18MB MP3 audio file is available here.

Nice title, so who is he? Miliband is Secretary of State for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs, a senior cabinet position in the Blair Government. He became an MP for Labour in 2001 and was appointed to the cabinet in 2005. At just 41 he’s regarded as young for his position and there has even been press speculation he might challenge Gordon Brown for leadership in the summer when Blair steps down.

David Miliband MP
"I believe that energy security and climate change objectives mean the time is right to look at what it would mean for the UK to create over a period of 15-20 years a post-oil economy – a declaration less of ‘oil independence’ and more the end of oil dependence."
The scientists say that we have 10 to 15 years for global carbon emissions to peak. The economists say that over the same period North Sea oil production is due to decline significantly. The international relations experts say that a world less dependent on oil would be good for global stability. So my starting point is the twin challenges of climate change and energy security: an economy no longer dependent on oil would be good for both.
Interesting how he cites the economists rather than geologists or oil companies saying North Sea oil is in decline. Could this be because North Sea decline is primarily an economic problem with exports and royalties being replaced with imports and trade deficit expansion?

Core to the lecture is "climate change and energy security", positioning them as two different reasons for developing "a transition economy" to reduce carbon emissions and increase the productivity with which natural resources are used. His thinking for climate change is clear, citing the IPCC and the Stern Report. Energy security is a concern as:

...many of our coal and nuclear power stations are coming to an end. For years, the UK has been self-sufficient in gas and oil, thanks to North Sea Oil production. In future, we will increasingly depend on oil and gas imports from Russia, Central Asia, the Middle East and Africa. We could be importing as much as 90% of our gas by 2020 compared with around 10% now. So there are plainly dangers of energy insecurity.
That is the clearest description of the UK’s energy predicament I’ve heard from a minister yet. Before addressing common solutions (demand reduction, decarbonisation and decentralisation) he recognises not all solutions are common to both problems. For example coal to liquids is mentioned as increasing carbon emissions.

This is interesting as it implies the problem is not simply "energy security" but liquid fuel security. My impression, reading between the lines is that this isn’t really an energy security and climate change lecture but rather a peak oil and climate change lecture – constrained by the fact he mustn’t mention the P-word! I’ll come back to this.

Reducing electricity demand is highlighted before increasing supply, the aim of 20% supply from renewables by 2020 is reiterated, as is the fear that:

Unless we replace our existing nuclear power stations, we will have to increase our reliance on coal and gas, which would increase our emissions.
I would argue that it is unrealistic to suggest existing nuclear can be replaced before the bulk of decommission so it’s not an option to avoid increased reliance on coal and gas. Miliband suggests carbon capture and storage is the most critical technology for future electricity supply.

Transport is the largest section of the lecture, strange perhaps as it is only responsible for 23% of UK carbon emissions compared with 31% for electricity and runs predominantly on oil where there exists a robust global market compared with electricity which faces coal and nuclear decommissions and indigenous gas depletion for which there isn’t a robust market. Again, is this a peak oil lecture in all but name?

The plan for aviation is to bring it "...into the European Union Emissions Trading scheme at the earliest opportunity. By putting air travel within a cap and trade scheme that has teeth, we will ensure that overall emissions are driven down, within the EU or more widely across the world."

Improved car efficiency, biofuels and hybrids are predictably mentioned for road transport but also fully electric and hydrogen cars are described as realistic options in the long term along with this bizarre factoid:

Research suggests that if electric vehicles replaced existing cars, we would need an additional 12 per cent of electricity supply.
I need to check that. According to DUKES 3.4 the UK uses 38,287 thousand tonnes of oil in road transport (2005) and Miliband tells us car are responsible for 60% of road transport emissions so must use some 23 million tonnes. At 45 megajoules per kg, 23 million tonnes of oil represents 1018 joules or 288TWh. This is the primary energy, internal combustion engines are some three times less efficient than electric motors so to make sure we’re not comparing apples with oranges the figure should be reduced to 96TWh. This compares with a total electricity supply of 409TWh (DUKES 5.2) and so represents 23% more electricity.

To get to Miliband's 12% we have to assume electric cars actually use less energy to deliver the same energy service (the transportation). This is actually quite feasible as the electric drive train is more efficient and the vehicle mass can be significantly reduced.

I’m genuinely surprised that the UK's existing car fleet could be replaced with electric vehicles (if they existed) for just 12% increase in existing generation. Bearing in mind charging could be scheduled for off peak times (or when the wind blows or the tide flows), required generation infrastructure would be less. It’s an interesting aside – however given the challenges the UK faces in electricity generation – a purely academic one for the time being.

Tesla Motors
Miliband: "...the Lotus built Tesla has a top speed of over 130 Mph, a battery range of up to 250 miles, and has a lifetime of at least 100,000 miles."

Back to the lecture and Miliband considers Sweden's Commission on Oil Independence.

The primary rationale for the Commission on Oil Independence was to address climate change. For the avoidance of doubt, it was not about protectionism or about a fear that oil will ‘run out’. But the commission were also driven by a concern about the impact of oil prices on Sweden’s economic growth and employment, by the impact of oil on peace and security across the world, and a desire to gain a first mover advantage in new environmental markets.
This is curious, why does Miliband feel the need for the "avoidance of doubt" sentence? Thou doth protest too much! I spoke to Kjell Aleklett (Swedish physics professor and president of ASPO) about this plan last year, he said it was a real victory and ASPO had been key in its inception. It is peak oil inspired, the negative impact of price on the Swedish economy being a nod to future scarcity and high prices. Maybe Miliband is semantically right, it's not "about a fear that oil will run out", it's about a fear of peak oil!

Miliband is to be commended however, this lecture was more radical than I’ve heard any minister make. I believe it is peak oil inspired even though he can't bring himself to say the words and whilst he predictably looks towards (largely inappropriate) technology to provided answers, demand reduction is stated as the number one transformation our energy system needs:

First, demand reduction - radically reducing our energy needs through much greater energy efficiency.
That's quite a statement for an aspirational young minister to make.

Next week Miliband will announce the details of the Climate Change Bill which should establish in law the goal and timetable for becoming a low-carbon economy. It will be interesting to see how the currently planned airport expansion and forecast 3-fold increase in aviation is compatible with this legislation.

Further comments on this lecture are available on David Miliband's blog.

Hello Chris,

Big Thxs for this keypost! IF only our politicians would go halfway in this conservation and efficiency direction, even just to get the discussion jumpstarted. I hate it when Congressman Roscoe Bartlett is giving a speech and the House Chamber is empty.

Bob Shaw in Phx,Az Are Humans Smarter than Yeast?

"the time is right to look at what it would mean for the UK to create over a period of 15-20 years a post-oil economy"

This is the key comment for me.

UK residents can now throw this into any government planning discussion about road or airfield expansion plans which project forward 20 or more years into Miliband's "post-oil economy"

Another view on what he said is at Transition Culture here:

which starts: “David Milliband, the UK Environment Minister, is developing a track record for announcing big ideas without quite (apparently) thinking them through. A year or so ago he gave a speech in which he used the term “One Planet Agriculture” without seemingly really thinking through the implications of this far-reaching term. A few weeks later he gave an interview where he stated that organic food was not proven to be more nutritious or healthy, but that it was just a “lifestyle choice”, leaving many of us wondering what then exactly a One Planet Agriculture might look like if it isn’t at least organic.”

I wonder if many of these utterances are issued on the basis of “testing the water” - seeing what reaction is provoked. If there's an outcry just say something contradictory a few weeks later. On the other hand, he could be preparing the ground for major changes - changes that will be forced upon us – some (maybe short) way down the line.

First, demand reduction - radically reducing our energy needs through much greater energy efficiency.

This won't work.

Economic success follows the availability cheap energy.

If we deliberately try and squeeze UK genset capacity with the official "excuse" of demand reduction, then we'll end up with a situation of high energy prices.

Industry will move away, and households will have their disposable income squeezed yet again.

Plus it will be interesting to see how the expect demand to be reduced with the large scale construction of new housing (thermal insulation on a UK new build house is appalling) and a net increase in population.

We need new capacity, preferably nuclear.

From 1960 to 1990 the UK commissioned at least 16 nuclear installations. Thats a little over 1 every two years.

There is nothing to suggest that in the next 20 years we couldn't, with the right regulatory approach, commission perhaps 5 to 8 new installations. We need more of a can do approach, and less of this can't-do-make-do-with-less approach.

Of course, we're going to need new/upgraded coal facilities to cover the shortfall from gas.

My main concern is the cost of UK household gas in the next 20 years. I'm not overly concerned about availability, as at the end of the day, wealthy European customers heating their homes & cooking, represent the best (read highest payers) customers for any gas selling entity/country. As most households have little choice in their fuel for cooking/heating they are tied in to consuming gas, short of making expensive capital investments like ground source heat pump systems.

If the cost of gas soars, it would be interesting to see if people purchase electric hobs (stoves) and electric ovens. The peak demand from these if they were fitted nationwide would be quite high. My house peak demand must be about 7.2kW in the winter. If every house did this (circa 28 million UK households) then the peak demand would be about 200GW

What worries me is that the government seems to be taking the same approach with power generation that it took with roads in this country. For the first 6 years or so of their dismal management, they insisted that we could not "build our way out of our trouble" with new road capacity. And so we've ended up with the lowest amount of road, per sq km, per head, per £GDP of any European nation (except Greece). And our competitiveness has suffered as a result. A world stage G8 nation cannot function without a world class road system. The government finaly caved and started major new roadbuilding efforts that have improved some (localised) issues. But the total lack of any strategic planning along with a dogmatic insistance on no new roads have left us in the mess we're currently in. Which the government laughably thinks it can solve by simply charging us to use our own roads, which won't work because public transport has been privatised and is running at capacity. Thus there is no alternative.

I now see the same thing happening with power. The government (by allowing Milliband to make above speech) seems to be taking the approach that we'll be fine, all we have to do is reduce, improve efficency and all will be well.
I hope to god they're allowing new coal builds at the moment.
I think that there is some new coal capacity coming online, I'm sure I read it in one of my engineering mags somewhere.
We do need new capacity in this country (and wind turbines aren't going to cut it) if only to stave off massive increases in the cost of power but also to allow a switch away from gas (in the event of a supply shortage or price spike).


Government solution seems to be to tax CO2 generating equipment even more heavily (under the guise of carbon trading). Somehow this is supposed to magically improve matters by the secondary effect of forcing investment by everyone in less carbon generating solutions. Primarily, of course, it just means the government has more money and those that are supposed to invest have less. Stop me when you spot the flaw.

Why not turn that around.

Reward those that invest in more efficient, less carbon generating equipement now, and then tax the laggards later. Want to invest in alternative energy solutions? Here's half the cost. Want to buy an efficient vehicle? Here's 150% of the value of your old inefficient vehicle, providing its scrapped. Approaches that give a positive inducement to people to act, which means quicker and more far reach effects than attempts at force.

Oh, and will someone tell them to stop wittering about standby buttons? On their own figures standby amounts to ~1% of domestic energy consumption whereas heating is over 70%. Focus on the big wins please.

Gary, spot on.

Please add to your list:

- Want to cut down on energy consumption? Here's a tax break on home insulation, solar thermal, PV, wind and geothermal installations (and rain-water harvesting, for different reasons).
- Want to install wind turbines, but it doesn't make sense because you live in a city? Here's a tax efficent fund for people to invest in pre-permitted offshore wind farms with domestic electricity comsumption offset against pro-rate production.
- Road Tax? Replace with a miles-driven scheme calculated according to the emissions of your car, lower emissions, oower rate per mile.
- Remove (or at least reduce) fuel duty on properly renewable fuels (recycled vegetable oils, jatropha-biodiesel, etc)

- the list is endless

The problem with subsidies is that they encourage irrational activity and miss many better options.  If you get paid to install wall insulation and solar heat but not windows, when your major problem is leaky windows, the money will be mostly wasted.

Energy taxes are THE market solution.  They give certainty and reward EVERY successful method of savings.

if the problem is essential global at the end of the day any movement of investment away from a power down economy is a poor investment

no matter what policy is adopted we are going to need to switch stuff off.
Voluntarily or not. The only escape with some slim chance of success is nuclear as people say. But even here I doubt implementation is going to keep up with decline and diffusion (greater demand worldwide=less per capita).

the bottom line is rationing (by tax proxy?) and we need to get it on the table ASAP.. the big R word

I do not see us rolling out a mass of nuke plants powering a electric fleet in the time-scales bandied about even if we concede its possible in long term


Chris - I was wondering if you or any other UK based TODers saw the Channel Four documentary last night titled "The Great Global Warming Swindle". This was amazingly one sided and biased, but not entirely devoid of credibility.

It basically discussed in some pretty unclear terms the roll of solar activity and in particular magentic field in deflecting cosmic rays, linked to cloud formation here on Earth.

I got a pile of other stuff to do so will cut this short - in short I think we should all be concerned that the Earth was heading into a natural warming phase and that the greenhouse effect may greatly exasperate this problem. The C4 program was basically saying CO2 and greenhouse effect does not exist and all current warming can be explained by natural processes.

Let me guess, at least five of these 26 "scientists" were quoted:

Channel 4 should be ashamed for giving these people oxygen. They are little better than the "scientists" who defended Big Tobacco. In fact, some climate change denialists were previously employed to defend tobacco. Fred Singer for one:

Partial Response to the London Channel 4 Film "The Global Warming Swindle"

Carl Wunsch 11 March 2007

I believe that climate change is real, a major threat, and almost surely has a major human-induced component. But I have tried to stay out of the `climate wars' because all nuance tends to be lost, and the distinction between what we know firmly, as scientists, and what we suspect is happening, is so difficult to maintain in the presence of rhetorical excess. In the long run, our credibility as scientists rests on being very careful of, and protective of, our authority and expertise.

The science of climate change remains incomplete. Some elements are so firmly based on well-understood principles, or for which the observational record is so clear, that most scientists would agree that they are almost surely true (adding CO2 to the atmosphere is dangerous; sea level will continue to rise,...). Other elements remain more uncertain, but we as scientists in our roles as informed citizens believe society should be deeply concerned about their possibility: failure of US midwestern precipitation in 100 years in a mega-drought; melting of a large part of the Greenland ice sheet, among many other examples.

I am on record in a number of places complaining about the over-dramatization and unwarranted extrapolation of scientific facts. Thus the notion that the Gulf Stream would or could "shut off" or that with global warming Britain would go into a "new ice age" are either scientifically impossible or so unlikely as to threaten our credibility as a scientific discipline if we proclaim their reality [i.e. see this previous RC post]. They also are huge distractions from more immediate and realistic threats. I've paid more attention to the extreme claims in the literature warning of coming catastrophe, both because I regard the scientists there as more serious, and because I am very sympathetic to the goals of my colleagues who sometimes seem, however, to be confusing their specific scientific knowledge with their worries about the future.

When approached by WAGTV, on behalf of Channel 4, known to me as one of the main UK independent broadcasters, I was led to believe that I would be given an opportunity to explain why I, like some others, find the statements at both extremes of the global change debate distasteful. I am, after all a teacher, and this seemed like a good opportunity to explain why, for example, I thought more attention should be paid to sea level rise, which is ongoing and unstoppable and carries a real threat of acceleration, than to the unsupportable claims that the ocean circulation was undergoing shutdown (Nature, December 2005).

I wanted to explain why observing the ocean was so difficult, and why it is so tricky to predict with any degree of confidence such important climate elements as its heat and carbon storage and transports in 10 or 100 years. I am distrustful of prediction scenarios for details of the ocean circulation that rely on extremely complicated coupled models that run out for decades to thousands of years. The science is not sufficiently mature to say which of the many complex elements of such forecasts are skillful. Nonetheless, and contrary to the impression given in the film, I firmly believe there is a great deal to be learned from models. With effort, all of this is explicable in terms the public can understand.

In the part of the "Swindle" film where I am describing the fact that the ocean tends to expel carbon dioxide where it is warm, and to absorb it where it is cold, my intent was to explain that warming the ocean could be dangerous---because it is such a gigantic reservoir of carbon. By its placement in the film, it appears that I am saying that since carbon dioxide exists in the ocean in such large quantities, human influence must not be very important --- diametrically opposite to the point I was making --- which is that global warming is both real and threatening in many different ways, some unexpected.

Many of us feel an obligation to talk to the media---it's part of our role as scientists, citizens, and educators. The subjects are complicated, and it is easy to be misquoted or quoted out context. My experience in the past is that these things do happen, but usually inadvertently --- most reporters really do want to get it right.

Channel 4 now says they were making a film in a series of "polemics". There is nothing in the communication we had (much of it on the telephone or with the film crew on the day they were in Boston) that suggested they were making a film that was one-sided, anti-educational, and misleading. I took them at face value---clearly a great error. I knew I had no control over the actual content, but it never occurred to me that I was dealing with people who already had a reputation for distortion and exaggeration.

The letter I sent them as soon as I heard about the actual program is below. [available here]

As a society, we need to take out insurance against catastrophe in the same way we take out homeowner's protection against fire. I buy fire insurance, but I also take the precaution of having the wiring in the house checked, keeping the heating system up to date, etc., all the while hoping that I won't need the insurance. Will any of these precautions work? Unexpected things still happen (lightning strike? plumber's torch igniting the woodwork?). How large a fire insurance premium is it worth paying? How much is it worth paying for rewiring the house? $10,000 but perhaps not $100,000? There are no simple answers even at this mundane level.

How much is it worth to society to restrain CO2 emissions --- will that guarantee protection against global warming? Is it sensible to subsidize insurance for people who wish to build in regions strongly susceptible to coastal flooding? These and others are truly complicated questions where often the science is not mature enough give definitive answers, much as we would like to be able to provide them. Scientifically, we can recognize the reality of the threat, and much of what society needs to insure against. Statements of concern do not need to imply that we have all the answers. Channel 4 had an opportunity to elucidate some of this. The outcome is sad.

I did and I was very disappointed with Channel 4 for showing it. 80% of it was a load of rubbish in my opinion.

There was some interesting bits, however it was full of half truths used to make incorrect points - how can they (quite rightly, see my article below) criticise Gore for not mention the lag (CO2 lags temperature in the paleoclimate) but then not explain how the paleoclimate really worked? See my article for explanation of paleoclimate here.

Only ignorant people or people trying to make the right point for the wrong reason (Gore) say the paleoclimate was driven by CO2 - no climate scientist worth his salt will say that.

I loved the way they described rotting leaves as a source of CO2, without mentioning the growth of leaves as a sink! There are too many stupid bits like that in this programme to take it seriously. Solar variation has been considered by the IPCC – and there simply hasn’t been the change to explain the last 30 years of warming.

Also – the tone of the programme was very cornucopian, industrial growth is good – no consideration for sustainability or resource limitations, no consideration of increased acidity of the seas due to increased CO2.

Well I thought it was good.

Finally a voice of dissent. I've pretty much given up on the BBC due to their insistance of reporting GW as a fact and not a theory. Now that's lazy tabloid journalism.

With as many experts in fields as was presented (plus no doubt many more who declined to appear on TV for fear of loss of funding/acceptance) puts significant doubt into just how much science is in this process and how much politics has interfered.

Why would I trust a bunch of individuals (IPCC) that I already do not trust to tell me whether or not I am affecting the climate when I know fine well that they're (UK government) already looking for a way to increase taxation and reduce mobility.

If I thought this was just about science then I'd be more agnostic on the whole thing.

But the politicalisation of the whole thing stinks. That and the inherantly redisributive policies that go along with such things as "carbon rationing/carbon trading" just raise my suspicions that the bandwagon has indeed been hijacked by the failed socialists of yesteryear.

Green. Its the new red. And I don't like it one bit.


andytk, I take it that you believe peak oil/gas is nigh but anthropogenic climate change is nonsense?

A very odd set of beliefs given that the mainstream now accepts AGW as fact but PO is viewed as some sort of doomsday cult.

He refuses to believe anything anybody else does.

andytk, I take it that you believe peak oil/gas is nigh but anthropogenic climate change is nonsense?

Yup thats pretty much it. Peak oil is but a technical challenge.


I saw it. My intiial reaction when viewing it was how absolutely plausible it seeemd to blame GW on solar activity and (ack of cloud cover. I would think it left many thousands of people feeling a lot better about global warming...

As usual, with all these things, there is no middle ground. I am sue that solar activity and cloud cover have a (substantial) part to play in GW, but I am equally sure that man-made greenhouse gas (not just CO2 which is what they focused on in the programme) is playing a critical marginal role.

It also really annoys me that the attribution of "man-made greenhouse gas" is limited to our use of fossil fuels. If the human population were not 6.5 billion, there would be far fewer methane-emitting cattle, sheep, pigs, chickens, etc and far more CO2 consuming rain-forest. The net aggregate of those emissions must also be seen to be man-made.

I could rant on... but I won't

It also really annoys me that the attribution of "man-made greenhouse gas" is limited to our use of fossil fuels.

Who is limiting the attribution to exclude non-fossil sources of greenhouses gases? Organizations like the EPA, IEA, UN, World Bank and IPCC have done extensive analyses of non-fossil impacts. This chart indicates that agriculture, waste disposal and deforestation account for 35% of global greenhouse gas emissions.

Laurence, I was referring to the TV programme under discussion.

It has made an impact on the people in my office who watched it. "Global Warming debunked" is the general attitude

Everyone is always eager to feel better about the state of the world... too bad that a malformed TV program is just a short term palliative. There's such a continuing flood of evidence about the impacts of climate change that what the polluting industries really need is a 24/7 TV channel devoted to countering all of it.

Of course anything that re-inforces the feeling that nothings wrong and the party continues indefinitely is lapped down, just pick up a copy of the Daily Mail.

Unfortunately any programme that features Nigel Lawson trying to convince me of something is dead in the water. If he told me the world was round I would have to seriously investigate the flat earth society.

Thatcher, Lawson and co are the originating culprits of the predicament the UK is now in. New Labour is nothing more than a rebranded Thatcherism. At some point the folly of the last 25 years of unregulated market capitalism will come home to roost with a vengence. With the national silver sold and the UK infrastucture owned by overseas multi nationals the future is looking incresingly bleak.

Its ironic that the 'Iron Ladys' rule has ultimately undermined the national security.

I taped it and watched it this morning. Interesting program. My first reaction was to get very angry over the title. However, listening to the program slowly bought down my blood pressure.

One comment was the program concentrated on CO2 as the sole greenhouse gas, which is not true. Many other gasses (like Methane) are much more potent, but not much discussion has gone into those compared to CO2.

I liked the chart on solar flares. The sun is the biggest influence on temperatures on Earth. However, most astronomers have said that changes in the sun's power output is not significant enough to account for temperature changes.

The decrease in overall temperatures between 1940 and 1980, I would like explained more. The solar flare (in)activity was implied as the culprit for this decrease from the graphs aired on this program seemed to show.

I think the program was more saying man made CO2 didn't affect the atmosphere. It did say that greenhouse affect did exist otherwise the Earth would be uninhabitable (about 1 minute of program), but Man was overstating his own importance. I think I need to see the program several times to pick up points that I have missed the first time round.

It will be shown again on More4 Monday, I think, for those who missed it last night.

The solar flare (in)activity was implied as the culprit for this decrease from the graphs aired on this program seemed to show.

There has been no significant change in solar activity since about 1950. This post and this post from Real Climate have more detailed explanations.

The decrease in temperature 1940-1980 is mostly attributed to an increase in sulphate emissions that outweighed the effects of greenhouses gases during that period. This chart has more detailed information.


Scientist quoted in the show says his work was taken out of context and made to appear that he has exactly the opposite conclusion that he does have.

I first stumbled across Miliband on BBC World one night. I thought he was a spokesperson for Greenpeace or something. When the caption popped up reading "UK Environment Minister" I almost fell off my sofa.

You Brits like to whine and gripe about the Blair government, but believe me you are infinite better served than us poor sods in Australia and the U.S. The issues raised by Miliband in his speech are not discussed here, by either major party.

Hi Carbonsink

I heard the same interview on Radio 4 and also nearly fell off the bed when the disembodied voice turned out to be Miliband's.

Let's just hope that he follows up and that the ministerial discretion doesn't kick in!

I think that, by and large the government knows quite well about upcoming energy crises and environmental problems, I just think that it cannot act publicly for a number of reasons. These reasons might variously be: not frightening the horses and precipitationg a recession (not easily forgiven), not causing an economic competitive fitness disadvantage, not losing ground in a party political sense, not showing up a lack of preparation.

I think that adjustment toower energy living will be beneficial in the long term as it would have been, at convenience voluntary change before lack of inexpensive energy resource is forced upon us.

The government may not be able to plan long term due to short term concerns and commitments and lack of public understanding. Note airport expansion plans for example.

I didn't see the program last night debunking man-made climate change, it seems to have impressed my colleagues though, and undone some of my work.

Carbon - Coventry, UK

Tony Blair, and David Cameron (Tory Party leader) both appear to believe global warming is a very serious threat.

Perhaps more importantly, Sir David King, chief government scientific adviser, believes this is a serious threat. So too does the Rear Admiral in charge of the Cobra Committee, which sets government policy for crises: terrorism, bird flu, etc.

And so does Sir John Houghton, former Chief Meteorologist. He has briefed Her Majesty personally on the threat from global warming (she has noticed the change in the birds and animal life at Sandringham). Sir John is an evangelical Christian, he has been to brief US evangelical leaders. If we are to save the planet, we cannot succeed without the help of America's 140 million evangelicals.

Like some vast lumbering giant, the machinery of government is waking up. It's not the politicians, it's the people who devise plans and solutions, who analyse threats to the Realm and make recommendations to respond to them. Call it The Establishment, call it the Permanent Government, call it Sir Humphrey Appleby, call it what you will, it is how Britain is governed.

It feels all a bit like 1938. Design teams were racing to fly the first Spitfire. The airfields which dotted southern England, from which the Battle of Britain was fought, were being surveyed and the land appropriated. Gas masks were being stockpiled. Prototype radars were being tested. Street maps of German cities were being retrieved from archives. Young men were learning to fly in rickety biplanes.

Slowly, once again, the nation is waking up to the looming menace to its survival.

However the proof of the pudding on Global Warming is in the eating: measures to restrict our sacred right to fly and pollute the planet are a long way from politically possible.

Everyone wants painless solutions, it's only slowly beginning to sink in there are no painless solutions.

Hello all: This should be on the Drumroll- but I cannot wait :-)
The EU has agreed on the new energy plan to 2020.
20% reduction in greenhouse, 20% renewables, 10% biofuel. And, as far as I can see a revival of Nuclear.

EU adopts binding energy, climate targets: Merkel
Fri Mar 9, 2007 7:34AM EST

Regards And1

Excellent stuff Chris, keep it up. FWIW I don't think Miliband is too bad, certainly the fact that he's putting his time into this stuff and seeking to promote the issues in the right way is an improvement on many politicians of the past! Your comment on his blog entry about people simply needing to travel less is of course entirely valid - I think one of the main parts of this has to be reform of the economics of the supply chain. It cannot be right that it's cheaper for Tescos to use millions of gallons of diesel shunting goods up and down motorways rather than sourcing them from appropriate local suppliers. Once it is advantageous for the largest companies to use less road transport we will be a long way towards turning the situation around IMO.

David Miliband is the son of Professor Ralph Miliband, the leader of one of the larger UK Trotskyist factions. The boy David is a typical, ambitious "New Labour" loyalist who is merely trying for to get selected as the ABB candidate when Blair quits this summer. (ABB means "Anyone But Brown", Brown being the promised and expected successor.) °

Well, if these scenarios are possible, then we are out of time anyway as GW starts to runaway due to positive feedback loops.

However, the author makes statements such as 100 million barrels of oil per day to keep China's newly industrialised rich moving in 2020.

The author seems to assume continued growth levels and correspondingly increased use of carbon fuels. So perhaps his model is a bit flawed. Unless of course coal use is ramped up.

Either way, GW will screw us all up, if PO doesnt get us first...