25 MARCH 2006, Page 22

No time to buy time

From Nick Hurd MP

Sir: Lord Lawson (‘Climate of superstition’, 11 March) tells us that the threat from climate change is ‘less certain and less urgent that is commonly supposed’. He believes that we should focus on helping countries adapt to climate instability and so ‘buy time’ to develop clearer science and ‘more economic’ technology. This policy is flawed for two reasons. First, it ignores the risk associated with doing nothing in the short term to curb the growth in emissions of carbon that stays in the atmosphere for 200 years. If we wait for greater certainty on what the scientists are already telling us, then the evidence suggests that the problem will only get bigger and the insurance premium ever more expensive. Second, the technology is basically in place today to help us move to a low-carbon economy. The problem is that it is too expensive. Governments have the power now to make that technology cheaper by facilitating rollout at scale. They also have the incentive. There is significant economic opportunity in being at the vanguard of this new investment frontier. Concerns about energy security and the future price of fossil fuels should only reinforce political will to pursue policies that make sense irrespective of climate-change risk.

Nick Hurd

Member of the Conservative Quality of Life Policy Commission, London SW1