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Economist says unilateral decarbonisation carries major economic and political risks

A prominent economist says that Britain’s climate and energy policies are ‘futile gesture politics’, and will fail to bring about any change to the climate.

Dr Ruth Lea, who has wide-ranging experience of working in the civil service, the financial sector and policy institutions, says that while politicians celebrate their increasingly ambitious decarbonisation targets, most of the world is ignoring them:

“The UK now represents just 1% of global emissions, so any reduction we make will not even be noticed. And it will be offset many times over by increases in the developing world, which continues to burn cheap coal and gas as fast as it can.”

And Lea warns that politicians’ determination to be seen to ‘do something’ about climate change carries major political risks:

“The decarbonisation programme that we are embarking on will be extraordinarily expensive and will hit businesses and consumers harder every year. That can’t carry on for ever, and eventually a major political price will be paid.”

Dr Lea’s comments mark the publication of a series of her essays on climate policy by the Global Warming Policy Foundation.

Ruth Lea: Carbon Futility (pdf)