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We agree entirely with Ed Miliband here

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At least, we agree with a part of what is actually said:Last thing we need is a 'cosy consensus' on climate crisis, warns Ed MilibandWell, that’s The Guardian headline writer, Ed himself:The UK must tell the truth about the “terrifying and exacting” scale of the challenge the world faces to avoid climate breakdown as it prepares to host a make or break summit of world leaders later this year, Ed Miliband has warned. “A cosy consensus” between politicians, policymakers and some NGOs,We agree entirely. Idle and comfortable groupthink in the face of a problem isn’t the way to do it. Actually thinking about the subject is.The worst projections - RCP 8.5 and the like - have already been avoided by the fact that we have not turned back to using coal in ever greater amounts. In fact, all that

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At least, we agree with a part of what is actually said:

Last thing we need is a 'cosy consensus' on climate crisis, warns Ed Miliband

Well, that’s The Guardian headline writer, Ed himself:

The UK must tell the truth about the “terrifying and exacting” scale of the challenge the world faces to avoid climate breakdown as it prepares to host a make or break summit of world leaders later this year, Ed Miliband has warned.

“A cosy consensus” between politicians, policymakers and some NGOs,

We agree entirely. Idle and comfortable groupthink in the face of a problem isn’t the way to do it. Actually thinking about the subject is.

The worst projections - RCP 8.5 and the like - have already been avoided by the fact that we have not turned back to using coal in ever greater amounts. In fact, all that development of solar power - the 80% reduction in costs in mere years - and wind and so on has meant that even the bad projections, like RCP 6.0, also aren’t consistent with reality. A realistic assessment of the effects of what has already been done - the US and UK have had falling emissions for a couple of decades now - tell us that we’re probably somewhere between RCP 4.5 and RCP 2.6.

Perhaps that’s too optimistic but there is still that vital point here. We have done some things, we must include the effects of those things done in our evaluations of what still to do. Which is the very thing the idle groupthink between politicians, policymakers and NGOs is failing to do. What, therefore, we need to incorporate into discussions in order to disrupt that cozy consensus.

Take just the one policy implication here. We are told two different things by that consensus. That solar and wind are cheaper than fossil fuel derived. This is certainly true for some applications in some places, for all and everywhere is a little more arguable. Also that poor countries require hundreds of billions to build their generating systems in a non-emittive manner. It cannot be that both are true. Why would anyone require subsidy to build the cheapest form of electricity generation?

OK, they might need it because they’re poor but they don’t need subsidy to build the cheaper system for climate reasons, do they? They will naturally build that cheaper anyway.

Another way to make much the same point. That subsidy required to those poor countries, we’ve already paid it. Paid it by investing to make solar and wind cheap and thus the technology of choice purely upon cost grounds. We already gave at the office that is.

So, yes, let us not be hoodwinked by some cozy consensus. Let us actually think about the problems that face us and how they might be solved. Something that does require we consider what we’ve already done - for only that will reveal to us what still remains of the task.

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Tim Worstall
Tim Worstall is a British-born writer and Senior Fellow of the Adam Smith Institute. Worstall is a regular contributor to Forbes and the Register. He has also written for the Guardian, the New York Times, PandoDaily, the Daily Telegraph blogs, the Times, and The Wall Street Journal. In 2010 his blog was listed as one of the top 100 UK political blogs by Total Politics.

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