Is A Climate Sceptic Behind The Latest Anti-Renewables Report?

A new study claiming renewable energy is the “most expensive policy disaster in modern British history” was written by climate sceptic Rupert Darwall and published by UK conservative think tank the Centre for Policy Studies (CPS).

Darwall, an economist and CPS-listed expert, is best known for his book The Age of Global Warming, which has been touted by notorious climate denial think tank the Heartland Institute as being “the first book to tell the full story of the concerns over global warming.”

His new report argues that “renewables policy is truly a leap into the dark”. It was published just hours ahead of the 2015 budget announcement where George Osborne unveiled an ambitious and costly plan to build the world’s first tidal lagoon to generate green energy, along with lower taxes for North Sea oil schemes.

Darwall, known for his opposition to wind power, claims that “politicians adopted pro-renewables policies with their eyes wide shut” and that generating large amounts of wind power will make the system “less stable”.

Ignoring Reality

However, the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) has this afternoon issued a rebuttal to the report, saying it ignores reality.

“The report today by the Centre for Policy Studies ignores the reality of the energy market,” DECC said. “It wrongly suggests that we can ditch renewables for gas, with no explanation of where we would source that from.

“It also appears to suggest that we should row back on the tremendous gains we have made in the fight on climate change. Given the dire consequences of global warming this is not an option.”

Figures 'Don't Add Up'

A DECC spokesman responding to the report earlier said: “The figures in this report don’t add up and ignore the urgent need to cut our carbon emissions. We are making sure we can keep the lights on, cut carbon emissions and keep bills down for consumers.”

Professor Catherine Mitchell, professor of energy policy at the University of Exeter, told the Daily Mail that the report “downplays climate change as a problem”.

And Dr Gordon Edge, director of policy at industry group RenewableUK, rejected Darwall’s analysis, telling Business Green that his “dogmatic refusal to countenance any action to reduce carbon emissions … leads him to offer a false choice” for the UK's energy future.

Favouring Fossil Fuels

Darwall has written numerous times criticising Europe’s renewable energy policies and has repeatedly attended the Heartland Institute’s annual climate change conference as a speaker.

And, at the launch of The Age of Global Warming organised by climate denial charity the Global Warming Policy Foundation, Darwall revealed that his interest in climate change was sparked by a lecture from climate denier Lord Lawson at the CPS in 2006.

This is not the first time the CPS has published a report in which the conclusions favour fossil fuels.

The free market think tank – which has been described as a more politicised version of the Institute of Economic Affairs – published a study on the climate impacts of shale gas in December 2013. However, it was quickly revealed that its authors had a financial stake in the burgeoning Chinese fracking industry.

Note: This article has been updated at 3pm March 18, 2015 to include a rebuttal by DECC to the CPS report

@kylamandel

Photo: Quartet books via Creative Commons