Wednesday, 25 January 2012

The most dangerous man in Britain?

Who could this man be? David Cameron? Bob Crow? No. For me, Cameron is certainly number two but the most dangerous man in Britain is a man who was once very well known, and even now he still makes the odd appearance on Newsnight and Radio 4. This man is Nigel Lawson and he is the mouthpiece, or more formally Chair and founder, of something called the Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF). The GWPF - very grand title that - sounds like a bunch of concerned academics and citizens who want to spread the word about the dangers of climate change, but its exactly the opposite. It is a cover for heavyweight climate change deniers.

Before I say more about the GWPF lets have a look at Nigel Lawson's track record. His claim to public prominence comes from being Margaret Thatcher's Chancellor of the Exchequer for the period 1983-89, and a former Secretary of State for Energy. He was responsible for the notorious 'Lawson Boom' in the 1980s, substantial tax cuts for the better off, and massive deregulation of the financial sector . Although unemployment fell from a peak of 3 million, the boom lead to crippling interest rates of 15%. So, as deregulator-in-chief of the financial sector in the UK he already has much to answer for in terms of the current economic crisis we face.

The most dangerous man in Britain
But it was his tenure as Secretary of State for Energy which gives us a clue as to his new role as climate change denier-in-chief. The GWPF refuses to admit who its financial backers are but its not hard to imagine that some of them might have interests in energy generation. The GWPFs biggest coup was its involvement in 'climategate', when emails from the University of East Anglia's Climatic Research unit were hacked, and Lawson called for an independent inquiry.

Despite the fact that he has been widely critised and his comments have been described as demonstrably inaccurate, Lawson shows no sign of giving up. In fact I heard him as I was driving to work only the other morning extolling the virtues of fracking, pooh-poohing renewables as uneconomic - though this suggests otherwise -  and once again denying climate change saying "that there has been no global warming whatever so far this century". You can listen to it here.

Nigel Lawson is lucky enough to be nearly 80 years old. He won't be around when global temperatures have risen by 2 degrees to witness the harm that it will cause to people and the planet. He's all right jack, but we won't be, if his antics succeed in delaying the mitigation of climate change. In my view he is probably the most dangerous man in Britain.

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