Huhne is no loss

By Christopher Monckton of Brenchley

Image by Josh of

Today’s resignation of Chris Huhne, the UK Minister for Climate Change, offers the prospect of a belated return to sanity at the former Ministry of Agriculture in Whitehall. Huhne now faces prosecution for an alleged attempt to pervert the course of justice by asking his then wife to say that she was driving at the time when one of Britain’s thousands of speed cameras caught him going faster than the law allows.

Under Huhne, the Climate Change Department has been indistinguishable from a lunatic asylum. I first came across him – or, rather, didn’t come across him – when he and I were due to debate the climate at the annual jamboree of a massive hedge-fund in Spain three years ago. Huhne only found out that I was to be his opponent when he reached Heathrow Airport. He turned straight around and went back to London.

When I visited the House of Lords’ minister, Lord Marland, at the Climate Change Department a couple of years ago, I asked him and the Department’s chief number-cruncher, Professor David Mackay (neither a climate scientist nor an economist, of course) to show me the Department’s calculations detailing just how much “global warming” that might otherwise occur this century would be prevented by the $30 billion per year that the Department was committed to spend between 2011 and 2050 – $1.2 trillion in all.

There was a horrified silence. The birds stopped singing. The Minister adjusted his tie. The Permanent Secretary looked at his watch. Professor Mackay looked as though he wished the plush sofa into which he was disappearing would swallow him up entirely.

Eventually, in a very small voice, the Professor said, “Er, ah, mphm, that is, oof, arghh, we’ve never done any such calculation.” The biggest tax increase in human history had been based not upon a mature scientific assessment followed by a careful economic appraisal, but solely upon blind faith. I said as much. “Well,” said the Professor, “maybe we’ll get around to doing the calculations next October.”

They still haven’t done the calculations – or, rather, I suspect they have done them but have kept the results very quiet indeed. Here’s why.

The UK accounts for 1.5% of global business-as-usual CO2 emissions. At an officially-estimated cost of $1.2 trillion by 2050, or $834 billion after inter-temporal discounting at the minimum market rate of 5%, the Climate Change Act aims to eradicate 80% of these emissions. So just 1.2% of global emissions would be abated even if the policy were to succeed in full.

Business-as-usual CO2 concentration, as the average of all six IPCC emission scenarios, would be 514 ppmv in 2050. A full and successful reduction of UK emissions by 80% over that period would reduce that concentration to – wait for it – 512.5 ppmv. This dizzying reduction of 1.5 ppmv over 40 years would have the effect of abating 0.008 K of the 1.05 K of warming that the IPCC would otherwise have expected to see by 2050.

The UK policy’s mitigation cost-effectiveness – the cost of abating just 1 Kelvin of warming if every nation pursued the UK’s policy with the same cost-ineffectiveness – works out at $108 trillion per Kelvin abated.

The policy’s global abatement cost – the cost of abating all of the 1.05 K warming that would otherwise occur over the policy’s 40-year lifetime – would be $113 trillion, or $16,000 per head of the global population, or almost 7% of global GDP over the period.

To determine how much better it would be to do nothing than to try to abate that warming, it is necessary to agree on how much damage the warming might abate. The Stern Report on the economics of climate change produces some of the most extreme and exaggerated cost estimates, so we shall use it for the sake of being as fair as possible.

Stern agrees with most sources that if there is 3 K warming this century (which the IPCC predicted at the time), it will cost 0-3% of global 21st-century GDP (actually, he says “now and forever”, but that is one exaggeration too many). However, the IPCC’s current central estimate is that the CO2 we emit between 2000 and 2100 will cause little more than 1.5 K of warming. So let us assume that this 1.5 K of CO2-driven warming will cost us 1.5% of global 21st-century GDP.

Yes, I know that anything less than 2 K will probably be beneficial, but we have to bear in mind the already-committed warming of 0.6 K that the IPCC says is already in the pipeline on account of our past sins of emission, and the warming from the non-CO2 greenhouse gases that is not addressed in the UK’s CO2-reduction policy.

However, Stern’s calculations are all based on an inter-temporal discount rate of just 1.4%, which is far lower than the minimum rate of return on capital, which is 5%. Correcting the Stern-based 1.5%-of-GDP cost of taking no action to allow for the minimum market discount rate brings that cost down to 0.3% of GDP.

Accordingly, the 6.85%-of-GDP cost of taking action to mitigate the warming would give an impressive action/inaction ratio of 22.8. Bottom line: it is almost 23 times more expensive to pursue the policies outlined in the Climate Change Act than to sit back, do nothing, enjoy the sunshine, and adapt in a focused way to the consequences of what little warming the IPCC predicts may occur.

Just one problem with this entire calculation. It depends upon the assumption that the $1.2 billion spent by Mr. Huhne’s former department  to 2050 would actually achieve an 80% reduction in Britain’s CO2 emissions. And that may not be a justifiable assumption. Real-world climate-mitigation policies are proving far more costly than government estimates.

The United Kingdom is no longer a democracy. We still have all the trappings, but in reality it no longer matters who we vote for. Five-sixths of our laws, including overall policies on environmental matters, are set by the unelected, unaccountable, unsackable Kommissars (that’s the official German name for our new and hated masters) of the failed European Union. For the seventeenth year in a row, the EU’s own court of auditors has declined to sign off the Kommissars’ annual accounts as a true and fair record of how they have squandered the $3 million an hour we pay them. It is these Kommissars who dictate that we must have carbon trading.

So let us compare the pie-in-the-sky cost estimates in the Climate Change Act with the actual, real-world cost of the EU’s four-times-collapsed carbon trading scam – er, scheme. The calculation is similar to that which we did for the UK alone.

Over the ten-year timeframe of the EU’s scheme, CO2 concentration will have risen to 413 ppmv, or 412.4 ppmv if the scheme is fully successful, abating 0.004 K of “global warming”. The cost of the scheme, according to Bjorn Lomborg, is 2.5 times the cost of the trades actually executed: call it $230 billion a year, or $2.1 trillion after 5% discounting over the ten years.

The mitigation cost-effectiveness of the EU scheme is $535 trillion per Kelvin abated; its global abatement cost over the period 2010-2020 is $117 trillion, or $17,000 per head of global population, or 22% of global GDP over the ten-year period. And that is 72 times more costly than the 0.3%-of-GDP cost of the climate-related damage that the policy is intended to forestall.

This, too, understates the true cost-ineffectiveness of trying to tax, trade, regulate, reduce or replace CO2. For the predicted rate of warming is not occurring. By many methods, the climate literature demonstrates that the models are over-predicting CO2-driven warming at least threefold. If so, then the true cost of the EU’s mad policy, of which Mr. Huhne and his party are such enthusiastic supporters, could be at least 200 times greater than the cost of climate-related damage from doing nothing at all.

Will Mr. Huhne’s successor get the sums done and scrap the Climate Change Act? Will the EU come to its senses? Don’t count on it. Gradually, though, reality is breaking through. Desubsidization of solar and even of fashionable wind energy has now begun in the UK, Denmark, Germany and Spain.

The sheer cost of these pointless, environment-wrecking “alternative” energy sources is so crippling that European governments, already near-bankrupted by their incompetent management of the mickey-mouse Euro, cannot any longer afford these self-indulgent indulgences. The removal of Mr. Huhne from the scene will at least take Britain one step nearer to sanity, scientific reality and economic common sense about climate change.


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Hell will have to freeze over (almost literally) before the EU gives up on its primary secular religion.


I can’t see who wrote the above – I assume not Anthony, who isn’t British.
REPLY: It was Monckton, and somehow when I added Josh’s cartoon his byline got accidentally deleted, fixed now. – Anthony


Brilliant analysis, as a UK resident I am so frustrated with this obsession with climate change and the cost of it, based on no empirical evidence.

David Davidovics

Common sense and climate change generally don’t go together. It doesn’t surprise me that no numbers were ever calculated to estimate the cost of “saving the world”. No alarmist can give a straight answer to such a simple question. To quote CCR:
“when you ask them; how much should we give? The only answer is more – more – more – more….”
No price is too high in the name of saving the world – not even destroying the world is too high a price, it seems….


David Davidovics says:
February 3, 2012 at 7:46 am
It’s for the children, you know. Oh, the HUMANITY!!!

Pull My Finger

Much cheaper to adapt to the changing climate than to fight it. And warmer is better, within reason. I know I’m enjoying the NE US winter this year FAR more than last year’s constant battle with below average temps and Snowpocalypses.

well dunno about hell but most of the Eu and Uk is or willbe under snow ice etc now or soon.
whats of concern is?
will they replace this fool with??

Robin Hewitt

I thought they were going to let him off because it was not “in the public interest” to pursue the case. Question is, will his successor be able to stonewall the Conservative part of the coalition who are wanting to cut energy costs and start making stuff in the UK again? Huhne didn’t listen to reason, if the new bod tries to justify his stand he could be in trouble, he may have taken on a bit of a poison chalice should the press swing against him. Also I have a 9kW injection moulding machine I want to turn on.


Wow. Staggering. I knew that it was bad. But I never imagined that it was this bad. There is awesome stupidity and then there is this. It seems more and more likely that the people behind this aren’t interested in climate at all. Just destroying the economy so they can rebuild it as the new masters.

Interstellar Bill

After nearly 40 years of satellite IR the CO2 band is no colder,
so the theoretical forcing hasn’t taken place.
Satellite-measured global temps rose little at all,
giving the lie to official declarations of unprecedented warming.
CO2 concentrations are highest over the world’s jungles, not cities.
Sea level is falling, and never rose that much in the first place.
Record low temps are accumulating far faster than record highs.
The more that reality votes against alarmism,
the harder the alarmists double down.
Obviously, it was never about climate in the first place.

Former Forecaster

Amusingly enough, I recall a press release when the US EPA decided CO2 was to be regulated as a pollutant. In the release, they estimated it would cost $170 trillion to reduce Earth’s temperature 1 degree C, which is not that far off your estimate.
1) I find it astounding that someone can toss such a figure around without any consideration for the economic effects of committing that amount of cash to….anything.
2) I was surprised to find such a figure in an EPA press release. I would have thought hiding it would have been more politically savvy and more in keeping with transparency demonstrated daily by the Globalwarmists.
3) I’m guessing whoever permitted release of the cost/C had a serious problem keeping his job.

Steve in UK

As a UK resident I’m very relieved Huhne is stepping down, although our governments have a poor track record of doing sensible things – removing individual fools from power can only be a positive step.
I make a point of highlighting WUWT to anyone with an opinion on CAGW….. let the discussions, facts, graphs, data unpicking, and “climategate” info speak for themselves.
Anyone in full possession of their own mind can only come to the conclusion that a little warming is a good thing and that the government advocated committing of industrial suicide to PERHAPS mitigate immeasurably small amounts of that warming is utter madness.
Goodbye and good riddance Huhne, you won’t be missed.

kbray in california

Instead, these trillions could be spent in a “Manhattan Project” to develop thorium reactors or another practical alternative.
Use fossil fuels until a reasonable non CO2 alternative is perfected.
But after all that, one might discover that CO2 was never a problem in the first place.
Developing thorium reactors though, would be good, regardless of CO2’s role.
That’s a win, win…. except for the burdensome taxes…

Richard deSousa

Monckton, in response to Skeptical Science, wrote the article. The insanity of the climate change scientists and the IPCC is unbelievable!


Yes, Anthony, Monckton’s name needs to be put closer to the text. I was thinking that you were beginning to emulate CM’s style.

G. Karst

It never ceases to amaze me, how one intelligent question, can reduce authority/bureaucracy to their natural state of mumbling idiocy. Thanks for asking that question. They should all be looking for jobs. Hopefully, somewhere they cannot do further harm. GK

Belief in ‘climate warming’ must surely now qualify as full blow mental illness?


“There is no worse tyranny than to force a man to pay for what he does not want merely because you think it would be good for him.”
― Robert A. Heinlein, The Moon is a Harsh Mistress
Hopefully he won’t be replaced by another eco-tyrant

Just one problem with this entire calculation. It depends upon the assumption that the $1.2 billion spent by Mr. Huhne’s former department to 2050 would actually achieve an 80% reduction in Britain’s CO2 emissions.
That’s trillion. With a T.


Congrats to the Brits!

According to Fenbeagle (and reproduced by the Tallbloke), Huhne is a former director of a company that introduced speed cameras to Britain.


No loss, but no change. Ed Divvy Davey’s first comments on taking over were about wanting a “green economy” and growth in “green jobs”. Green in the sense of naive, or green in the sense of underdeveloped, I wonder?
Nick Clegg said of him that he had “a lifelong commitment to the environment”. A commitment to preventing power blackouts in a few years’ time would be handy too.
Delingpole has this excellent summary of Huhne’s warm and engaging personality:

Steve H

Excellent presentation, there are many Brits celebrating today and i will be joini9ng them with a pint or two later this evening. Good riddance to bad rubbish

Frederick Davies

I would be glad for Mr Huhne’s defenestration from the UK government, but for the fact that under the “rules” the current Coalition works, his post has to be filled in by another Liberal Democrat. This means things are not going to get much better (in fact some are saying that Vince Cable might replace him, and that will be worse, much much worse, believe me).

Wastrels, all. The end of Communism is officially placed at 1989. Hah. They’ve only just begun. In an insidious, slippery fashion. And the dialectic apparently applies to velocities measured by radar.

Jimmy Haigh.

On Bishop Hill he has posted this tweet from The Moonbat:
“I’m sad to see #ChrisHuhne go. He’s been one of the few voices of (relative) sanity in the Coalition.”
What is it that makes people like The Moonbat so blind?


Who is the author of this piece?


Unfortunately, Huhne’s replacement, Ed Davey, is every bit as enthusiastic about greenery, climate change, bird-choppers and massive energy price increases. I’m willing to bet that there will be no change in policy.


$30 billion per year that the Department was committed to spend between 2011 and 2050
I’m all for bashing greenies…but when we say how much needs to be spend on ‘energy infrastructure’ to achieve a CO2 emissions reduction we really should subtract out the cost of the infrastructure we are going to need regardless of ones CO2 emissions goals.
The last I checked UK coal was losing money with coal prices at historical highs and a significant portion of the UK’s generating capacity is at ‘end of life’.

So Huhne was tossed out because of a traffic violation, and not because of his insane ‘climate’ policies? Well, any straw in a storm, I guess.
Will the post of ‘Minister for Climate Change’ be filled with another whacky alarmist? Or will the Brits come to their senses and abolish the position altogether?
As others have noted, this account was apparently written by Monckton—needs a byline.
/Mr Lynn


Love the BBC’s continued bias;
“As energy secretary he claimed some policy success when he signed the government up to tough new climate change targets.
He’s forged a positive reputation for much of his work to push the green agenda, often battling resistance from the chancellor, whose priority is cutting the deficit.”
Personally I think he should be villified to choose this scam over the welfare of poor Britons. I thought the LDs were supposed to be for the people first. The state of the economy is bad enough without so much money being used on ineffective “green” technologies, and other scams related to AGW.
The LibDems and especially the conservatives used to bang on about stealth taxes during the New Labour years. Well, what do you call forced subsidies and all sorts of green taxes then? Maybe if people had more money to spend, the economy wouldn’t be forcast for another recession.

You have to know how to silence bureaucrats. Just ask them publicly to disprove your calculations showing that their decisions produce no significant result. In my country highway speed limits used to be reduced during ‘smog’ (*) until I calculated an upper limit on the effect of that reduction, irrefutably proving that it was just a feel-good measure addressing gullible greens.
Basically, and pardon my French, if you stop p!ssing in a river, does that river cool down ? Yes, theoretically it does, but immeasurably little.
(*) ‘smog’ is a contraction of smoke and fog, but in newspeak it is any condition when the particulates (including sea salt) in the air exceed some arbitrary small limit.

Jimmy Haigh.

I’ve just made the following post on Bishop Hill.
I’ll be making my annual visit to Scotland from next week until the end of the month so I will be raising a glass to Huhne’s…. retiral?
i’m also looking forward to seeing the windfarm above Aberfeldy…
Lapogus: We’ll have to meet up for a beer.”
Steve H says:
February 3, 2012 at 8:26 am
I’m one of the Brits celebrating…
Frederick Davies says:
February 3, 2012 at 8:28 am
“Defenestration:” – that’s the word i was searching for.


I’m really pleased to see what I hope is the last of C Huhne. One can form some sort of idea of what he’s worth from the simple fact that he is to face serious charges (on a question of honesty), something that the Crown Prosecution Service does not do lightly. Let us hope that his replacement will be much less misguided, though I fear that he won’t. Will these idiots in government ever understand that they are pursuing an unreachable goal, using our taxes to fund their play.

Michael Palmer

Another problem with the calculation above – it assumes that the UK’s share of global energy consumption would still be at 1.5% in 2050. Considering that the UK, as an industrialized nation, is going nowhere fast, it will probably be more like 0.15% at that time.


Huhnes departure is welcome, but perverting the course of justice in the uk carries a maximum jail term of life. So it’s a serious charge
He would probably get a few months if he were found guilty, but he must be a very worried man


That Huhne resigns doesnt matter.
The asylumn; the Climate Change Department, is still there.
It needs to disappear.


I get the same sense of the shocking insanity of this every single time I read an article about it. I think I’m going to write to my MP (Minister for Agriculture and Food), again!


Good to see Huhne go, but there is no reason to expect any “return to sanity” so quickly.
Davey’s appointment indicates no change of course.
P.s. I agree that it is confusing to wonder about the authorship of this piece. I gather it is by CM?

Colin Porter

When speed cameras were introduced, I thought they were an awful, anti libertarian, useless development.
How wrong I was!!!

Bob Kutz

Too funny; over a parking ticket.
This should demonstrate to everyone how these goons feel as though the laws don’t apply to them.

Out here in California we have the California Air Resources Board (CARB) also known as the “Commissars.” I am sure Mr. Huhne can find a position in our state as we are just getting started with our cap and trade program which is supported by our legislature and governor.
Speaking of costs we do have some estimates of what it will cost our state to meet our 33%RES- A meeting held on 23 NOV 2010 sponsored by the California Energy Commission (CEC) entitled ” Joint Committee Workshop on Electricity Infrastructure Need Assessment” discussed infrastructure needs to meet the 33%RES, enacted via an administrative law requirement by the California Air Resources Board (CARB), by 2020 in CA. The California Energy Storage Association stressed the need for energy storage to address the intermittent nature of most forms of renewable energy (wind and solar) in a public comment The CESA comment had a particularly insightful comment on page 4-
…”Finally, the timing for including energy storage as a fundamental component of California’s
electricity infrastructure has never been greater. At the November 30, 2010 CPUC LTPP
workshop, CAISO presented their findings related to full RPS Implementation, and found that the
33% in state RPS scenario resulted in a small INCREASE in MMBTU of fuel burn in California.
According to Mark Rothleder, Director of Market Analysis and Development CAISO, “The primary
reasons for this are a result of two things:
1) increased regulation and load following requirements resulting in resources with
flexibility being committed online more in the 33% reference case over other cases and
2) lower level net imports from outside of CA in the 33% reference case. This result may
change for depending on the ultimate source of flexibility.”
Unfortunately, the details of how to keep the grid stable without storage (and it’s costs) don’t appear to have been covered in the Report justifing the move to the 33%RES-
CARB report–
Public Hearing to Consider the Proposed Regulation
to Implement the Renewable Electricity Standard
Date of Release: June 3, 2010
Scheduled for Consideration: July 22-23, 2010”
justifying the move from the current legislated 20%RES to 33% doesn’t cover the concerns (system requirements really) of the CASIO in their analysis. CARB’s bullet- “The cost-effectiveness of the proposal is estimated to be about $200/MMTCO2E in 2020. (page ES-3) ” on cost effectiveness is not valid without addressing the concerns (system requirements) noted by CASIO.


evanmjones says:
February 3, 2012 at 8:17 am TYPO CORRECTION: Just one problem with this entire calculation. It depends upon the assumption that the $1.2 billion spent by Mr. Huhne’s former department to 2050 would actually achieve an 80% reduction in Britain’s CO2 emissions. That’s trillion. With a T.
Since billions and trillions are now in common use, it would be nice to know exactly what they are.
million is fine – 10^6
billion is dodgy – 10^9 or 10^12
trillion is worse – 10^12 or 10^15
I guess there’s some international standard somewhere.


It is much the same way in America, where a vast majority of laws are actually rules and regulations adopted by appointed commissions and bureaucrats all monofocused on their area with no regard for expense, practicality, or the overall effect on society.

Steve C

Good riddance to him, although his replacement’s no better. All our politicians are fully committed to ‘the cause’ anyhow, so nothing will change.

Alles klar herr Kommissar?


Mr Lynn says: February 3, 2012 at 8:37 am
“So Huhne was tossed out because of a traffic violation, and not because of his insane ‘climate’ policies?”
No. The penalty for the traffic violation would have been a suspended license, for 6 months or a year.
He had been charged for perverting the course of justice – bascially for lying. Somewhat more serious for a government minister.
Apparently there is no crime of “being a twat” so he get’s away with that one.


[SNIP: Yes it is OT. Please submit to Tips and Notes. -REP]

Bob Kutz

excuse me; over a speeding ticket.

Hugh Davis

Nick Clegg’s response following Huhne’s resignation: –
“Chris Huhne is a good friend and a close colleague and I think he has done an outstanding job as Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change.
He has been really a pioneer in new, ground-breaking policies which I believe will stand the test of time. If he clears his name, as he wishes to, I have made it clear to him that I would like to see him back in Government in a key position.
I am pleased that Ed Davey has agreed to take up the post as the new Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change. Ed has a lifelong commitment to the environment, to green issues. He has shown as a minister a formidable grasp of the details of Government policy.”
So now we know! One lunatic replaced by another!