British performance on climate change “pathetic”

Britain’s Royal Society has just published a report of a meeting in which leading experts in energy generation discussed the detail of what is required to achieve a low carbon economy. The nine page summary document and accompanying presentations identify major weaknesses in the UK’s approach to climate change.

The report focuses on technology and economic policy, but along with this comes sharp criticism of the British government’s efforts to date. One leading member of the Royal Society is quoted off-record by the BBC describing the government’s performance on carbon capture and sequestration as “pathetic”. Similar criticisms could be made of many other leading economies.

So far there has been emitted much hot air over global warming, and little action, despite the protestations of the Department of Energy and Climate Change and other ministries of government. Gordon Brown’s commitment to international development is reflected positively in his recent call for $100bn a year to help less wealthy nations deal with climate change. But without massive investment in new technologies, such redistribution of wealth would be throwing good money after bad. This is an area in which the current prime minister has considerable experience, and from which he appears to have learned nothing.

British investment in alternative and renewable energy research and development is growing, but it remains pitifully small in relation to needs. It’s all very well talking about leadership at international summits and what-not, but where is the action?