Chris Huhne

CH has resigned as a minister (he was Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, often just reported as "energy secretary") after he was charged with asking his then-wife to take some speeding points for him; or, more formally, for "perverting the course of justice". And I think the reaction, certainly amongst his colleagues, has been "well that was inevitable, but its a shame cos he was good". Richard Black (beeb.env) says Chris Huhne's departure from the Department of Energy and Climate Change (Decc) sees the exit of a minister who is generally regarded as having fought tenaciously for "green" policies within the Cabinet. Whereas Timmy says Tee-Hee: "So, is the next bloke at DECC going to reverse all of his idiot policies?". I wondered: from my POV, does CH's departure look like a loss?

Of course, to find that out I'd have to know what his policies are. I started off looking at his website under the "issues" tab. Neither the "national" nor "local" tab has anything to say about climate change. So although it may have been his "day job" at the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC), it clearly isn't where his heart is. Or alternatively, that he is too much of a politician to say what he thinks, which again makes him no great loss.

The Beeb profile of him has nothing to say about climate or global warming, but going back to the original beeb article: Despite having had only seven months in the job, he was one of 10 ministers chosen by the Mexican host government to pull the Cancun talks around when they appeared to be heading for the rocks. Cancun was a waste of time, so his failure to recognise that loses him more points.

I went to look at DECC. And found the Carbon Plan. Jolly good. It's got CH's name on it.

By 2020, we will complete the 'easy wins'... insulating all remaining cavity walls and lofts... condensing boilers... new car emissions will fall ... as internal combustion engines continue to become more efficient. Emissions from power stations, already down a quarter since 1990, will fall a further 40%, with most existing coal-fired power stations closing.

All coal stations to close by 2020? With all the Nooks going too, it is hard to see what will replace them. Lots of fracked gas?

By 2030... New low carbon power stations - a mix of carbon capture and storage, renewables and nuclear power - will be built.

Oh, that's odd: the Nooks are back. Where did they come from? Still, they are in the plan, so that is a plus. Not sure I believe the CCS: without a carbon tax / sane carbon pricing they are uneconomic.

we will run a technology race, with the least-cost technologies winning the largest market share

That's nice. Timmy says your current tariff / subsidy system doesn't do this, but then he is an old curmudgeon so we'll ignore him. But least-cost tech winning sounds very much like leaving the market to operate without government interference. I think that is good, but it is a slightly curious way of phrasing it - almost as though they don't want to say it.

I got a bit bored reading it at that point, ending at "This will put the UK on a path towards an 80% reduction by 2050" which I've already said I don't believe.

OK, so I dunno. But I imagine that people out there have opinions: feel free to point out CH's virtues from a Global Warming POV, or indeed those of the gov't as a whole.

More like this

Every body remembers that men's life seems to be not very cheap, but different people require cash for various issues and not every person earns enough money. So to receive quick credit loans or just financial loan would be good way out.

Well, he kept on David MacKay, so he gets some points for that. And he does appear to have been pretty serious about the "2050 Pathways" thing (80% by 2050). See

Now, obviously, we're not going to achieve the 2050 goal unless we get some collective national will behind it. But at least people have been putting in the effort to figure out how to achieve it, and I think Huhne should get some credit for that. So if/when we reach the point of realisation of an existential crisis, and the national will therefore arises, we will have a proper understanding of what needs to be done.

The short version: obviously a hypocrite (but we knew that: he's a Lib Dem), and something of a scumbag for the whole speeding/lying/cheating thing, but I think nonetheless the best politician the UK has had on the energy/climate change front. Is that damning by faint praise? Well yes, yes it is.

> "scumbag": I'm less convinced, or perhaps less concerned, about that. He can't go on being a minister with that, though. "Now, obviously, we're not going to achieve the 2050 goal" - I thought you were going to stop there :-). MacKay: good point. Though he only kept him on, not appointed him (yes?) and he clearly hasn't listened to him much -W]

By Nick Barnes (not verified) on 04 Feb 2012 #permalink

Globally, the scientific community is comprised of millions of scientists and experts who are warning us of an impending CO2 climate crisis. But as the politicians walk away from climate change mitigation, anger now should be directed to the scientists for not using their vast numbers to influence public concern for climate change urgency. Here we have millions in the scientific world and only hundreds of climate change protesters at any given time so how does the climate change movement get the scientists to move off their thrones and onto the streets to join the others concerned with climate change?

[Scientists - at least the physical ones - are there to tell you what will happen. What you do about it is up to you -W]

By Meme MIne (not verified) on 04 Feb 2012 #permalink

Also: Tim Worstall didn't like him, so he had that going for him. Foolishly following your link, I see the comments there haven't improved (advocates of WTFUWT, frack-heads, and anti-wind-bags).

[TW has a lot of bozo commentators, but I don't hold that against him. TW's arguments against the current subsidy regime, and his support for a carbon tax, are good -W}

By Nick Barnes (not verified) on 04 Feb 2012 #permalink

MacKay, yes, was brought on under the last lot, and hopefully survives Huhne. I can't tell whether Huhne listened to him.

The one thing which would help most (a carbon tax) is never going to happen. Obviously correct, with support from a wide range of political perspectives, and therefore doomed to failure and in fact impossible even to broach in "serious" policy discussion. But is that Huhne's fault?

[No, it isn't Huhne's fault. But he could have spoken in favour of it, at least once -W]

By Nick Barnes (not verified) on 04 Feb 2012 #permalink

"[Scientists - at least the physical ones - are there to tell you what will happen. What you do about it is up to you -W]"
This is pure bible thumping belief and obedience. Or are you just pulling our legs?
Millions in the science world have kids who are doomed and you say it's not their job to be active. Really!

[It is clearly not their "job". Their job is to do science. Some will choose to speak - I did; others blog, or contribute to public understanding in other ways. And "doomed" is far too strong -W]

By Jill Claburn (not verified) on 04 Feb 2012 #permalink

The fact that he would step down for any sort of wrong behaviour puts him leagues ahead of the lying incompetent thugs leading the government in Canada, whose most-practiced skill is in throwing bureaucrats under the bus for their own politically partisan screw-ups. Don't ever let the British Parliament give up on ministerial responsibility.

By Holly Stick (not verified) on 04 Feb 2012 #permalink

Children will die as a consequence of climate disruption, imho in large numbers, but the children of scientists are unlikely to be among them.

[Maybe. But bald assertions are weak; evidence is better. Evidence that more children will die due to disruption than would have died anyway is what you need -W]

By Steve Bloom (not verified) on 05 Feb 2012 #permalink