Climate Lobby ‘Has African Blood On Its Hands’

  • Date: 16/10/14
  • Ben Webster, The Times

Film stars such as Leonardo DiCaprio who campaign to reduce consumption of fossil fuels are consigning millions of Africans to a life of poverty and ill-health, according to Britain’s former environment secretary.

Owen Paterson said the focus on climate change had obscured the real causes of deprivation in poor countries.

His comments were made while delivering the annual lecture of the Global Warming Policy Foundation, a think-tank known for being sceptical of climate change [policy].

Mr Paterson said: “The sight of rich film stars effectively telling Africa’s poor that they should not have fossil fuels, but should continue to die at the rate of millions each year from the smoke of wood fires in their homes frankly disgusts me.”

DiCaprio was among 300,000 protesters who took part in the People’s Climate March in New York last month.

Mr Paterson added: “The World Health Organisation estimates that 4.3 million people lose their lives every year through indoor air pollution.

“The lack of affordable and reliable electricity, transport and shelter to help protect the poor from cyclones, droughts and diseases, is a far greater threat to them than the small risk that those weather systems might one day turn a bit more dangerous,” he said.

Mr Paterson also called for the abolition of Britain’s target, under the Climate Change Act 2008, of cutting emissions by 80 per cent by 2050. He said the target would force Britain to erect thousands of wind turbines and would cost a total of £1.3 trillion by 2050.

Lord Turner of Ecchinswell, former chairman of the committee on climate change, said: “Owen Paterson is mistaken in asserting that the Climate Change Act mandates the building of wind farms and other renewables.” He added: “Companies are perfectly free to develop the other options that Mr Paterson advocates, and the government is in fact supporting some of them.”

Mr Paterson said emissions should be cut instead by other measures, including replacing coal with shale gas and building small nuclear reactors.

Mr Paterson said subsidies for renewable energy already cost households £3 billion a year, with much of the money going to big landowners for wind and solar farms on their land.

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