John Howard, the last Liberal prime minister and mentor to prime minister-elect Tony Abbott, has been roped in to deliver the keynote lecture at the annual meeting of the most prominent climate skeptic group in the UK, the Global Warming Policy Foundation.
The GWPF was founded by former UK Chancellor of the Exchequer Nigel Lawson in 2009. It disputes any scientific consensus on climate change, and is strongly anti-renewables. The title of Howard’s speech, to be made on November 5 at the Institute of Mechanical Engineers in London, is “One religion is enough.” Climate skeptic groups like to describe the science around global warming as “a religion”, and those who support action on climate change as “believers”.
Abbott is no stranger to addressing to climate skeptic think tanks himself. Earlier this year, he was guest of honour at the 75th anniversary of the Institute of Public Affairs in Australia, which holds a similar position to the GWPF. His speech sits proudly on his website.
Indeed, Abbott now seems surrounded by climate skeptics. Apart from Howard, who he keeps in close counsel, the chair of his business advisory panel, Maurice Newman, dispute the science of climate change, as does the man who orchestrated his overthrow of Malcolm Turnbull in 2009, Nick Minchin, and many of his supporters, such as his former parliamentary secretary Cory Bernardi.
Howard has had a previous connection with the GWPF. In 2011, he wrote a forward to a book by Ross McKitrick, which was critical of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which incidentally is about to release its latest report.
Howard complained in that forward of the “intellectual bullying, which has been a feature of the behaviour of some global warming zealots.” He said the attempt of many to close down the debate about climate science was “disgraceful” and must be resisted.
As it turns out, the IPCC report is already proving controversial even before its release. Right wing newspapers in England have played up a reported downgrade in the IPCC’s estimated temperature rise per decade. The reports were gleefully reprinted on the front page of The Australian on Monday, saying that the modelling had been “drastically overestimated.”
The report drew a damming response from climate scientists. Professor David Karoly said the IPCC report had not been finalised, but in any case, the number cited by the Australian and the UK tabloids of 0.12C – was just one one hundredth of a degree below the 0.13C rise forecast in 2007.
Professor Steven Sherwood, from UNSW, said The Australian story is riddled with errors. “The IPCC does not do climate forecasts on its own “computer,” as stated in the lead paragraph.” He also noted that any small reduction in surface warming was balanced by stronger than expected recent warming below the ocean. You can get more reaction from the Australian Science Media centre here.
Howard described himself as an “agnostic” on global warming. He had proposed an emissions trading scheme in the lead up to the 2007 election that he lost, but he said that was predicated on the rest of the world acting in a similar fashion. He said it actions by major emitting nations would by highly unlikely.
Meanwhile, Abbott is rewarding one of the harshest critics of the carbon price, Mathias Cormann, by promoting him to Finance Minister in the new government.
Like, Howard and Abbott, Cormann was once an enthusiastic supporter of the carbon price. “The government’s recent announcement of a national emissions trading scheme, including offsets for trade exposed industries, is a positive and sensible approach to addressing global warming,” he said in his maiden speech to the senate in 2007.
Greg Hunt is appointed environment minister, which includes climate change. He will be assisted by Simon Birmingham. Ian Macfarlane is the industry minister, which will include energy, resources, and science. Monckton admirer David Jensen misses out.