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Carbon Brief Staff

25.10.2012 | 3:00pm
ScienceMeet Peter Lilley, the newest member of the Commons Energy and Climate Change Committee
SCIENCE | October 25. 2012. 15:00
Meet Peter Lilley, the newest member of the Commons Energy and Climate Change Committee

Yesterday it was announced that Peter Lilley, Conservative MP for Hitchin and Harpenden, has been appointed to the House of Commons Energy and Climate Change Select Committee.

The Energy and Climate Change Select Committee is tasked with overseeing how the Department of Energy and Climate Change spends government money. It also conducts public inquiries and makes policy recommendations to the Department. As a member of the Committee, Lilley will have influence over what form these recommendations take, and what evidence is considered.

Here are Lilley’s on-the-record views on some of the key issues.

Lilley on climate change science

Lilley was one of only 5 MPs who voted against the Climate Change Act of 2008. The parliamentary scrutiny website, The Public Whip, categorises Lilley as ‘strongly against’ the issue of ‘Stopping Climate Change’.

Lilley has called the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) “a slightly shaky pillar” for the basis of climate science.

However, he recently appeared on Newsnight defending the scientific findings of the IPCC. Here, he claimed the IPCC’s scientific findings were a better basis for discussion of climate change than new calculations by Professor Peter Wadhams of Cambridge University, which he labelled as something “concocted by the BBC in a rather alarmist fashion”.

Lilley believes that a doubling of the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide would lead to a global temperature rise of one degree Celsius.

This is significantly less than the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report projects. The IPCC reflects where scientific consensus lies on the issue, and puts the likely temperature rise resulting from a doubling of atmospheric carbon dioxide at between 2 and 4.5 degrees.

Lilley on the economics of climate change

Lilley has criticised the Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change, and has published a critique of the report for the climate skeptic thinktank the Global Warming Policy Foundation.

On his own website, Peter Lilley says that:

“The government relies on the Stern Review to justify its policies to combat global warming – possibly the most costly programme since the welfare state. But the Stern Review was not fit for purpose.”

In his report, ‘What is Wrong with Stern?’, Lilley argues that the Stern Review contains “many errors, big and small” and accuses Stern of “statistical sophistry and verbal virtuosity”.

Instead, Lilley makes a case for “a modest, gradual approach to climate change”.  Bob Ward of the Grantham Institute at the London School of Economics has critiqued Lilley’s report.

Lilley on renewable energy

Lilley is against subsidies to renewable energy projects as it means “subsidising the replacement of comparatively cheap and reliable energy from fossil fuels with more expensive and intermittent energy from renewables.” In his view:

“To suggest that we can make ourselves richer by adopting more expensive energy is self-evidently ridiculous.”

Lilley is also against feed-in tariffs to small-scale producers of renewable technology. In another question to the Minister of DECC, he asks how the policy fits with the Comprehensive Spending Review, asking:

“have green policies been exempted from it and become a form of financial self-flagellation?”

Lilley advocates for an increase in the investment in nuclear technology and anticipates that new energy technologies such as thorium reactors and better battery storage will become important in the UK’s energy future.

Like others on the ECC committee, Lilley lists entries in the Parliamentary Register of Members’ Financial Interests related to the areas the committee covers. He is a Non-Executive Chairman of Tethys Petroleum.

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