Lord Nigel Lawson, author of An Appeal to Reason: A Cool Look at Global Warming, offers his perspective on the Copenhagen climate change conference in The Wall Street Journal: "The world's political leaders, not least President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Gordon Brown, are in a state of severe, almost clinical, denial. While acknowledging that the outcome of the United Nations climate-change conference in Copenhagen fell short of their demand for a legally binding, enforceable and verifiable global agreement on emissions reductions by developed and developing countries alike, they insist that what has been achieved is a breakthrough and a decisive step forward.
Just one more heave, just one more venue for the great climate change traveling circus—Mexico City next year^and the job will be done. Or so we are told. It is, of course, the purest nonsense. The only breakthrough was the political coup for China and India in concluding the anodyne communique with the United States behind closed doors, with Brazil and South Africa allowed in the room "and Europe left to languish in the cold outside.
Far from achieving a major step forward, Copenhagen—predictably—achieved precisely nothing. The neatest thing to a commitment was the promise by the developed world to pay the developing world $30 billion of "climate aid" over the next three years, rising to $100 billion a year from 2020. Not only is that (perhaps fortunately) not legally binding, but there is no agreement whatsoever about which countries it will go to, in which amounts, and on what conditions. The reasons for the complete and utter failure of Copenhagen are both fundamental and irresolvable. The first is that the economic cost of decarbonizing the world's economies is massive, and of at least the. same order of magnitude as any benefits it may conceivably bring in terms of a cooler world in the next century.
The overriding priority for the developing world has to be the fastest feasible rate of economic development, which means, inter alia, using the cheapest available source of energy: carbon energy. Moreover, the argument that they should make this economic and human sacrifice to benefit future generations 100 years and more hence is all the less compelling, given that these future generations will, despite any problems caused by warming, be many times better off than the people of the developing world are today."
An Appeal to Reason is now available in a new paperback edition.