Gordon Brown: climate-change sceptics are ‘flat-earthers’

Gordon Brown: climate-change sceptics are ‘flat-earthers’

James Kirkup and Louise Gray – Telegraph.co.uk December 4, 2009

The Prime Minister launched an outspoken attack on climate-change sceptics amid growing signs of public doubts about the scientific and political consensus on the environment.

World leaders meet in Copenhagen next week seeking a global deal on cutting carbon emissions. But the debate has been clouded by a row over accusations that British scientists manipulated data on global temperatures.

The United Nations yesterday announced an investigation into the University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit. Critics of the scientific consensus on climate change claim emails from the unit’s servers show researchers manipulated evidence to support their theory.

Phil Jones, the director of the CRU, has dismissed the claims as “complete rubbish” but the scandal has thrown the scientific world into turmoil and has been raised by some countries as a reason not to strike a deal in Copenhagen.

Mr Brown last night insisted that the science on climate change in settled, and accused those who question the consensus of being outdated.

He said: “With only days to go before Copenhagen we mustn’t be distracted by the behind-the-times, anti-science, flat-earth climate sceptics. We know the science. We know what we must do.

Greg Clark, the Conservative shadow energy secretary, told the Daily Telegraph the emails were a cause for concern.

“This has clearly concerned a lot of people, including myself. You need to be able to rely on the scientific opinion. It is important that we should be able to have confidence in the research,” he said.

Announcing a review of the case, Dr Rajendra Pachauri, chairman of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), said the matter could not be “brushed under the carpet”.

Climate sceptics around the world are using the crisis to argue that man made global warming is not proven and therefore there is no need for a deal to curb greenhouse gas emissions or pay to help poor countries adapt.

In the US, the controversy has prompted leading global warming sceptics in the Republican Party to call for hearings in Congress, in a bid to thwart Barack Obama’s plans for energy reform.

They hope to hold the hearings before the president arrives in Copenhagen on next week for his solo appearance at the international climate talks, where he will offer to cut US emissions by 17 per cent from 2005 levels by 2020.

Senator James Inhofe, the senior Republican on the environment and public works committee, has already launched investigation into the emails and called for academics in the US who had communicated with Phil Jones, the scientist at the centre of the row, to keep any relevant emails and documents.

“This idea that some of the science is being manipulated and some scientists are not being heard is our biggest fear,” Matt Dempsey, a spokesman for Sen Inhofe said.

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