Since then, despite a series of unconvincing attempts to clear the Climategate scientists, it has become clear that the 20-year-old climate scare is dying on its feet. The money draining away from the Chicago exchange speaks louder than all those inquiries – and the same point will be made obvious in a fortnight’s time in Cancun, Mexico, as the UN attempts to salvage something from the wreckage at a conference that will draw scarcely a tenth of the numbers that met in Copenhagen.But to all this deflation of the bubble our political class in Britain remains quite impervious. Our governments in London and Brussels charge on with completely unreal and damaging policies which increasingly look as much of a shambles as the warming scare which inspired them. Scarcely a single politician dares question the Climate Change Act, by far the most expensive law in history, which commits Britain, uniquely in the world, to reducing its CO2 emissions by 80 per cent in 40 years. By the Government’s own estimates, this will cost up to £18 billion a year. Any hope that we could begin to meet such a target without closing down most of our economy is as fanciful as the idea that we can meet our EU commitment to generate 30 per cent of our electricity by 2020 from “renewable” sources, such as wind and solar.
Second, there has been a re-framing of climate change. The simple linear frame of “here’s the consensus science, now let’s make climate policy” has lost out to the more ambiguous frame: “What combination of contested political values, diverse human ideals and emergent scientific evidence can drive climate policy?” The events of the past year have finally buried the notion that scientific predictions about future climate change can be certain or precise enough to force global policy-making.The meta-framing of climate change has therefore moved from being bi-polar – that either the scientific evidence is strong enough for action or else it is too weak for action – to being multi-polar – that narratives of climate change mobilise widely differing values which can’t be homogenised through appeals to science. Those actors who have long favoured a linear connection between climate science and climate policy – spanning environmentalists, contrarians and some scientists and politicians – have been forced to rethink. It is clearer today that the battle lines around climate change have to be drawn using the language of politics, values and ethics rather than the one-dimensional language of scientific consensus or lack thereof.