Feeds

Fighting Thermageddon just got £1 trillion cheaper

Thanks to the magic of numbers

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

As if by magic, a trillion pounds has been shaved off the estimated cost of Global Warming regulation in the UK overnight. Parliament has yet to be informed of this numerical feat.

When MPs and Lords passed the Climate Change Act late last year - see Snow blankets London for Global Warming debate - they did so without so much as a back-of-an-envelope calculation from the departmental Sir Humphreys to go on. That didn't seem to bother them, however.

Politicians were so keen to appear virtuous, they queued up to show their support for raising the carbon reduction target from 60 per cent to 80 per cent. But how much would all this virtue cost?

It was only after the bill became law did some numbers trickle out. The government isn't really supposed to do this; BERR is obliged to provide "Impact assessments". So we learned that the potential costs of £205bn were twice the estimated maximum benefits, of £110bn. But overnight, the "benefits" have blossomed tenfold. While the cost estimate now ranges from £324bn to £404bn, the "benefits" are estimated to top £1tn.

"I congratulate on [sic] finding nearly £1 trillion of benefits which had previously escaped your notice," writes Peter Lilley in a letter to Minister for Energy and Climate Change, Ed Miliband. Lilley was just one of just five elected members out of 653 to oppose the Climate Change Act.

"As so often in the debate on Global Warming – when the facts don’t fit the theory they change the facts," he adds. Lilley says he welcomes sensible CO2 reduction, but wants the costs - around £20,000 per household - discussed in Parliament.

In a footnote to the Miliband letter, Lilley notes that the cost excludes "transitional costs" of about one per cent of GDP per annum. This alone dwarves the top range estimate, since the UK's annual GDP is over £2tn. Also missing was the cost of UK businesses moving abroad to less virtuous countries - something even the Ministry admits is likely.

But we should salute this impressive feat of statistical inventiveness. Creativity with numbers seems to be a benefit when "fighting climate change", but creativity on this scale could make our economic problems vanish at the stroke of a pen-pusher's biro. ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
Renewable energy 'simply WON'T WORK': Top Google engineers
Windmills, solar, tidal - all a 'false hope', say Stanford PhDs
Bond villains lament as Wicked Lasers withdraw death ray
Want to arm that shark? Better get in there quick
The next big thing in medical science: POO TRANSPLANTS
Your brother's gonna die, kid, unless we can give him your, well ...
SEX BEAST SEALS may be egging each other on to ATTACK PENGUINS
Boffin: 'I think the behaviour is increasing in frequency'
NASA launches new climate model at SC14
75 days of supercomputing later ...
Britain's HUMAN DNA-strewing Moon mission rakes in £200k
3 days, and Kickstarter moves lander 37% nearer takeoff
Reuse the Force, Luke: SpaceX's Elon Musk reveals X-WING designs
And a floating carrier for recyclable rockets
Simon's says quantum computing will work
Boffins blast algorithm with half a dozen qubits
prev story

Whitepapers

Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
How to determine if cloud backup is right for your servers
Two key factors, technical feasibility and TCO economics, that backup and IT operations managers should consider when assessing cloud backup.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
The Heartbleed Bug: how to protect your business with Symantec
What happens when the next Heartbleed (or worse) comes along, and what can you do to weather another chapter in an all-too-familiar string of debilitating attacks?