Answer given by Ms Geoghegan-Quinn on behalf of the Commission
The question raised by the Honourable Member touches the issues of ‘weather’ and ‘climate’, which to avoid misunderstandings, needs to be separated. Annual and regional fluctuations of specific meteorological parameters such as temperature and precipitation are ‘weather’ phenomena. Cold and warm winters of specific regions fall into this category (e.g. central Europe suffered this year from a cold spell, other parts of Europe and the northern hemisphere, however, experienced average or even above average temperatures).
‘Climate’ describes a long term weather pattern, basically meteorological parameters averaged over space and time. Time series of several decades and centuries are required to derive ‘cooling’ or ‘warming’ trends for a specific area. Trend and pattern analyses usually require the application of sophisticated mathematical methods.
Concerning the incident of the University of East Anglia related to the creditability of climate science, there is no proof of fraud or misconduct as claimed. Those challenging the climate impact of elevated atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations caused by human activities failed to present a convincing theory explaining the global warming trends of past decades as climate models do. The article of Vincent Courtillot on the solar cosmic ray-climate link, referenced by the Honourable Member under paragraph 4, is a typical example. According to an article in Science (11 January 2008: Vol. 319. no. 5860, p. 144) Vincent Courtillot and his team had to acknowledge that their theory, which is based on solar and geomagnetic activities, is unable to explain the warming of the past two decades.
The Commission therefore recalls that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), being one of the most rigorous scientific review bodies in existence, is considered the most reliable source of climate information. Many thousands of scientists have dedicated their time to forming the most comprehensive and authoritative assessments of climate science available. Assessment Reports of the IPCC are primacy for climate change policy-making; their robust findings remain an essential element on which EU climate policy is based.
The Commission does not comment on specific energy data of individual EU countries. However, according to IPCC there is convincing evidence that human release of greenhouse gases will disrupt the earth system and that negative consequences will override positive effects by far. In this context we all should remember the exceptional hot summer of 2003 which has cost the life of thousands of elderly people across Europe. According to climate projections, the exceptional summer of 2003 will become just an average summer by 2070, if anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions stay high.
Addressing the economic question the Honourable Member raised, the Commission would concur with the Stern Report, that early, mitigating action is significantly less costly than not taking action. The investments in renewable energy, in energy efficiency and other measures such as contained in the United Kingdom's Climate Change Act are necessary and urgent.