Climate change evidence 'unaffected' by emails row

A leading scientist has said that claims academics manipulated global warming data do not undermine the case for man-made climate change.

A leading scientist has said that claims academics manipulated global warming data do not undermine the case for man-made climate change.

The University of East Anglia (UEA) has announced that an independent review will investigate allegations that a series of stolen emails showed scientists at its Climatic Research Unit were manipulating data.

Lord Krebs, a former chief executive of the National Environment Research Council, said at question time: "The data from the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia agree with the two data sets collected independently in the United States... and all three data sets show that thermometer measurements of the global temperature have risen by 0.75C since 1850."

Lord Rees of Ludlow, the Astronomer Royal, said that rises in levels of carbon dioxide, which were "entirely uncontroversial", should "in itself motivate very strong action" at the global warming summit in Copenhagen.

Climate change minister Lord Hunt of Kings Heath said that UEA had announced a review and "it was best to await the outcome of that review".

He added: "I'm convinced that the evidence overall both from that university and from other institutions around the world is utterly convincing."

Later, opening a debate on climate change, Lord Hunt insisted: "There will be no let up in our policy effort because of the recession. Emission reductions in a recession are no substitute for permanent reductions," the minister told peers. The scientific consensus is unequivocal. The global climate is warming and this is primarily caused by human activity." He said a "step change" was needed in the pace of emission reductions.

Lord Hunt also promised Government proposals next spring on how to achieve targeted carbon reductions for the year 2050, including accelerating the development of particular technologies.

On the leaked emails, former Cabinet Secretary Lord Turnbull said it was essential that research on climate change was "done as transparently as possible, with the greatest scope for challenge. Instead of open debate, a picture has emerged of selective use of data and efforts to silence critics." There was a need to "restore confidence in the integrity of the data".

Stressing the uncertainty of much of the science, he said there was also a need to purge the debate of the "unpleasant religiosity that surrounds it", he said. "Crude insults from the Prime Minister do not help."

Lord Stern of Brentford, who is advising the European Commission at the Copenhagen conference, highlighted the dangers of failing to come to an agreement. But he was optimistic that a deal could be reached. Crossbencher Lord Stern, who wrote the landmark report on the economics of climate change in 2005-6, also welcomed the cross-party consensus in the UK on what needed to be done.

Lord Stern called for a "very strong acceleration" in the UK response to climate change. "We have to move very fast if we are to have any chance of achieving the very sensible targets that have been set," he said.

But the rate of technological progress was "enormously encouraging", he went on. The Stern review had estimated an economic cost of 1% of GDP but his view now was that tackling climate change would cost nearly double that amount.

"That's like a one-off 2% increase in prices," he suggested. "And, as we learn over time, those costs could come down."

Lord Stern saw it as not so much as a cost or burden but "an investment of great creativity and enormous importance".

He described the Copenhagen conference as "the most important international gathering since World War Two, given what is at stake".

If nothing was done, there was a 50/50 chance that temperatures could eventually rise by five degrees - to the highest for 30 million years. If they rose by three degrees above pre-industrial levels, it would be the hottest for three million years.

Such changes would re-write the physical and human geography of the world, with hundreds of millions if not billions of climate refugees.

But, with low carbon growth, the next two or three decades could be "the most exciting period in economic history that we have seen - bigger than the railways, bigger than electricity".

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