Report blames climate change on cosmic ray fluctuations and sunspot activity, drawing derision from climate scientists
Wed 29 Aug 2018
A European parliament report that blames climate change on cosmic ray fluctuations, sunspots and planetary gravitational pulls, is so hackneyed and ill-informed it would “make the dinosaurs blush,” climate scientists say.
The non-binding opinion written by Ukip MEP, John Stuart Agnew, has shocked EU lawmakers for its dismissal of climate science – and the support he received to write it from mainstream rightwing and liberal political blocs.
Green MEP Molly Scott Cato said their choice of Agnew, a Norfolk farmer, as parliamentary rapporteur by the agriculture committee, was a “truly scandalous” fiasco that illustrated a growing populist threat. A rapporteur is elected to shepherd EU proposals through the European parliament and, after negotiations with the European commission and EU states, into law.
It deletes the European commission’s proposals for funds to be spent on clean energy infrastructure, references to climate mitigation and obligations under the Paris agreement.
Agnew claimed that his ideas represented scientific “fact”. He said: “I’m doing this to ensure that somewhere in the files and annals of the European parliament there was somebody who said: ‘The king isn’t wearing an invisible suit! The king is naked!’”
Rather than human activity, the Agnew report attributes climate change to cosmic ray fluctuations and gravitational pulls from elsewhere in the galaxy, sunspot activity, ocean currents and greenhouse gas water vapour, in the form of cloud cover.
“The other greenhouse gases, CO2, methane and nitrous oxide have a negligible effect on our climate,” Agnew’s paper claims. “The only potential risk of a major CO2 event in Europe is an erupting volcano.”
Dave Reay, professor of carbon management at Edinburgh University told the Guardian, after looking at the paper: “It is fitting that this laughable document misuses palaeoclimate information in its case against human-induced climate change – the hackneyed, pseudo-scientific arguments here would make the dinosaurs blush.”
Agnew’s paper has no legal weight and will almost certainly be dismissed by the environment committee when the issue is debated on 30 August.
In part, it reflects a turf war between the agriculture and environment panels over responsibility for separate proposals on greening obligations under the next CAP.
But with fears of an influx of far-right MEPs in parliamentary elections next year growing, Agnew’s success has also set alarm bells ringing. Scott Cato told the Guardian it was “shocking” to think that someone with his climate views could influence funding disbursements.
“It’s truly scandalous that a proud climate denier has got control of such an important file,” she said. “This fiasco shows the damage that can be done by electing populists who really have no understanding of their brief and are not competent to undertake the highly influential and detailed work that is required of elected politicians.”
Agnew has long campaigned against what he terms “the global warming scam”. He has also drawn attention for claiming thousands of pounds in CAP payments for his Norfolk farm every month, according to his members’ declaration.
He told the Guardian that “I threw my hat in the ring to do this [report] fully expecting to be thrown out of court,” but that he then received wide support, “to my genuine astonishment”.
A spokesman for the European People’s Party said their backing for Agnew was due to bidding procedures and not an endorsement of his climate politics.
Agnew was also supported by the European Conservatives and Reformists bloc of mostly Conservative MEPs and far-right Europe of Nations and Freedom faction.
The Socialists opposed Agnew and the Greens stood against him, but they were hampered by the abstention of the far left GUE group and support for Agnew from the ALDE bloc of Liberals. Two ALDE MEP’s contacted by the Guardian declined to comment.