The Curmudgeon


Saturday, August 02, 2008

Wrong Numbers

Perfidious malcontents at the Stockholm Environment Institute, which is based, as one would expect, at the University of York, claim that the Government is underestimating Britain's carbon emissions. Since the Government does not count emissions from shipping, aviation or imported goods, perhaps on the grounds that these things tend to produce emissions which the Government would prefer not to count, the claim appears eminently plausible.

One report by the Institute, soon to be published by WWF, carries the dastardly implication that the country's total greenhouse emissions are forty-nine per cent higher than the Government claims. Given that the Government's claims about such matters as weapons of mass destruction and kidnap-and-torture flights have turned out somewhat more than forty-nine per cent inaccurate, perhaps it would be churlish to complain. Another report, made for the Department of Environmental Fraudulence, Recalcitrance and Asininity and duly buried so as to avoid unpleasantness, says that carbon emissions went up by eighteen per cent between 1992 and 2004, rather than going down by five per cent as ministers had - doubtless in all good faith - previously stated.

The environment minister Phil Woolas, late of the Ministry for Muslim Control, astutely pointed out why the Institute's figures do not challenge the Government's: "they are a different calculation altogether". Despite recent difficulties, New New Labour is still a big tent; there is room for all sorts of calculations, but we can't have people challenging Government figures simply because other figures take into account factors with which the Government does not care to concern itself.


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