Bringing science and development together through news and analysis

Climate change programmes are 'costly and unnecessary'

Although Russia's ratification now means that the Kyoto Protocol will indeed come into force, it is highly unlikely that many signatories will meet their obligations. Even the European Union, the world's most pro-Kyoto region, will almost certainly have a majority of Member States failing to meet their targets.

As for bringing China (the world's second largest source of greenhouse gases) and other major developing countries into the post-Kyoto settlement, I can't believe that they would willingly compromise their economic growth and wellbeing of their citizens without real financial incentives (or bribes).

The world's patterns of energy generation will change for reasons other than the unproven assumption that we can control climate to suit us. The United States has not signed up to the Kyoto protocol, but has made big strides in reducing its energy intensity. As oil prices rise in the future and technologies behind other forms of power generation continue to be developed, so will our sources of power.

In 50 years, nuclear fusion might be an economic reality at last. Solar power could also be viable. In that time, vast technical strides are likely to be made. Better that we concentrate on direct efforts to improve the lives of the world's poorest than squander resources on unnecessary and costly climate change programmes.