He's a millionaire, ex public schoolboy, climate change denying and a former Tory Environment Minister so I wasn't expecting much from him when he was interviewed on BBC Radio 4s Today Programme last week. Out of the stream of illogical drivel he came out with one statement he made stood out. It was the claim that renewable energy technologies "don't work". It was a bizarre claim that could only be based on ignorance or prejudice but most likely both. If he was right and renewables didn't work then they wouldn't just not work in the UK they wouldn't work anywhere. Of course climate, topography and latitude will all play a part so the UKs wind, tidal, solar and hydro resource give us a huge advantage over many other EU countries. We are however doing very poorly compared with our European neighbours. The EU overall target for 2020 is to have 20% of total energy produced from renewable sources. The UK was given a lower target of 15% to recognise our poor starting point. To date with around 5 years to go we are hovering around the 5% mark. So we're going to fail and fail spectacularly. It is not our climate or latitude or topography that are the principal reasons for this failure it is politics. The faith in market approaches to deliver has simply not worked. A lack of investment in energy conservation and constantly changing policy on renewables coupled with outright hostility from Tory Ministers supported by compliant Lib Dems has meant the 'Greenest Government Ever' has turned out to be even worse than the previous ineffective Labour Government. So using the medium of Twitter I asked if the laws of physics were somehow different in other countries that meant their renewables worked and ours didn't. It struck a chord with some folk and managed 706+ retweets which is a record for your truly.
The big unanswered question for me is why did the 'hug a husky' Prime Minister Cameron make this idiot a Cabinet Minister for anything and for the Environment in particular. While at DECC he refused to meet with David Mackay the principal government advisor on energy matters. Paterson is clearly a man who wasn't interested in facts that conflicted with his own beliefs. He seems to have been introduced to appease the Tory right and George Osbourne who for all their hostility and inaction either are, or may as well be, climate change deniers.
Paterson now is marketing himself as a posterboy for climate change denial by speaking at events run by Nigel Lawson's discredited Global Warming Policy Foundation and venting his disdain for green lobby groups by referring to them/us as Green Blobs. His status as an ex minister will mean the fruitcake will still get media coverage but it is a shame that he probably won't get very challenging questions and his views will be given undue credence.