Another week, another enormous government tome on how we are going to 'de-carbonise'. Today's edition (which contains literally nothing new) is the post-Barnsley "Clegg-is-Panicking Remix", cobbled together from every government department's to-do list that is related in any way to the environment. (Sample 'Action Items' from the list of 187 dynamic measures being taken: "Examine the operation of the energy performance of buildings regime"; "Respond to Committee on Climate Change recommendations").
One could have enormous fun at its expense, but let's just get down to business - an early paragraph that reads as follows (from section 1.5):
Be Fair [sic]: there will inevitably be costs to Government, business and individuals in making such a significant change. These costs will be lower than the alternative of dealing with the cost of unmitigated climate change and offset by maximizing the growth opportunities from a low carbon transition, but they will still be real
And right there, we have the flaw. There is no way on earth of establishing ahead of time whether these costs (and they will be 'real', all right - hundreds of billions) will "be lower than the alternative of dealing with unmitigated climate change": it is the merest statement of hope and blind faith. Why ? Because, whether or not you accept AGW, the UK's actions alone are not going to mitigate climate change ! Therefore, at best, it all depends upon getting every other major nation on the planet to do likewise - which we can have no certainty about whatsoever (even if another of the Action Items is "Encourage the European Commission to set out a vision").
Indeed, we can be almost certain that for every unit of UK industrial production that closes in the face of these real costs, a more CO2-intensive unit in China or India takes its place - meaning we actually make matters worse. So the most likely scenario is, we'll be dealing with more-or-less unmitigated climate change anyway.
It is like believing that burglars are active, & then advocating the installation of the world's most expensive lock for your front gate - while having no walls, fences, or locks on any of your doors.
Clegg launched this document today with the cry: "we want to be the greenest government ever". No fears on that score, mate.
+ + Update: fine rant by Alan in the comments + +