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MOBIUS
05-12-2006, 10:47:18
As Britain heads for its hottest year for two centuries, the Met Office global warming centre is having its budget slashed

Juliette Jowit, Gaby Hinsliff and Robin McKie
Sunday December 3, 2006
The Observer

Britain's leading centre for researching climate change has been ordered to cut its budget, despite warnings that global warming is one of the most critical and costly threats facing the world today.

The Met Office has been told to make savings of nearly 3 per cent to its main budget, prompting experts to condemn the government as 'hypocritical' on climate change, given its response to the recent Stern report which argued that unchecked climate change could cost billions.

The move emerged as the Met Office said yesterday that with this summer and this autumn both breaking temperature records, and with the mild weather set to continue, 2006 was now on track to be the hottest year in the last 200 years. Most experts believe this provides further proof that industrial emissions of carbon dioxide are having a dramatic impact on weather patterns worldwide.

In Britain, temperatures are running several degrees above the average for the time of year, and forecasters say the trend will continue for the next few days.

In southern England, people were still walking around in shirtsleeves yesterday. Raspberries and strawberries are still being picked, while dragonflies and mosquitoes are still to be seen. At the same time, swallows are staying on in Britain and householders are still cutting their lawns.

The unseasonably warm weather is also affecting much of mainland Europe with a lack of snow, causing major problems for ski resorts. Many have postponed their openings for the new season, while opening World Cup ski races in Austria were cancelled when heavy rain melted snow on the Rettenbach glacier.

News of the Met Office cuts come on the eve of a pre-budget report in which Gordon Brown will hike the price of a plane ticket by raising taxes on flying, portraying the move as environmentally friendly. However, a report published today by the think-tank Green Alliance argues that the average traveller is now paying less in air passenger duty, a tax built into the price of all tickets, than in 2001 and that it should double at least. Gas-guzzling cars are also likely to escape another car tax rise this week, although Brown is likely to reconsider this next year. There will be no above-inflation increases in petrol prices either.

Experts said the budget cuts to the Met Office, which featured in the climate change blockbuster film The Day After Tomorrow, could potentially cost billions if spending to counter global warming were to be wrongly directed. Its work helps Britain and other countries plan for rises in sea level, droughts and storms, and staff had recently requested more money.

'We have been slimming down for years and this is a line in the sand, hence our alarm,' said a spokesman. 'The Stern report made it very clear this is money well spent for the UK; the costs are small beer compared with the benefits.'

It is resisting the cuts and budgets have not been finalised yet. But Dr Stephen Peake, a former member of the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, said the cuts risked huge costs and loss of life in developing countries: 'There's no way they have got the capacity to host the research,' he said. 'It's pretty hypocritical of the government to be going around saying we're taking a lead, and at the same time cutting a lifeline to developing countries.'

The row comes with the Chancellor under heavy pressure to produce a 'green' package on Wednesday, given Tory leader David Cameron's support for green taxes. He will publish plans making it easier for householders and businesses to install wind turbines and solar panels to generate clean energy.

However, the Green Alliance wants Brown to go further. Its report says the average money raised per traveller from air passenger duty fell from 13.40 in 2001 to 8.86 in 2005, despite concerns about greenhouse gas emissions from planes. Director Stephen Hale said that was due to Brown reducing the duty in 2001 and a boom in short-haul European flights attracting less tax than long-haul ones - 5 for the shortest flights against 40 for the longest. Brown is now expected to raise the duty by about 5.

He will make a virtue of the fact that his planned tax rises will not raise much money, arguing that the point is to make the costs of transport reflect its cost to the planet. And he will challenge the shadow chancellor, George Osborne, who has championed green taxes, to show where serious money could be made without hiking unpopular taxes on domestic fuel or petrol.

The Met Office said it was being asked to cut at least 5m over three years from 60m annual Ministry of Defence funding for equipment for the main forecasting centre, also used for climate change research. Cuts are also threatened to nearly 17m a year it gets from the MoD and the environment department, Defra, for climate change research. The MoD said it had been asked to make efficiency savings of 2.8bn over three years, but specific details, including Met Office funding, were not formally set.

A spokesman for Defra said there were no 'plans' to cut Met Office funding, but the Hadley Centre forecasting programme was 'under review' and it was 'looking at ways to work more closely with' other UK research centres.

Obviously we have to start saving up for Trident as soon as possible seeing as it's going to be costing 65bn...:rolleyes:

Funko
05-12-2006, 12:22:45
Global warming is supposed to make britain colder, so this makes sense.