The former Chancellor's alternate view on climate change may leave some hot under the collar but at least he provides much needed fuel for a healthy debate

I met Lord Lawson of Blaby after three gruelling days at a recent sustainability conference. The days weren’t gruelling because nothing was happening. Quite the opposite; everywhere you looked there were headline speakers, frank discussions and initiatives being launched. It was the paucity of debate that was stifling. I was being worn out by an avalanche of consensus. Everyone was saying the same things. I must have written “global warming is the greatest threat our country faces” about ten times.

It was a breath of fresh air, then, to meet the former Chancellor and hear his views on what is coming to be the great issue of the decade – climate change. Much of what has been written about Lawson is inaccurate. He doesn’t deny the climate is changing. He doesn’t even think the science is incorrect. His concerns lie in the way the country is dealing with the changing environment, and the potential damage such actions may do to the economy.

The reason I thought it was so important to canvas his views is not because I wish to endorse them; nor is it because I wanted to scoff at them. I think there is a real danger of rational debate on green issues being stifled by zealous environmentalists. It is, as Lawson said to the Centre for Policy Studies, “the new religion”.

By giving the self-confessed ‘heretic’ space in the magazine, Building is not denying debate, but encouraging it. When you consider that one commentator has proposed Nuremberg trials for dissenting scientists, and others have called for criminal charges for sceptics, isn’t it time we step back and get a sense of proportion?