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The perils of delegation

As a follow up to the last posting, consider this excerpt from the Guardian article by Client Earth director James Thornton (pictured above on a long-haul holiday):

The most obvious liabilities for companies and their directors relate to physical loss or damage. The residents of Tuvalu in the Pacific and Kivalina in Alaska, whose homes are disappearing beneath rising waters, have both threatened challenges against polluters.

Follow the Tuvalu link to its source and you find a national Geographic Article entitled:

Will Pacific Island Nations Disappear as Seas Rise? Maybe Not

and which contains this:

Some islands grew by as much as 14 acres (5.6 hectares) in a single decade, and Tuvalu's main atoll, Funafuti—33 islands distributed around the rim of a large lagoon—has gained 75 acres (32 hectares) of land during the past 115 years.

I wonder if Mr Thornton wrote the article himself?


Zac paying greens to sue city bigwigs

A group called Client Earth is threatening to sue big UK businesses for not doing as greens tell them on the climate change front.

The Companies Act 2006 codifies directors’ duties in law for the first time. They must “promote the success of the company”, first by considering “the likely consequences of any decision in the long term”. Failing to plan for climate change is incompatible with this and other duties and leaves directors open to legal challenge.

The case for climate litigation against reckless directors grows ever stronger. Increased regulation, changing market dynamics and heightened risk to physical assets means maintaining the status quo is no longer an option for those keen to protect their finances and reputation.

We at ClientEarth are closely monitoring the activities of FTSE 250 companies. We will pursue those directors who fail to protect their investors from the challenge that climate change presents. Those intent on following a business-as-usual model, be warned: the “usual” has changed.

Even Guardian readers seem unimpressed.

So who is behind Client Earth? A list of their funders is quite interesting, including the City of London Corporation Charity and...wait for it...the personal charity of Zac and Ben Goldsmith. Yes that's right folks, the aspirant mayor of London is paying greens to sue the companies that bring the wealth to the city.

It's an interesting tactic.


A gallery of rogues, spivs and wideboys

There's an article at the Guardian today that really takes one aback. Taking into account the author, the author of the underlying report, and those it quotes, it's quite a gallery of rogues.

Guardian energy editor Terry Macalister writes that wind energy is now the cheapest technology for electricity generation in the UK. Yes, folks this is the Great Levelised Cost Lie in action again. Here's how Macalister explains it:

The numbers drawn up by Bloomberg are a “levelised cost of energy” (LCOE) which takes into account financing, intermittency and other issues, so that different technologies can be fairly compared. However LCOE does not account for the cost of managing intermittent power in the national grid electricity system.

Everybody, but everybody in the energy policy debate knows that levelised costs are grossly misleading because the cost is only one half of the equation. The value of the output matters just as much, and the value of intermittent renewables is only a fraction of the value of dispatchable technologies. So when Macalister - or Doug Parr of Greenpeace, or Seb Henbest of BNEF - tell you that LCOE is a way to "fairly" compare different technologies it's not true. And when they tell you that wind is "fully competitive" with other technologies it's not true either.

They are behaving like the worst kind of city spiv, the most shameful dealer in dodgy share schemes.


Deccline and fall

The man running UK energy policy?According to an article in the Ecologist, DECC is now no longer much more than a shell. It seems that the Treasury and the new Infrastructure commission headed by Lord Adonis are taking all the decisions related to energy projects, leaving Amber Rudd with little to do beyond talking about the weather (or at least the climate) with colleagues from around the world.

Unfortunately Lord Adonis seems to be enthusiastic about wind energy, so the insanity may continue for a while yet. But at least energy policy seems to have been removed from the hands of the deep greens.




The judge, the presidential hopeful and some strange conflicts of interest

Updated on Oct 7, 2015 by Registered CommenterBishop Hill

Donna Laframboise has been doing some interesting research on the Climate and Law conference recently held by the UK's Supreme Court. It seems that as well as Philippe Sands, several other judges used the occasion to advance their environmentalist views.

Prominent among them was Lord Carnwath, who called the Paris conference a test of our ability to address the challenges of climate change. It does seem extraordinarily unprofessional - if not outright corrupt - of these people to use public funds and their positions of public trust to promote their ideological fads.

Carnwath is an interesting chap. I read for example that tomorrow he is to hear a case in which Donald Trump tries to prevent an offshore windfarm being built next to his golf course development in Aberdeenshire.  At the start of the year he took part in a ruling on the Viking windfarm in Shetland, rejecting attempts to prevent it going ahead. He was also involved in a case in which a group called "Client Earth" forced the UK to formulate new air quality standards.

Click to read more ...


Weather extremes don't harm insurance companies

With "Mystic" Mark Carney telling anyone who crosses his palm with silver (or, indeed, anyone who crosses his path) that the insurance industry is going to be sunk by climate change, it's interesting to see what the empirical evidence has to say on the subject. By happy coincidence, Ross McKitrick has just published a paper on just this subject. Here's what he says about it on his website.

Bin Hu and I have just published a study looking at how climate variations, in particular indicators of extreme weather, have historically affected the share prices of major insurance firms. The insurance industry has raised the concern that climate change poses a financial risk due to higher payouts for weather-related disasters. However, if extreme weather is increasing, presumably that means they have an opportunity to sell more insurance products as well, which may increase profitability. In our paper we examined historical data on a portfolio of insurance firms and estimate a three-factor model augmented with climate indicators. Short-run deviations in measures of climate extremes are associated with increased profitability for insurance firms. Overall we find that past climatic variations have not had a negative effect on the profitability of the insurance industry.



Patchi is history, Lee for IPCC

Last night the IPCC announced its replacement for its troubled head, Rajendra Pachauri, currently the centre of a sexual harassment case in his native India.

The new man is a hitherto somewhat obscure Korean economist named Hoesung Lee. Carbon Brief did an interview with him last month, if you want to know more. I think "technocrat" may be the apposite term.


Unchaperoned views

Any sceptic views in the offing?A few weeks back we all had a laugh over Quentin Letts' What's the Point of the Met Office? and the ensuing rumpus. As I noted at the time, it was a fairly trivial show (transcript here), and I had actually made my original posting as a simple link because I didn't think it worth listening to myself. However, the rumpus continues and the latest reverberations were felt today.

Any appearance on the airwaves by a sceptical voice necessarily leads to a formal complaint, and the outraged party this time was one Andy Smedley, an atmospheric scientist at the University of Manchester. The result has been an abject apology from the BBC:

Click to read more ...


Wildlife thriving in Chernobyl

Updated on Oct 6, 2015 by Registered CommenterBishop Hill

Updated on Oct 6, 2015 by Registered CommenterBishop Hill

Pic Arctic Woof under CC licence some extent, concerns over global warming have arisen as a direct result of environmentalists' scaremongering over nuclear energy. How much lower would carbon dioxide emissions have been if the world had gone nuclear in the 1960s?

That environmentalists were scaremongering is confirmed by a new paper in Current Biology, which reports long-term survey data from the Chernobyl exclusion zone. Despite numerous earlier studies reporting that radiation levels in the 1600 square miles zone are above dangerous levels, nobody seems to have passed the news on to the wildlife:

Click to read more ...


Sceptics' impact on climate science

Amelia Sharman has published a rather interesting working paper about the impact of controversy in the climate debate. At its core is a survey of climate scientists and sceptics, asking what impact all that argy-bargy in recent years has had.

The main conclusion is that the impact has been both positive and negative, but focused more on the way the scientists communicate their findings than the way in which they conduct their research: "increased caution, followed by disruption, a greater focus on communication, defensiveness and a reluctance to publicly engage."

I sense that the two sides of the climate debate might view "increased caution" as falling on different sides of the positive/negative divide. I certainly view one of sceptics' chief impacts as being to force the Met Office to moderate the tide of wild claims that it used to issue about the climate, something that a PR officer there once acknowledged to me.

We also read of work being reexamined as a result of postings at Climate Audit, and of research being accelerated to address sceptic claims.

It's fascinating stuff, and if you can get through the jargon in the first and last sections it is very readable.


Puffed rice

Here's an interesting wrinkle in climate science that I hadn't thought about before. It came up in a thread at Ken Rice's place, underneath an article about carbon dioxide reductions.

The specific claim of interest was that "the amount of warming depends almost linearly on cumulative emissions". This is a claim that you hear quite often, with the corollary being that even if we halt carbon dioxide emissions, temperatures are going to remain high for centuries. However, it seems that the scientific veracity of the statement is not exactly set in stone, as Nic Lewis points out in the comments.

For the record, whilst this may be true for simulations by most current Earth system models, it is an entirely model dependent result. So please don’t present it as if a fact. If one builds a model with a low ECS, and moderate climate-cycle feedbacks, warming peaks immediately if emissions cease and declines quite rapidly thereafter. Which would happen in the real climate system is not as yet known, of course.

Click to read more ...


Quote of the day, recycling edition

Religious rituals don’t need any practical justification for the believers who perform them voluntarily. But many recyclers want more than just the freedom to practice their religion. They want to make these rituals mandatory for everyone else, too, with stiff fines for sinners who don’t sort properly.

John Tierney revisits his legendary 1996 article about the insanity of most forms of recycling and concludes, that 20 years on, he remains completely correct.

I don't think he is mistaken.


Coffee, with a pinch of salt

Bloomberg has an article out claiming that coffee production is being hit by climate change:

Global Coffee Shortage Looms as Market Braces for Climate Change

Rising consumption, especially in emerging markets, means global production will have to rise by an extra 40 million to 50 million bags of coffee in the next decade, said Andrea Illy, the chairman and chief executive officer of Illycafe SpA, a roaster based in Trieste, Italy. That’s more than the entire crop of Brazil.

Throw in the looming threat of climate change, as well as low prices that are discouraging farmers from increasing output, and you’ve got a potential problem. It’s something producers, government officials and industry representatives are trying to tackle this week at the Global Coffee Forum in Milan.

Click to read more ...


The carneyage of Mystic Mark

It is said that once people start laughing at you, you are completely finished. I think Mark Carney may have reached that point:

The scene is the governor’s office at the Bank of England. Mark Carney is talking to an aide.

Governor, about your forthcoming speech to the chambers of commerce.


It seems to be about alien life forms.

You’ve seen the news from Mars?

I have, but this speech is supposed to be about labour flexibility and the downside risks to productivity.

You don’t see the downside risks from extremophile bacteria in the briny water on Mars?

Not in the short to medium term, Governor.

Read the whole thing...


Church on Syria

The Welsh singer Charlotte Church is trying to reinvent herself as a political pundit, and is certainly doing rather well on the PR front. Last night she managed to get herself on Question Time. Unfortunately I don't think her appearance will have done much for her political aspirations, but she certainly did the whole "slightly flaky showbiz person" thing pretty well, in particular repeating the old canard about the Syrian crisis being something to do with climate change, accompanied by lots of frowning to show how serious she was.

Click to read more ...