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« New Years Honours 2012 | Main | Poisoning the well »

How DECC fiddled its figures

Tim Worstall has picked up on the DECC energy pathways report and notes something intriguing: although the costs of the individual elements of the energy mix in the new regime are acknowledged to be higher than at present, the overall cost is said to be lower! But Timmy has managed to work out how this particular piece of government mathematics works:

So, how is it that they have squared the circle? How have they concluded that the new, greener, energy system made up of more expensive components is going to be cheaper? The answer is here at the report site:

The total energy system cost of tackling climate change could be similar to doing nothing and may even be cheaper than remaining fossil fuel dependent (even if fossil fuel prices are not high).  For example, taking action could save £84/person/year over the next forty years based on a pathway from the cost-optimising model, MARKAL.  In the MARKAL pathway, energy use per person in 2050 is half today’s levels; around three quarters of this is due to uptake of more efficient technologies.

And that’s where our lie is. They are not saying that producing the same amount of energy is going to be about the same price with the new technology. They’re saying that producing half the amount of energy is going to be about the same price.

Perhaps understandably, Tim's article is entitled "Lying with Numbers".

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Reader Comments (34)

Normally when people save energy (and costs) they spend some of that money on new goods that use energy. It does not look as if DECC have thought of that one either. They are just going to deprive us of our money and pretend that we and others (the poor in developing countries) are benefitting. What a scam!

Dec 30, 2011 at 2:25 PM | Unregistered Commenterjheath

Two Points

1 As ever, this is all based upon the CO2/MMGW lie

2 As with other aspects of 1, their "proof" relies on lying and dissemination. You just have to watch Huhne defending the indefensible to see this.

Regards and HNY to all.


Dec 30, 2011 at 2:58 PM | Unregistered CommenterPaul Maynard

@ Paul Maynard

As with other aspects of 1, their "proof" relies on lying and dissemination.

You must have meant "lying and dissimulation."

Dec 30, 2011 at 3:10 PM | Unregistered CommenterRoy

The purpose of the scam is to benefit the EU bureaucracy and the carbon traders with carbon taxes, also to impoverish the UK so it is subjugated.

Dec 30, 2011 at 4:00 PM | Unregistered Commentermydogsgotnonose

The frightening bit is *uptake of more efficient technologies*. Are these more efficient technologies that people can recognise and uptake all by themselves or Neo-Luddite technologies foisted upon us such as wind-operated alarm clocks or solar powered traffic lights?

Dec 30, 2011 at 4:03 PM | Unregistered Commentersimpleseekeraftertruth

Re jheath

Normally when people save energy (and costs) they spend some of that money on new goods that use energy.

Like everybody supposedly driving electric vehicles? :)

Dec 30, 2011 at 4:06 PM | Unregistered CommenterAtomic Hairdryer


"Unintended Consequence of Technology: New LED traffic lights can't melt snow"

Dec 30, 2011 at 4:08 PM | Unregistered CommenterGreen Sand


Strangely uplifting :^)

Dec 30, 2011 at 4:15 PM | Unregistered Commentersimpleseekeraftertruth

Lying and *attempted* insemination

Dec 30, 2011 at 4:32 PM | Unregistered CommenterMark F

The insemination is highly artificial, that I can agree with.

Dec 30, 2011 at 4:42 PM | Unregistered CommenterRichard Drake

Atomic Hairdryer

:) hopefully not! but of course who knows what people will spend their money on? We never predicted the electical load from personal computers and playstations back in the 1980s and early 1990s while we were pushing energy efficiency programmes reasonably effectively - home insulation was the best, but CFLs the easiest! Strangely improved energy efficiency (mostly NOT from official programmes) helped us meet the new demand without massive increases in capacity. But it did not allow us to make half our capacity redundant, which is what DECC falsely assume.

Dec 30, 2011 at 4:46 PM | Unregistered Commenterjheath


Forgive a senior moment


or as I said, just plain lying.


PS enjoy the debate over at WUWT about the non-existence of the greenhouse effect.



Dec 30, 2011 at 4:53 PM | Unregistered CommenterPaul Maynard

There is another document DECC that gives the lie to cheaper energy. It states with regard to electricity generation that by 2030, for approximately the same amount of electricity generated as today (presumably the reduction in personal consumption is made up by electric vehicles, but it does not say).

infrastructure investment enabled by these reforms could lead to as many as 250,000 more people being employed in the energy sector

250,000 extra people employed is a tremendous reduction in productivity and an employment cost of maybe £25bn/year.

One wonders what these 250,000 people are doing. Are they bureaucrats counting CO2 molecules saved; are they running inside hamster wheels connected to dynamos? Like all DECC documents it does not say.

Dec 30, 2011 at 5:07 PM | Unregistered CommenterPhillip Bratby

Paul Maynard: it's not new what they are proposing, which is their reinvention of lapse rate warming [24K lapse rate + 9 K present GHG warming].

But they still assume imaginary 'back radiation', a scientific howler unique to oxymoronic climate science......;o)

Dec 30, 2011 at 5:08 PM | Unregistered Commentermydogsgotnonose

"The truthful well-weighed answer that tells the blacker lie." (Kipling)

Dec 30, 2011 at 5:54 PM | Unregistered CommenterAllan M

It's quite instructive to do a little background research on Prof David MacKay, the author of this "calculator" and Chief Scientific Adviser to DECC.

MacKay is a physicist and mathematician who has enjoyed a stellar international career in fields involving neural networks and artificial intelligence.

He says he first became interested in climate change and renewable energy about five years ago and he was appointed as chief adviser to DECC in 2009.

On his personal website, he makes the intriguing comment - "Civil servants aren't permitted to be politically active, so I have removed my political links from this website".

Judicious use of the "Wayback Machine" reveals all, however:-

Prof MacKay is apparently a man of strong opinions and he has lent his weight to a number of political campaigns over the years:-

He hates cars and supports "any organizations that agree that cars stink".

He is a campaigning cyclist.

He campaigns for the anti-smoking fascists ASH

He helped lead a campaign against the conviction of two social workers who allowed open heroin dealing in the care facility they were responsible for.

After 9/11. he campaigned against the US invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq, illustrating his website with an anti-war quote from Tony Benn, an (inaccurate) allegation that the west supplied WMD to Saddam - and a curious cartoon showing Jesus beating up George W Bush.

Of course, MacKay is as entitled to his political opinions as the next man (and Geoff Chambers may soon be breathing down my neck for turning this into a left v right issue) but I do find it extraordinary that every time we scratch the surface of the "great & the good" who are leading us to the green paradise that awaits - we find the same tired old lefties we thought we'd left behind with the collapse of the Soviets in 1989.

Can we be sure that Prof M's rather extreme left wing opinions don't influence his role in planning all our future lifestyles?

Dec 30, 2011 at 9:00 PM | Unregistered CommenterFoxgoose

There was a similar piece of creative accounting from the NZ wind association that showed that NZers would be $390 a year better off with 20% more wind power. Part of this "better off" calculation had a carbon price of $50NZ-$100NZ

Dec 30, 2011 at 9:23 PM | Unregistered Commenterandy scrase

<1682> Wils: [2007] "What if climate change appears to be just mainly a multidecadal natural
fluctuation? They'll kill us probably [...]"

Dec 30, 2011 at 10:54 PM | Unregistered Commenterjorgekafkazar

There used to be such a thing as the Brown Book, which was a fairly reliable status report on the UK oil and gas energy production and reserves status. Here it was 10 years ago

Now, I just have no trust whatsoever in anything put out by DECC.

Dec 30, 2011 at 11:56 PM | Unregistered CommenterPharos

Mike Hulme in his 'extraordinary paper' makes the point that these long-term projections are futile because they all assume that society in 50 years' time will be broadly the same as it is today.

Today's society bears no resemblance to that of 1962 almost anywhere in the world, as is often pointed out.

To assume that innovation will stop now and let us make long-term projections is grandiose folly or rent-seeking opportunism.

The world of tomorrow will not only be stranger than we imagine, it will be stranger than we can imagine. (Arthur C Clarke)

Dec 31, 2011 at 2:07 AM | Unregistered CommenterRick Bradford

another academic disaster:

30 Dec: USA Today: Doyle Rice: Does enduring extreme weather make you vote liberal?
The study was led by Ann Owen, a professor of economics at Hamilton College in Clinton, N.Y.
Additionally, the authors write in the study that “our results are consistent with the idea that experiencing extreme weather causes individuals to become more aware of the issue of global warming, and increases their perception of the risk of global warming.”
The study findings are based on an Internet survey of about 2,500 Americans, conducted in August 2009 by Owen and three other Hamilton College economists…
Although the survey focused mainly on heat waves and droughts, and was conducted in the summer, Owen says their findings can be extrapolated to any type of severe weather event, including blizzards and tropical storms.
So, potentially, study authors report that weather disasters may hurt conservative candidates more than liberal candidates, because of their positions on environmental policy…
The study is scheduled to appear in an upcoming issue of the Journal of Policy Analysis and Management.

hopefully when EU carbon hits ZERO, CAGW will be finished:

30 Dec: Bloomberg: Matthew Carr: German Power, Carbon Declines After Italy Misses Debt-Sale Goal
German power for next year dropped to its lowest level in more than a week and European Union carbon permits declined after Italy auctioned 18 percent less debt than its target…
EU carbon permits for December 2012 decreased 6.6 percent to 7.26 euros a metric ton on the ICE Futures Europe exchange in London. United Nations emission credits for December next year lost 7.1 percent to 4.07 euros a ton…

Dec 31, 2011 at 3:26 AM | Unregistered Commenterpat

I find their clumsy ineptitude almost as worrying as their deception.

Dec 31, 2011 at 4:59 AM | Unregistered CommenterSteve

Today's society bears no resemblance to that of 1962 almost anywhere in the world, as is often pointed out.

Yeah, in 1962 in the US we had a manned space flight capability.

Dec 31, 2011 at 6:07 AM | Unregistered Commentercrosspatch

A bit O/T but interesting that Prof. Stuart Haszeldine FRSE has got an OBE in the New Year's Honours List. (Professor of Geology, Edinburgh University).

"For service to Climate Change Technologies"

Haszeldine is one of the academic fantasists driving the Carbon Capture & Storage scam (which demonstrably doesn't work and isn't affordable, anyway. An archetypical non-solution to a non-problem).

Interesting that he seems to be the only obvious Thermageddonist in the list. And no-one from UEA, either.

Dec 31, 2011 at 8:05 AM | Unregistered CommenterMartin Brumby

re Dr MacKay: On his personal website, he makes the intriguing comment - "Civil servants aren't permitted to be politically active, so I have removed my political links from this website". (Foxgoose)

translate: Civil servants aren't permitted… so I'll hide them. Does this his political activities constitute a 'decline?'

Dec 31, 2011 at 8:58 AM | Unregistered CommenterAllan M

correction to above comment: Does this mean his political activities constitute a 'decline?'

Dec 31, 2011 at 9:00 AM | Unregistered CommenterAllan M

As free-market societies become more wealthy then people buy more useful things - such as insulation AND electricity. Unless, that is, electricity is made in unecessarily expensive ways. In which case people spend more without the benefit of using more.

Dec 31, 2011 at 9:17 AM | Unregistered CommenterBob Layson

The general public is becoming aware of the personal cost to them of all of this needless scaremongering and the unnecessary measures some claim are needed to counter the non-problem of AGW. This means that far more scrutiny will be forthcoming and, most importantly, politicians will become increasingly uncomfortable in being associated with 'green' measures. This is already happening and spells the end of the whole AGW scam.
On another topic, the BBC Environment section is celebrating the premature announcement that 2011 will be the 2nd warmest year on record in the UK (only 2006 was warmer, alledgedly). A number of things bother me about this. Firstly, they obviously couldn't contain their excitement and rushed into print early; it is hardly scientifically rigorous to pre-empt the results. Secondly, I get the impression they are actually pleased to see any evidence of GW. Lastly, and more sinister to my mind, is the comments section was closed as soon as the AGW trolls' comments had floated to the top of the recommended list. It is instructive to watch how the comments sections on the BBC are controlled.
HNY to all.

Dec 31, 2011 at 9:35 AM | Unregistered CommenterSteve Jones

Smoke and mirrors, weasel speak, utter BS statistics - all premised on the great AGW lie - ah, but then it is the DECC - so, no surprises there then.

DECC, Defra, any UK environmental quango you can think of, all directly report to Brussels and are directed thus - and HMG? - They just do as they are told to.

Mackay, another whack-job, jobsworth loony warmista, suckling on the taxpayers' teat.

The nation, it is now adding to and heading towards 3 million in the dole queue and the furtherance of the green agenda [by this idiot administration] will only add to Britain's woes.

HNY? I don't think so - at least not for Britain's growing jobless number.

Dec 31, 2011 at 10:20 AM | Unregistered CommenterAthelstan.

Thanks to foxgoose's digging, we now know that Mackay is a watermelon par excellence ...

Here's wishing that the Mayan 'prediction' for 2012 applies exclusively to all watermelons, to the Team, the AGW NGOs - and especially to that Buffhuhne!

HNY to all here, and especially to the good Bishop!

Dec 31, 2011 at 10:41 AM | Unregistered CommenterViv Evans

Certainly going nuclear would be not only cheaper than windmillery but cheaper than our current conventional fuesl. Very much cheaper if all forms had the same regulatory cost to danger ratio and cheaper than that if mass production was allowed to work.

The fact that the only effective way of cutting CO2, which we are told is causing a catastrophe is most strongly oopposed by the loudest alarmists is pretty solid proof that all of them know perfectly well that it is a fraud.

Dec 31, 2011 at 5:12 PM | Unregistered CommenterNeil Craig

As well as the lie about total energy consumption, it is worth checking something else. The clue is in the following quote.

The predictions challenge suggestions that the costs of embracing low-carbon energy and meeting the UK‘s legally binding commitments to tackle global warming will be higher than the bill would be for using traditional energy sources.

The costs of using fossil fuels will include the costs of carbon capture. It is worth running the numbers to confirm this, with carbon capture costs at the model's level, and then set to near zero. If this is the case then by far the cheapest option is to obtain a more balanced review the climate change commitments.

Dec 31, 2011 at 10:45 PM | Unregistered CommenterManicBeancounter

The costs of using fossil fuels will include the costs of carbon capture".

In horseracing, that's called 'nobbling'. But in post-normal climate science, no problemo.

BTW, what 'carbon capture'? AFAIK, there is not a single viable project on foot at present, and funds have been pulled from them all over the world, because as a concept, it is a complete dud.

Jan 2, 2012 at 2:38 AM | Unregistered Commenterjohanna

The Climategate II emails exposes the fact that the temperature data and other data used to create the computer models "proving" AGW were in main manipulated to get the results the Climate Scientists wanted. Than, to add insult to injury, the data was discarded due to the fact said scientists knew if their data was used for the purpose of reproducing their results their fraud would be there for all to see. If not for all the corruption in government and their co-conspirators the media, all these AGW scaremongers would be in handcuffs by now for their intentional rigging of the data. In reality, the real reason Maekay and his ilk are forcing everyone to live a green lifestyle is not because the fear AGW (they know AGW is based on lies) it is because the hate the Western lifestyle and want us all to live like the North Koreans do, cold, starving and bowing to our dear leaders.

Jan 2, 2012 at 3:13 AM | Unregistered Commentermary

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