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« Government slaps down universities | Main | Heartland issues legal notices »
Monday
Feb202012

The Entrepreneur

Sometimes little things lead you to the most interesting discoveries. A week or so ago I got a new Twitter follower in the shape of Amelia Sharman, a student at the London School of Economics. LSE is of course the stamping ground of BH favourite, Bob Ward, and I was therefore interested enough to go and take a look, and not entirely surprised to find out that Sharman works at the Grantham Institute and has an interest in sceptics.

But it wasn't this that caught my eye.

Biofuels have been attracting a minor surge of media interest recently, after Friends of the Earth published a report claiming that they probably produce more greenhouse gases than they save. Maybe it was this that caused my attention to alight on one of Sharman's papers - the one entitled "Evidence based policy or policy-based evidence gathering? Biofuels, the EU and the 10% target".

Sharman and Holmes 2010 (as the paper is more snappily known) is not publicly available (paywalled here) to the best of my knowledge, but Amelia Sharman was good enough to send me a copy, and I have to say it's pretty amazing stuff.

The paper examines the EU's mandatory 10% target for biofuel use and in particular the way in which scientific advice impinged upon the decision to introduce it. It's a murky tale, which Sharman has uncovered by means of interviewing key players in the policy machinery.

In 2009, when the target was introduced, it was far from clear that biofuels were a feasible approach to greenhouse gas reduction. But the 10% target was introduced nevertheless. As one of the interviewees explained:

The idea is that normally you should not propose legislation until you’ve got the evidence to justify it. But there, you had the prime ministers and heads of state signing up to a target that no-one had done any impact assessment at all . . . they got them to sign up to these targets, 20% renewables and 10% biofuels, and then only later in the year did they do the impact assessment. And basically they said they didn’t need to [properly] impact-assess the 10% because it had already been approved by the heads of state! . . .”

As Sharman and Holmes pithily comment:

The fact that the EC was endorsing a target without having seen a full impact assessment provides the first indication that motivations other than scientific evidence related to environmental sustainability and GHG emissions reductions played a part in the policy
decision to establish the 10% target.

There were several forces acting upon the main players in the policy process. It was mooted at one point that energy security should be a factor in the decision, but in fact since the EU was going to have to import crops to meet the 10% target, it was clear that this was a spurious consideration. Grubbier and less worthy goals - payoffs to various vested interests - appear to have been much more important. Specifically, those involved in the policy process were keen to push investment into biofuels businesses, and to provide a substantial sop to EU sugar beet producers who were unhappy about having to compete in world markets on price. As another interviewee explained:

There was a huge fight with the European farm lobby. The commission...was desperate to find some candies they could give to the farm lobby. Particularly they were desperate to find a way out, to all the sugar beet producers that was clear there was no future for them once they have to compete on selling sugar. And then the brilliant idea was, oh we can use this sugar for ethanol and in general we can create this subsidised market for farmers and it can allow us  basically to hide within the energy policy some of these subsidies that are becoming so unpopular in the agriculture policy. That’s been the initial main driver . . .”

Against this apparently slightly frenzied background, policymakers were confronted with conflicting scientific evidence on the viability of biofuels. Key in this debate was a paper by Searchinger et al (2008), which suggested that biofuels actually created more greenhouse gases than they saved, once indirect land-use changes were taken into account.

(As an aside you may have noticed at the start of this article I referred to a more recent Friends of the Earth article, which came to the same conclusion. The supporting result aside, it's interesting to speculate whether the Searchinger paper was published before or after Friends of the Earth stopped campaigning to have a biofuels obligation introduced in the UK.)

But to return to the main thread of this story, the Searchinger paper appears to have been a major bone of contention and the representatives of the biofuels industry seemed to have engaged in some pretty personal attacks on the paper's author in order to help get their policy put in place. However, as well as the Searchinger paper there was also a growing body of scientific evidence that was very critical of biofuels. In addition, although Sharman and Holmes do not mention it, one can hardly forget the words of the UN's special rapporteur on food, who in 2007 described biofuels as "a crime against humanity". The decision to go ahead and introduce the 10% target against this background therefore seems inexplicable.

The policy entrepreneur

So the vested interests were pushing one way and the scientific evidence the other. How was it that the biofuels target ended up finding its way into law? For this we have to thank a mysterious character, who Sharman calls "the policy entrepreneur" (I gather that Sharman and Holmes know who this is, but research ethics quite properly prevent his/her identity being made public).

Almost all interview participants pointed to an individual actor within the EC who had a strong influence on this policy decision but who stirred up a considerable degree of controversy with
other actors in the policy network in the process. This leads to two questions: how could an individual within the EC have such a high degree of influence over the policy process, and why did the increasing amount of scientific data questioning the ability of biofuels production to reduce GHG emissions not have more traction in the policy decision?

How indeed? Why indeed?

Sharman explains that the policy entrepreneur was widely seen by the other participants in the policymaking process as being a champion of the transport and biofuels industries and was said to be "dogmatic" in support of the target. The motivation of this single individual, in combination with the political pressure to provide support to the various vested interests involved in the biofuels industry, was a powerful force in bringing the biofuels target onto the statute books.

However, there was still the tricky problem of the weight of scientific evidence against the proposed policy, but this appears to have been no problem to the Entrepreneur. According to the insiders interviewed by Sharman and Holmes:

...internal EC documentation...which supported the decision to proceed with a 10% target was accorded a high degree of influence in the final policy outcome. However, evidence of a more critical bent...did not have the same sway.

Other interviewees were more specific about what had been done:

Some interviewees also indicated that the policy entrepreneur acted as an information gatekeeper, reducing the level of scientific controversy apparent to policy-makers by ensuring that only data which supported the desired end-point was able to influence the final decision-making process. The ability of the policy entrepreneur to command the scientific literature and argue for the benefits of the 10% target both within and outside the EC was identified as a critical factor. This indicates that it was not so much an absence of evidence but an adherence to evidence that was able to tell the desired story. However, none of this critique is intended to suggest that the policy entrepreneur acted in a deliberately malicious or underhand manner. An interviewee suggested that the entrepreneur “. . . probably still had the best intentions (even though he was completely wrong) . . .” (NGO) and the policy entrepreneur themself appeared to see the policy as an arbitrary victim of a values controversy–biofuels
being targeted as the environmental ‘baddie of the day’.

 When you think of the description of biofuels as a "crime against humanity", I wonder if a bit more cynicism about the "good intentions" of the Entrepreneur would be in order.

As I suggested above, his identity is not public. But I'm sure there is no harm in us speculating.

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Reader Comments (124)

Is it Gleick?

No, but seriously though - that's an amazing paper. From LSE?

Feb 20, 2012 at 8:15 AM | Unregistered CommenterJames Evans

I'm having trouble reconciling the following statements: "the policy entrepreneur was widely seen ... as being a champion of the transport and biofuels industries" and "none of this critique is intended to suggest that the policy entrepreneur acted in a deliberately malicious or underhand manner." To me it appears as though the policy entrepreneur deliberately bent government policy to the benefit of certain private enterprises. While that doesn't appear malicious, underhand would seem to be apt.

Can you perhaps clear this up?

Feb 20, 2012 at 8:19 AM | Unregistered CommenterHaroldW

As an organisation that has yet to have its funds audited and signed of for at least 15 years why are you so surprised ?

Feb 20, 2012 at 8:19 AM | Unregistered Commenterconfused

The last paragraph that the Bish quotes is a text-book example of post normal science in action.

What is it they say about the road to hell being paved with good intentions?

Feb 20, 2012 at 8:24 AM | Unregistered CommenterPaul Boyce

Jeremy Grantham

Feb 20, 2012 at 8:27 AM | Unregistered Commenterconfused

This sounds like a good piece of research. We can add, of course, that this dubious piece of policy accelerated the clearing of rainforest for palm oil to be used in biodiesel.

Feb 20, 2012 at 8:29 AM | Unregistered CommenterAynsley Kellow

Interesting that FOE Germany have sponsored this report. I have skimmed it and maybe missed any possible contrition about green lobby pressure making biofuels the darling of the politicians eye in the first place. I hope this isn't just another rewrite history attempt.

I mean after all the report itself says:

The interests of lobbyists and the electoral ambitions of officeholders can hijack public policy.

Let us not forget the role environmental groups had in there "gotta act now!" haste to steamroll the consensus through on this:


http://www.foe.co.uk/resource/briefings/pre_budget_nov_2004.pdf


The Government should introduce a Biofuels Obligation, to stimulate a UK biofuels industry - as a lower carbon alternative to conventional transport fuels. The obligation would require that a proportion of all road transport fuels in the UK should be sourced from accredited renewable sources.

Feb 20, 2012 at 8:44 AM | Unregistered CommenterThe Leopard In The Basement

Argh! there their now

Feb 20, 2012 at 8:46 AM | Unregistered CommenterThe Leopard In The Basement

I always thought that the increased emissions resulting from the creation and use of bio-fuels was a fine example of the "law of unintended consequences". It appears that I was wrong and that emissions didn't come into. How much increased food poverty, starvation and how many deaths has the "policy entrepreneur" been responsible for? No doubt tht EU will, as usual, not do any investigation and follow-up. When, if ever, will the policy be changed?

Feb 20, 2012 at 8:49 AM | Unregistered CommenterPhillip Bratby

While it is true that biofuel policy has a vested interest in the farm lobby, the entire justification for the policy in the UK at least is still wholly climate-related. Recently I debated a green who said, Oh, biofuels is nothing to do with climate. Not so.

See my article at Prospect:

http://www.rationaloptimist.com/blog/bioenergy-versus-planet

Feb 20, 2012 at 8:56 AM | Unregistered CommenterMatt Ridley

I met with a senior civil servant around 2002 to discuss the lack of economic benefits from renewables. In that meeting I raised the issue of why there was no "renewables obligation" on motor fuels, because it seemed to me that bio-fuels were a viable option and I did not understand why policy only focussed on the bit where BIG-WIND stood to make money.

So, I was surprised when they said that this was already being actively considered and was likely to be introduced shorty (within the decade).

Indeed, I saw this as a sensible thing for the UK to do, because whereas wind subsidies would result in almost all the money going to foreign wind companies, bio-fuels at least had a chance of stimulating bio-fuel technology development in the UK which with our huge oil industry, had a chance of actually creating jobs rather than destroying as the focus on electricity had done.

But, the real problem I suspect, is this was the period of "sofa policy making", in the sense that Tony Blair would sit down on comfy chairs with the lobbyists who had buttered him up most and create the policy between them which others were then told to implement ... and if necessary "prove" the "science" if that was needed.

Feb 20, 2012 at 8:57 AM | Unregistered CommenterMike Haseler

Sim Kallas?

Ex president of Estonia (and ex Soviet communist).

Eu Transport Commissioner and Vice President.

Google him with "biofuels" - too many references to paste.

Feb 20, 2012 at 8:59 AM | Unregistered CommenterFoxgoose

Aynsley

I think that is acceptable collateral damage in order to bend the world to the green ideology.

Feb 20, 2012 at 9:02 AM | Unregistered CommenterMichael

“Sharman and Holmes know who this is, but research ethics quite properly prevent his/her identity being made public)”.

...being made public by researchers.
Investigative journalists, on the other hand, have a duty to name such individuals. Why not alert Monbiot, who was one of the first to alert us to the unintended consequences of biofuels. I’m sure he’d thank you profusely.

Feb 20, 2012 at 9:02 AM | Unregistered Commentergeoffchambers

Hmmm ... policy entrepreneur, eh? That would be a rather apt description of IPCC Chair, Pachauri (or any number of his entrepreneurial buddies from around the globe), would it not? Not to mention that if one were to replace "biofuels" with C02 in:

why did the increasing amount of scientific data questioning the ability of biofuels production to reduce GHG emissions not have more traction in the policy decision?

added to the following ...:

Some interviewees also indicated that the policy entrepreneur acted as an information gatekeeper, reducing the level of scientific controversy apparent to policy-makers by ensuring that only data which supported the desired end-point was able to influence the final decision-making process. [emphasis added -hro]

... which could almost be a description of the IPCC "process" in action.

Pure speculation, of course. But there are some very familiar elements in this account of the decision-making process, are there not?!

Feb 20, 2012 at 9:06 AM | Unregistered CommenterHilary Ostrov

Appropriately, the Commons Energy and Climate Change Committee is hearing witnesses on Bioenergy, tomorrow at 10:15 am Live feed is here:
http://www.parliamentlive.tv/Main/Player.aspx?meetingId=10298

Equally interesting may be the Justice Committee hearing on the FOIA at 10:30 am tomorrow. Live feed is here:
http://www.parliamentlive.tv/Main/Player.aspx?meetingId=10302

Feb 20, 2012 at 9:10 AM | Unregistered CommenterDavid Holland

Some months ago I blogged that I was following the trail of the Mr Bigs who profiteered from the Global warming concept. Blind Freddie can deduce that certain people pushed hard from above to fatten their handbags or manbags. If you are quite confident on this ID, then do confirm it via my email - which has been public on blogs for years - sherro1 at optusnet dot com dot au. I'm not interested in people being accused wrongly out of revenge for past personal misdeeds, only in cases that could face a tax investigation and fail.

As a preview (and the closer you get, the better the trail is covered) one focus of activity seems to be around Germany/Holland, but there are some in USA also. GB is not so easy to pin down because of the residual knowledge from Empire building. One great help is to get a name, even a secondary one; then following the trail and making the linkages is so much easier.

Feb 20, 2012 at 9:11 AM | Unregistered CommenterGeoff Sherrington

Congratulations to Amelia and co-authors. Nicely done. However, while research ethics may suggest that it is improper to identify the 'policy entrepeneur', public acts leading to potential criminal fraud and similar crimes, strongly suggest the opposite tack.

Feb 20, 2012 at 9:12 AM | Unregistered CommenterChuckles

It looks like the plan isnt working out too well fro Ensus & ethanol production in he uk
http://www.theengineer.co.uk/channels/process-engineering/ensus-still-hopeful-of-reopening-wilton-biofuels-plant/1011689.article

..................... According to Ensus the main issues at Wilton are: Slow implementation of the Renewable Energy Directive; Delays to the approval of Voluntary Sustainability Schemes; US imports that benefit from a tax credit from the US government and take advantage of loopholes in EU import legislation to avoid established tariffs ............................... more

Read more: http://www.theengineer.co.uk/channels/process-engineering/ensus-still-hopeful-of-reopening-wilton-biofuels-plant/1011689.article#ixzz1mualVA00

Feb 20, 2012 at 9:16 AM | Unregistered Commenterschober

Another example of the application of "policy based evidence" as opposed to "evidence based policy"

Feb 20, 2012 at 9:22 AM | Unregistered CommenterArthur Dent

Michael,
I've remarked on it before, but those who espouse holism when it comes to nature are remarkably reductionist when it comes to the social sciences! ;-)

Feb 20, 2012 at 9:22 AM | Unregistered CommenterAynsley Kellow

I was once quite pro biofuels. But the more I learned, the less I liked. Eventually, it became clear that the downsides - even if one supports the AGW from CO2 hypothesis - clearly outweighed any benefit. I reached that conclusion about five years ago, when I could only guess about the hidden or unintended consequences of its production. (Same story with hybrids and electric cars, but I digress.)

However, I still think using waste products like chip oil as bio diesel makes some sense on a small, local scale. Better than contaminating the sewage system with it.

Feb 20, 2012 at 9:25 AM | Unregistered CommenterGixxerboy

It's called being two faced.

FOE - 'We love bio-fuels'

FOE - 'We hate bio-fuels'

And a lobbyist making sure his interests are looked after, I'm shocked our form of democracy allows such a thing.

Feb 20, 2012 at 9:28 AM | Unregistered CommenterShevva

Well a very interesting post Bish about a very interesting paper.

BUT - it strikes me as being an attempt to deflect blame for the obvious disaster that is biofuels away from Big Green. It is just pleading guilty to a lesser charge!! and as we know most of the movers & shakers in this story are all from the same "team".

Here, as I have posted before, is the relevant section from the Friends of the Earth's policy advice to the Chancellor of the Exchequer (Gordon Brown) before his budget of 2004.

"The Government should introduce a Biofuels Obligation, to stimulate a UK
biofuels industry – as a lower carbon alternative to conventional transport fuels. The
obligation would require that a proportion of all road transport fuels in the UK should
be sourced from accredited renewable sources. Fuel suppliers would either supply
the target percentage of biofuel, or choose to pay a penalty. The revenues raised
would be proportionately distributed to those who supplied complying fuels,
encouraging growth in supply up to the Obligation target. The cost to the consumer
is negligible, and it would benefit the economy and environment."

Now in 2012

The fuels, gasoline substitutes derived from plants, probably won’t cut greenhouse gases because forests are chopped down to make way for biofuel plantations, Friends of the Earth and ActionAid said today in an e-mailed statement. The European Commission said that while biofuels cost more than fossil fuels, it’s “reasonable” for motorists to pay extra.

And that ignores all the poor souls who have died because some idiot was burning their food and shoving its price through the roof..

Feb 20, 2012 at 9:50 AM | Unregistered CommenterRetired Dave

got to be prescott hasn't it. There is no-one else stupid enough, pig headed enough and powerful enough.

Feb 20, 2012 at 9:52 AM | Unregistered Commentersmileyken

All we ever hear from the Greens is "trust us"... why precisely?

Feb 20, 2012 at 9:54 AM | Unregistered CommenterJiminy Cricket

"However, none of this critique is intended to suggest that the policy entrepreneur acted in a deliberately malicious or underhand manner." Such an obviously false statement just makes matters worse.

Feb 20, 2012 at 10:01 AM | Unregistered CommenterPeter Stroud

Anyone who is propounds the 'benefits' of turning edible food crops into a fuel for use in motorised vehicles needs to go to see a head doctor - I am tempted say what I really think of them but this is a polite blog.

This is a madness, for which only people like Blair could relate to and champion - perfect for those mankind hating control freaks who fill the EU corridors in Brussels, advocates, nomenklatura, delegates and political leaders too.

Kallas, is the loony, it has his fingerprints all over it.

Feb 20, 2012 at 10:07 AM | Unregistered CommenterAthelstan.

How many thousands of lives and $billions will those good intentions have taken, and why is this person not in prison? Completely unacceptable. Many many people are locked away right now for far less.

Feb 20, 2012 at 10:21 AM | Unregistered Commenterben

Friends of the Earth are not the only green hypocrites.
Last week climategate.nl pointed to Greenpeace on this subject:

Greenpeace in 2000: Bio-diesel - green fuel we can use today

Greenpeace in 2011: How Europe’s biofuels policy threatens the climate

I think the Entrepreneur has to be searched in the farm lobby. The arguments of climate change and energy independence were used later to sell the biofuels to politicians and public.

Feb 20, 2012 at 10:22 AM | Unregistered CommenterJ. Branders

I respectfully disagree BH that it is appropriate that this person remain unnamed. It's not as if the current system provides incentives strong enough to encourage the socialists to be honest and operate with integrity. What is desirable about not using academic freedom to name and shame?

Feb 20, 2012 at 10:24 AM | Unregistered Commenterben

F.O.I. request at who Bish? By the way, the use of the "actors" really says it all!

Feb 20, 2012 at 10:33 AM | Unregistered CommenterPete H

From a false premise, anything can follow. The false premise that rising CO2 levels were driving climate change was seized upon because of what would follow from it: harm to the richer nations, crippled development in the poorer nations (aka 'sustainable development'). Newly seized with a concern for the environment rather than for their fellow man, the left lapped it up. Some astonished scientists got their begging bowls enlarged and lapped it up. NGOs once concerned with poverty or wildlife niftily rebranded, and lapped up the funds like cats at the cream. The EU apparatchiks, ever alert to opportunities for aggrandisement, were in the vanguard with 'progressive' (aka 'regressive') policies and plots, and even the sleepy old Labour Party in the UK got on the job with Miliband and his destructive Climate Change Act and aggressive brainwashing schemes for schoolchildren. Eager to serve their new masters, the Royal Society jumped in with gay abandon. Even the Met Office was taken over by an extremely successful eco-activist, fresh from turning the WWF into a climate-obsessed lobbyist on the doom-and-destruction-unless-you-do-what-we-say bandwagon. Bio-fuels, an absurd and tragic waste of agricultural resources, could easily get pursued and promoted amidst all this madness. Who needs evidence when they know they're right? The loud rumble of that bandwagon's wheels just drowned it out. The mess it has made will take a while to clear up.

Feb 20, 2012 at 11:02 AM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Shade

In Germany, last year, there was a big push to sell "E10" petrol at the pumps. This is petrol with 10% bio-ethanol content. It is sold next to "regular" petrol as a "green" alternative. There are warnings that consumers should check whether their car is capable of ingesting such a concoction.

The consumers voted with their feet ( or rather tyres ). No one bought the petrol. Some stations had pump arrays that all had E10 and were conspicuous by the absence of customers. Faced with increasing customer revolt, the oil companies have relented and although there are still E10 pumps, they are now one-in-five instead of three-in-five.
There is a large amount of egg over the German government's face on this debacle.

Feb 20, 2012 at 11:09 AM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Barrett

http://tinyurl.com/88olhht
Boris Johnson on sugar beet in today's DT. Not 100% on topic but relevant.

Feb 20, 2012 at 11:14 AM | Unregistered CommenterMike Jackson

Can someone please explain how research ethics prevents the naming of the so called entrepreneur?
I would prefer the word opportunist?

Feb 20, 2012 at 11:17 AM | Unregistered CommenterStacey

In France L'Association Interprofessionnelle de la Betterave et de la Sucre have been doing some work on their image. They are probably anticipating/reacting to some bad publicity.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7FMZQ8KvuAg

"Better-ave, it's better." Very droll.

Feb 20, 2012 at 11:26 AM | Unregistered CommenterDreadnought

Sorry meant to say excellent post.
"Sometimes little things lead you to the most interesting discoveries"
1 Pollen on water lead to proof of the existence of atoms
QED

Feb 20, 2012 at 11:26 AM | Unregistered CommenterStacey

Coincidenatlly I see in Telegraph online that Boris Johnson has an article lamenting how the EU is positioning the market in favour of sugar from Beet producers (mainly in France and Germany apparently) at the expense of the Cane Sugar plant by Tate and Lyle in London.

For me this report highlights issues way beyond climate and green (although they are bad enough) and suggests that this is how the EU does business. In other words the governance structures and systems of the EU allows this sort of thing to happen, apparently unchallenged. Given the amount of money flowing into the EU from each nation state, this should be causing raised eyebrows far and wide.

It really needs an expose in the MSM but I won't hold my breath.

Feb 20, 2012 at 11:27 AM | Unregistered CommenterSerge

Agree with Ben. While "research ethics" (and has anybody told the climate scientists about them, by the way?) may dictate that this person is not named in the report itself, there is no obligation to conceal his identity forever.
Bishop, ask Amelia Sharman the question direct online, please. Save all this futile speculation.

Feb 20, 2012 at 11:30 AM | Unregistered CommenterPeter Crawford

Amazing. Thanks.

Feb 20, 2012 at 11:40 AM | Unregistered Commenterplazaeme

Stacey:
I am with you. I do not see the ethical concerns with naming this individual - legal concerns there may be. I do see a need for additional research beyond a few rumours.

Feb 20, 2012 at 11:40 AM | Unregistered CommenterBernie

Bishop, ask Amelia Sharman the question direct online, please. Save all this futile speculation.

And if that fails, I'd suggest asking Nigel Lawson asking Jeremy Grantham to ask her.

This is no small matter. What the Grantham Institute has done in this instance is very good.

Feb 20, 2012 at 11:44 AM | Unregistered CommenterRichard Drake

Being Green means never having to say you're sorry. You just say: "We meant well."

Maybe the African children who died as the "unintended consequences" of the biofuels idiocy don't have headstones, but if they did, they should be engraved with: "They meant well."

Feb 20, 2012 at 11:45 AM | Unregistered CommenterRick Bradford

All

I assume the Sharman and Holmes interviews were given on condition of anonymity. I don't think it's fair to Sharman to expect her to go back on her word. I'm sure the identity of the Entrepreneur can be ascertained in other ways.

Feb 20, 2012 at 11:53 AM | Registered CommenterBishop Hill

Bishop

How about asking Richard North at EUReferendum to look into it? Sounds right up his street.

Feb 20, 2012 at 11:53 AM | Unregistered CommenterDreadnought

Matt Ridley:

While it is true that biofuel policy has a vested interest in the farm lobby, the entire justification for the policy in the UK at least is still wholly climate-related. Recently I debated a green who said, Oh, biofuels is nothing to do with climate. Not so.

See my article at Prospect:

http://www.rationaloptimist.com/blog/bioenergy-versus-planet

Two important thoughts arise. First, greens can have very short memories. As I said in a thread at the end of last month about the strong Friends of the Earth advocacy of biofuels in 2004 (and, as the Bish mentions here, we don't seem to know if this continued after Ziegler's description of them as a crime against humanity in 2007 or Searchinger's paper in 2008):

It's not that we want to demonise organisations for all time for their past mistakes. But a measure of contrition about these disastrous policy directions in the past would surely lead to a more tentative, humble approach to current energy and climate policy tradeoffs. And that would surely lead to more peace and more light.

Second, how is it that one bad idea (that science is telling us that there's a real risk of disaster due to CO2 emissions) generates so many others, with biofuels now being seen even by greens as a terrible example? Irrationality spawns even worse irrationality.

But is also clearly spawns the worst kind of policy opportunism. And that part is highly rational. And, given the millions that must have died because of consequent increases in world food prices, evil.

Feb 20, 2012 at 11:59 AM | Unregistered CommenterRichard Drake

"... motivations other than scientific evidence... played a part in the policy decision..."

This has echoes of the 2002 decision to go to war based on an assumption of Iraqi WMD and the subsequent pressure to find evidence.

Feb 20, 2012 at 11:59 AM | Unregistered CommenterBrent Hargreaves

Three candidates for the title of 'policy entrepreneur', which I guess means someone who promotes policies while at the same time pursuing business opportunities that will thrive under those policies. I give an illustrative link for each

Richard Branson [http://www.carbonwarroom.com/]
Albert Gore [http://www.ibtimes.com/articles/300041/20120216/al-gore-sustainable-capitalism-guidelines.htm]
Jeremy Grantham [http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/14/magazine/can-jeremy-grantham-profit-from-ecological-mayhem.html?_r=1&pagewanted=al]

Feb 20, 2012 at 12:05 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Shade

I wonder if this paper will be considered by Working Group III: Mitigation of Climate Change - AR5?

Feb 20, 2012 at 12:07 PM | Unregistered CommenterGreen Sand

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