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« Quadrant on the death threats | Main | Grundmann on Climategate and the scientific ethos »

Interview with Lord Oxburgh

Lord Oxburgh, the man who Sir John Beddington felt was the correct guy to run an inquiry into the Climatic Research Unit, is interviewed for Xynteo, a low-carbon advocacy group.

The more you look at Oxburgh, the more Sir John's conduct in recommending him for his role on the Climategate inquiry seems inconsistent with that of a civil servant.

As an aside, I was interested to see that David King and Gabrielle Walker are involved in Xynteo. Readers may remember that King and Walker wrote a book on climate change which featured a completely new hide the decline graph. I never did find out which of them was responsible.

Interestingly, Walker, whose website describes her as a freelance writer, is billed by Xynteo as "an expert on climate change and the energy industry" and "Xyntéo’s Chief Scientist". She was also apparently "previously Professor of Energy and Environment at Princeton University". I'm not suggesting that she wasn't at Princeton - it's just that the two different biographies struck me as odd.

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Reader Comments (32)

Oxburgh seems to have been an ideal choice to head the CRU inquiry..... if one wants a committed activist to rubber-stamp an empty whitewash of a report.

re: Walker and Princeton U., what I'm seeing in a quick search is that she may have been only some kind of "visiting" faculty member at Princeton U., which usually means only a term or a year, not some long-term appointment. This is quite different from a permanent appointment with tenure as a "Professor of Energy and Environment" .... if she herself is presenting her appointment at Princeton U. with such a title that may well prove to be a case of misrepresentation..... although many people do use the term "professor" in a looser sense of anyone who has taught university level courses. Still, on a website or CV over which she has any editorial influence, the proper title (whatever it was) should be employed. If she was something like "Visiting Lecturer of Energy and Environment" etc. (I don't know) then that's how it should be presented.

May 7, 2012 at 8:24 AM | Registered CommenterSkiphil

"The more you look at Oxburgh, the more Sir John's conduct in recommending him for his role on the Climategate inquiry seems inconsistent with that of a civil servant."

Or not.

The Telegraph summed it up as follows:

"There are significant questions over the Downing Street operation's .... ability to formulate and deliver policy. A particular concern is the dominant role of the Civil Service, and the paucity of political and strategic thinkers."

Douglas Carswell likens it to Yes, Minister

...pointing out the way in which permanent officials, rather than those we elect, tend to decide things has become something of an obsession of mine.

Monetary policy? “That’s what we have the Monetary Policy Committee for, Minister”. Europe policy? “Ask Sir Jon Cunliffe, Minister”.

Bonfire of the quangos? “Are you sure, Minister”. Criminal justice? “The permanent secretary has prepared a few suggestions for your speech”...

and in the process also draws attention to the following blog:

"Don’t just take my word for it, read this excellent blog – - by one of the stars of the 2010 Parliamentary intake, Steve Barclay MP."

May 7, 2012 at 9:07 AM | Registered Commentermatthu

He strikes me as ill-informed and gullible. And he clearly had his mind made up about the unfortunate "wrong evidence" before being appointed to run the inquiry. Altogether a wise choice if you want to have a whitewash.

May 7, 2012 at 9:27 AM | Registered Commenterlapogus

He's certainly a wind-bag. He sees Government propaganda as the way froward to regain trust in climate "science" and the IPCC. What a pity for him that he doesn't realise that politicians are the most untrusted group of people when surveys are done of who people find trustworthy. Politicians come below double-glazing salesmen, second hand car salesmen and estate agents.

May 7, 2012 at 10:00 AM | Unregistered CommenterPhillip Bratby

Oxburgh: 'some of the details are fuzzy'.

Such as whether the additional CO2 matters very much as far as climate is concerned.

Oxburgh: 'the present fiscal difficulties that the world finds itself in...when there is chaos, when there is all sorts of disruption of activities that is the time when you can do things in a different way

The old revolutionary faith. Benefit from the 'chaos'. The gentler version beloved of the incrementalist is to seek 'moments of fluidity'. I wonder what 'things' he means? Mass-production of electricity from windmills perhaps? Which of course means higher prices all round, considerable suffering for some, and hampered industrial development for many.

Breathless enthusiasm from Oxburgh. Here is one chap who is thoroughly enjoying his climate crisis. Pity about the lack of substance., but he certainly shows some gusto.

May 7, 2012 at 10:04 AM | Registered CommenterJohn Shade

Lord Oxburgh, Chairman of Falcke Renewables, subsidiary of Falcke Gruppe in Milan subjected last year to an anti-Mafia investigation over its wind farms in Calabria, which apparently don't work [there the subsidies are for building windmills].

May 7, 2012 at 10:09 AM | Unregistered Commentermydogsgotnonose

Peter Lilley seems to agree that the elite increase scepticism. See Well worth reading.

Yet opinion polls show, by contrast, that the British electorate is more sceptical of their claims than any other country, even the United States of America. This is a wonderful achievement, on the part of our elites, that they have managed to make the British people more sceptical than any other country.

Now why are people becoming more sceptical? Because a grimmer economic situation makes them question more closely policies whose costs are beginning to bite. Household electricity bills are up by about 11% because of climate change measures - the Renewables Obligation puts the cost of electricity for business up 18% and expect it to go to a 25% premium by 2025, according to the government.

May 7, 2012 at 10:19 AM | Unregistered CommenterPhillip Bratby

A bit of googling reveals that Xynteo is a purely commercial management consultancy operation based in Sweden; with subsidiaries in UK, Sweden, Norway & the US, and a lot of big name clients like Deutsche Bank and Shell

Although the UK subsidiary only has a nominal £1 share capital it seemed to put a couple of million through its books in 2011 and has a rather posh office just off Park Lane.

It also uses the same PR agency as King's Smith School of Enterprise & Environment.

Isn't it strange how, every time you dig beneath the surface of these noble sounding, planet-saving endeavours, there a always a few of the "great & good" trying to quietly enrich themselves - usually with the aid of a few self promoting hacks & PR folk.

I was amazed to read recently that the head of WWF in the US earns over $440k - considerably more than Obama.

May 7, 2012 at 10:23 AM | Registered CommenterFoxgoose

...... and I thought somebody said CRU was lying .......

May 7, 2012 at 10:47 AM | Unregistered CommenterHuhneToTheSlammer

From the Ecclesiastical Uncle, an old retired bureaucrat in a field only remotely related to climate, with minimal qualifications and only half a mind.

Bishop, I very much doubt Sir J's behaviour in recommending O for the C’gate enquiry was inconsistent with that of a civil servant. Surely the bureaucrat or civil servant’s job is to serve his political master and that Sir J did. If you were to go on from there to say the result was a farce I would agree and suggest that as this was clearly not the fault of the bureaucrat, it had to be the fault of the politician.

So, of course, Skiphil, O was the right chap for the people responsible for finding someone.

Re Matthu’s report of the Telegraph’s ruminations. Heaven forbid. The bureacucrats should take care of all the detail involved in running the country without involvement of politicians except when they think intervention is necessary to advance or protect the public interest, which they, being elected by the public, are best able to judge. And in any such intervention, their word should, in the end, be final. Hpwever, except very rarely, politicians are not experts and can make no worthwhile contribution to policy so involving them, as I understand the Telegraph advocates, is a recipe for more, not less trouble.

May 7, 2012 at 11:11 AM | Unregistered CommenterEcclesiastical Uncle

Weasel words from Lord O!

I notice that if you wait to the end of the clip, a little arrow appears linking to other clips including one by King and one by a Prof Thwait. It sounds as they are as committed as ever to their hypothesis. There are several others which I have not listened to.

May 7, 2012 at 11:58 AM | Unregistered Commenteroldtimer

There's a new Masonry afoot, who all believe in top-down, dirigiste collectivism over all aspects of society (climate activism as a minor subset), and they seem to recognise each other instantly and pledge mutual support whenever required.

I don't know how they do it, but I know I will never be invited to join.

May 7, 2012 at 12:48 PM | Unregistered CommenterRick Bradford

Oxburgh complains of an "orchestrated campaign" by climate sceptics. Okay, how about naming names and numbers, your lordship?

We're constantly seeing orchestrated campaigns from well-funded groups such as the IPCC, NASA, UN, WWF, Greenpeace, et al. And of course, they are all clamoring for even more orchestrated campaigns to sway public opinion. Despite Oxburgh's innuendo, the "orchestrated campaigns" seem mostly on the climate alarmist side.

May 7, 2012 at 2:03 PM | Unregistered CommenterJack Maloney

Good grief, given his perspective how could anyone appoint this guy to lead a panel of inquiry into anything: So much certainty, so few data points. He sounds like somebody trying to hype a "only on TV gizmo."

May 7, 2012 at 3:02 PM | Unregistered CommenterBernie

" ......... that's why (Earth) is a little bit warmer than Mars, and an awful lot cooler than Venus .. "
- Nothing to do with the distance from the sun, then.

May 7, 2012 at 3:14 PM | Unregistered CommenterHuhneToTheSlammer


"Nothing to do with the distance from the sun, then."

- or the pressure difference, with pressure on Venus 92x that of the Earth, and that on Mars something like less than 1% of Earth's.

May 7, 2012 at 3:31 PM | Unregistered CommenterHK

Doesn't Mars have lots of CO2?

May 7, 2012 at 3:32 PM | Unregistered CommenterJames P

James P

Yes, but no water vapour.

May 7, 2012 at 4:01 PM | Unregistered CommenterNullius in Verba

"You can't slip a piece of paper between David King [the government's chief science adviser who said climate change was a bigger threat than terrorism] and me on this position." Lord Oxburgh June 2004


May 7, 2012 at 4:32 PM | Registered CommenterPharos

Oxburgh's plan:
- Governments should back the IPCC
- Organizations like GLTE should push the message
- Financial chaos should exploited to push the agenda

Science's plan:
- Proof

Oxburgh:3 Science 0, Ronnie played a binder...

May 7, 2012 at 5:27 PM | Unregistered CommenterZT

"Orchestrated" is a bad word for him because he knows how intuitively easy and acceptable his inane climate drivel can be implemented by him and his fellow set of intellectual frauds that have the unelected power and influence to do so. To him what he does is not “orchestrated” -it is effortless gravy-training - yet he is troubled because he expects that it should also just be accepted and admired in a bovine way by the little people too - so when they don't please him it can only be because it is "orchestrated" by some dark force he doesn't understand or wont honour us with pinning down.

What a fool, yet idiots like him are prized for something, God knows what, just for being adept at oiling the wheels of mediocrity I guess.

May 7, 2012 at 6:00 PM | Unregistered CommenterThe Leopard In The Basement

UEA wasted £112,000 on PR consultancy, following Climategate, according to FOI that Graham Stringer requested.

Needless to say, UEA tried to withold this info.

May 7, 2012 at 7:33 PM | Unregistered CommenterPaul Homewood

Huhne to the slammer.
Did you get that from this -

May 7, 2012 at 10:24 PM | Unregistered CommenterTom Mills

Why do the "Great and the Good" all look and sound the same?
Are they in fact clones?

May 7, 2012 at 11:04 PM | Unregistered CommenterDon Keiller

Lord Oxborough is eerily similar to a senior lay preacher I once knew; he owned some success in the world outside the church, was of unshakeable Christian faith, self-opinionated, quite seriously wrong about a number of topics he talked about at length and very obviously supremely pleased with himself.
An absolute 'natural' for his role in the 'enquiry' he led.
The term 'useful idiot' occurs to me.

May 7, 2012 at 11:20 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlexander K

@ZT, IPCC is "Intergovernmental" to start with... But where I agree is that the financial chaos is well exploited. It is interesting to see in Canada how US based Tides that was already well implanted in British Columbia -links with BC Liberals policies, Native setting of eco-resorts on the coast locking up access and Vancouver Mayor's campaigns- is now given an open voice in the Tickell trustee Thomson Reuters owned Globe & Mail newspaper virtually every week, associating with the promotion of the Liberal/NDP opposition parties agenda.
IMO the right/left fracture is becoming obsolete and either people and organizations are Green enablers or not. The poor electoral score of Green political parties is the tip of the iceberg: the real battle is below the surface...

May 8, 2012 at 2:38 AM | Unregistered CommenterTomRude

Alexander K - I know exactly the type of person you are describing. Although I would quibble whether Lord O is a "useful idiot". I see him more as "a safe pair of hands". The sort of man who makes his way in the world knowing beforehand precisely what the approved results are supposed to be.

May 8, 2012 at 4:57 AM | Unregistered Commenternvw

I read Nick Stokes examples which asks us to believe in death threats but they can only be described as hateful diatribes from sad inadequate people who likely feel powerless. Funnily enough the Guardian when reporting death threats at CRU gave similar examples which they were diligent enough to label correctly label as “hate mail” but showed no other examples to back up the death threat claims. Admittedly this could be because of on-going police investigations, but they were not reported in the article much like the Australian case. So maybe like the Australian case no death threats that fit the description were reported to police?

Almost apropos of nothing but when I hear death threats and climate together I am reminded of Mexico, since I remember hearing that

Mexico is poised to become just the second country in the world to enshrine long-term climate targets into national legislation.

Well how forthright an ambitious is that? You have to be impressed no?

But then you also hear from Mexico about the number of journalists who have been threatened and killed by the drug barons there, and that this has successfully cowed the press and nations judicary into a standstill, and then you may wonder what the hell the priority there is.

Cheapening the standard of proof and pleading for special status. Why is that familiar?

Climate science really is the driving force in a race to the bottom in human standards: social, political, technical, and moral endeavour isn’t it?

May 8, 2012 at 8:54 AM | Registered CommenterThe Leopard In The Basement

Ah! That's where it went! Sorry, my last post is obviously on the wrong thread.

May 8, 2012 at 9:47 AM | Registered CommenterThe Leopard In The Basement

It depends on what the hob od the civil service is.

If it is to serve the public then he is clearly unfit.

However if "the purpose of government programmes is to pay government workers and their friends, to official purpose being secondary at best" then appointing somebody who would be known to support the official scare story regardless of the evidence is exactly what one would expect.

And exactly what happened.

May 8, 2012 at 12:30 PM | Unregistered CommenterNeil Craig

Todd Benjamin is no stranger to TV news viewers...what's behind this Xinteo and how did they manage to get such a large set of familiar names among their experts?

May 8, 2012 at 12:54 PM | Registered Commenteromnologos

The man has no shame

May 8, 2012 at 2:22 PM | Unregistered CommenterDave

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