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« More retwardian discourse | Main | Diary date, millenarian edition »

Your taxes at work

This appeared in Hansard recently:

Kerry McCarthy (Shadow Minister (Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs); Bristol East, Labour)

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many staff in (a) his Department in the UK and (b) British embassies and high commissions overseas work on climate change-related diplomacy; and what projections he has made of the future staffing requirements for such work.

James Duddridge (The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs; Rochford and Southend East, Conservative)

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) currently has 20 staff who work full time in London on climate change. This includes the Foreign Secretary’s Special Representative on Climate Change. We have the full time equivalent of 70 staff dedicated to climate change and energy work across our overseas network. In addition, as climate and energy priorities demand, we have around a further 80 overseas staff who are also regularly engaged on climate diplomacy.

Climate change and energy/resource security remain high-level foreign policy priorities for the FCO and we keep resourcing arrangements under constant review.

Apparently many Conservatives are mystified why their supporters keep leaving for UKIP.

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Reader Comments (43)

Next question....Total Cost of Salaries

Sep 8, 2014 at 3:02 PM | Unregistered Commenterconfused

Crikey... I unintended consequences I suspect ... Ms McCarthy is I suspect a follower of Miliband Minor on this issue... She is certainly happy to spout / repeat the garbage fed to her by Frack Free Zummerzet twerps.

Sep 8, 2014 at 3:11 PM | Registered Commentertomo

Remember...A powerful anti CC lobby is preventing things from getting done!

Sep 8, 2014 at 3:12 PM | Registered Commenteromnologos

William, 'climate change is the most dangerous matter facing mankind', Hague, has, thankfully, left the FCO. But I have my doubts that Mr Hammond, his replacement is, in any way a CAGW sceptic.

Sep 8, 2014 at 3:51 PM | Unregistered CommenterPeter Stroud

I wonder how many they have working on perpetual motion machines?

Sep 8, 2014 at 4:12 PM | Unregistered Commenterdave

How easy, and what fun it is, to waste the widow's mite

Sep 8, 2014 at 4:22 PM | Unregistered Commenterbill

"Climate Diplomacy"

Does that mean, don't mention the weather>

Sep 8, 2014 at 4:33 PM | Unregistered Commenterpesadia

Staggering, and they don't appear to be in the least bit ashamed or embarrassed to admit that this going on. And how much is this particular subset of the barking mad climate shenanigans costing us?

Sep 8, 2014 at 5:20 PM | Unregistered CommenterMartin Reed

Ever since Tickell displayed the dangers and enjoyed the benefits of 'a little knowledge' of climate, the diplomatic progression has been a mainline route for injecting the climate alarm virus into the body politic. This deployment of personnel is one consequence, and the exposure of it by this PQ is a very welcome one. The pandemic is a big one, and will take a while to clear.

Sep 8, 2014 at 5:24 PM | Registered CommenterJohn Shade

Length of no global warming problem/disaster/ 18 years, possibly even 26 years on some measures! So just how long must there be no warming before the eco-tards in prime guvment positions going think there might not be a problem after all?

Sep 8, 2014 at 5:32 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlan the Brit

Re: pesadia: "Climate Diplomacy": Does that mean, don't mention the weather?
Let's start a list:
- Don't mention the pause
- Don't mention natural climate variations (unless you blunder and mention the pause)
- Don't mention the hockey stick. Borrowing from Albert Brooks: don't say "hockey." Don't say "stick."
- Don't mention Michael Mann (the climate guru--mention the TV/movie impresario if you must)
- Don't mention Al Gore
- Don't mention the Himalayas
- Don't mention the volcanoes underneath (a small part of) Antarctica
- Don't say a storm is part of a trend. Say it's an example of the new normal
- Try to avoid mentioning models. If models must be mentioned, say that without them, we have no information at all
- Don't say climate research is just as impeccable as other peer-reviewed, government-funded research, such as the work on diet/nutrition and second-hand smoke
- Don't mention Steve McIntyre
- Don't mention Andrew Montford
- Don't mention Judith Curry

Sep 8, 2014 at 5:40 PM | Unregistered CommenterLloyd R


Sometimes pandemics can run amok. Sometimes forces can be unleashed that are so powerful and uncontrollable they cripple everything in their way, even perhaps whole national economies.

Sep 8, 2014 at 5:41 PM | Unregistered CommenterMartin Reed

Don't forget the other government departments, I have a relative who worked for the DTI on climate change. Hosing money up the wall on carbon capture was their brief....

Sep 8, 2014 at 5:52 PM | Unregistered CommenterBuck

'Climate diplomacy'? This from one of the queen's ministers. Can he have any conception of how grotesque the idea is? Did he use the phrase with a straight face? Is he honestly unaware of the extent to which he and the government have been hoodwinked? Or is Duddridge merely happy to utter any vacuous nonsense in the interests of furthering his career? Is he in possession of anything that that answers to the description of higher brain functions?

It is too dismaying for words.

Sep 8, 2014 at 6:12 PM | Unregistered CommenterAgouts

Hmmm "We have the full time equivalent of 70 staff dedicated to climate change and energy work across our overseas network" - and I bet that a number of them also work for MI5, since having an employee with a climate change portfolio will provide them with access to all kinds of interesting meetings and locations .............. Method in the madness?

Sep 8, 2014 at 6:25 PM | Unregistered CommenterRobert Thomson

The MO and FCO work hand in hand to hype up the alarm abroad.


The Human Dynamics of Climate Change map, developed by the Met Office Hadley Centre shows a range of potential impacts:

• Temperatures on the warmest days of the year rising by 6°C or more across Europe, parts of Asia and part of North America
• An increase in risk of flooding across 70% of Asia
• The number of days of drought going up by more than 20% in parts of South America, Australia and Southern Africa
• Maize yields falling by up to 12% in Central America
• Sea temperatures rising by up to 4°C in some parts of the world
• Millions of people flooded due to sea level rise, particularly in East, Southeast and South Asia

The British Government considers climate change to present a great risk to our future global prosperity and security. So as well as reducing emissions domestically, the UK is also working closely with a wide range of countries to achieve effective global action to limit climate change to 2°C. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office uses its worldwide network of Embassies and High Commissions to support this effort.

Sep 8, 2014 at 6:45 PM | Unregistered CommenterChairman Al

A rare glimpse at the runaway gravy train - I can't help wondering how many people are employed by the government to deal with "climate" related issues. Perhaps Peter Lilley or John Redwood might be encouraged to ask the question - I can't think of any other MPs who would risk the wrath of the civil service by being so impertinant !

Sep 8, 2014 at 7:11 PM | Unregistered CommenterMartin

A brilliant exposure of how our money is squandered.

It is time for their masters to be dismissed.

Sep 8, 2014 at 7:33 PM | Unregistered CommenterSchrodinger's Cat

Shouldn't all our political classes all be up in Scotland campaigning to keep the Union together instead.

Isn't the break up of the United Kingdom and the threat of terrorist attacks launched by the Islamic State in the Middle East a greater threat to Britain than Climate Change.

Sep 8, 2014 at 8:31 PM | Unregistered Commenterjamspid

There is a problem with increasing CO2 forcing in the atmosphere.

The evidence so far is that warming is more benign than previously predicted.

Continuing IPCC scary scenarios future warming are all based on unverified assumptions that carbon sinks will saturate.

The last 17 years are evidence that these assumptions are unjustified.

We do need to eventually develop new controllable energy sources - but we have at least another 50 years or do so. The only candidate sources I can see on the horizon are nuclear fusion, fast breeder reactors or hybrid thorium reactors.

Renewables can never work.

It really is that simple - unless of course kryptonite batteries really exist.

Sep 8, 2014 at 9:59 PM | Unregistered CommenterCive Best

I did an analysis of various government departments a few weeks ago for another BH post. They all share the same common objectives and the FCO seems to be mirrored exactly by the Ministry of Overseas development and also by the Home Office, strangely enough. That makes 210 at least, working on climate change. If they were paid dole money, not so bad, but I bet they all have final salary pensions etc etc etc

Sep 8, 2014 at 10:12 PM | Unregistered Commenterdiogenes

"...the UK is also working closely with a wide range of countries to achieve effective global action to limit climate change to 2°C. "

What ho, Jeeves. Two degrees, you see. Not bad value for money really, and cheaper than subsidising wind-turbines. If 150 people gets us to 2°C, why don't we double the number of dedicated climate diplomats and limit climate change to 1°C? Or with 600 people the FO could stop the deuced climate from changing altogether! Just think of that! What temperature should we dial in, d'you think? Even better, we could cut down on labour costs and save a fortune in language training for those, mmm, er, diplomatic chappies by outsourcing the whole climate diplomacy job as a package to Chinese and Indian coves on a payment for performance contract, sort of like a no-win no-fee thingumabob. They can talk to themselves until, astounded by the astuteness of their own brilliant arguments, they are finally convinced of the jolly benefits of shrinking their economies, rather like the ooslum bird. And there you are, metaphorically speaking, back to the old ice age in two shakes of... I say, Jeeves, have you seen my blue cravat? Jeeves? JEEVES!

Sep 8, 2014 at 10:15 PM | Unregistered CommenterPaul_K

@Clive Best.

1. There is near zero CO2-AGW because the atmosphere self controls; proven empirically.

2. [CO2] will peak at ~ 450 ppmV and will help to alleviate he new LIA shorter growing season.

3. There was AGW, from Asian aerosol production, but it saturated about 15 years ago when the 'Asian Brown Cloud' appeared, the agglomeration of the aerosols.

Sep 8, 2014 at 10:17 PM | Unregistered Commenterturnedoutnice

There definitely is a CO2 GHE and burning fossil fuels will increase it slightly. Everything beyond that is conjecture because it depends on how increased evaporation, clouds and rain eventually balance out heat loss to space. I suspect negative feedbacks always win out, partly due to photosynthesis.

Tyndel actually thought AGW was a good thing because it might avoid the collapse of civilization caused by the next glacial cycle.

Sep 8, 2014 at 10:35 PM | Unregistered CommenterCive Best

I'm sometimes tempted to think that the whole climate thing is a scheme aimed at giving work for the working man to do (renewables) as well keeping down graduate unemployment (climate diplomacy, counting carbon molecules). So many non-jobs with a great travel budget; where does one sign up?

Sep 8, 2014 at 10:51 PM | Unregistered CommenterBilly Liar

"Next question....Total Cost of Salaries"

Well, 170 people @ £100k each comes out at £17 million of our money.

Sep 8, 2014 at 10:55 PM | Unregistered CommenterPhilip Foster

How many are in the Ministry for stopping Electricity (I forget its official name) ?

Sep 8, 2014 at 11:27 PM | Unregistered CommenterGraeme No.3

The FCO direct spend on climate change diplomacy amounts to only a few tens of millions per year. The big money goes into the International Climate Fund, ( 5-year budget of 3.9 billion pounds), which is jointly funded by DEFRA, DECC and DFID.

"We work in partnership with developing countries to:

reduce carbon emissions through promoting low carbon development
help poor people adapt to the effects of climate change
reduce deforestation "

Sep 8, 2014 at 11:38 PM | Unregistered CommenterPaul_K

An interesting line that -
"We have the full time equivalent of 70 staff dedicated to climate change and energy work across our overseas network..."

"Equivalent of 70 staff ", that is two full time staff that claim expences and entitlements to the equivalent 70?

Sep 8, 2014 at 11:46 PM | Unregistered Commentertom0mason


" that is two full time staff that claim expences and entitlements to the equivalent 70?"

More likely code for:- "we have let a very lucrative consultancy contract that will outlive the life of this parliament."

Sep 9, 2014 at 12:20 AM | Registered CommenterGreen Sand

Green Sand

Sadly, you're probably correct.

Sep 9, 2014 at 1:22 AM | Unregistered Commentertom0mason

An interesting line that -
"We have the full time equivalent of 70 staff dedicated to climate change and energy work across our overseas network..."

"Equivalent of 70 staff ", that is two full time staff that claim expences and entitlements to the equivalent 70?
Sep 8, 2014 at 11:46 PM | Unregistered Commentertom0

Or 140 climate staff doing the equivalent work to 70 normal full-time staff?

Sep 9, 2014 at 3:38 AM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

@michael hart

I do think that phrase is the most interesting one. What exactly do they mean by "equivalent of 70 staff "?
Have they just contracted it all out? If so at what cost?
How can it be found out?
Questions for clarification in The House, or FOI perhaps...

Sep 9, 2014 at 4:40 AM | Unregistered Commentertom0mason

I don't think there's anything sinister about the phrase "full time equivalent of 70 staff", it is just how the civil service reports staff numbers.

The civil service (like other employers, I think) distinguishes 'headcount' from 'full-time equivalent' when counting staff. About a quarter of civil servants work part-time, and so there is quite a difference between the two numbers.

It could be 70 staff working full time or a larger number working part time. Actually, as tables 20 and 21 in the spreadsheet linked below show, the Foreign Office has rather few people working part-time (headcount = 4,840 FTE = 4,780), so it is probably not much above '70 staff'.

Civil Service Statistics gives overall figures and numbers in each department, as well as median salaries by grade, etc. Sadly it doesn't go into the detail needed to find out the precise roles of staff in each department.

The most recent data tables are here:

Sep 9, 2014 at 8:32 AM | Registered CommenterRuth Dixon

Parkinsons law "work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion" was never so apt. What can they possibly do except the usual holding of hands and chanting 'governments must act'. If they want to waste money they should waste it on engineering rather than on talking heads.

Sep 9, 2014 at 9:47 AM | Unregistered CommenterJamesG

Chairman Al -
Wow, that is a remarkably scary map put out by the Met Office! [With supplementary information here.] It's a good thing that Dr Betts has assured us that the MO is entirely objective, and not capable of overstatement. Such as describing RCP8.5 in a neutral way as "business as usual", when e.g. this characterizes it as "near the 90th percentile". Or presenting temperature change as an increase in "warmest days" -- I don't think I've seen this used elsewhere as a metric (and it's not clear precisely what this is), but it seems to average well over 5 K. And weren't we told that regional predictions were not considered skillful, or precipitation in general? Yet there they are, sans caveats.

Sep 9, 2014 at 10:47 AM | Registered CommenterHaroldW

What a timely post, Andrew - it turns out that today (9/9/2014) is Climate Diplomacy Day (who knew?)! Search #ClimateDiploDay on Twitter for events near you!

In Germany or Bangladesh, for example.

Rather subdued on the website though, with a Climate Diplomacy Day Event in Berlin and in Norway, an event called making ambassadors walk to work in the rain.

Sep 9, 2014 at 2:03 PM | Registered CommenterRuth Dixon

Of possibly greater concern is the fact that at least 20% of the entire EU budget for 2014-2020 will be spent on "climate-related projects and policies".

The 20% commitment triples the current share and could yield as much as €180 billion in climate spending in all major EU policy areas over the seven-year period.

Sep 9, 2014 at 3:18 PM | Unregistered CommenterBillB

Clive Best, perhaps you are the person I have been searching for. You seem to know that CO2 will increase the temp. Could you show me any observable evidence where CO2 in the atmosphere does not FOLLOW a temperature rise?
Thank you very much.

Sep 9, 2014 at 6:45 PM | Unregistered CommenterDoug Danhoff

Ruth Dixon thank you. Interesting information but I aways perferred man-hours (person-hours?) calculations.

Sep 9, 2014 at 9:31 PM | Unregistered Commentertom0mason

Until the evolution of photosynthesis by cyanbacteria the atmosphere had no oxygen but large amounts of CO2 and H2O. The sun was 30% less bright and it was liquid water and the removal of CO2 by rock weathering that kept the earth's temperature relatively warm. Large amounts of CO2 were being emitted by volcanoes.

No animal life from insects to fish to humans could have evolved or survive before oxygen first accumulated in the atmosphere and then dissolved in the oceans. Oxygen also protects animal life from damaging UV radiation from the sun by forming ozone in the stratosphere. The build up of oxygen in the atmosphere eventually resulted in the cambrian explosion of plant and animal life. This remarkable breakthrough was preceded by the evolution of cyanobacteria which finally cracked photosynthesis – the complex process powered by solar photons using H2O and CO2 to produce carbon compounds for cells while expelling O2 as a by product. The carbon fixation enzyme Rubisco is responsible for all food and fossil fuels on earth and the evolution of all multi-cellular organisms.

Suddenly oxygen was being generated by photosynthesis whose imprint is clearly seen in the geological record beginning with the Great Oxidation about 2.3 billion years ago. However the long term build up of oxygen in the atmosphere is a very subtle effect, that is still not fully understood. Essentially 99.5% of emitted oxygen is consequently reabsorbed, but its relationship to CO2 levels is particularly interesting. Some interesting facts about photosynthesis that need to be explained are the following.

Current levels of photosynthesis on earth would deplete all CO2 in the atmosphere in just 9 years.
Photosynthesis in the Oceans depletes all available phosphorous needed by aquatic plants and algae in just 86 years.
Most of the CO2 absorbed by plants is soon liberated to the atmosphere when they die or are eaten by animals, while only a tiny amount of carbon is buried in sediments. Even by including this recycling effect we still find CO2 depletion of the atmosphere takes a mere 13,000 years while phosphorous depletion takes only 29,000 years. So what are we doing wrong?

The incredible story is that these trapped sediments are not lost from the environment for ever because plate tectonics recycles material over very long timescales today. Subduction, mountain building and sea level change continuously re-exposes the raw materials for life through weathering. Plate tectonics is essential to re-cycle the raw materials for life on earth !

CO2 re-enters the atmosphere from the mantle through out-gassing of Volcanoes and also through deep ocean vents near mid ocean ridges. CO2 is removed from the atmosphere by weathering due to the abundance of water on the earth. Such weathering does not happen for example on Venus. The ‘natural’ carbon cycle essentially controls the temperature on earth because weathering by liquid water is a temperature dependent phenomenon.

The total content of Oxygen in the atmosphere is equal to the total buried carbon in the sediments. This results in the current 21% oxygen content. The total CO2 content in the atmosphere is instead fine tuned to the temperature of the earth. The carbon cycle acts as a thermostat. That is why there is no long term (1000s of years) climate problem.

About a year ago I wrote a simple computer model of radiative transfer from the surface to space covering the dominant CO2 15 micron band. I found that for a surface temperature of 288K the maximum radiative loss of heat in the atmosphere occurs at exactly 300ppm. I cannot believe this can not be a coincidence. CO2 levels are fine tuned such that the atmosphere cools at its maximum rate in accordance with the second law of thermodynamics.

Sep 9, 2014 at 10:01 PM | Unregistered CommenterClive Best


Sep 9, 2014 at 10:12 PM | Registered Commentershub

Don't get worked up about Full Time Equivalent. FTE. It's a commonly used measure in project management to standardise a measure of effort.

FTE 1 just means the equivalent of a full time employee. It could be made up of two part time employees or a number of employees shared between multiple projects. So 1 FTE could be 4 people who only spend 25% of their time on a given task.

When effort gets to FTE>1 it means you need more people, you start paying overtime or the whips come out.

Sep 10, 2014 at 3:03 PM | Unregistered Commenterclovis marcus

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