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« Is good news actually news at all? | Main | The perils of delegation »

Guenier on Sands

Those following the recent developments on the "law and climate" front will be interested in the article at Paul Matthews' site from Robin Guenier.

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Reader Comments (29)

As I posted on unthreaded, Robin has produced an excellent article. Hilary Ostrov also covers it well here

Oct 10, 2015 at 10:18 AM | Registered CommenterPhillip Bratby

When you think of the billions still in extreme poverty, whose existence inspires BRIC intransigence to emissions reductions, it's comforting to remember that anthropogenic greening from increased CO2 is already feeding an extra billion people. And its kind of nice to realize that when those poor billions have risen from that state, that anthropogenic greening will be feeding even more.

Oct 10, 2015 at 10:58 AM | Unregistered Commenterkim

One really has to wonder at the monumental arrogance and hubris (and greed perchance ? - he's not going pro-bono I think....) that must drive Philippe Sands and his chums.

Judicial political activist bubble dwellers seeking to impose ideologies contrary to common sense and the common good is surely bringing the law into disrepute.

This "law and climate" initiative must be resisted - one can see where they're headed - they've seen The Court of Protection and are looking to extend that principle.... as some lawyers are wont to do....

One can see The Court of Protection thinking in the way that they've been reticent about who attended that conference etc... Oh! if only we could get a reinstatement of seditious libel.....!

Oct 10, 2015 at 11:20 AM | Registered Commentertomo

Well worth reading but somewhat depressing. It’s amazing that the judiciary think they can put a ruler under science, especially one so new and so complex. How would any judge know what the consensus was on any particular question? I’d bet that on any number of issues a selection of judges would guess wrong about what was the current best answer. Eg extreme weather events. Of those ‘experts’ that might decide to act as expert witnesses, which ones might contradict the consensus but give the impression that their view was mainstream? How would a judge know?

Even the IPCC report goes out of date before it's published.

Oct 10, 2015 at 11:23 AM | Unregistered CommenterTinyCO2

Robin Guenier makes a very valid case. It is policy issues that matter not scientific issues.
He then makes a near total rebuttal of mitigation policy. Global GHG emissions cannot be reduced when countries responsible to 70% of those emissions are excluded from the policy for (the very valid and accepted within the UNFCCC framework) reason of eradication of poverty. It is actually worse than that. Developing countries are mostly increasing their emissions and some will continue to do so for decades to come. A short-term indication of the problem can be found from the country submissions to the UNFCCC for COP21 in Paris.
I have been going through some of the submissions, to calculate the projected change in GHG emissions from 2010 to 2030. The IPCC estimates in 2010 global emissions from all sources were 49 GtCO2, which needs to start trending downwards to avert dangerous climate change. The combined submissions from the Australia, Canada, EU, Japan and USA are to reduce their emissions by 4 GtCO2. The combined submissions from Mexico, China, Indonesia, Turkey, India, Bangladesh and Vietnam are to increase emissions by over 12 GtCO2. Countries are going to sign up to an agreement believing it will save the world from over 2 degrees of warming, when every unit of tonne of CO2 equivalent GHG reduced somewhere in the developed world will be replaced by at least 3 tonnes elsewhere.

Oct 10, 2015 at 12:07 PM | Unregistered CommenterKevin Marshall

The analysis by Robin Guenier is impressive. My own immediate reaction to the speech by Professor Sands, and indeed the event he spoke at, was an unseemly disdain: another bunch of people making a degrading spectacle of themselves while enjoying the joys of 'signalling their virtue', as the modern phrase has it. But what good does such a reaction serve? None at all.

Fortunately, there is another 'bunch of people' who are critical of current subservience to the ill-founded dogmas of Obsessive CO2 Disorder, and it has much greater depth. Robin Guenier demonstrates it. He has calmly, and in some detail, analysed key assertions and presumptions in the speech, and pointed out their severe flaws. I think his reaction will do a great deal of good.

For any just flying past, with little time for study, here are his conclusions:

Professor Sands believes that climate change is “one of the greatest and most vital challenges of our age” and asserts that in view of its “real and imminent challenges … the international courts shall not be silent”.

These are honourable sentiments. However, he also believes the way for the courts to make a contribution – the “single most important thing [they] could do” – would be “to settle the scientific dispute”. And to do so by “finally scotching claims” that he thinks are not based on established fact.

But, for the courts to purport to settle a legitimate scientific disagreement, would strike at the essence of the Scientific Method – the basis of scientific practice for over 150 years. It would risk bringing international law into disrepute.

Professor Sands may consider that a risk worth taking. However he might perhaps note that it’s not disputes about science that are making it so difficult to reach a global agreement to reduce GHG emissions. The problem derives from the understandable wish of the developing countries – responsible for about 70% of global GHG emissions and comprising 82% of the world’s population (including virtually all the world’s poorest people) – to develop their economies and to eradicate poverty. Following China’s example, they believe that the provision of reliable, affordable energy, derived largely from fossil fuels, is the best way of achieving these goals. And the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change specifically entitles them to give such action overriding priority.

Robin Guenier, October 2015

Oct 10, 2015 at 12:09 PM | Registered CommenterJohn Shade

The right words have already been used; arrogance, greed and disdain, I will raise you a crass and an ignorance.
The arrogance was breath taking and was based on an apparently total belief that the cause justified it all. Interesting to compare Sands to the President of the Sierra Club, neither of them seemed to grasp the fact that they demonstrated their utter stupidity but then who will notice or care?

Oct 10, 2015 at 12:50 PM | Registered CommenterDung

An excellent analysis by Robin, but I would have expected no less.
Unfortunately ....

But, for the courts to purport to settle a legitimate scientific disagreement would strike at the essence of the Scientific Method – the basis of scientific practice for over 150 years.
That's the sticking point, Robin. Sands and his like-minded friends and colleagues don't believe that any disagreement with the Gospel according to Climatology is legitimate.
And where do we go from that?
A parallel example would be for the ICJ to rule that it is no longer permissible to treat the Qu'ran as the direct word of Allah. Or that it is no longer permissible not to treat the Qu'ran as the direct word of Allah.
Or the same example for any other "belief system".
What Sands is calling for is a return to the days of the Holy Inquisition and persecution (some of his supporters do actually call for the death) of non-believers, whether you call them "heretics" or "deniers" or "pagans" or "witches" or whatever.
I'm afraid that I am starting to get very scared of where these climate obsessives are leading us.

Oct 10, 2015 at 1:20 PM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

Thank you Robert Guenier.

It would be interesting to know how well the evidence for the guilt of manmade CO2 was weighed up 25-30 years ago, and how much of that evidence would survive the test of time given the absence of warming for 20 years, despite the increase in CO2.

Sands, and many others, start and continue, with the assumption of guilt, and presume evidence to the contrary should be ignored. I do not think his Grandchildten will be too impressed, to be linked with enshrining bad science in Law, and condemning millions to die prematurely.

The UK's infamous miscarriage's of justice, have involved 'collective groupthink' by the police, prosecution, judiciary and the public that the 'right' people had been caught and subsequently convicted. Many have taken years to overturn, because no one would admit to being prejudiced by the overwhelming evidence from everyone else. But of course they were all relying on everyone else's overwhelming evidence.

Oct 10, 2015 at 1:30 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

Is it just coincidental that the Supreme Court gets its instructions/briefing/talk just before Donald Trump takes his complaint about wind turbines to said court?

Oct 10, 2015 at 2:08 PM | Unregistered Commentergraphicconception

Lysenkoism, pure and simple.

Who will be the first scientist to be executed for defying State Science?

Oct 10, 2015 at 3:34 PM | Unregistered CommenterNCC 1701E

NCC 1701E, I don't know who will be the first scientist to be executed, but many have already lost their livelihoods.

Anthropogenic Global Witchhunting is the bloodsport of choice, for those wishing to be seen as against cruel sports.

Oct 10, 2015 at 3:47 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

Those of us taking a passing interest in the co-incidence of the timing of collaborated attempts to get the 'Law' involved in the climate debate (which was settled by consensus without scientific proof) and the end of year/climate science party in Paris, can't help noticing that it is not going very well.

The climate does seem to be stuck in it's traditional ways, and refuses to get 'on-message' with the legal politics of climate science.

Fast food outlets in Paris, should be flogging dead horse burgers, as a Climate Science tribute act.

Oct 10, 2015 at 5:31 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

I can see the case:
Judge: "you are accused of denying the science"
Sceptic: "I only said the satellites showed no warming in 18 years".
Judge: "but no academic will step forward and agree with you"
Sceptic: "But the president of the US agrees, everyone else I know agrees with me. The papers all agree and to be frank it only seems to be the few journalists in the Guardian bringing this case against free speech that hold another view now its 20 years without warming"
Judge: "But still the science is settled the jury must convict ... now jury please retire and to consider your verdict .... I said consider your verdict ... what you've already considered it. Well let me pass sentence (black cap goes on).

Judge:WWWWHATTTT? You say he is innocent!!! That is a travesty of the law never in all my days have so many people been so contemptible of the law.

Oct 10, 2015 at 5:37 PM | Registered CommenterMikeHaseler

MikeHaseler, you can VeeDub that into the reliability of climate science evidence. It only satisfies the most partial judges.

Oct 10, 2015 at 6:32 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

I think that if you replaced the name "Robert Guenier" with "Steve Mcintyre" , nobody would question the quality
of this critique. It has all the hallmarks of a Climate Audit approach. First Class.
As for Philippe Sands, I do not think he believes what he is saying for one minute.
In my opinion, he has been got at.
Listening to his words is like listening to a reading of the IPCC summary for policy makers.

Oct 10, 2015 at 8:30 PM | Unregistered Commenterpesadia

Paris In December brrrrrr can't wait.

Oct 10, 2015 at 10:26 PM | Unregistered CommenterMartyn

It’s odd that in his conclusion Philippe Sands quotes in part the speech by Lord Atkin: “In England, amidst the clash of arms, the laws are not silent …” in the case Liversidge v Anderson (1941) where Sir John Anderson the Home Secretary under the WW2 emergency powers regulations send Jack Perlzweig (aka Robert Liversidge) to prison without due process. Perlzweig’s case went to the Lords on appeal but Anderson’s decision was upheld, Lord Atkin was a dissenter.
The case is quoted as "an example of extreme judicial deference to executive decision-making, best explained by the context of wartime, and it has no authority today" (Wiki:
Apart from legalistic arguments about the separation of powers it seems to me that it was Lord Atkin and dissenters who better approximate the sceptical view as argued by J S Mill in On Liberty viz. that no person or group of people, not even lawyers and judges, are infallible.

Oct 10, 2015 at 11:10 PM | Unregistered CommenterChris Hanley

Johnny Ball and David Bellamy where early casualties of the casual form of this. And there are others.

Mercedes Benz suddenly struck off my list, flat 4 VW's still on!

Oct 11, 2015 at 11:29 AM | Unregistered CommenterEx-expat Colin

It is also interesting to note that someone had to listen to the video to get the full text of the lecture (as opposed to the 'scrubbed' text that was put out: see Paul Homewood's links in his headpost): Robin's note 4 makes that point in passing when he quotes the judge's abrasive phrase:

“the courts could play a role in finally scotching those claims”
. . . that many commenters/reporters are actually quoting.

Thanks to all who've taken the time to actually review the original.

Oct 11, 2015 at 2:18 PM | Unregistered CommenterOldUnixHead

Oops. That should have been:
It is also interesting to note that someone had to listen to the video to get the full text of the lecture (as opposed to the 'scrubbed' text that was put out: see Paul Homewood's links in his headpost): Robin's note 4 makes that point in passing when he quotes the judge's abrasive phrase:

“the courts could play a role in finally scotching those claims”

. . . that many commenters/reporters are actually quoting.

Thanks to all who've taken the time to actually review the original.

Oct 11, 2015 at 2:26 PM | Unregistered CommenterOldUnixHead

Chris Hanley

no person or group of people, not even lawyers and judges, are infallible.
And even the one person on the planet who claims to be is infallible only in exceptionally limited and circumscribed situations! Climate change not being one of them.
And even then if you aren't a Catholic you are under no obligation to believe him anyway.
Does make one wonder just who Sands, Carnwath et al think they are.

Oct 11, 2015 at 4:19 PM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

Where next for the judiciary? Perhaps Professor Sands and his colleagues might like to dip into the knotty problem of exception handling in C++, the language much disdained by Linus Torvalds and Richard Stallman amongst others.

Oct 11, 2015 at 8:17 PM | Unregistered CommenterBilly Liar

Any chance the US EPA could commission independent analysis of Hockey Stick Science, temperature records etc, to make sure climate scientists have not been VeeDubbing the data, and misselling their expertise?

If only Judges had legal evidence they could rely on, they would not make idiots of their profession.

Oct 11, 2015 at 9:00 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

Steve McIntyre's site contains an article titled "Shukla's Gold", I have extracted a portion and pasted it below. Maybe it's time to unofficially investigate the people "sucking at the government tit" and trying to invoke the legal system to squash free speech. Just follow the money!

"Roger Pielke Jr recently made the remarkable discovery that, in addition to his university salary from George Mason University (reported by Pielke as $250,000), Jagadish Shukla, the leader of the #RICO20, together with his wife, had received a further $500,000 more in 2014 alone from federal climate grants funnelled through a Shukla-controlled “non-profit”

Oct 11, 2015 at 9:51 PM | Unregistered CommenterCC Reader

There is a very (90%+) good chance that Paris will be paralyzed by snow/cold during the 'party to end all parties' at the end of next month.

Is Gore going?

Oct 11, 2015 at 10:47 PM | Unregistered CommenterHenry Galt

Henry Galt, according to Naomi Oreskes the Guardian and, there is a 97% chance that the whole Paris taxpayer funded jamboree will be heavily disrupted by climate change activists.

Paris really seems like a place to avoid for sensible Government representatives, and others being driven in gas guzzling limousine convoys, so I expect Al Gore will be there, expecting immunity from the mob rule, he has helped incite.

Presumably the mob intending to rule in Paris, will expect immunity from criminal prosecution, if they have Judges ruling in their favour.

Oct 12, 2015 at 12:12 AM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

Je suis soirée

Oct 12, 2015 at 8:30 AM | Unregistered CommenterHenry Galt

I wonder if these great intellects will ever bother to actually read the IPCC report before telling us what they think it says. It's a stone cold certainty that no politician or journalist has ever read it.

Oct 12, 2015 at 8:38 AM | Unregistered CommenterJamesG

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