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Monbiot's audit trail

What is that old saying about repeating a lie often enough? George Monbiot is having a bit of rant in the Guardian today on the subject of (alleged) fossil fuels subsidies. It's the usual nonsense that redefines everything that greens are against as a "subsidy".

In his support, our George cites the IMF:

Already, according to the International Monetary Fund, more money is spent, directly and indirectly, on subsidising fossil fuels than on funding health services. 

If you follow the trail through his link you end up at the IMF's website and a working paper by Coady et al. However, before you read it, it's hard not to notice the disclaimer, in bold, which reads:

This Working Paper should not be reported as representing the views of the IMF.

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Reader Comments (84)

Monbiot is in my view desperately sad. It's academic jealousy because the old Stoics of his era had to compete with Grammar School meritocrats. These low CE score fascists have for decades been destroying meritocracy as they try to return the country to a wild state with a much reduced population of serfs. Don't underestimate them.

Feb 3, 2016 at 10:06 AM | Unregistered CommenterNCC 1701E

The net welfare gain from energy subsidy reform is calculated as the benefits from lower environmental damage and higher revenues minus the losses due to consumers facing higher energy prices

After allowing for the higher energy costs faced by consumers, this action would raise global economic
welfare by $1.8 trillion

Interesting use of the concept of "welfare".

Apparently, driving up prices and killing large numbers of old people is considered a welfare gain.

Feb 3, 2016 at 10:07 AM | Unregistered Commentersteveta_uk

Monbiot is a rare genius. I smell fear here.

Feb 3, 2016 at 10:10 AM | Unregistered CommenterAila

In a previous era the Moonbat would have been treated as the village idiot.

I've posted this before, but I will repeat the quote from the Government in its response to the Consultation on the Feed-in Tariffs:

There are a wide range of definitions of what constitutes a fossil fuel subsidy. The UK, like the EU and the IEA, excludes tax treatment from its definition of what is meant by a fossil fuel subsidy, using international market price as a benchmark. The UK therefore has no fossil fuel subsidies.

Feb 3, 2016 at 10:19 AM | Registered CommenterPhillip Bratby


Even in this era Monbiot is still the village idiot. We should all be pleased that the Guardian is willing to indulge his wild ramblings. By doing so they will hasten their own demise.

Feb 3, 2016 at 10:23 AM | Unregistered CommenterJohn B

We should thank the Grauniad for creating the journalistic version of Tourette's; Monbiot Syndrome.

He apparently rants and raves in his articles with no other purpose than to assuage his inner demons.

But don't underestimate the danger posed by these privileged elite misfits.

Feb 3, 2016 at 10:27 AM | Unregistered CommenterNCC 1701E

This is surely an old story. I can recall reading similar last year 'cos I remember the guffaw at reading that disclaimer. Maybe it wasn't Monbiot....I'll see if I can dig out the memory...

Feb 3, 2016 at 10:29 AM | Unregistered CommenterHarry Passfield

Monbiot calls the oil and fossil fuel industries 'evil', yet they have helped drive the most productive era and the greatest advances in all of human history. Immeasurable benefits have accrued to humanity over and above any real or imaginary 'costs'. Sadly those rather gigantic facts scupper his narrative so he simply ignores them, rendering him no longer credible. A shame, because when on form he's a fine writer.

Feb 3, 2016 at 10:32 AM | Unregistered CommenterCheshireRed

The other day our FoE representive (Phil Clarke) informed us that global fossil fuel subsidies were worth $400 bn.
Now George tells us if we cut them we'll gain $1.8 trillion.
A payback ratio of 4.5!
Sound reasonable to me!

Feb 3, 2016 at 10:35 AM | Unregistered CommenterCapell

Do we conclude, from the highlighting of this nitpick [it is after all an IMF paper and the facts, that is the numbers rather than the author's views that comprise the support] , that nobody has an argument against the substance of Mr Monbiot's piece?

The knee-jerk ad hominems would suggest so.

Feb 3, 2016 at 10:40 AM | Unregistered CommenterPhil Clarke

Monbiot is a hardcore deep ecology/ anarcho primitivist/ eco fascist.

His father (Raymond Monbiot) was a right wing Tory vice chair who hated and fought against party democracy. Monbiot gave a speech to the Tory Party conference during his father's reign, trying to convert the faithful to his own brand of authentic 'Back to the Neolithic conservatism. He is descended from French aristocracy and I believe that is a very salient part of his history which defines him.

'It should be borne in mind that (Ray) Monbiot is one of the men in grey suits whose heavy duty might be to hand the party leader a bottle of whisky and a revolver in certain circumstances.'

Feb 3, 2016 at 10:40 AM | Unregistered Commenteresmiff

Cheshire Red,

Monbiot's motivation is his comprehensive loathing for humanity and all our achievements. Therefore anything that benefits us is 'evil'.

Feb 3, 2016 at 10:43 AM | Registered Commenterflaxdoctor

A swift check on Google turned up >32k hits for the exact disclaimer phrase (it's probably standard boiler-plate on all IMF docs), but among them I found this report from the BMJ from 25/6/15, which was entitled:

Fossil fuel companies and climate change: the case for divestment
and went on to claim that "The disinvestment campaign is based on bad evidence and will harm world health". and goes on to fisk the claim that "[...] government subsidies to the energy industry amount to trillions every year"

PS: I meant to add, the article linked is a very good read!!

Feb 3, 2016 at 10:44 AM | Registered CommenterHarry Passfield


Monbiot is a rare genius. Indeed, this article could have come from Mein Kampf, but it's much better written. It's a manifesto of anarcho primitivist nature driven, cyclic paganism.

'The peculiarities of the Abrahamic religions (he means Jews) - their astonishing success in colonising the world and their DANGEROUS notion of progress (now inherited by secular society) - result from a marriage between the universal god of the nomads and the conditions which permitted cities to develop. The dominant beliefs of the past 2000 years are the result of an ancient migration from soils such as xerepts and xeralfs to soils such as fluvents and rendolls.

At Easter, the Christian belief in a permanent resurrection is mixed up with the pagan belief in a perpetual cycle of temporary resurrection and death. In church we worship the Christian notion of progress, which has now filtered into every aspect of our lives. But, amid the cracking of easter eggs and the murmur of prayer, there can still be heard the small, faint voice which reminds us that our ecological hubris must eventually be greeted by nemisis.

Feb 3, 2016 at 10:46 AM | Unregistered Commenteresmiff

I gave the report a skim through, lots of waffle with fake calculations about costs from fossil fuels. I may have missed it but there seemed to be no mention of lives or money saved from the reliable energy produced. Nothing about how industrialisation built on fuels has brought about unprecedented peace, health and prosperity and if only some of the poorer countries followed our path we might one day see World peace. One of the biggest costs he put as local pollution, which would be a far easier problem to solve if we prioritised it. I don't know who this guy or Monbiot are trying to persuade with this junk because even most warmists refuse to give up their energy rich lives, subsidy or no.

Feb 3, 2016 at 10:47 AM | Unregistered CommenterTinyCO2

Why is it that all the revolutionaries, responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands, possibly millions, of people around the world throughout history, all seem to come from wealthy upper middle-class backgrounds? They never seem to come from "working-class" backgrounds. A real puzzle.

Feb 3, 2016 at 10:49 AM | Unregistered CommenterAlan the Brit

Harry Passfield , the Guardian repeatedly makes this mistake. It happens so often it is clearly a deliberate deceit and not merely incompetence. Usually I assume stupidity but they have had the errors pointed out so often...

Here's one from a Lord Stern article last year. Look for the comment by billdan51 at 18 May 2015 20:06.

I've pointed it put to them on papers in the past. But I can't find my comments now. Perhaps they've been mislaid by the Guardian servers?

Feb 3, 2016 at 10:50 AM | Registered CommenterM Courtney

US$5.3 trillion; 6½ percent of global GDP—that is our latest reckoning of the cost of energy subsidies in 2015. These estimates are shocking. The figure likely exceeds government health spending across the world, estimated by the World Health Organization at 6 percent of global GDP, but for the different year of 2013. They correspond to one of the largest negative externality ever estimated. They have global relevance. And that’s not all: earlier work by the IMF also shows that these subsidies have adverse effects on economic efficiency, growth, and inequality.

Comment on the IMF working paper by two IMF economists on an IMF blog. Includes their definition of a subsidy, which mirrors that of the WTO and IEA.

No doubt the IMF will be contacting the Guardian any time now to complain that they have been misrepresented.

Or not.

PS Capell, I'm nothing to do with the FOE and George did not say that.

Feb 3, 2016 at 10:52 AM | Unregistered CommenterPhil Clarke

Perhaps from now we should refer to these upper middle class, fascist revolutionaries as the Monbodniks?

Feb 3, 2016 at 10:53 AM | Unregistered CommenterNCC 1701E

Phil Clarke: How long have you held this belief that fossil fuels are so heavily 'subsidised'? Is it something you have campaigned on for a long period of time or something you've just latched on to? I get the feeling you don't let many band-wagons pass you by.

Feb 3, 2016 at 10:55 AM | Registered CommenterHarry Passfield

I get the impression Monbiot thinks H.Sapiens decline started with the Neolithic Revolution and the move away from hunter gathering.
This seems to be when mankind began to bend nature to his will and change the planet (admittedly in tiny ways to begin with) to make life easier and more comfortable for himself.

Anyone got a time machine we can use to send George back to c.11,000 BC? I'm sure he'd be happier. I know I would, with him gone.

Feb 3, 2016 at 10:57 AM | Unregistered CommenterPhil D

Yes, esmiff, yes. And the objection is?

Feb 3, 2016 at 10:58 AM | Unregistered CommenterAila

It's encouraging to see that Moonbat is getting hammered in the comments, see for example this one.

There are dozens of people picking him up on his abuse of the word 'subsidy'.

I haven't yet seen anyone point out the IMF error though.

Feb 3, 2016 at 10:59 AM | Registered CommenterPaul Matthews

Phil Clarke, so what figure was in the plus column for fossil fuels?

Feb 3, 2016 at 11:01 AM | Unregistered CommenterTinyCO2

Your link goes to an article by Damian Carrington, who quotes Lord Stern:

“This very important analysis shatters the myth that fossil fuels are cheap by showing just how huge their real costs are. There is no justification for these enormous subsidies for fossil fuels, which distort markets and damages economies, particularly in poorer countries.”

Feb 3, 2016 at 11:04 AM | Registered Commentergeoffchambers


The objection is hatred of any form of progress or interference with nature. His belief that the human race went wrong with settled farming, his hatred of transcendental beliefs (religion) and everyone who has ever followed them.

Feb 3, 2016 at 11:08 AM | Unregistered Commenteresmiff

Memory is restored! This item was covered here, at BH on May 19th 2015. We didn't have any Phil Clarkes or Ailas in the comments in those days.

Feb 3, 2016 at 11:11 AM | Registered CommenterHarry Passfield

The problem with Monbiot is that lying comes as standard in all his writing. His beliefs are so fundamentally important, morality is disposable.

Feb 3, 2016 at 11:11 AM | Unregistered Commenteresmiff

The IMF blog referred to by Phil Clarke above surely is an eyeopener, if you look at their definition of subsidy:
perfect example of green newspeak

Feb 3, 2016 at 11:13 AM | Unregistered CommenterPethefin

I think this claim has come up before. As I remember it there are only a small number of petro-countries which actually subsidise fuel; Venezuela, Saudi Arabia and Iran are the main ones I think. The rest of the 'subsidy' is claimed externalities. These would be subsidies for the consumer and not the producer even to the extent that they actually exist.

Feb 3, 2016 at 11:20 AM | Unregistered CommenterEddy

Surely if we can model the climate we can model something simpler, like the economic structure and economic flows of humanity. We could run this model with different parameters to see which leads to a better world for all.
I even have a name for it, Monbiopoly

Feb 3, 2016 at 11:29 AM | Unregistered CommenterEternalOptimist

A swift check on Google turned up >32k hits for the exact disclaimer phrase (it's probably standard boiler-plate on all IMF docs)

I think that's right. Christiana Figueres certainly has no problem with referring to the 'IMF numbers' :

“The IMF provides five trillion reasons for acting on fossil fuel subsidies. Protecting the poor and the vulnerable is crucial to the phasing down of these subsidies, but the multiple economic, social and environmental benefits are long and legion.”

Should we tell her they are not actually the 'views' of the IMF? ;-)

They seem to put similar disclaimers on everything, even their twice-yearly Fiscal Monitor document which has 'International Monetary Fund' at the foot of every page, and an intriguing passage that starts:-

The decline in global energy prices provides a golden opportunity for countries to reform energy subsidies and raise energy taxes to better account for the negative externalities from fossil fuel consumption. How can countries move forward in this area? Earlier work by the IMF (Clements and others 2013), drawing on the IMF’s technical assistance experience, identifies six key ingredients for successful energy subsidy reform ….

Feb 3, 2016 at 11:33 AM | Unregistered CommenterPhil Clarke

Phil Clarke: Quoting the loathsome Figueras hardly helps with your point. A few weeks ago she had this to say:

U.N. Official Reveals Real Reason Behind Warming Scare

At a news conference last week in Brussels, Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of U.N.'s Framework Convention on Climate Change, admitted that the goal of environmental activists is not to save the world from ecological calamity but to destroy capitalism.

"This is the first time in the history of mankind that we are setting ourselves the task of intentionally, within a defined period of time, to change the economic development model that has been reigning for at least 150 years, since the Industrial Revolution," she said.

Referring to a new international treaty environmentalists hope will be adopted at the Paris climate change conference later this year, she added: "This is probably the most difficult task we have ever given ourselves, which is to intentionally transform the economic development model for the first time in human history."

Read More At Investor's Business Daily: HERE

Edit: BTW, PC, are you going to answer my question about how long you have espoused this idea of F-F subsidies?

Feb 3, 2016 at 11:39 AM | Registered CommenterHarry Passfield

And quoting the laughable IBD hardly advances yours.Destroy capitalism my arse.

Feb 3, 2016 at 11:51 AM | Unregistered CommenterPhil Clarke

Phil Clarke:

And quoting the laughable IBD...
I note you didn't comment on the actual quote. Are you - laughably - trying to say that IBD made up the story? Rather like, Monbiot = good, IBD = bad.. Want to have another go at it?

Feb 3, 2016 at 11:56 AM | Registered CommenterHarry Passfield

Whether we like it or not this oil subsidy nonsense is definitely the new IMF position since Christine Lagarde took over and Jim Yong Kim at the world bank is just as loopy.

Ironically they are both now having to consider bailouts for oil-producing countries currently suffering because of the low oil price. Nigeria wants 9 billion, Azerbaijan wants 4 billion, etc.

Will that make them think a little harder? You'd think the fact that they didn't even consider an oil price drop from $100 as possible would give them pause for thought on all other predictions of the future. Alas stupidity has no limit.

Feb 3, 2016 at 12:04 PM | Unregistered CommenterJamesG

Readers should remember that these eco-fascist prognostications are desperately aimed at sidelining emerging reports showing the Enhanced GHE was invented by scientific fraud in 1976, acknowledged by Hansen to an AIP interviewer in year 2000.

Feb 3, 2016 at 12:09 PM | Unregistered CommenterNCC 1701E

Harry - If you can find the source of the quote. I don't trust IBD not to selectively quote and misinterpret. This is the paper, after all which asserted that

Stephen Hawking "wouldn't have a chance in the U.K., where the National Health Service (NHS) would say the life of this brilliant man, because of his physical handicaps, is essentially worthless

LOL Not the best fact-checkers in the world ;-) That's what I meant by 'laughable'.

And she's right, we do need to decouple economic growth from emissions, which would be a transformation of the model. And it was a year ago, not a few weeks; the treaty she was referring to has since been completed and adopted unanimously by all countries, socialist and capitalist.

Feb 3, 2016 at 12:18 PM | Unregistered CommenterPhil Clarke

NCC 1701E

No they are not.


Feb 3, 2016 at 12:23 PM | Unregistered CommenterPhil Clarke

So Phil, what were the benefits from fossil fuels that need to balanced against the subsidies?

Feb 3, 2016 at 12:37 PM | Unregistered CommenterTinyCO2

The IMF is a politically controlled body and is not a neutral primary source for data analysis.

Note the heavy emphasis on promoting partisan policies.

Feb 3, 2016 at 12:45 PM | Unregistered CommenterIvor Ward

Has anybody actually seen George in a situation where he's debating against informed, articulate and persistent folk?

Beyond his sinecure at GMG - it is remarkable the way he repeatedly (invariably?) gets deployed into slyly contrived media opportunities where - a lot more often than not - the "opposition" have been "set up" in one way or another and George never gets confronted - let alone having his nose rubbed in some of his own mess. George and his busy chums always seem to work it so that he gets to do everything unchallenged and he also gets to do the final edit.

It's a matter of some personal pride for me that he blocked me on Twitter for a really innocuous factually correct criticism of one of his tweets.

Feb 3, 2016 at 12:56 PM | Registered Commentertomo


I think fossil fuels are great. Petrol gets me where I want go for a mere 10p a mile, North Sea Oil probably meant I paid less tax, at least when it was in full flow, historically the availability of cheap (at least in direct costs) energy has powered a second industrial revolution with many positive benefits for health and wealth. And so on. I do not endorse Monbiot's comments equating a future historian's view of the industry to the slave trade.

But it has proven to be a Faustian bargain, and we now know that they need to be phased out and rapidly if we are to prevent dangerous climate change.

Feb 3, 2016 at 12:58 PM | Unregistered CommenterPhil Clarke

So, the organisation and an individual (GISS, Hansen) which used Science Fraud to purport in 1976 the imaginary Enhanced GHE, is still pumping out the propaganda!

In the immortal words of Mandy Rice-Davies, 'They would say that anyway'! This scam is over; get used to it.

Feb 3, 2016 at 1:07 PM | Unregistered CommenterNCC 1701E


This was a paid appearance by Monbiot in a Toronto debate in 2009, the man who declared trans Atlantic air travel worse than child sex abuse. He lost.

"At the Munk Debate in Toronto Tuesday night, the email scandal was barely mentioned and so had little direct impact on the results. Before the debate, the 1,100 people in the audience cast ballots, with 61% supporting the resolution that "climate change is mankind's defining crisis and demands a commensurate response." At the end of the debate, support had fallen to 53%."

Feb 3, 2016 at 1:11 PM | Unregistered Commenteresmiff

The Game - "Oh your'e a denier, you can't quote that info, it's not consensus"
Then when they want to argue a point they can cherry pick the biggest number they can find
..What's that all about ? In the Greeynverse everyone else has to be a slave to consensus, but Dramagreens are special and can do what they want ?

What is the consensus on UK fossil fuel subsidies ? (cos Saudi giving stuff away to citizens doesn't count here)

BTW did you see that one big reason that Puerto Rico is bankrupt is that has being away #billions of FREE electricity to many customers for years and politicians have obstructed proper charging/debt recovery

Feb 3, 2016 at 1:14 PM | Registered Commenterstewgreen

@PC 12.58

you missed out a bit there -

and replace fossil fuels with energy sources that are at least as cost effective and reliable as those they replace

there - fixed it for you

Feb 3, 2016 at 1:15 PM | Registered Commentertomo

Not only a coward, Phil Clarke, but a bloody lazy one to boot. Too lazy to spend 10 seconds, which is all it took me, to find over 8k hit on Figueras' quote, the lead one being this one from The United Nations Regional Information Centre (UNRIC).

Tell me you find them laughable - and stick your straw men in that place you mentioned before [snip].

Feb 3, 2016 at 1:18 PM | Registered CommenterHarry Passfield

Talking of Greens flexible morality on consensus : Someone just wrote taking Oreskes to task New article by Jon Entine, Executive Director of the Genetic Literacy Project, U California-Davis.

"We can think of scientific knowledge as a consensus of experts." she said previously

But NOW Consensus schmensus.
When asked during an interview on climate change whether she would embrace the consensus endorsing GMO food safety and the role it could play, along with nuclear energy, to help address the climate change challenge--Oreskes twisted herself into an academic pretzel, suddenly questioning the validity of consensus thinking:

Feb 3, 2016 at 1:18 PM | Registered Commenterstewgreen

Has anybody actually seen George in a situation where he's debating against informed, articulate and persistent folk?

Not sure Ian Plimer counts, but here ya go …

Clive Hamilton ( a correspondence rather than a debate, but no less good)

Lord Monckton has repeatedly threatened to sue, which would imply a legal debate over the evidence, but as ever he never follows through, as Monbiot says 'I could have called all the world's leading climatologists and he could have called David Bellamy.'

Feb 3, 2016 at 1:19 PM | Unregistered CommenterPhil Clarke

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