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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)

esmiff :-)

7 years ago - no doubt the studied evasiveness wrt confrontation and challenge has been honed / sharpened by the shadow of humiliation....

So much of his output is really deserving of serial humiliating shreddings - supervised by victims of ambushes arranged by Moonbat + chums over the years.

There's people in Somerset who'd actually pay handsomely fo the opportunity to pelt George with rotten fruit (it'd have to go through a metal detector first though)

Feb 3, 2016 at 1:22 PM | Registered Commentertomo

Phil - the oracle - Clarke:

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.
Absolute, 100%, 24 carat BS.

So, you gonna swap your internal combustion engined car for a coal-fired or nuclear powered car then? (OK, I know you don't answer questions, do you....)

Feb 3, 2016 at 1:23 PM | Registered CommenterHarry Passfield

@ Phil Clarke

I've taken the liberty of correcting your typo :-)

'I could have called all the world's misleading climatologists and he could have called David Bellamy.'

Feb 3, 2016 at 1:35 PM | Unregistered CommenterStacey


soo predictable .... I hear there's vacancies down at your local Kindom Hall - salvation is only a click away.

Feb 3, 2016 at 1:37 PM | Registered Commentertomo

Ha Ha, Stacey.

In case you didn't get the reference:

Feb 3, 2016 at 1:38 PM | Unregistered CommenterPhil Clarke

Feb 3, 2016 at 12:58 PM |Phil Clarke

Ok, that was a good start but what is the value of a study trying to present the real cost of fossil fuels if they don't present the positive values too? Clever people might instinctively know that they give us more than just the basic energy, but like the 'subsidies' it's not easy to add them up. So for every person who dies from power station pollution, how many are saved from indoor pollution from other energy sources? I've never seen a calculation of the benefits, but I can see it in increased global population. I can even see it in declining western populations where people prioritise a quality life over popping out loads of kids to farm for food and do the household chores we take for granted will be done by machines.

I don't mind people making the case for reducing CO2 but I stop listening when they only emphasise selected bits and/or omit important parts altogether. Now I can almost hear the ‘but sceptics do it too’. Sure they do but when you’ve got every major institution from the IMF to the Pope singing from the same selectively edited hymn sheet, I think it’s safe to say that the consensus side doesn’t need reiterating by sceptics.

Feb 3, 2016 at 1:56 PM | Unregistered CommenterTinyCO2

When it comes to the very definition of a subsidy you couldn't find better grist for the mill than read this report in the DT about the Hornsea wind subsidy farm - which is going to attract £4.2BILLION in subs and cost £140/MWh. [sighs]

Feb 3, 2016 at 1:58 PM | Registered CommenterHarry Passfield

Christiana Figueres? That potentially Oscar winning tear churning at the drop of a hat liar & deciever? She's an...........politeness forbids & I was raised a gentleman!

Can any of you very clever chaps & chapesses tell me when this Interglacial is probably going to end? The last four going back 500,000 years were warmer than today by between 3 & 5 degrees Celcius, so it isn't exactly rocket science to predict a possibility that additional warming is in the pipeline in any case, something ignored all too readily by our Greenalist Humanity hating friends!

Feb 3, 2016 at 2:20 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlan the Brit

They should be clarification on the links

There is no link in Bishop's post to the Monbiot article. It is:

The IMF link is in Monbiot's article and links back to an old article (May 2015) by fellow whinger, Damian Carrington.

So one 'End of the world is nigh' Guardian journalist links to an article by another to support his case.

And the trillions of $'s 'subsidy' are mainly due to this:
"The vast sum is largely due to polluters not paying the costs imposed on governments by the burning of coal, oil and gas. These include the harm caused to local populations by air pollution as well as to people across the globe affected by the floods, droughts and storms being driven by climate change."

So, what pollution and impacts do they take into account for renewables? The impact of mining for the metals and other materials? The impact of disposing of batteries? The impact of massive hydro-electric projects and coastal barrages on the natural environment? The psycological impacts of windfarm noise? The impact of increased winter deaths because poorer people can't afford their winter heating bills?

Feb 3, 2016 at 2:26 PM | Unregistered Commentersamson

The concept of "the external costs of fossil fuels" quickly evaporates when a bit of warm sunlight is shone on it.

Even if all our current and future energy needs could magically be met by windmills, what then? Mechanised agriculture will continue, minerals will still be mined, concrete and steel will still be manufactured. Wood, paper, plastics would still be needed. People will still eat, sleep, drive to work, and fly to foreign destinations to take selfies on their i-Phones.

In other words, nothing would change. Apart from the loss of beneficial-for-plants CO2 emissions, and third world particulate emissions plus some NOx etcetera in urban areas. The West largely resolved that particular sooty problem many years ago, and the Chinese will do so when they decide it is necessary. In fact, green political interference started making the problem worse again in cities by promoting diesels over petrol.

All this leaves Monbiot with nothing to complain about except that he apparently thinks there should just be less people in the world apart from him and, presumably, his family and friends. It is the same rank hypocrisy which allows people to think of traffic jams as merely "other people's cars".

I suspect Monbiot's real problem is, as that Guardian parody suggested the other day, he feels he is living under an injunction to "Never knowingly enjoy yourself." Poor bloke.

Feb 3, 2016 at 2:37 PM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

Virtually all of the true fossil fuel subsidies in the world are in places where the government sells gas for very cheap ($0.5/gal or less, US measures). Many governments get so much in taxes from fossil fuels (including UK) that it is insane to talk of subsidies. In contrast, the renewable subsidies are such that as soon as you pull the subsidies no more windmills are built or ethanol used.

Feb 3, 2016 at 4:33 PM | Unregistered CommenterCraig Loehle

So Phill please name another industry that is supporting Fossel Fuels ?

If they are being subsidised where is the money coming from

Feb 3, 2016 at 4:59 PM | Unregistered CommenterJamspid

Presumably Monbiot has, or thinks he has, a following in some subset of Guardian Readers. They have been cultivated by him, and self-selected by themselves, on a diet of scare stories and vituperations, and they need to be fed or they will go away. And then where would the poor man be?

Feb 3, 2016 at 5:19 PM | Registered CommenterJohn Shade

George Monbiot made me a Sceptic.

Feb 3, 2016 at 5:31 PM | Unregistered CommenterLilith

I see Monbiot quipped that if Rudd has been born 300 years earlier she'd have been a slave trader.


Of course, if Monbiot had been born 300 years earlier he'd probably have been dead by now.

Very few fossil fuels then, damn it.

Feb 3, 2016 at 6:02 PM | Unregistered CommenterCapell

Rudd and Monbiot: who will be the third personality in Sartre's version of Hell?

Feb 3, 2016 at 6:20 PM | Unregistered CommenterNCC 1701E


Thank you for raising the point about the externalities relating to "renewables", which nobody on the "green" side ever mentions. I meant to bring it up on the earlier thread where Phil Clarke wasn't answering my questions, but I managed to sidetrack myself (it happens all too often as I get older!).

It's another example of the double standards of the eco-fascists. In their fantasy land, fossil fuels only have external costs which they call subsidies, and fossil fuels bring no benefits. "Renewables" on the other hand only have benefits, and no externalities. The olympic sized swimming pool of concrete beneath every wind turbine can be safely ignored, as can the destruction of huge areas of peat, and the roads driven for miles through the wilderness to service them. The extra CO2 emissions caused by conventional fuels having to operate inefficiently on back-up, ready to kick in when the wind stops blowing (or blows too strongly) can also be ignored, even though one would think the extra CO2 emissions might be a bit of a concern to them (though not to us). The destruction of our beautiful visual environment is a harmless side effect to which no value need be ascribed (I'm constantly bemused why people who call themselves environmentalists are so keen to destroy the environment, just as I'm constantly baffled as to why people who think they are on the left of society are so keen to redistribute money from the poor to wealthy landowners). The mining of the rare minerals required for the wind turbine technology counts for nothing. The setting of local communities against one another when some want to take the eco-bribes (paid for out of REAL hard cash subsidies, not somebody sticking a finger in the air and thinking of a number) and others prefer to save their local environment, can also be safely ignored. After all, they're saving the planet - apparently.

It's the same with global warming. In la-la land it's all bad, and there can't possibly be any benefits associated with it.

I do wish they would lift their heads and look beyond the end of their biased noses, and do some real thinking.

Feb 3, 2016 at 6:54 PM | Unregistered CommenterMark Hodgson

I wonder where Phil Clarke stores all the cherries he picks each day?

Feb 3, 2016 at 7:07 PM | Unregistered CommenterIvor Ward

Craig Loehle @ 4.33pm: Exactly and very succinctly put. Totally agree.

Frankly arguing with Phil Clarke on this is pointless, his (and other greenies) position on "fossil fuel subsidies" is frankly absurd. I doubt any rational person on the street would accept their argument as being anything other than stupid mealy-mouthed clever words trying to deliberately provoke an empty argument.

I can sit and listen to many important arguments put by greens, and argue them back and forth, but this "fossil fuel subsidy" one is so pathetic it simply should be ignored every time a useful idiot trots it out.

Feb 3, 2016 at 7:18 PM | Unregistered CommenterThinkingScientist

"I get the impression Monbiot thinks H.Sapiens decline started with the Neolithic Revolution and the move away from hunter gathering".

Sounds like the Moonbat would get on well with the Dork!

Feb 3, 2016 at 9:34 PM | Unregistered CommenterSpectator

Phil Clark @ 12.58

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

Please, please, please could someone please show us some proof that phasing out fossil fuels rapidly will prevent dangerous climate change when there is no evidence at all that the minor warming weakly attributable to anthropogenic emissions of CO2 will cause DANGEROUS CLIMATE CHANGE - or indeed have any measurable affect on the future course of the earth's climate.

Feb 3, 2016 at 9:43 PM | Unregistered CommenterSpectator

Anyone who presents an argument about subsidies to the oil industry in the UK, as a method of defending the taxpayer funded squandering on Unreliables, does so from political beliefs, not common sense, economics, logic.

To add that it is for the benefit of future generations, indicates a lack of science, and callous disregard for the billions struggling to survive today.

Feb 3, 2016 at 10:38 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

Phil according to you and others like you, on heavy medication, a fossil fuel subsidy is a reduction in the excessive taxation raised on this product.

Not like wind (subsidy) farms and solar (subsidy) farms whose entire existence relies on subsidies from general taxation- and almost certainly revenues from fossil fuel taxation.

Feb 3, 2016 at 10:52 PM | Unregistered CommenterDon Keiller

Interesting ... Heavy flak over target.

I think it's clear Richard North was set up at the Westminster Parliament's Environmental Audit Committee today. as an expert witness.

They invited / dragged him 300 miles to refuse him an appearance ( at 11h59m ) - due to some "allegations" they didn't want to hear his evidence. They lapped up another witness though - George Monbiot.

Ambush is a Monbiot MO

Dr North is well known to be prickly :-) and perhaps more importantly - obsessive about verifiable evidence and, well I'm shocked ... shocked - to learn that Dr. North's evidence flatly contradicted what Moonbat was there to assert.


Dr. North was offered no elaboration of the allegations - at all - apparently...

Feb 3, 2016 at 11:32 PM | Registered Commentertomo

tomo 11:32, the Green Blob never favour free speech, equality or a balanced view of evidence. They have diktats to enforce, and consider democracy a waste of time.

Feb 4, 2016 at 1:06 AM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

Now, now, esmiff, if you don't tone down your take on Monbiot's views, you cocoon his problems (if he has any) inside your own.

Feb 4, 2016 at 1:19 AM | Unregistered CommenterAila

@The Bishop
Your eminence, in the interests of a standard climate debate, is there any way you could allow P Clarke to edit his posts after a few people have replied to him.

The way things stand at the moment, the wrong people are being made to look ridiculous.

Feb 4, 2016 at 2:29 AM | Unregistered CommenterEternalOptimist


I don't have any problems. My psychiatrists had a meeting just the other day. That's what they told me, anyway.

I am going to admit that, like Monbiot I had been fiercely anti capitalist most of my life. I was anarchist. Monbiot is the man who changed that. I should be grateful.

This is something I was involved with in Paisley in 1981, an anarchist newspaper (slow load) .

I didn't write the articles, that was Tommy Kayes.. I was the 'spy' inside the local Labour Party.


I don't know what's up
with me recently. I can't trust any
one ,even my tried and trusted Coll-,
eagues in the Labour Council. I'm
beginning to think they're all spies
for the Gutterpress. "

Feb 4, 2016 at 7:36 AM | Unregistered Commenteresmiff

Phil Clarke @ 1:19 PM,
Monbiot in “correspondence” with Clive (suspend democracy) Hamilton, a concordant of bats.

Feb 4, 2016 at 7:59 AM | Unregistered CommenterChris Hanley

x-posted from unthreaded ...

To The Environmental Audit Committee

Dear Sirs

I have been following the flooding meetings and was surprised that one of the prominent ( and advertised ) invited witnesses made their way to London and was at the last moment and without adequate explanation deemed an inappropriate person to give evidence in person to the committee.

I was wondering if anybody could repeat/elaborate the allegations made against Dr. Richard North that disqualified him from appearing in front of the committee? I'd also ask why it was done at the 11th hour and that the individual concerned was given no detailed explanation - particularly since his written submission was lodged 2 days before he traveled to London.

I would also ask if you can clarify if details of the matter are subject to Freedom of Information ?

yours sincerely

hopefully causes some discomfort / itching - feel free to copy, paste and click send :-)

Feb 4, 2016 at 10:06 AM | Registered Commentertomo

I think pointing out an outright lie* is a bit more than a nitpick.

*it could have been a mistake and a correction will be along any minute now...oh...wait.

Feb 4, 2016 at 2:33 PM | Unregistered Commenterclovis marcus

Have another squirrel and relax, Monbiot.

Feb 4, 2016 at 5:02 PM | Unregistered Commentermojo

If as George says, there are trillions of dollars in benefits to be gained from switching to renewables, why does government need to get involved.

If there were actually trillions of dollars lying about on the ground, would the government need to pass laws forcing companies and people to go pick them up?

Of course not. And the average person can see through George's nonsense. The only time governments need to pass laws forcing people to pick things up off the ground is when the stuff lying on the ground is worthless garbage.

This is the ultimate test of value. If something has value there is no need for the government to force people to do it.

All too often, when governments do try and force people to do something "for their own good" it turns out later to have done much more harm than good.

Feb 5, 2016 at 3:41 PM | Unregistered Commenterferdberple

why is it that 97% of the people that advocate renewables as the solution to all that ails you have never taken their own medicine?

Does Moonbat live off the grid? Does he use a jolly old solar cooker for his meals. A solar shower in the morning to get ready for the day?

Does he take the wife and kids for holidays on his bicycle? Does he grow his own food, sew his own clothes from the sheep he raises in the backyard, to avoid all the fossil fuels involved in delivery?

Because until you have actually successfully done what you suggest others should do, why should anyone believe you?

the most expensive advice is free advice

Feb 5, 2016 at 4:00 PM | Unregistered Commenterferdberple

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