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Fewer climate movies for the natives

From time to time I have noted the Foreign and Commonwealth Office's spending on a network of "climate change advisers". On one occasion, I noted one such public funded official using their time to do research for Democrats in the US Congress. Another seemed to fill her days with showing ecodisaster movies to the natives and helping them to make their own ones.

It's therefore quite pleasing to see that William Hague has belatedly been reining back the spending somewhat:

The UK is slashing its climate change diplomacy budget even as global efforts to reach a deal intensify, RTCC can reveal.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) cut spending on its core climate change activities by 39% over the past three years.

Given Hague's posturing as a green, this has no doubt been driven more by the cost-cutting imperative in the Treasury than any concern over whether the money is being well spent. Nevertheless, one should not look a gift horse in the mouth...



Greens try to get scientists removed from select committee

Caroline Lucas has been using her holidays to go after Graham Stringer for having the temerity to dissent from the alarmist line on climate change and in particular the Energy and Climate Change Committee's report on AR5. 

The good lady has written to Ed Miliband, asking him what he is going to do about this appalling situation, in effect demanding that one of only two scientists on the Energy and Climate Change Committee be removed.

Dear Ed,

I’m writing with regard to yesterday’s report from the Energy and Climate Change Select Committee on climate science and the 5th assessment report from the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

Click to read more ...


Beddington honoured

BH favourite Sir John Beddington has been awarded the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Neck Ribbon. I kid you not.

Sir John Beddington, the former UK Government Chief Scientific Adviser (GCSA), has been awarded the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Neck Ribbon (Kyokujitsu Chu-Jusho) from the Emperor of Japan.

The award was apparently prompted by Sir John's advice to the British Embassy and UK expats in Japan after the Fukishima incident.

Click to read more ...



Reuters is carrying a report that the German Environment Agency is trying to kill off any shale gas developments in that country. The bureaucrats lack the ability to put an outright ban in place, so the intention seems to be to apply a garotte of red tape to neck of the infant industry.

A spokeswoman for the environment ministry said draft laws on fracking would be presented to the cabinet after the summer break. She added that the rules laid out in the water protection law - the responsibility of the environment ministry - would mean that fracking would be ruled out in the foreseeable future.

Bizarrely though, the report notes that German gas companies have used fracked non-shale gas formations - so called "tight gas" - for decades without incident. And a recent moratorium on new tight gas licences is expected to be lifted at the same time as the shale industry is strangled.

I'm struggling to understand the apparent inconsitency.


Breaking the frame

Nic Lewis has published another paper on objective Bayesian approaches in climate sensitivity study. This looks at an old but very important paper by David Frame and Myles Allen, which implied the use of an objective approach, but actually turned out not to. Lewis's paper looks at two genuinely objective approaches to the problem and compares the essentially identical results they give to the clearly erroneous and inevitably much more alarming one obtained by Frame and Allen.

A very technical blog post on the subject is up at Climate Audit, and the paper is here.



The US Senate report on funding of environmental groups by a small group of wealthy individuals and their trusts is getting a huge amount of play on the internet at the moment (Breitbart coverage here, Forbes here). We knew the sums involved were astronomical but I can't recall the funding streams of the greens being set out in such detail before. It would be interesting to see a similar analysis done for the UK.


Chartered rogues and spivs

Also published while I was away was a report on fracking by the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health. James Verdon has done a detailed analysis of the contents and it looks as though it was pretty shocking stuff.

The best place to start is on the very first page, which shows two schematic images of the fracking process. In both cases the scale of images is such that the depth of the well is smaller than the height of the drilling rig, implying that fracking is taking place at a depth of less than 100m, rather than the actual depth, typically 2 - 3km.

Click to read more ...


A hint of panic

While I was away, the House of Lords Science and Technology Committee announced that it is to take a look at the question of "energy resilience". The terms of reference are here, and make for interesting reading. There is more than a little hint of "OMG, what has Ed Davey done?", with a leavening of "Maybe the boffins can save us". Needless to say, there's also reference to "We could get some more bureaucrats and hope we are no longer in office when the wheels come off".

Click to read more ...


Climate's parliamentary cheerleaders

The House of Commons Energy and Climate Change Committee has released its report into the IPCC's Fifth Assessment Report. This is fascinating stuff, if only to see all the intellectual contortions that have been adopted by committee staffers in arriving at the required answer, namely that everything is hunky dory with climate science and the IPCC.

The press release is here and consists of standard parliamentary cheerleading of the kind that has "sod the constituents" written all over it (Tim Yeo is quoted extensively, so I guess that follows).

Click to read more ...



I'm back. Sun-bronzed. Reinvigorated. Somewhat weightier than previously.

Normal service should be resumed shortly.


Global governancers' get-together

I missed the occasion of the Earth System Governance conference in Norwich at the start of the month, but it looked as though it was a hoot. Every scientivist in the western hemisphere seems to have flown in for the occasion (#greensgobyair) to hear speakers as varied as, erm, Tony Juniper, Prince Charles and Bob Watson opining about how better "allocation" is the solution to all known environmental ills. No doubt if we take from each according to their ability and give to each according to their need then global temperatures will stop going up and the passenger pigeon will miraculously be found living in a dovecot in Droitwich.

To mark the occasion of the conference, UEA's Heike Schroeder has written an article in the journal Global Environmental Change. Dr Schroeder apparently believes that small-scale organic farming is going to be the solution to the world's problems, so it will not surprise you to learn that her article is a tour de force of economic illiteracy, wide-eyed inanity and bovine stupidity. We learn for example of the horrors of artificial fertiliser:

Click to read more ...


Ends and Means

Guest Post by David Holland

The tragic event of Friday reminded me of a lunch-time chat that I had with a Russian, at the London meeting at which Ross McKitrick presented the Fraser Institute’s independent analysis of AR4 in February 2007.   Like others, I had been disappointed that the Russians had signed up to Kyoto and even more disappointed at the horse trading over gas prices that had led to it.   I had heard of Andrei Illarionov and knew he had been a close advisor to Vladimir Putin.   However, I must confess that I thought some of the shocking and frightening things that he said of Mr Putin might have been sour grapes.   Over the years since, and particularly after Friday, I have realised that Dr Illarionov was perhaps too soft on him.

It's worth looking back at the Guardian of 22 May 2004 with its headline “Putin throws lifeline to Kyoto as EU backs Russia joining WTO”
President Vladimir Putin yesterday reversed months of fervent opposition to the Kyoto protocol and agreed to speed up Russia's ratification of the treaty.
The change of heart - which provides the ratification necessary for the protocol to come into effect - follows a decision by the EU at a summit in Moscow yesterday to drop its objections to Russia joining the World Trade Organisation.
“The fact that the European Union has met us halfway at the negotiations on membership in the WTO cannot but influence Moscow's positive attitude towards ratification of the Kyoto protocol. We will accelerate our movement towards ratifying this protocol,” Mr Putin said at the summit.
In September 2004 Businessweek reported ‘Russia’s path to Kyoto’:
When the EU asked Russia to join in on Kyoto, not surprisingly, “Russia said: What's in it for us?” explains Annie Petsonk, international counsel for Environmental Defense (ED). Russia wanted more than the dollars from emissions trading, it wanted EU support for its entry into the World Trade Organization.
“But the EU wanted Russia in Kyoto badly enough to compromise and support its WTO membership bid. Europe will allow Russia to keep natural gas prices lower at home -- as long as Russia agrees to slowly raise them. The Continent's companies also realized that having Russia sign on to Kyoto would help them because they could meet their own Kyoto targets more cheaply by buying Russian emissions reductions.”
In fact no one bought many Russian emission credits but much of Europe became dependent on Russian gas.   Whether we realised it then or not, gas is a political weapon that we gave Russia in exchange for Kyoto.   Russia has abandoned Kyoto but still has its weapon unless we follow suit, and reopen our coal-fired stations and 're-life' our nuclear power stations in the short term.     For the longer term we need to get fracking and developing safe, socially acceptable and economic low carbon energy sources including nuclear. 
Dr Illarionov came in for some harsh words but I think history may judge him better.



New paper from the Netherlands on C02 emissions

 'A paper published today in Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics finds that only about 3.75% [15 ppm] of the CO2 in the lower atmosphere is man-made from the burning of fossil fuels, and thus, the vast remainder of the 400 ppm atmospheric CO2 is from land-use changes and natural sources such as ocean outgassing and plant respiration.'

 Read all about it at Climate Depot and H/T to Swiss Bob in the BBC and Lawson comments.



Pro-Lawson opinion

Ryan Bourne, head of public policy at the Institute of Economic Affairs, offers his support to Nigel Lawson in an article in Friday's City A.M.

Even if you believe global warming is happening and it’s a significant problem, it is lazy thinking to believe this scientific insight means “Case Closed” and that the policy response is obvious. You also have to tot up what the consequences of global warming might be, the costs and benefits of different policies, and work out who picks up the tab. This requires a much-needed economic and political debate – and it’s obvious the likes of Lawson and other public figures have much to contribute.


BBC and Nigel Lawson

There is a letter in the Spectator from the Deputy Director of BBC News and Current Affairs on the subject of the BBC's spat over Nigel Lawson's appearance in discussion with Brian Hoskins.

H/t Is the BBC Biased

No ban on Lawson

Sir: You write that the BBC ‘has effectively banned’ Lord Lawson from items on climate change unless introduced with ‘a statement discrediting his views’ (Leading article, 12 July). There’s a lot of muddled reporting of this story. Lord Lawson hasn’t been in any sense ‘banned’, and the Editorial Complaints Unit finding didn’t suggest that he shouldn’t take part in future items. It found fault with the way the Today item was handled in two respects: firstly that it presented Lord Lawson’s views on the science of global warning as if they stood on the same footing as those of Sir Brian Hoskins, and secondly that it didn’t make clear to listeners that Lord Lawson represented a minority view. There is also no ban on other non-scientists discussing climate change. The BBC is absolutely committed to impartial and balanced coverage on this complex issue. Our position remains exactly as it was — we accept that there is broad scientific agreement on climate change and we reflect this accordingly. We do, however, on occasion offer space to dissenting voices where appropriate as part of the BBC’s overall commitment to impartiality.
Fran Unsworth Deputy director, BBC News and Current Affairs
Happy valleys

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