In the post HEL P! Huhne and £1 per week cost of decarbonisation TonyN mentions an important 360-page document from the Committee on Climate Change: “The Fourth Carbon Budget: Reducing emissions through the 2020s.” After a well-publicised internal struggle between the Treasury and the Department of Energy and Climate Change - which even the BBC could not ignore, see here - the government accepted the CCC report and agreed to tighten up carbon emissions policy until 2027, with unknown, and probably unknowable effects on the economy for decades to come.
TonyN reports with amazement that the official estimate of the cost of their new targets is nowhere to be found in the document upon which the decision was based. Alex Cull found the probable source of the government’s vague estimates of cost in another document from the same body: “The Renewable Energy Review“. See here.
Both these documents, and much else, can be found on the Committee’s website at http://www.theccc.org.uk . It is also worth looking at the DECC press release dealing with Chris Huhne’s announcement of the new carbon budget in parliament.
The committee reports to the Department of Energy and Climate Change, which is also bursting with information, at:
Governments have always produced policy documents (white papers and green papers) as a basis for future action, and these often incorporate material from outside bodies. The quality of these documents is supposed to be assured by a simple procedure known as democratic accountability. Opposition politicians, political analysts and investigative journalists pore over such documents looking for ways to question and embarrass government ministers.
My own input into such affairs was very long ago and quite trivial – testing government ad campaigns on such subjects as race relations, recruitment to the armed services, and social service benefit take-up. Quality control was simple but effective; it was the civil servants’ fear of the ultimate hiccup – questions in the House.
With climate change, all checks and balances have disappeared. There is almost no questioning of government policy concerning climate change inside or outside Parliament. It is even said that the one well-known parliamentarian associated with climate scepticism – Lord Lawson – shouldn’t be interviewed on the subject in the media. One result can be seen in the quality of reports such as those mentioned above. Assured of a free ride in parliament and the press, they are little more than PR handouts – glossy brochures produced at the public’s expense advertising a policy which has been predetermined on rigid ideological grounds.
Of course, we sceptics are free to amuse ourselves by poking fun at scientists and journalists on blogs, and I for one have used that freedom to the utmost. Now TonyN is suggesting it’s time to get serious. Organising ourselves formally is one such possibility, protesting against such things as wind farms is another.
A third possibility is to take government propaganda seriously, analyse it, criticise it, and publish criticisms in a form where it is readily available when needed. Tonyb refers us to PaulM’s useful catalogue of criticism of the IPCC reports at : http://sites.google.com/site/globalwarmingquestions/ipcc
Alex Cull is doing similarly valuable work transcribing radio and TV programmes and interviews at: https://sites.google.com/site/mytranscriptbox/home. What people say in the heat of the moment when confronted by a live microphone of camera can be far more revealing than carefully honed statements that get into print.
TonyN asked me if I’d like to coordinate a thread on this site to perform a similar analysis and critique of CCC documents. What does anyone think? I think I’d go mad if I had to tackle 360 pages of CCC-speak on my own, but sharing the task might make it bearable.