The following appeared in the Financial Times today:

As Expected: Treasury Sees Red At Huhne’s Green Bank

Monday, 31 January 2011 12:35 Elizabeth Rigby, Financial Times

Chris Huhne is at loggerheads with the Treasury over the size and scope of the green investment bank, as officials seek to thwart his attempts to ensure it operates as a fully fledged bank.

The Treasury has already earmarked £1bn for the bank, to be spent on green infrastructure projects such as renewable energy. It has also privately confirmed that more than £1bn of funds from asset sales will also be made available, according to two ministerial aides. But in return for the additional funds, officials are trying to prevent the energy secretary and Vince Cable, the business secretary, from establishing it as a bank. The bank is one of the flagship green initiatives of the coalition.

A commission on how the bank should operate – led by Bob Wigley, a former European head of Merrill Lynch – has recommended it should have powers to raise finance from the private sector. But the Treasury is concerned the bank will increase national debt and would prefer it to act simply as a fund, dispensing grants and loans.

“The Treasury is completely against the idea of a proper bank because they can’t see where it would go on the government’s balance sheet,” said one person familiar with the talks. “Huhne is determined to get a bank and Cable is acting as the arbiter.”

Mr Huhne believes the bank is central to efforts to build Britain’s green infrastructure and low carbon economy in the coming decades. The energy sector needs to invest at least £200bn over the next 10 years to meet official targets for developing renewable energy and cutting carbon dioxide emissions.

The government is due to outline plans for the bank this spring but is struggling to meet the deadline.

I wonder if anyone at the treasury, let alone at Chris Huhne’s Department of Energy and Climate Change, saw this chart that someone kindly pointed out to me in the Investors Chronicle:


Click for larger image

Note the juxtaposition of Automobiles and Parts (+89.91%) and Alternative Energy (-52.3%) at the beginning and end of the listing.

If this reflects the level of market confidence, post Copenhagen and Cancún, in the coalition’s so-called Green Revolution, then God help the green bank. Investment in Alternative Energy looks as though it holds about as much allure as subprime mortgages, and it seems that the coalition has learned nothing from the banking crisis. The value of assets are determined by supply and demand: politically correct optimism is not an entry that any accountant would attach a value to on a balance sheet.


I am just back from a short and rather hectic trip to France. During the time that we were away, I lived a happily news-starved existence, neither switching on a television nor looking at a newspaper, so there has been quite a lot of catching up to do. Much has happened.Of course the main event in the UK has been the local government elections, the results of which suggest that the political landscape has changed more radically than at any time during the last decade. For many voters the New Labour dream seems to have turned into an economic nightmare, but there is also evidence of more fundamental change in the attitudes of voters. They no longer believe in the stale certainties that the present government has offered them for so long. Continue reading »

If you read my post a few days ago on strange goings on at the BBC, you may remember that Jo Abbess, the climate activist, had various quite eye-catching things to say. This in one of them:

Several networks exist that question whether global
warming has peaked, but they contain very few actual scientists, and
the scientists that they do contain are not climate scientists so have
no expertise in this area.

The view that only scientists and climate scientists at that can express valid opinions on global warming is common among warmists. Or it is when anyone outside the charmed circle on which the IPCC smiles criticises research or asks awkward questions. And there are so many questions to ask, about predictions of future climate derived from computer models, the role that water vapour plays in controlling atmospheric temperature or what influence the sun has on natural climate variation. It is all too easy to dismiss unwelcome arguments by belittling the questioner’s qualifications in the hope that no one will notice that the substance of what is being said has not been considered at all.

This is very strange when you think about it. Do you really need to have a degree in economics to ask perfectly rational, and perhaps even perceptive, questions about the Chancellor of the Exchequer’s budget? Should patients with no medical training be completely uncritical of the treatment that they receive from doctors? Do you need a degree in sports management to assess the chances of Manchester United winning the FA cup? But one is expected to believe that climate science is different, a world in which only initiates should be listened to or believed. And where your qualifications are more important than what you say.

Some unkind souls at the Climate Audit Message Board have been doing research of their own, not into the causes of global warming, but into the qualifications of some of the people at the very top in the strange world of climate change. These are the results:

On another site, the “qualification” of global warming skeptics was raised.

These required qualification in physics, “climate science”, or a related field in order to have a relevant voice in the climate debate [the warmists say].

But how about the very top of the IPCC?

Here we have as Chair: Rajendra K. Pachauri, PhD in Industrial Engineering and Economics.

We also have 3 Vice-Chairs:
Richard Odingo (Kenya), graduate degree in Geography
Mohan Munasinghe (Sri Lanka), Engineering, PhD in Physics, Economics
Yuri A.Izrael (Russia), PhD in Physics, Climate Science

Courtesy of Maxa

And then this:

Yvo De Boer, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Committee on Climate Change has “a technical degree in social work”.

Courtesy of Audrey Levin.

What more can one say?

In July 2007, the respected opinion pollsters Ipsos MORI published some of the results of a survey of public attitudes to climate change (here) in advance of the publication of their Tipping Point or Turning Point report. The findings were surprising, but the attitude of this company towards the subject they were researching was even more so.

During the last three years the media, politicians, environmental activists, scientists and companies that have an interest in selling goods and services related to global warming, have bombarded the public with information about climate change. These campaigns have been directed towards persuading people to adopt a particular viewpoint; that climate change is a real, man-made and a potentially catastrophic threat that can be averted by fairly minor adjustments to our lifestyles. Surely, in view of such an onslaught, there should be few people who continue to be sceptical about anthropogenic global warming and most will have a clear understanding of the issues. Section 1 of the Ipsos MORI poll shows otherwise.* Continue reading »

According to The Guardian (14/03/2008) Tony Blair has found yet another retirement occupation to add to his assorted roles as a Middle East fixer, divinity lecturer and merchant banker. He is to spearhead a task force aimed at picking up the broken pieces of last year’s Bali World Climate Conference and broker an international deal that will lead to a 50% reduction in carbon emissions by 2050. Welcome back to the politically safe ground of climate alarmism Mr Blair!

For an experienced and ruthless politician with a rather tarnished reputation, the climate bandwagon has so much to recommend it. No one is likely to criticise you for trying to save the planet. Scepticism about even your most ill-founded and exaggerated claims will be silenced by a sententious barrage from the media powerhouses of the green NGOs. Targets for CO2 reduction are so far in the future that there will be no need to kick them into the long grass; they are there already. If all else fails, and the media notice that you are not making any progress, then blaming the American and Chinese governments will win public approval and get you off the hook. As one wag said when asked why the Blair government was so keen on saving the planet, ‘Well, you know, it’s so much easier than saving the National Health Service’. Continue reading »

Feb 212008

Below is a comment that Dr Judith Curry posted recently on Steve McIntyre’s Climate Audit blog which gives some insight into the close relationship between science and politics in the minds of many climate researchers.

The author is chair of the school of earth and atmospheric sciences at the Georgia Institute of Technology in the US and a very influential member of the climate science community. She has published research papers that attempt to link an increase in hurricanes to climate change and she serves on various panels related to climate science including the National Academies’ space studies board and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s climate-research working group.

Andrew #115, I agree with your statement. While I am not skeptical about increasing CO2 causing warming, there is much to be skeptical about in future projections regarding how much warming. The IPCC makes no pretense of having nailed down “how much warming”, it gives a range of temperature increases even for a specific scenario (Steve, your request for proof of 2.5C sensitivity doesn’t make sense in this context, which is why no one has responded). What do about the warming, given the scientific uncertainties, is a great challenge. However, decision making under uncertainty is something that is routinely faced in all aspects of our life, from government policy to individual decisions. The challenge is to come up with policies and strategies that make sense, even if the warming turns out to be less than expected and will cover us even if the warming is greater than expected. In the U.S. there is a national mandate for energy security, which is almost totally consistent with reducing greenhouse gases. There are numerous health concerns associated with continued pollution of our environment from energy generation. What can we do about it? There is much to be gained from energy efficiency and conservation (for georgia tech’s efforts in this, the largest power user in atlanta, see There are existing alternative energy technologies that are not quite cost competitive with the subsidized fossil fuels we currently use (change the carrots and sticks, and these technologies are cost competitive). There is much promise in a number of new technologies, that need further investment. The other thing we need to do is focus on the socalled adaptation strategies. Whether or not global warming is increasing hurricanes, surely it makes sense to make our coastal cities more resilient to hurricanes. Whether or not global warming is going to increase droughts, surely Georgia needs to figure out how to manage its water resources better and make it more resilient to drought. etc. The bottom line is that such policy decisions don’t hinge on the science of whether the sensitivity is 2 or 3 or 4 degrees.

Dr Curry appears to be saying:

1) We know that there is anthropogenic global warming, but we can’t quantify its extent.

2) We must do something about this even if our understanding of the problem is so limited that we do not even know whether it poses a significant threat.

3) Even if the threat turns out to be illusory, never mind. There will still be benefits from our mistaken and futile attempts at mitigation provided we ignore the economic and social knock-on effects.

This has nothing to do with science, but everything to do with politics, and even in that context it is not a basis for formulating public policy. The desire to address the very real problems associated with pollution and resource management are not reasons for persuading policy makers and the general public that human activity is changing the climate. There seems to be a belief among some climate scientists that AGW alarmism is a legitimate vehicle for drawing attention to these problems and is therefor justified. Again this has no part to play in scientific research, but draws climate science further away from its supposed purpose – to increase our understanding of atmospheric processes – and ever more deeply into the political arena.

If an astronomer who is engaged in research has, let us say, extreme racialist views, then it is unlikely to affect their work. This would not be true of a geneticist, anthropologist or historian. There is an obvious political bias towards environmentalist among climate scientists and it seems unrealistic to expect that this will not compromise their objectivity, however conscious they may be of this danger.

I am not equating racialism with environmentalism, simply using it as an example of a deeply held political belief that is likely to have a profound influence on a person’s world view. I also accept that certain aspects of climate research may lead to the belief that humans are destroying the planet, although this discipline is as likely to attract those who are already sympathetic to this hypothesis. But the risk of unconscious bias is still the same. Only sceptics can provide a counterbalance by questioning the scientific basis for anthropogenic global warming. It is increasingly important that their voices are heard and that their views, if rational, are respected and not dismissed out of hand. This rarely happens at the moment, although Dr Curry’s willingness to engage in discussion on a sceptical blog is a courageous and most welcome development.

News: King of the North Pole

Posted by TonyN on 12/02/2008 at 9:24 am In the News No Responses »
Feb 122008

The problem with retirement is that you still need to have something to do. For many the chance to devote more time to the garden, redecorating the house, compiling a family tree or taking long walks in the countryside may be enough. Others will be content to take each day as it comes, doing a little of this, a little of that, and not being too concerned about doing nothing at all. But what if you have spent your whole life scrabbling your way to the very top of a competitive profession? What will replace the daily adrenalin rush of being in the public eye once you are no longer a main player?

At the end of last year Sir David King stepped down as the Government’s chief scientific adviser after seven years in that post. This is, perhaps, the highest profile job that a scientist can aspire to in this country, and King is not a man to shrink from the attention of the media. Indeed he seems to thrive on any opportunity to keep his name in the headlines. A well calculated sound bite about global warming being a more serious threat than terrorism even landed him in trouble with 10, Downing Street, but he seemed quite unrepentant as he explained on BBC Radio’s Today program recently.

I think there is no other statement that raised the profile at the time of the issue of climate change more. And as a result I’ve actually travelled very widely around the world at the invitation of foreign governments all over the place to talk about climate change and what needs to be done.

BBC Radio4 Toady 20/12/07 8:30am Listen Again

That’s quite a boast, and all that travelling must have been fun too. Continue reading »

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