Energy and Climate Change Committee report on IPCC AR5

The House of Commons Energy and Climate Change Committee has today published its report following their review into IPCC AR5 WG1.

A brief recap with links to earlier posts: the Committee is chaired by Tim Yeo (Con) who has been criticised for his green energy interests, was caught in a lobbying sting and has been de-selected by his local party. There are two openly climate-sceptical members, Peter Lilley (Con) and Graham Stringer (Lab). The inquiry was announced last November with a call for written submissions by December. The remit covered robustness, range of views, climate models, the pause, and policy. Over 50 written submissions were sent in, IPCC-supportive ones from institutions such as the Met Office and Royal Society and many critical ones from individuals (the allegedly influential GWPF did not make a submission). From January – March, three oral evidence sessions were held, the first of which featured three mainstream climate scientists followed by three sceptics. The second session had some interesting clashes between Yeo and Lilley. The third session included science advisors and members of DECC.

Given the disparity of opinion between Yeo and Lilley, it was hard to imagine how they could come up with a written report that both could put their names to. It turns out that they couldn’t.

The two sceptics on the committee, Lilley and Stringer, voted against the main report and issued their own short statement yesterday evening. They said that “The Summary for Policy Makers is far less balanced than the report it purports to summarise”, that it’s hard to justify the IPCC claim of increased confidence, given the current pause in warming and the fact that the IPCC is this time not able to give a best estimate of climate sensitivity. They also draw attention to recent lower estimates of climate sensitivty and the fact that climate models are too warm, before describing the IPCC SPM as “politicised”.

The main report, here in html or here in pdf, regurgitates the main conclusions of AR5 and issues a call to action (“must work to agree a binding global deal in 2015”) but also calls for a small team of non-climate scientists to oversee the process. This picks up on a suggestion by Ruth Dixon in her submission to the inquiry.

The rest of the report proceeds predictably. Climate scientists Peter Stott, Myles Allen and Brian Hoskins tell the committee that climate scientists aren’t biased. There are some comments about the increasing size of the IPCC reports and the long, slow timescale. There is more unquestioning regurgitation of the statements made by Stott, Hoskins and Shuckburgh. The pause in warming is claimed to be “consistent with earlier IPCC assessments”. There is a final section on domestic and international policy, issuing the call for “rapid, drastic action”.

The most spectacular piece of idiocy I’ve found so far is paragraph 50: “Subsequent evidence has confirmed that a number of witnesses supported the conclusions of the IPCC. For example, Dr Stott told us that…”. Peter Stott is coordinating Lead Author of Chapter 10 of the IPCC AR5 report. Myles Allen, also quoted at length, is also an author on the same chapter.

The dissent of Lilley and Stringer is noted at the end of the report, in the “Formal Minutes”, p 50-54. Stringer proposed an amendment to insert “We have received evidence which gives us cause for concern of chronic political and “activist” interference. The procedures to safeguard against this influence are either non-existent or ineffective.”

All in all, another rather pointless exercise in circular reasoning, confirmation bias and division (see previous post).

Articles elsewhere:

Matt McGrath for the BBC, MPs bicker over IPCC report on causes of climate change, discusses the main report and the dissenting views of Lilley and Stringer.

The Guardian, predictably, only presents one side of the story, IPCC climate change report’s findings must be accepted, MPs say

On twitter, climate scientist Mark Brandon sinks to a new low by saying that Lilley and Stringer are a bit like astrology-believing Tredinnick.

Bishop Hill describes the report as Climate’s parliamentary cheerleaders.

Carbon brief, UK Parliament says IPCC report is an “unambiguous picture of a climate that is being dangerously destabilised” claims that the report “deals with” the criticisms of the sceptics.

Judith Curry has a post Politicizing the IPCC Report, quoting a chunk of this post.

Lewis Page at The Register focuses on the qualifications with Just TWO climate committee MPs contradict IPCC: The two with SCIENCE degrees

8 thoughts on “Energy and Climate Change Committee report on IPCC AR5

  1. Another interesting bit of the report is the Declaration of Interests. It says that Robert Smith has a shareholding in Shell.

    But there is no mention of Tim Yeo’s extensive financial interests in the renewable energy industry. Yeo is chairman of TMO renewables, for which he gets paid £300 per hour. He’s also chair of a community renewables company, and had a trip to China paid for by the Renewable Energy Association.

    Peter Lilley also has a paid directorship, in Tethys Petroleum.

    I have written to the committee asking them to correct this unfortunate ovrsight.

  2. I received a reply from the committee to my question about interests:

    Dear Mr Matthews,

    Thank you for your email.

    The formal minutes you mentioned in your email show the declarations of interest referred to during the IPCC oral evidence sessions (see oral transcripts here). A full list of registered interests declared by other Members of the Committee is published in the House of Commons Register of Members’ Interests (http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm/cmregmem.htm). We do not publish this full list in the formal minutes relating to each report.

  3. A lengthy, but frankly meaningless, diatribe on the latest round of supposed conspiracy theories which inhabit the darkest recesses of the climate sceptic world. eg Tim Yeo is reported to have ‘extensive financial interests’ in the renewables industry. Some of the largest and most influential climate sceptic organisations, such as the Global Warming Policy Foundation in the UK, are funded, to the tune of billions of dollars by people with more than extensive financial interests in the fossil fuel energy (especially oil) industries – such as the Koch Brothers. Less dramatically, this article states that Peter Lilley, the ‘openly climate-sceptical member’, also has a paid directorship of a petroleum company, Tethys Petroleum. So it would seem that the representation of both sides of this debate – ie those favouring the renewables and those favouring the oil industries – are pretty evenly matched. So much for the conspiracy theory of bias in official reports from IPCC etc. And yet it doesn’t stop there. The attempt at establishing the obvious conspiracy continues: –

    ‘The most spectacular piece of idiocy I’ve found so far is paragraph 50: “Subsequent evidence has confirmed that a number of witnesses supported the conclusions of the IPCC. For example, Dr Stott told us that…”. Peter Stott is coordinating Lead Author of Chapter 10 of the IPCC AR5 report. Myles Allen, also quoted at length, is also an author on the same chapter.’

    So what is the point being made in this paragraph? A witness cannot be reliable if he happens to agree with the conclusions which have been made? Or, worse still, those people actively involved in the writing of the report, such as Peter Stott and Myles Allen, cannot be relied upon as witnesses? This latter interpretation is, of all the irrational views made in this article, perhaps the most illogical and pernicious. For it rests on a circular argument of inherent bias which, of course, most climate sceptic arguments do. Put simply, Peter Stott and Myles Allen, according to this approach, must be inherently biased if they accept the conclusions of this report because they wrote part of it. What the authors of this irrational view fail to consider is an explanation much simpler and far less glamorous. Peter Stott and Myles Allen wrote key sections of this report. In order to do this they will have considered the evidence presented by many different climate experts and scientists and concluded, along with over 97% of the global climate scientific community, that its conclusions are likely to be correct. To consider this decision as evidence of some kind of bias or faulty decision making is a particularly irrational view and one at odds with standard scientific practice. eg Are the many scientists around the world who have patiently, over perhaps many years of hard research and diligent work, developed new technologies or systems inherently biased for writing reports which support those technologies? Of course not, they are merely producing objective, factual accounts of their work, often after it has been reproduced, challenged and redeveloped countess times by other scientists working in the field. Exactly the same process has been used by the IPCC in producing AR5. It is only in the murky world of the most extreme climate scepticism that such an approach is seen as evidence of controversy, conspiracy and bias.

  4. I have let Jonathan Parker’s comment through, but in future, “meaningless diatribes” about conspiracy theories and the Koch brothers may not be accepted.

    The GWPF is not as influential as climate activists claim (as noted here, they did not even submit anything to the inquiry) and is not funded with billions of dollars. There is no even match between Lilley, who seems to have one interest, and Yeo, who has several and was caught on camera saying he could coach a lobbyist on what to say to his own committee.

    To spell out the problem with para 50, it makes little sense to ask the authors of a report if that report is reliable. Para 50 is worse in that it presents this as ‘evidence’. Obviously the report authors are going to support the report – that’s not ‘evidence’. Ironically, it is this (not my comment) that is the irrational circular argument.

  5. This sort of thinking is what annoys me:

    So it would seem that the representation of both sides of this debate – ie those favouring the renewables and those favouring the oil industries – are pretty evenly matched.

    Why do so many persist on thinking that the oil industry is anti-CO2 reduction?

    Oil costs what it costs to get it out of the ground. Anything that makes it sell for more is good from their point of view.

    What the oil industry would dislike is anything cheap that competes with them. Hence their profound love for the anti-nuclear stance of the green groups. Hence their profound hate for coal, which is cheap, and their support for anything that demonises coal.

    The oil companies aren’t anti-renewables, as expensive windmills and solar power are no threat at all (green wet dreams of 100% supply from such unreliable sources aside).

    Which is why we saw BP pretend to be “Beyond Petroleum” for a while. Why Shell gives money to Green groups by the millions.

    The oil company bosses must be laughing heartily as their sworn enemies repeatedly work in their best interests. A bit of verbiage about “Big Oil” and collusion with evil conservative interests is a small price to pay for your major competitors being driven out of business!

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