Monthly Archives: October 2015

The Last Post

last post

This will be the last post at this blog, though it will remain open for comments for a while.

From now on I will be posting at a new new joint blog, called simply Climate Scepticism. The idea is that it is more efficient in terms of writing blog posts, reading blog posts, moderating comments and running a blog to have one joint blog, rather than several individuals running their own.

As far as I know it’s the first genuinely collaborative venture on the sceptical side (several other blogs have guest posts, but with one main blogger). Another novelty is the production of videos, thanks to the talents of Ian Woolley.

A year and a half ago there was some discussion of climate sceptics getting together and getting organised, See WUWT, Bishop Hill and Pointman.
The arguments in favour (presented by Pointman and Geoff Chambers) are that a coordinated effort would be more effective than a disorganised rabble, and that an organisation would be able to provide a spokesman in the unlikely event of the BBC wanting to adhere to its charter obligations by speaking to someone who didn’t think the end of the world was nigh. Arguments against are that climate sceptics tend to be loners who prefer to think for themselves rather than follow a group, that it could be difficult to find common ground for all to agree on, and that an organisation would be a focus for attacks. Although a majority voted Yes in the WUWT poll, nothing seems to have come of this, so effectively the Nos won.
The new blog might be a small step towards such a cooperative organisation, or at least an interesting experiment to see whether a collaboration is effective or completely unworkable.

So if you’ve been following this blog, please start following instead, and adjust your blogrolls and bookmarks accordingly.

Robin Guenier on Philippe Sands

On 17 September, Philippe Sands, QC and Professor of law at UCL, gave a public lecture (video here, slightly different text here) at Kings College London the UK Supreme Court, as part of a two-day meeting on Climate change and the rule of law.

Robin Guenier has written a detailed and carefully referenced response to the lecture. Robin is a qualified barrister — there is a short biography at the end of his piece. Two previous articles by him have been posted here.

Other coverage of Philippe Sands’s lecture:

Adjudicating the Future: Climate Change & the Rule of Law. A ‘Storify’ of tweets.

World court should rule on climate science to quash sceptics, says Philippe Sands

Donna Laframboise: Silencing Dissent Via the Courts and Supreme Court Justice Carnwath: Climate Activist

A Supreme Court justice and the scary plan to outlaw climate change

See also the #climatecourts twitter tag.

In the introduction to the Philippe Sands lecture, Lord Carnwath says “The purpose of this conference is to stimulate such a debate…”. It will be interesting to see how Sands and others involved with the conference respond to the debate started by Robin’s piece.


Update 12 Oct:

There seems to be continuing interest in this story:

Of legal beagles and climate change views, from Hilary Ostrov, including links to comments from others who were at the meeting.

Judges plan to outlaw climate change ‘denial’, Christopher Booker in the Telegraph, with over 3000 comments.

Adjudicating the future: silencing climate dissent via the courts, Judith Curry.

Justiciable climate? Bishop Hill, with a link to an interesting article on the wisdom or otherwise of courts ruling on scientific matters.

No response yet from the learned professor himself though.

Who will watch the watchmen? A substantial response from the inimitable Christopher Monckton.

Update 29 Oct:

A significant new development: Lucas Bergkamp, a partner in a law firm and emeritus professor has written a paper
Adjudicating Scientific Disputes in Climate Science: The Limits of Judicial Competence and the Risks of Taking Sides which appears to be a direct response to Sands, who is mentioned several times. The Bergkamp paper is discussed at Climate etc. It’s nice to see that Bergkamp cites Robin Guenier’s “thoughtful comments” several times.

Bergkamp doesn’t mince his words. The abstract includes: “Courts should refrain from examining and ruling on climate science, since they are neither authorized nor competent to rule in scientific disputes. Even if judicial competence is assumed, climate science is not ripe for adjudication. To the contrary, the politicization of the science and the socio-political construction of scientific consensus in the climate area render any attempt to rule impartially on the key scientific disputes futile and suspect. Whether in the form of an advisory opinion or otherwise, a court judgment would be perceived as taking sides and, thus, would only aggravate an already badly politicized situation. Courts, including the ICJ, should uphold the rule of law and respect the limits of their authority. They should therefore refuse to opine on climate science and refer scientific disputes back to the scientific community, which is where they belong.”

New IPCC Chair

The previous chairman of the IPCC, railway engineer and soft porn writer Rajendra Pachauri, faces allegations of sexual harassment and has at last been replaced after 13 years in post.

After an election involving representatives of 134 different countries, his replacement has been announced as Hoesung Lee, an economist from Korea, see IPCC press release.  His CV reveals the intriguing fact that he worked for Exxon for three years in the 1970s.  He has been involved with the IPCC since 1992, as part of IPCC WGIII, Mitigation of Climate Change.



Lee appears already to have got himself in something of a muddle regarding the IPCC’s remit.  The IPCC principles say that  “The work of the organization is therefore policy-relevant and yet policy-neutral, never policy-prescriptive”. However in an interview quoted here he makes a clear policy call for a carbon tax: “Climate change is a typical example of externalities and the way to correct the externality problem is to have a price on certain activities that cause those externalities. In our case, that is a price on carbon emissions – what you may call a carbon tax”.

Mike Shellenberger is not impressed:


Runner-up in the election Jean-Pascal van Ypersele might have been expected to congratulate Lee, but does not appear to have done so, though he did retweet someone describing himself as “the best IPCC Chair the IPCC never had”.

See coverage elsewhere from the BBC, Climate Home, Revkin in NYT, Carbon Brief, Bishop Hill, Nature, WUWT.

Update 7 Oct:

There is a hilarious video of a press conference with the new chair of the IPCC here:

It shows Hoesung Lee and the IPCC’s Head of Communications (who does not communicate his name). After a short introductory statement from Lee, the communications man asks (at about 06:30) “So are there any questions from journalists in the room?”. This is met with a silence so stony that one wonders whether there is anyone else in the room at all. He then asks “Do we have any questions yet from outside the room”. Again, there is silence, so apparently not. So the HoC asks his own question. At about 08:40 the process is repeated. Finally the “press conference” is put out of its misery by an emailed question from Megan Darby at 12:00, who asks about criticism that supporting carbon pricing as a priority represents a politicisation of the IPCC.