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« Having a lovely time... | Main | Emmanuel on the Climategate emails »

Oxburgh's conflict of interest

Commenters are also noting the background of Ron Oxburgh, the chairman of the RS panel. Lord Oxburgh is:

  • President of the Carbon Capture and Storage Association
  • Chairman of wind energy firm Falck Renewables
  • A member of the Green Fiscal Commission

So we have a chairman with a direct financial interest in the outcome. I'm not sure this is a surprise.


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Reader Comments (21)

Trevor Davies (currently Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research at UAE) is undoubtedly closely linked to the selection of both panels (Russel and Oxburgh) and, of course, intimately linked to the CRU.

His precise role in the CRU/UAE debacles merits much closer attention.

Mar 22, 2010 at 2:17 PM | Unregistered CommenterAJC

Can you suggest the criteria for selection for this panel, if you want to exclude those who a) know about climate science professionally, b) have ever expressed an opinion on climate change or the CRU, c) have any investments or professional involvement in the clean tech industry (or by extension, any part of the energy industry)?

Mar 22, 2010 at 2:41 PM | Unregistered CommenterEd


I would have panellists who were not involved in climatology at all, but use people with expertise in related hard sciences (physics, geology, statistics).That's the only way to avoid conflicts of interest. They could take evidence from climatologists.

Nobody from involved in the energy industry or environmentalism should be allowed.

That still leaves an awful lot of scientists.

Mar 22, 2010 at 2:52 PM | Registered CommenterBishop Hill

I have contacted one MP's office allready. email and phone

Mar 22, 2010 at 3:34 PM | Unregistered Commenterbarry woods

Ed has a point but I think Bishop Hill makes a good case in his response.

Surely if the results are to have any meaning the committees should include competent but independent people? So far most of those convened seem to have the first ingredient but as regards the second, it must be that their dictionary has a different meaning of the word 'independent'' to mine.


Mar 22, 2010 at 3:39 PM | Unregistered Commentertonyb

1. The chair of this panel, Lord Oxburgh is compromised by an outright conflict of interest.

2. Another panel member, Kerry Emmanuel has already dismissed Climategate as a conspiracy by the 'Machine'.

3. ....and lo it now transpires that Prof Lisa Graumlich was a recipient of Climategate emails due to her work on tree-rings.

So three of the panels members are now seen as being tainted, however innocent they may claim to be otherwise.

BH makes a valid point. The panel should have been made up of scientists who have no connections with Climategate however slight, or have previously made partisan comments on Climategate, or who are beneficiaries from the impact of climate of science, or who have known associations with advocacy groups.

As things currently stand Oxburgh, Emmanuel and Graumlich have compromised the standing of this panel.

Mar 22, 2010 at 4:26 PM | Unregistered CommenterMac

Gandhi famously said, "First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win". It looks like we are only at the second stage.

Mar 22, 2010 at 4:28 PM | Unregistered CommenterA.Bee

There is UEA connection at the Green Fiscal Commission, one of the commissioners is Prof Kerry Turner, CSERGE Director and Professor of Environmental Sciences and close associate of Prof Trevor Davies, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research at UAE.

Davies - Turner - Oxburgh.

These people live in a small connected world, so their outlook will be very similar.

You can understand how Lord Oxburgh was chosen as chair of this panel - he is not going to rock any boat that he has shares in.

Expect a WHITEWASH coming your way.

Mar 22, 2010 at 4:49 PM | Unregistered CommenterMac

Oxburgh also appears on the website of "Climate Change Capital", "Creating Wealth Worth Having" but I can't see exactly what his role is there.

A bit more Googling reveals:

Oxburgh is unrepentant: "You can't slip a piece of paper between David King [the government's chief science adviser who said climate change was a bigger threat than terrorism] and me on this position."

Ron Oxburgh sees how today’s rapid and profound changes on the energy scene can present a wealth of opportunities for the ingenious entrepreneur.

27 January 2005 - Warning against the "angry beast" of climate change, Lord Ron Oxburgh, Chairman of the UK arm of Shell, this week called for more determined government action to limit emissions of CO2 into the atmosphere. Delivering the fourth Greenpeace Business Lecture on 25 January, Lord Oxburgh said that the Shell Group has nothing to fear from the taxation and regulatory changes that are needed to avoid the potentially disastrous consequences of climate change.

So it looks like this panel is about as "independent" as the other one.

Huppert is a good scientist, but I am sure he can be relied on to give the "correct" answers - lets just say he has a beard and often wears sandals.

Mar 22, 2010 at 4:54 PM | Unregistered CommenterPaulM

"As regards the developed countries, existing climate change initiatives really must be pursued with increased urgency. Copenhagen simply means that a great deal more hard diplomatic work must go on in parallel. But for many developed countries, the climate change agenda and the energy security agenda are quite close. We in this country must continue to attach high priority to using less energy in a whole range of ways and, in addition to reducing our overall energy consumption, to obtain our energy from more sustainable sources. On top of that, as long as we are obliged to use fossil fuels, if we are to avoid calamitous climate change, we have to prevent the emissions from those fuels escaping into the atmosphere. The means of doing that is by carbon capture and storage. This country had a lead in that technology but one has to admit that through a combination of procrastination and lack of commitment we have allowed a number of other countries to overtake us. I declare an interest as the honorary president of the Carbon Capture & Storage Association.

A different and serious question relates to the pivotal role of the United States. Opinion polls suggest that in spite of US Government commitment to action and the extensive support that it is giving to work on many technologies that will be needed to tackle climate change, significantly fewer than half the US population believes that human beings have anything to do with changing the earth's climate. For a mixture of complex reasons climate change has in the United States become embroiled in party politics. This is really serious and of great concern because it is hard to see any world accord being effective without the enthusiastic support and commitment of the United States.

However, public opinion can change. I watched a politically significant shift in Australian public opinion over a period of 12 months, triggered by a combination of extreme climatic events and a successful and well publicised lecture tour by Al Gore. It is not clear how a similar change could be achieved in the US, particularly in the face of overt hostility on the part of some news networks and even some indication of the spread of disinformation. It is clear, however, that the message has to be that action on climate change, taken in conjunction with the rest of the world, would promote rather than damage the US economy. Indeed I believe that there is an opportunity for all Members of this House to help this process by making these arguments whenever they meet opinion leaders and opinion makers in the United States."

Totally unbiased then...

Mar 22, 2010 at 5:08 PM | Unregistered Commenterbarry woods

Falck is a PLC so info should be readily availabe but there are also a number of seemingly associated companies on Companies House webcheck service. Its often quite complicated in knowing how the money is channeled to the various parties and where the value sits in the subsidiaries. It costs a quid to download the various members list and shareholdings. I'll try and have a go at unpicking the details.


Mar 22, 2010 at 5:16 PM | Unregistered CommenterSir Digby CS

Lord Oxburgh served as chairman of The Shell Transport and Trading Company until its unification with Royal Dutch Petroleum. He is a member of the House of Lords of the UK Parliament and a graduate of the Universities of Oxford and Princeton. He has taught geology and geophysics at the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge and was a visiting professor at Stanford University, the California Institute of Technology and Cornell University. From 1988 to 1993, Lord Oxburgh was Chief Scientific Adviser to the UK Ministry of Defence and, from 1993 to 2001, Rector of Imperial College, London. He is a member of the Advisory Committee on Science, Technology and Research for Singapore, a Fellow of the Royal Society, an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering and a Foreign Member of the Australian Academy of Science. He is currently Chairman of Falck Renewables, and an advisor on environment and energy to the Government of Singapore, Climate Change Capital and Deutschebank.

Mar 22, 2010 at 5:19 PM | Unregistered CommenterAnoneumouse

From the Parliamentary Register of Members insterests;


*12(d) Non-parliamentary consultant

One-off pieces of work on an ad hoc basis -
Adviser Fujitsu Europe
Adviser to Climate Change Capital
Adviser to Low Carbon Inititative
Adviser to Evo-electric
Environmental Adviser - Deutsche Bank

*12(e) Remunerated directorships

Chairman, Falck Renewables
Chairman, Blue NG

*12(i) Visits

Visit to Oskarshamn in Sweden (10-12 August 2008) to visit nuclear power and nuclear waste research and storage facilities with the All Party Parliamentary Group on Nuclear Energy. The costs of the trip were met by E.ON

*13(b) Landholdings

House in Cambridge owned and let jointly with wife

15(a) Membership of public bodies

Member, Council of Asian University of Science and Technology
Member, Council of Foundation for Science and Technology
Member, Council of Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman (Kuala Lumpur)
Member, Singapore Agency for Science, Technology & Research
Member, Singapore Science and Engineering Research Council
Member, Advisory Board Oxford University, Dept of Earth Sciences
Chairman, Program Review Committee, British Antarctic Survey
Hon. Professor, Cambridge University, Dept. of Earth Sciences

15(d) Office-holder in voluntary organisations

Trustee, Higher Education Policy Institute

16(b) Voluntary organisations

Fellow of Royal Society
Hon Fellow of Royal Academy of Engineering
Member, Green Fiscal Commission
Member, Council of Foundation for Science & Technology
Member, Council of Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership


Notice a number of the 'paid' things have a definite greenish tinge and outrageously some even mention the word 'Carbon'

Acton is either scared he won't get the result he wants or as above, is simply taking the P**S!


Mar 22, 2010 at 7:35 PM | Unregistered CommenterSir Digby CS

One good thing to come out of all these “investigations” is that it will help people realise it's harder than you think to find establishment figures that don't have their fingers in the big Green pie.

Maybe that's why Louise Gray chose to spin it in the Telegraph as "Climategate inquiry led by oil boss"

Mar 22, 2010 at 8:39 PM | Unregistered CommenterSteve2

Oxburgh's CV is another nail in the coffin of the big lie that "denialists are funded by big oil". Big Oil is all over AGW scaremongering like a rash, for sound business reasons: the more hysteria there is, the more taxpayers' money will be poured in to subsidise the replacement technology that will generate their profits when the oil runs out. If only the greeny hippie socialists understood how the world works!

Mar 22, 2010 at 9:05 PM | Unregistered CommenterDavid S

Yes it's weird to see such unlikely partners in a coalition:

* multinational corporations
* leftwing national governments
* green anti-everything perpetual campaigners

I guess the first 2 each think they are the cleverest man in the room and the 3rd is a rebel without a clue.

The fragility of the coalition drives the ultra-simple bumper-sticker philosophy behind the "war on carbon".

Observe them drift between opposite concepts:
* the whole world pulling together and singing Kumbaya
* energy security because there are some evil regimes in the world
* back to singing Kumbaya

Mar 22, 2010 at 9:41 PM | Unregistered CommenterJack Hughes

Yet another skewed investigation. Why no McIntyre? Why no McKitrick; Why no Peiser? Why no Monkton? Why no non-believer? Why only those who belong to the group of green profiteers and their champagne dinner party guests?

Mar 22, 2010 at 11:24 PM | Unregistered CommenterRobert of Ottawa

The makeup of this panel is entirely predictable, given that the personnel were selected on the recommendation of the Royal Society. The amazing thing is that the RS seems entirely unaware of the extent to which their involvement taints the process, given their highly one sided pronouncements on climate science and it's opponents.

Particularly damning is the statement by Prof Trevor Davies, "CRU's scientific papers have been examined by scientists from other institutions through the peer review process before being accepted for publication by international journals. We have no reason to question the effectiveness of this process."

One wonders if he has actually read the emails - they seem to me to provide a great deal of reason to suspect exactly that. Surely, if there was no reason to question the peer review process, this whole inquiry is a waste of time - which seems clearly to be his implication.

Similar statements were made by Ban Ki Moon recently when announcing the IPCC review. When you start out with public statements pre judging the matter at issue, how can you expect the resulting report to have any credibility whatever?

I smell whitewashed rat.

Mar 23, 2010 at 3:36 AM | Unregistered CommenterPeter Wilson

You know? I am not as bothered by the fact these enquiries are so cynically stacked.

As opposed to say other enquiries where information is hidden from the public eye, this one has all the raw material laid bare for all to see. By definition the panel members *have* to read all the content and understand them. There will be no later qualifications that they may have missed this or that nugget of information, or mis-understood its context.

So even if they do eventually complete their glib whitewash today, satisfying the needs of the current zetgeist, we will always have the raw material they worked with.

For example, I see a scenario 10 or so years from now, where little Sarah one of many little budding scientists, grows up keen on science - just for the sake of it. One day then decides to study the context of this case in full. And then ends up realising "How could the scientific establishment have been so wilfully complicit in the creation of our third world energy structure today?"

Ok just athought, but the alarmists operate with a scary certainty they can do no harm.

Not much consolation I know, but the timescales over which science corrects itself have never been offically defined ;)

Mar 23, 2010 at 9:37 AM | Unregistered CommenterSteve2

"Trevor Davies (currently Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research at UAE) is undoubtedly closely linked to the selection of both panels (Russel and Oxburgh) and, of course, intimately linked to the CRU.

His precise role in the CRU/UAE debacles merits much closer attention."

- Trevor Davies is a former director of CRU 1993-98. In other words in the period immediately before the emergence of the Hockey stick (1998). He also championed the CRed (carbon reduction programme at UEA) which amongst other things has persuaded a local brewer to produce carbon neutral beer (urgh!).

Mar 23, 2010 at 10:26 AM | Unregistered CommenterSpike T

The sheer Chutzpah of Davies (and Rees) in setting up this blatantly biased panel would be breathtaking if all my available breath hadn't long since been took.

It isn't a case of 'which panellists would be acceptable' (Ed / The Bish).

Surely what is really needed is a full blown Tribunals of Inquiry (Evidence) Act 1921 investigation, under a very senior Law Lord to go through this whole mess, taking evidence from all sides of the debate under oath. And approportioning blame.

Even this might be highjacked or turn into a whitewash exercise. It would take a long time. It would be expensive. (Perhaps as much as the subsidy on half a dozen wind turbines). And the Hutton Inquiry (for example) does have its detractors.

But there are precedents when it has really worked well. For an excellent example, have a read of "Report of the Tribunal appointed to inquire into the Disaster at Aberfan on October 21st, 1966". Is there a Lord of the stature of Sir Herbert Edmund Davies to be found nowadays?

There is as much chance of any conceivable Government agreeing to go down this road at present as there is of Benjamin Netanyahu being the next Pope.

But that may change when the citizens of the UK tire of paying their £5,000 p.a. electicity bills whilst they shiver in the dark...

Mar 23, 2010 at 10:53 AM | Unregistered CommenterMartin Brumby

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