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« More DECC Climategate correspondence | Main | Lomborg on a tech fix »
Tuesday
Nov062012

Flagrant and cynical office

From time to time I have reported on climate activism among UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office officials. There was, for example, the Washington diplomat's decision to spend his time (and public funds) on supporting Democrats in the US Senate. Or the official who used public funds to make climate change awareness films in Africa. Today there is new evidence that activists within the civil service are spending your money to advance their own political views. This comes in the shape of an official email circulated by an official in the Beijing embassy which sought to counter David Rose's recent Mail on Sunday article about recent temperature history.

 

A Daily Mail report, headlined 'Global warming stopped 16 years ago, Met Office report reveals' was widely reported in China claiming that there was no discernible rise in aggregate global temperatures from the beginning of 1997 until August 2012.

A number of scientific organisations, including the UK Met Office on whose data this claim was supposedly based and the London School of Economic and Political Science (LSE) , have both issued rebuttals. And this week, Tim Yeo, the Chairman of the UK Parliament’s Select Committee on Energy and Climate Change confirmed to Professor Du Xiangwan, the Chairman of the Second National Committee of Experts on Climate Change during his visit to China that these sort of articles were common in some parts of the UK media and that they do not have any effect either on the position of his Committee or that of the UK government on climate change.

 

The email went on to go through the Met Office "rebuttal", which agreed that the trend since 1997 was indeed zero but argued that this was start and endpoint dependent and that it didn't matter anyway. This has all been discussed elsewhere.

 

Going on from here the FCO's offical communique to our friends and allies around the world went on to quote those two noted authorities on climate science, the public relations "director" at the Grantham Institute (Bob Ward) and a Democrat-linked rabble-rousing blogger (Joe Romm).

 

Further information

UK Met Office’s official press release
http://metofficenews.wordpress.com/2012/10/14/
met-office-in-the-media-14-october-2012/

Analysis of the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment, LSE
http://www2.lse.ac.uk/GranthamInstitute/Media/Commentary/2012/
october/myth-that-global-warming-stopped-in-mid-1990s.aspx

Convincing charts that make clear the planet just keeps warming
http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2012/10/15/1014151/
ten-charts-that-make-clear-the-planet-just-keeps-warming/mobile=nc

Helena Ou (XXXXXX@fco.gov.uk, 电话:010-XXXXXX),
If you want more information, please contact Helena Ou. To unsubscribe, please email the contact. Thanks!

 

I don't think anyone can seriously now question the depth of the corruption at the FCO, although I don't suppose the permanent secretary Simon Fraser is bothered. And if one needed any confirmation of the mindset at the FCO, the response of Sophie Benger of the FCO press office to Rose's complaint has to be seen to be believed:

I have followed up with our Embassy in Beijing to find out how this came about and why it was sent.

Following a conversation there, I understand that your original article was taken by a large number of people we work with in China as being official Government policy on climate change and they believed that the UK had changed its position. In sending out the note below, the intention was to re-state the UK’s views on this subject and to explain why we hold them. It was aimed at increasing understanding of the UK’s policies in China, which is something our Embassies work very hard at achieving.

However, I understand your concerns about how this was presented and how it came across. This should not have been focused on your paper nor issued as a direct retraction of what you had written. Nor should your paper have been referred to as the Daily Mail rather than the Mail on Sunday.

As I say, I have raised this with the people who sent out the message and relayed your complaint. They have undertaken not to do this again and to use a different approach to flag the UK’s policies in future.

The Chinese thought a temperature trend reported in the Mail on Sunday was government policy?

I don't think so.

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Reader Comments (22)

It is conceivable that people in China did think it was government policy, as they may be unfamiliar with the idea of a free press, particularly in diplomatic circles, where it might be a handicap even to acknowledge the theoretical possibility.

Nov 6, 2012 at 5:11 PM | Unregistered CommenterDavid S

The Chinese have lots of very good scientists of their own

Of which only 1 Chinese scientist participated in the 'Doran survey'

Nov 6, 2012 at 5:46 PM | Unregistered CommenterBarry Woods

I'd agree with earlier commentards, some probably did assume it was what the government was thinking, or were at least inclined to believe it might be..Of course we're just wishing the government was thinking that way...

Many countries where they have no free press or real free speech assume that anything seen in print must have the blessing of government officials. Many of those upset about the utube Islam video were not prepared to accept that it was done without the tacit approval of the US government for the same reasons.

Nov 6, 2012 at 6:00 PM | Unregistered CommenterSteve Crook

It is common amongst the climate science community, along with fellow believers, never to acknowledge the possibility that any valid opinion, interpretation or scientific stance could exist except their own. This was confirmed most strongly in recent Lewandowsky et al 2012 paper on sceptic opinions, and the following defence of that paper.

Nov 6, 2012 at 6:05 PM | Unregistered CommenterManicBeancounter

Standards must be slipping when an FCO official doesn't know the difference between a retraction and a rebuttal.

Nov 6, 2012 at 6:11 PM | Unregistered CommenterNeil McEvoy

Is the full FCO communique available, and the Benger-to-Rose one as well?

Nov 6, 2012 at 6:22 PM | Registered CommenterHaroldW

"Tim Yeo ... confirmed ... that these sort of articles ... do not have any effect either on the position of his Committee or that of the UK government on climate change."

While I commend Yeo on his independence from newspaper opinion articles, I suspect he would say the same concerning any facts which indicate less climate danger. If we were to find out tomorrow that the climate sensitivity is only 1 deg C per CO2 doubling, Yeo would remain as committed to his course.

Nov 6, 2012 at 6:34 PM | Registered CommenterHaroldW

So much then for the supposed Rolls Royce standard of our civil service. Funnily enough, I think there genuinely was once a time when probity, high intelligence and a disinterested pursuit of properly defined national interests had a place in the civil service. It was complacent and self-perpetuating of course. But if nothing else it was at least coherent. It was also pragmatic.

No more. Real-politick has given way to student-politick. So we are now obliged to endure a Civil Service that is not only happy to be thought Right On but which has more or less entirely given itself over to infantile agit-prop responses.

All those puzzled why British governments, whether Labour or Conservative – no sniggering at the back, please – are so fixated on pursuing responses to climate change that, by any rational measure, are diametrically opposed to anything in Britain's obvious economic interests, can, despairingly, console themselves with the realisation that a new Establishment – ignorant, shallow and facile, utterly convinced that, as children of the 60s, it can never be wrong – has taken over.

You positively yearn for the days of Sir Humphrey.

Nov 6, 2012 at 6:35 PM | Unregistered CommenterAgouts

Tim Yeo promoting the Tim Yeo Retirement Fund.

Nov 6, 2012 at 6:35 PM | Unregistered CommenterJoe Public

This is bordering on criminality.

The FCO quoting Bob Ward and Joe Romm??!!!!!

I know the DECC apparatchiks have all swallowed the Kool-aid (though not all the worker bees, I hear), but to find that the FCO is brainwashed too is a shock. I suppose it shouldn't be when behaviour like this gets you a slap on the wrist instead of instant dismissal.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2009/sep/24/senior-diplomat-racial-harassment-case

Nov 6, 2012 at 7:19 PM | Unregistered CommenterStuck-Record

I'm sure there are alternatives for what FCO stands for!

Nov 6, 2012 at 7:31 PM | Unregistered CommenterPhillip Bratby

"If we were to find out tomorrow that the climate sensitivity is only 1 deg C per CO2 doubling, Yeo would remain as committed to his course."

I for one would be amazed if Yeo had the foggiest idea what the climate sensitivity is, or what the implications of it being "1 deg C per CO2 doubling" meant.

I'd be even more amazed if he gave two hoots.

This isn't to say that the man's a moron.

I bet he can add up the amount of his total agreeable income from his various comfortable greenie sinecures like lightning.

He can probably even remember (with a bit of effort) how many love-children he has fathered.

Nov 6, 2012 at 7:31 PM | Unregistered CommenterMartin Brumby

More evidence to support the need for a clear out.

Nov 6, 2012 at 7:37 PM | Registered CommenterLord Beaverbrook

Tim Yeo is keen not to do anything which would affect renewables trade between the UK and China. Tim has strong links with renewables companies and has received consultancy money from them.
See http://www.telegraph.co.uk/comment/9513677/The-Chinese-puzzles-of-chairman-Tim-Yeo.html for the Chinese link
and http://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/article-2189492/It-wonder-Tim-Yeos-branded-Jolly-Green-Hypocrite.html?ito=feeds-newsxml for background on his income
and http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/jamesdelingpole/100172094/tim-yeo-like-a-cross-between-ebola-and-chris-huhne/ for the breakdown of the figures.

He is also President of the Renewable Energy Association http://www.r-e-a.net/news/new-appointments-at-the-uks-largest-renewables-trade-body .

Nov 6, 2012 at 9:13 PM | Unregistered CommenterEdward Bancroft

From the FCO Press Office:

"Following a conversation there, I understand that your original article was taken by a large number of people we work with in China as being official Government policy on climate change and they believed that the UK had changed its position. In sending out the note below, the intention was to re-state the UK’s views on this subject and to explain why we hold them. It was aimed at increasing understanding of the UK’s policies in China, which is something our Embassies work very hard at achieving."

What a load of cobblers. The Chinese bureaucracy is very professional and well-informed. No serious observer would believe for a second that an article in the Sunday Mail would be construed as government policy. Since the number of ordinary punters in China who read the Sunday Mail would be close to zero (out of a billion), there is absolutely no risk of the kind that is described.

It's advocacy, pure and simple.

Nov 6, 2012 at 9:28 PM | Unregistered Commenterjohanna

Ah, Tim Yeo, the spiv MP personified. How lucky we must all be that our futures are in his hands.

Nov 6, 2012 at 9:35 PM | Unregistered CommenterAgouts

@Johanna: the Chinese bureaucracy is indeed very professional and well-informed, which may be why the FCO don't mention them at all. They simply talk about "people we work with in China". Since (as the Bish has explained passim) taxpayer funds are primarily used to keep the bandwagon rolling along by bankrolling activists and others with their snouts in the trough, I can see how the people they work with might very well need reassuring that the UK government is impervious to reason and therefore the money will keep coming.

Nov 7, 2012 at 8:32 AM | Unregistered CommenterSebastian Weetabix

Sorry complete nonsense that Chinese officials would think a newspaper article was UK government policy. The Chinese are very switched on and no doubt our FCO rep had a panic attack when word reached her ears that the Chinese were discussing the article, hence the email with nonsense citations.

Skepticism must be taking hold in China. Remember this as well which is relevant:

http://climateaudit.org/2012/10/04/will-stocker-retaliate/

Quote: "In addition, a number of governments are considering beginning their own investigations or are asking IPCC to conduct a review. IPCC, together with its parent organisations UNEP and WMO, is currently considering various options for how best to address these growing concerns by governments." Unqoute

Nov 7, 2012 at 8:35 AM | Unregistered Commenterastateofdenmark

And as the MP child abuse cover ups that have run 25 years shows no part of our corrupt system, police, CPS or MPs are to be trusted at any level.

The other question I have over the Saville and MPs scandals is where were the charitys hat rake in millions in all this? RSPCC, Child line, etc.

It is worse than you think.

Nov 7, 2012 at 9:02 AM | Unregistered CommenterShevva

Agouts

"Rolls Royce standard"

+1

Nov 7, 2012 at 9:59 AM | Registered Commenterjamesp

If the UK Gov think Bob Ward and Joe Romm are experts in 'global warming' it just goes to show what a bunch of cretins are running the country.

Nov 7, 2012 at 11:36 AM | Unregistered CommenterSwiss Bob

Sebastian, a good insight. Apart from the jollying-up-the-troops aspect, these sorts of missives are often targeted to third parties.

Nov 7, 2012 at 12:42 PM | Unregistered Commenterjohanna

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