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« Cult science - Josh 244 | Main | The BBC's climate policy »

The missing secondee

I have been pondering the idea of putting in an FOI to DECC to find out who has been seconded to them from green organisations. Then this morning I discovered that I no longer had to because Greenpeace have already done the work for me, obtaining a list of all secondees, both inwards and outwards. It can be seen here.

Greepeace's Damian Kahya is, not unreasonably, somewhat exercised about the appearance of two gas company lobbyists on the list, but there are plenty of greens as well. We see someone from green consultancy Ecofys, plus all the other big consultancy firms too; there are a couple from the Met Office, one from the Committee on Climate Change, one from GLOBE and a whole cohort from the Carbon Trust. However, I was struck by one outfit that was not represented.

Over the weekend I chanced upon a profile of Ben Caldecott, one of those surfing the tsunami of easy green money that is sweeping UK public life. He's currently involved with Bloomberg NEF, an organisation that is heavily involved in the renewables industry, both as financiers and propagandists. He has another role as well, at the Oxford Martin School, where he writes allegedly learned papers about "stranded assets" - this is the idea that fossil fuel reserves will shortly become worthless because their extraction will become illegal. He is no doubt grateful to the university of Oxford for allowing their name to be used to boost his financial interests at BNEF.

Before joining BNEF, Caldecott was with Climate Change Capital, another outfit operating in the same area. During his time there he was apparently seconded to DECC's strategy unit. Strangely, however, the newly released list of DECC secondees doesn't mention anyone coming to the ministry from Climate Change Capital.

It's probably just a mistake, but sometimes such mistakes can signify something.

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Reader Comments (25)

Stranded Asset: Interesting concept that. The fact that you can both lobby for, and then benefit from, the artificial change of definition of something proven and useful like that. Therefore suddenly making a rival alternative which is innately less appealing and less useful then look more attractive.

Strikes me though that this depends on a corollary attempt to create another “stranded asset”. It requires that -genuine, independent, original and innovative thought with actual ability - be made a stranded asset too, so the likes of the parasitic green intellectuals and lobbyist can artificially boost their relative worth. ;)

Nov 11, 2013 at 9:19 AM | Registered CommenterThe Leopard In The Basement

I went to seminar on Stranded Assets by Lord Deben at the Said Business School in Oxford. After 30 minutes of waffle questions were taken. Dieter Helm spent two minutes comprehensively destroying the idea that they had any relevance in this situation: essentially the time scale of government action is slow compared with the lifetime of assets in any modern business and so nobody is going to give a damn about stranding by government unless and until government shows an appetite for genuinely dramatic action. Deben simply ignored him, and the room went back to another 30 minutes of waffle.

Nov 11, 2013 at 9:32 AM | Registered CommenterJonathan Jones

Ah another case of "Don't confuse me with facts" which appears to be the default position for AGW campaigners like Lord Deben.

Nov 11, 2013 at 9:38 AM | Unregistered CommenterArthur Dent

Forget about "stranded assets." What about "stranded liabilities"? They are also known as "wind farms" but Piers Corbyn prefers to call them "prayer wheels."

Much of our countryside is already blighted by those stranded liabilities and things will probably be much worse in a few years.

Nov 11, 2013 at 9:40 AM | Unregistered CommenterRoy

Telegraph Business (print version) has the following snippet tagged on the end of an article about boosting North Sea Oil and gas:-

"An employee of Irish energy company ESB is leading the design of a state subsidy scheme for the UK's gas-fired power stations while on secondment to the government, documents have revealed. ESB owns three gas-fired power stations in Britain."

The North Sea article is online 'Once in a generation' chance to boost North Sea oil and gas but it does not have the note about the ESB employee tagged on the end.

Nov 11, 2013 at 9:53 AM | Registered CommenterGreen Sand

Let's hope that the only true type of stranded asset is anything to do with green power generation (windmills, mirrors and ground unicorn horn)!!!



Nov 11, 2013 at 9:54 AM | Unregistered CommenterMailman

Mr. Caldecott is a regular contributor on monetising greenwash over at the Guardian.

Nov 11, 2013 at 9:56 AM | Unregistered CommenterChaveratti

No sense of irony indeed; they believe they, and they alone are entitled to express an opinion.

Nov 11, 2013 at 10:03 AM | Unregistered CommenterThe PrangWizard of England

Don't they second engineers and economists? They would be first on my list of appointees to tell me if my plans were (a) feasible and (b) cost effective. But they're not interested in that I suppose. Will be, of course, if UKIP begin to threaten their places at the trough.

Maybe a party could go to election saying they were going to claim all green grants back from consultancy and energy companies and reduce the cost of energy accordingly.

Nov 11, 2013 at 10:15 AM | Unregistered Commentergeronimo

Roy - iirc it was Kim who first termed them 'prayer wheels'. Yes, just found it thanks to startpage:

Ease your troubled mind,
Feel the vibrations, hum it.
Bird death prayer wheels.
Oct 1, 2011 at 2:12 PM | kim


Nov 11, 2013 at 10:27 AM | Registered Commenterlapogus

Why on earth do the DECC require secondees from the Identity and Passport Office?

In order to ensure that there are greenies in every neck of the government woods?

Or perhaps that's what's they now mean by Identity- you are identified as a greenie or a denier.

Nov 11, 2013 at 10:49 AM | Unregistered CommenterMessenger

I've just coined the term: green-ier. A tree-hugger who denies the facts that it is not getting warmer and that the climate has always changed.

Nov 11, 2013 at 11:44 AM | Unregistered CommenterJimmy Haigh

'Prayer wheels...'

Love it...

Nov 11, 2013 at 1:12 PM | Unregistered CommenterSherlock1

Another emerging term is 'drama-green'.

Nov 11, 2013 at 1:12 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlecM

Does this not all read much more agreeably if we replace the words Climate, Carbon and Green with the word Cartoon?

Nov 11, 2013 at 2:04 PM | Unregistered Commenterchippy

From the Ecclesiastical Uncle, an old retired bureaucrat in a field only remotely related to climate with minimal qualifications and only half a mind.

Nothing here SHOULD surprise. To me, however, the facts reported may surprise but only because they demonstrate good management by a government department in the execution of a government policy.

The sort of politicians we have now do not go in for independent action - it is all follow the leader.

So those in charge (eg: Cameron and the informal cliques that surround him) have to change policy on climate and after wailing and gnashing the teeth, the DECC would, I suppose, come to heel and recruit advisors appropriate to the new line.

Nov 11, 2013 at 2:45 PM | Unregistered CommenterEcclesiastical Uncle

"Stranded assets",

Is there room in the warmist lexicon for, strangled English by green propagandists?

Strangled? Now there's an idea.

Caldecott, is a propagandist first and always. The idea of "stranded assets" is designed to provoke, develop and indeed promote uncertainty and doubt among anyone who may be listening.

Cut out the taxpayer dollar, it follows that you cut out the green middleman - investment bankers and Bloomberg - propagandists like Caldecott, then Greenpeace, the [DE]CC is a bonus.

Nov 11, 2013 at 2:48 PM | Unregistered CommenterAthelstan.

"Stranded Assets" - not a bad name for a punk band.

Nov 11, 2013 at 3:47 PM | Unregistered Commentersteveta_uk


The DramaGreens (deliciously coined @Nov 8, 2013 at 8:51 AM by stewgreen), being from the green lobby, object to a guy from the gas lobby...
at DECC...Dept. of ENERGY and Climate Change.


Nov 11, 2013 at 6:41 PM | Unregistered CommenterWijnand

Given the UK Government's record with awarding portfolios to real or imaginary problems which immediately cease to exist (assuming they ever did) - Minister for Drought in 1976 - it rained, government departments for 'climate change' 2008, followed by cooling, the 2012 'drought' and all that - if they restored DECC's original title and called it Department of Energy, would that provoke a new round of warming?

Come on Spud 'Ed Davey, you know you want it...

Nov 11, 2013 at 8:15 PM | Registered Commenterflaxdoctor

Jeremy Grantham, Boston money manager, and for whom the Grantham Research Institutes on Climate Change (London School of Economics and Imperial College) are named, has been pushing the idea of "stranded assets." In my view, his ideology has overwhelmed his considerable intellect.

" I have written in Fortune magazine that those extreme, dangerous, carbon-intensive and polluting resources run the very substantial risk of being stranded assets because, on one hand, I think the progress of solar and wind is moving faster than most investors realise and, on the other, I expect the continuous rise in the price of hydrocarbons as we continue to move through the cheap stuff and move on to the more expensive stuff in terms of getting it out of the ground. And I don't think that if you put billions of dollars into a new tarsands project that you will see a decent return on it. It will be underpriced by solar, wind and other alternatives which are moving at considerable speed. And point two is they will slap a carbon tax on coal and tarsands which increasingly countries here and there will do – and, eventually, the US in the hopefully not-too-distant future – and that will be a death blow."

Nov 11, 2013 at 8:27 PM | Unregistered CommenterDon B

But that's the point Grantham's multi multi billion dollar green hedgefund is built on the FALLACY that wind/solar will become on par & cheaper than fossil fuels, but as long as fossil fuels are quite easy to dig out of the ground sellers can simply undercut prices even if there are technology advances in solar. (wind tech can't advance further)
... so with things like fracking he's stuffed
his only salvation is somehow fixing taxes & laws

Nov 11, 2013 at 9:13 PM | Registered Commenterstewgreen

THe term "Stranded" was coined in the oil and gas industry many years ago. It refers to a gas field located far from a possible market - hence "stranded gas". THe advent of liquefied natural gas or LNG in the seventies, which then boomed in the nineties and early zeros was a partial solution. Instead of being limited by the economic radius of a gas pipeline, natural gas was super-cooled, and thus liquefied and transported on ships to any destination where the price supported its import. LNG imports to the USA hit 70 Bcf a month in August 2007 before the combination of the economic crisis and shale gas killed the market.

Nov 11, 2013 at 9:54 PM | Unregistered CommenterKeith

sorry Athelstan...if a stranded asset seems strange then most things since 1960 should also feel strange to you...have you heard of central heating?

Nov 11, 2013 at 10:13 PM | Unregistered Commenterdiogenes

Something that BH and Caroline Lucas agree on? (a stretch I grant you)

I do however sense something of the customary gweenie irony bypass as well as some pot<>kettle conflict.

Nov 11, 2013 at 11:53 PM | Registered Commentertomo

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