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Stern and his gang

Lord Stern appeared before the House of Commons Energy and CLimate Change Committee this morning. It was amusing to see him arriving with his posse of assistants, Bob Ward among them. Why on earth does he need a PR man to go to the House of Commons with him? [Update - just seen one of his minions passing him the answer to a question]

Lilley from 10 mins with a few fireworks, Stern accusing him of being misleading, Lilley referring to Stern's "attack dog". Smashing stuff. The bit about discount rates is fun too, with Stern denying using different rates for costs and benefits and then flannelling furiously. I can't wait to see the transcript.

Graham Stringer was there, alongside Peter Lilley; questions from 10:43.

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Reader Comments (62)

It is not so much that the AGW movement has legs on a stool. It is more like serpents on Medusa's head. Mann's hockey stick is one of those little vipers. Another is Stern's faux report. It is amazing how even after it is shown to any reasonable critique that both are worthless, they still writhe on, biting with their venom of deception.

Nov 5, 2013 at 1:22 PM | Unregistered Commenterhunter

If one ever needed confirmation of the man's use of hyperbole, at approx 9:50 he talks about having 'worked with the poor: 40 years in India; 25 years in China.'

I take it those years of work were not contiguous, and I'll bet they weren't continuous. He just likes to puff up his own self-importance.

Nov 5, 2013 at 1:33 PM | Unregistered CommenterSnotrocket

Peter Lilley to Stern ......"I'm just using English in the normal way!" ....When speaking to Stern mr Lilley, using English in the normal way is unacceptable.

Nov 5, 2013 at 1:50 PM | Unregistered Commenterfenbeagleblog

What is this, a convention of aliens?

Patently, Nicky Stern exists deluded and far away - in his own universe, he said this recently:

In an interview at the 2013 World Economic Forum, Stern said "Looking back, I underestimated the risks. The planet and the atmosphere seem to be absorbing less carbon than we expected, and emissions are rising pretty strongly. Some of the effects are coming through more quickly than we thought then" in the 2006 Review. He now believes we are "on track for something like four degrees"

Wrong on every count - who would even give him [Stern and his space cadet entourage] the time of day?

Only - the House of Commons Energy and CLimate Change Committee - who exist in their own parallel universe.

Nov 5, 2013 at 2:23 PM | Unregistered CommenterAthelstan.

Not unconnected - Robert Goodwill, the minister in charge of HS2 (have you noticed that there is now a 'minister' for EVERYTHING..?) clearly has a wobbly grip on budget figures...
He boldly stated that the 'cost' of HS2 - at around £40bn (yeah, right) equated to 'around 10 months-worth' of his department's budget - which he said was £50bn.
Turns out its not £50bn - its £13bn.
Slip of the tongue. Nothing to worry about.

P.S. 'Ministers' attract a salary of £100000. Neat way of boosting MP's salaries... Saw the Minister for Fire on telly the other day - never heard of him before the firefighters' strike.. No doubt there's also a Minister for School Crossings; a Minister for Lampposts; etc, etc...

Nov 5, 2013 at 2:38 PM | Unregistered CommenterSherlock1

Who was the MP sitting on Lilley's left? I loved it when he asked - straight-faced - if the Stern Report had been Peer-reviewed. Stern waffled and said that, as he had discussed his report with many, many leading academics and bankers, all well-known to him, and leaders in their fields, he felt the report did not need to be Peer-reviewed. On the other hand, he said, it is 700 pages long and documents that size don't tend to get Peer-reviewed.

Don't they? Are there any academic AGW reports that are longer than that - and which need to PR-ed?

Nov 5, 2013 at 2:42 PM | Unregistered CommenterSnotrocket

In his exchange with Lilley, Stern is wrong on three counts (or more).
First, the Stern Review does use different discount rates for costs and benefits. The reasons that Stern gives here are valid reasons in principle, but do not apply to the case at hand. For instance, the cost estimates of climate policy assume perfect capital markets. Stern therefore cannot refer to capital market imperfections to justify a higher discount rate for the costs of climate policy.

Second, the discount rate in the Stern Review is at odds with the guidance of HM Treasury at that time.

Third, the Stern Review did not consider the income distribution, neither within nor between countries.

The Stern Review was not peer-reviewed, because Sir Nick (as he was at the time) feared that academics would leak the review to the press. In the end, journalists leaked the review to academics.

Nov 5, 2013 at 2:56 PM | Unregistered CommenterRichard Tol

Bob Ward is a ranting loon.

You are judged by the company you keep.

Nov 5, 2013 at 2:58 PM | Unregistered CommenterSwiss Bob

It doesn't matter how long the report is, how much it needs reviewing depends on what reliance is placed on the report. If you are going to waste hundreds of billions of smackeroos and destroy the economy based on a 700 page report, then the report should be peer-reviewed to death.

Nov 5, 2013 at 3:19 PM | Registered CommenterPhillip Bratby

For someone who doesn't understand how the weather affects consumers purchasing actions, and doesn't understand weather/climate, I have never understood how he can write a report on the economics of climate change. It is B*****Ks!

Nov 5, 2013 at 3:39 PM | Unregistered CommenterNeilC

Small correction, Lilley starts at 10:00AM, as opposed to 10 minutes in.

Nov 5, 2013 at 3:39 PM | Unregistered Commentermrsean2k

Small correction, Lilley starts at 10:00AM, as opposed to 10 minutes in.

Nov 5, 2013 at 3:39 PM | Unregistered Commentermrsean2k

Richard Tol:

Stern therefore cannot refer to capital market imperfections to justify a higher discount rate for the costs of climate policy.

Did you mean benefits rather than costs there?

the Stern Review did not consider the income distribution, neither within nor between countries.

That sounds very important, as Lilley was driving at the impact on the poorest now and in the near future. And chance of a layman's guide to the implications?

Nov 5, 2013 at 3:42 PM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

Snotrocket the MP to the left of Peter Lilley is Graham Stringer. Who has just replaced Barry Gardiner on the Energy and Climate Change Committee, which could get very interesting.

Nov 5, 2013 at 4:00 PM | Unregistered Commenterfenbeagleblog

A Weasel.

Nov 5, 2013 at 4:01 PM | Unregistered Commenterc777

Not been able to watch all but what I have seen is quite disconcerting. Not about the facts, insufficient time or detail for that but I was struck by the demeanour of the man.

There appears to be a total lack of humility almost an inherent inability to comprehend that anybody else could make a meaningful contribution.

Numerous, I am chair of, I did this in the treasury, I have worked with the poor, I am on this committee, I only regret I did not try to scare you more! Sounded like a Geoff Boycott cricket commentary.

Also it is not good to have a self professed infallible advising a bunch of self professed infallible decision makers. Although there are signs that at least a minority of the decision makers are now willing to make it clear that they can see through the cloak of infallibility.

Nov 5, 2013 at 4:03 PM | Registered CommenterGreen Sand

Well said Philip if it costs $$$billions every year then the report should be peer-reviewed to death.
- except that breaks a fundamental scientific principle :

"If it supports green/hedgefund dogma, then automatically it is unchallengable SCIENCE,
... if it contradicts green/hedgefund dogma then airtime must be given to every hippy to challenge it everyday of the week"

Nov 5, 2013 at 4:30 PM | Registered Commenterstewgreen

slippery as a barrel of eels

managed to dodge all the hard questions by hiding behind a barricade of testiculation

the country is f*cked as long as plonkers like Stern have any say in the matter

Nov 5, 2013 at 4:44 PM | Unregistered CommenterDolphinlegs

I wonder how the distribution of IQs looks for the movers and shakers of climate alarm compared with that for leaders in other areas of science and economics. I have an awful feeling that the former would be displaced well to the left of the latter. In other words, we may have been railroaded, PR'd, scared, and bamboozled into the current mess by people who are relatively unimpressive on the intellectual scale. I am inclined to add irresponsible on the moral one as well. We have lunatic energy policies, misleading and misguided and sometimes downright despicable targeting of children with scares about their future, and a whole new economic and political industry in and around 'carbon reduction' and the poisonous nostrums of 'sustainable development'. Somehow, it might just be a little easier to stomach if we had been led here by great minds and inspiring and admirable personalities. I can't for the life of me see a single one.

Nov 5, 2013 at 4:45 PM | Registered CommenterJohn Shade

I love your title. For those who missed the implications:

The Stern Gang were people who would snuggle up with absolutely any lowlife for short-term advantage.

Nov 5, 2013 at 4:55 PM | Unregistered Commenterjohanna

Stern thinks a lot of himself doesn't he? Quite happy to talk down to anybody, it would seem.

Nov 5, 2013 at 5:02 PM | Unregistered CommenterJeremy Poynton

This seems to fit Stern:
'Narcissistic Personality Disorder'. Definition:

"Narcissistic personality disorder is a mental disorder in which people have an inflated sense of their own importance and a deep need for admiration. Those with narcissistic personality disorder believe that they're superior to others and have little regard for other people's feelings. But behind this mask of ultra-confidence lies a fragile self-esteem, vulnerable to the slightest criticism".

Nuff said!

Nov 5, 2013 at 5:06 PM | Unregistered CommenterM. Stevens


Don't they? Are there any academic AGW reports that are longer than that - and which need to PR-ed?

As a matter of fact, yes, in general, they do get peer reviewed in general.

Most published books are peer reviewed. I was a peer reviewer a few years ago on a book that was right at 750 pages long.

Nov 5, 2013 at 5:07 PM | Unregistered CommenterCarrick

Stern starts off with the big fib that climate indicators are getting worse. He goes on to repeat that popular rubbish about China being serious about cutting CO2. As a concession he says that we might be able to add a carbon tarif on imported goods some time 20years from now if the other countries aren't playing ball.There's an unlimited opportunity for energy efficiency and apparently the carbon taxes aren't expensive. Well then, would he mind paying mine too? No/? He feels that the issues haven't been discussed enough with the public. Bring it on!

Ridley and Stringer were great but did I detect a bit of scepticism pervading the whole group?

Nov 5, 2013 at 5:38 PM | Unregistered CommenterTinyCO2


I can't for the life of me see a single one.

Indeed, I've said this before. Who are say the top 3 impressive folk who champion the IPCC "story" and can articulate it in a polite and moderately convincing way? Attenborough I suppose, Richard Betts maybe but it's definitely thin pickings for such a wide ranging programme.

The headline names are clearly charlatans; the Green journos are shocking; the 3rd rate Poly lecturers with Youtube videos are embarrassing; the warm bloggers are either unhealthily angry or have huge egos (or both); our interlopers here, who I (mostly) welcome, in truth have very little thought-provoking to say. Where are these 97% of great intellects who believe this unvalidated guff and can express it without anger or insult?

I truly want to hear the other side put its case in an open debate and have looked for it but without success. When brave souls like GeoffC and chums venture on to "opponent" blogs and politely argue the sceptic case the debate is just closed down rather than refuted. (Bravo for trying anyway chaps) .

Re this committee I just don't get what they're for. Far too cosy with everyone pussyfooting around. It's not like a court where you can pin the witness down to get at the facts. They just obfuscate for long enough and then move on to a different subject. Lilley obviously doesn't trust Stern but what will come of it? Will it just be a vote of Believers v Sceptics which is what happened when Stringer was outvoted once before (was it over Climategate?). Do the Government have to act on what Stern says or can they tell him to stuff it?

It just looks like an expensive charade to me.

Nov 5, 2013 at 5:42 PM | Registered CommenterSimonW

Do we know what Stern received in renumeration for this review?

Nov 5, 2013 at 6:00 PM | Unregistered CommenterCarrick

Bish: "[Update - just seen one of his minions passing him the answer to a question]"

Yep, I saw that too. It was where he was flannelling about the failure of Integrated Assessment Models at 10:39 and was able to quote the fact that the point was only mentioned in Chapter Six of a 27 Chapter book!!

I also noted, something that I hated in business when being 'pitched' to: he sat down and took his watch off and laid it down alongside his notes. Aarrrggghhhh!!

Nov 5, 2013 at 6:17 PM | Unregistered CommenterSnotrocket

@Richard D
Stern used a higher discount rate for the costs of climate policy than for its benefits, thus artificially inflating the benefit-cost ratio.

It is generally believed that both climate policy and climate change hit the poorest the hardest. You therefore cannot say that a greater concern for the poor leads to more or less stringent climate policy. In most cases, the underlying issues are better dealt with through policy other than climate policy. It is typically overlook that CO2 fertilization primarily benefits the poor.

Nov 5, 2013 at 6:45 PM | Unregistered CommenterRichard Tol

Stern also claimed that he was responsible for the Green Book, HM Treasury's guide to policy evaluation. The Green Book was published on 16 January 2003. Stern joined HM Treasury later that year. The Green Book was updated in 2011, several years after Stern's departure.

Nov 5, 2013 at 6:53 PM | Unregistered CommenterRichard Tol

Not directly related, but have you seen -

Hansen, among others, promotes nuclear power?

Nov 5, 2013 at 6:54 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn A

So, Stern is pleased to be working with people like Ottmar Edenhofer.

“But one must say clearly that we redistribute de facto the world’s wealth by climate policy…One has to free oneself from the illusion that international climate policy is environmental policy any more.” - Ottmar Edenhofer, Co-chair of IPCC WG III, New American, Nov. 19, 2010

Ottmar also stated: "Basically it’s a big mistake to discuss climate policy separately from the major themes of globalization. The climate summit in Cancun at the end of the month is not a climate conference, but one of the largest economic conferences since the Second World War. "

Has anybody told Stern and the gang that the warming ended 17 years ago?

Nov 5, 2013 at 6:54 PM | Unregistered Commenterfretslider

Stern doesn't seem to have read his own report. His answers to Lilly are not to the point, he babbles around the subject, goes into lengths of explanations like if to avoid to answer the questions.

Nov 5, 2013 at 7:05 PM | Unregistered Commenterbenpal

I was warned, many years ago as I began teaching, that Education, along with any large enterprise, operates on a similar fashion to a septic tank, in that all the big chunks float to the top. Stern and his minions are living proof and a wonderful demonstration of this.

Nov 5, 2013 at 7:26 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlexander K

Got a few minutes in, and I'm wondering, does he think he is God? He says that in effect if people do anything which changes anything in the environment, so breathing, eating, making a brick to build a house, they should pay. Maybe he's just stark staring mad. Notice the dry mouth delivery. Anyway I going to carry on watching, not sure how much more of his arrogance and lunacy I can stand but I'll give it go. How do these people get to positions of influence?

Nov 5, 2013 at 7:36 PM | Unregistered CommenterThe Prangwizard of England

I am surely not the only person to be distinctly underwhelmed by Peter Lilley's questioning of Lord Stern. To my mind, it was far too polite - and compliant. Stern needs to be firmly confronted, and should not have been allowed to get away being so insufferably arrogant and dismissive.

Nov 5, 2013 at 7:37 PM | Unregistered CommenterMartinW

"I am surely not the only person to be distinctly underwhelmed by Peter Lilley's questioning of Lord Stern. " MartinW

The problem with these types of mock deliberations is nobody is qualified to understand most of the issues... if any. Some might know more about the science but don't know the economics. Or visa versa. What is needed is teams of adversarial experts to counter the waffle and outright lies from both sides. The plitician could sit back and get a feel for which side makes the mose sense.

Did I catch Stern say he started his calculation at 435 ppm? Surely he meant 335 ppm? It's hard to actually listen and formulate questions and arguments unless you know the fields upsdie down.

Nov 5, 2013 at 8:06 PM | Unregistered CommenterTinyCO2

. Why on earth does he need a PR man
because its PR exercise designed to keep 'the cause ' on track , a good question is how paid for this 'support'
Although to be fair Bob 'fast fingers ' Ward is so bad he could not actual charge much in the first place.

Nov 5, 2013 at 8:33 PM | Unregistered CommenterKNR

Well I learnt quite a lot about Stern almost at every opportunity that he was chairman of some Commitee or other. It was as if he had to prop up his ignoble position by reminding us how eminent he is.
Of course he's just another opportunist who played his part in the downfall of our economy.

Nov 5, 2013 at 8:48 PM | Unregistered CommenterStacey

I was warned, many years ago as I began teaching, that Education, along with any large enterprise, operates on a similar fashion to a septic tank, in that all the big chunks float to the top. Stern and his minions are living proof and a wonderful demonstration of this.

Nov 5, 2013 at 7:26 PM | Alexander K
Note the frequent statement ... "as an academic". He made quite sure we didn't forget that. He'c learly a very important man. In his eyes.

Nov 5, 2013 at 8:57 PM | Registered Commenterjeremypoynton

I know I keep banging on about this but when will someone in authority address the issue of the wholesale cost of energy. In this debate it was accepted that coal is a cheaper means of generating electricity than gas but when Stern was talking about how little green taxes and levies were adding to bills no-one pointed out that green policies are forcing up the wholesale price of generation. One despairs.

Nov 5, 2013 at 9:03 PM | Unregistered CommenterDolphinlegs

This is just far too Alice in Wonderland for me, all this crazy talk about cost-benefit analyses for generations in the year 2200. Jesus H Christ, talk about the fecking lunatics running the asylum. Absolute fecking madness. FECK ME. SHEESH.

Nov 5, 2013 at 9:25 PM | Unregistered CommenterDavid, UK

Lord Stern? This snooty non-entity is a member of the House of Lords? I instantly assumed it was Arthur Daley, albeit an Arthur Daley grown infinitely smug by vast government funding.

Endlessly self-satisfied, ludicrously preening, grossly sneering and smarmy. And complete with spiv-style hair-cut.

What a creep.

And what a lesson for us poor sad sorry old sods faced with an over-mighty government and its myriad teat-suckers.

Nov 5, 2013 at 9:52 PM | Unregistered Commenteragouts

Of the three behind Stern, there's Bob Ward obviously and the chap in the middle could be Dimitri Zenghelis?

"When I'm not snapping, I don my spandex super-hero pants and work to prevent global warming. The PhD students do laugh, but I'm a Senior Visiting Fellow, Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change London School of Economics; an Associate Fellow Royal Institute of International Affairs (Chatham House) and a Senior Economic Adviser to Cisco."

Seems to have done the rounds promoting the benefits of "Green economics" with various videos on the web, it's all the governments fault apparently and he seems to be able say there's a 1 in 10 chance of 6 degrees of warming this century with a straight face.

It's difficult to know what to do with these people.

Nov 5, 2013 at 10:44 PM | Unregistered CommenterGSW

TinyCO2 @ 8:06pm

"visa versa" - the poetry of the credit card?

Nov 5, 2013 at 11:04 PM | Unregistered CommenterDavid Chappell

He said several times that he'd got it wrong in the report (about the assumed growth rate) but is now telling us "it's much worse than we thought" - or some-such. Wasn't convinced myself - especially with the flanneling about the different discount rates.

How do such people (and indeed most politicos and captains of industry) get to these positions of influence? I think we are doomed.

Nov 5, 2013 at 11:09 PM | Unregistered Commentergareth

The Stern gang reincarnated as CAGW terrorists?

Nov 5, 2013 at 11:13 PM | Unregistered CommenterJabba the Cat

"visa versa" - the poetry of the credit card?
David Chappell .

LOL I had a feeling it was wrong but couldn't be bothered looking it up. It's a wonder I can spell at all, given the amount of red S I got as a child. I'm responsible for the demise of several red biros and the creation of teacher wrinkles as they scowled at me.

Nov 5, 2013 at 11:24 PM | Unregistered CommenterTinyCO2

Stern is a charlatan. He knows he has misrepresented key data.
I wrote to him last year (see below) sent by recorded delivery.
Not even an acknowledgement.

Lord Stern of Brentford
House of Lords
London SW1A 0PW.
25th April, 2012.

Dear Lord Stern.

Your Review on the Economics of Climate Change (2006) concluded that the benefits of strong, early action on climate change far outweigh the costs of not acting. In particular your Review points to the potential negative impacts of climate change on water resources, food production, health, and the environment. Not surprisingly it has had a profound effect on Government Policy since.

As a plant physiologist I am particularly interested in your conclusion that high temperatures impact adversely on agricultural production. As an example you show how high temperatures result in marked reductions in yield on cool-season crops. This is illustrated in Figure 3.4 of your Review.

This figure is quoted as been taken from Wheeler et al. (1996). However on reading this paper it is apparent that Figure 3.4 is not a full description of the findings which are presented in Fig. 11 of Wheeler’s paper.

This figure shows the relationship between the number of grains per ear, and the maximum half-hourly temperature in the 5-day period ending at anthesis for crops grown at current, 380-390 umol.mol-1 CO2, (open triangles) and elevated, 684-713 umol.mol-1 CO2 (filled triangles)

It is clear from the original figure that any adverse effect of elevated temperature is entirely compensated for when accompanied by elevated CO2. Exactly the conditions which are projected in the future. Data that is missing from the figure in your Review.

Do you not agree that removal of this data paints a misleading and overly pessimistic picture of future agricultural productivity?

I await your comments with interest.

Yours sincerely,

Dr. Don Keiller (MA, PhD, Cantab).

Nov 5, 2013 at 11:42 PM | Unregistered CommenterDon Keiller

No wonder he wants a price system.

He didn't seem to mention that he is an advisor to the IDEAglobal Group, parent company of IDEAcarbon, a carbon finance and investment consultancy. Stern also advises HSBC bank and its Climate Partnership (HCP), which is one of its largest global community investments.

“HCP is a five-year US$100mil partnership between HSBC and the Earthwatch Institute, Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute and World Wide Fund for Nature to combat the urgent threat of climate change by inspiring action by individuals, businesses and governments worldwide.”

He was on the UN Finance Panel with Chris Huhne, Christine Lagarde and George Soros et al, set up after Copenhagen to garner $100 billion a year for climate mitigation in developing countries.

"High Level Climate Finance"

In 2009 Stern received an honorary doctorate from the TU Berlin, the address was given by his friend Ottmar Edenhofer, Schellnhuber's deputy at Potsdam.

They were joint authors of a paper in April 2009 for the G20 London summit, "Towards a Global Green Recovery - Recommendations for Immediate G20 Action",

This was followed by their Atlantic Task Force recommendations to the Policy Planning Staff of the German Federal Foreign Office 26 August 2009 on how this could be achieved.

He is also a member of the international advisory panel of an AU$400 million carbon capture and storage institution in Australia with, amongst others, Leena Srivastava of Pachauri’s TERI organisation.

With this amount of clear vested interest, how does he still manage to get away with appearing as an impartial "expert"?

Nov 5, 2013 at 11:43 PM | Registered Commenterdennisa

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