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« Pointman on the state of the debate | Main | Quote of the day »

Another one bites the dust

Following close on the resignations of key officials at DECC, the Prime Minister's climate change adviser Ben Moxham has decided to call it a day too.

Ben Moxham, senior policy adviser on energy and the environment at Number 10, has become the latest in a line of key energy experts to leave government.

Moxham is understood to have become frustrated that climate change has slid down the government's agenda.

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Reader Comments (44)

Never heard of him. Is he a buddy of fast fingers Bob, ex-FoE, WWF, Greenpiss? I wonder what his salary was.

May 10, 2013 at 10:37 AM | Registered CommenterPhillip Bratby

Clearly no loss, I strongly suspect.

May 10, 2013 at 10:42 AM | Unregistered CommenterAgouts


Ben Moxham
Senior Adviser on Energy and the Environment, Number 10 Policy Unit

Ben Moxham has been Senior Policy Adviser on Energy and the Environment to the UK Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister since 2011.

Prior to joining Downing Street, he was a Vice President at specialist energy investor Riverstone Holdings, where he worked on renewable energy and gas investments in Europe, North America and South America. Mr Moxham spent the previous three years, from 2004-2007, at BP, first as head of external affairs for the company’s petrochemicals and refining subsidiary, Innovene, and then as part of the team that launched BP Alternative Energy. He started his career as Assistant Editor of Foreign Affairs magazine, based in New York.

Mr Moxham has a first-class degree in philosophy, politics and economics from Oxford University, and pursued postgraduate work at Harvard University’s Department of Government, where he was a teaching fellow in international relations on a Fulbright scholarship, and at the London Business School.

May 10, 2013 at 10:59 AM | Unregistered CommenterDerek

I hope there are plans to abolish the post, rather than replace him.

May 10, 2013 at 11:02 AM | Unregistered CommenterGeckko

Another trougher from the Oxford PPE useless idiot factory. He won't be sorely missed.

May 10, 2013 at 11:05 AM | Registered Commenterflaxdoctor

Tom Nelson ( draws attention to a heartfelt and encouraging essay which is relevant here since it begins with the famous Mackay quote

Men, it has been well said, think in herds; it will be seen that they go mad in herds, while they only recover their senses slowly, and one by one.

and goes on to note many promising signs of the tide turning.

Whether this Moxham chap is recovering his senses, or has merely spotted that his bosses seem to be recovering theirs, he is nevertheless another one 'being released' to borrow a phrase from the Pointman essay linked to by Tom:

The whole political movement has already made too many poor inward-looking decisions and from any conceivable strategic viewpoint, their position is by now unrecoverable. The mainstream politicians are avoiding them like the plague or keeping them in the waiting room for a change, and there’s an emergent pattern of alarmists being released from hitherto safe sinecures like NASA, the BBC and certain prestigious news outlets in places like Washington, amongst others. The embarrassment factor has just got too big and the establishment is, as they euphemistically say, reconfiguring its posture.

May 10, 2013 at 11:21 AM | Registered CommenterJohn Shade

I was aware of who Ben Moxham was, because it was his leaked letter to the prime minister in Q3 2011, with Gila Sacks, that led to the Telegraph calculating Environment policy reforms to add £300 to energy bills. That led to my posting my one and only e-petition that week, in September 2011: The impact of green policies on household energy bills. Happy days.

Thanks Derek for the sketch of the guy's previous career. Interesting that he began at Foreign Affairs:

Since its founding in 1922, Foreign Affairs has been the leading forum for serious discussion of American foreign policy and global affairs. It is published by the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), a non-profit and nonpartisan membership organization dedicated to improving the understanding of U.S. foreign policy and international affairs through the free exchange of ideas.

It's not surprising for someone from this stable to be "frustrated that climate change has slid down the government's agenda". What's remarkable is how Walter Russell Mead, Henry Kissinger Senior Fellow at the CFR from 2003, proclaimed The Death of Global Warming in February 2010 and has become one of the world's most influential sceptics. Some back the right horses, some don't.

May 10, 2013 at 11:27 AM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

Probably got an offer from the petro-chemical business he did not feel he could refuse.....

No inclination to stand his corner and try and influence the Governments attitude to climate change?

( Actually, we none of us will ever know the real reasons for his departure, in all likelihood, but such is now my cynicism about ALL these sorts of people that I regard them all with general contempt. Sometimes I dislike how bitter and twisted I have become....but I hate the people who have made me so even more. As far as I am concerned the Climate Wars reached a "Take No Prisoners" stage a long time ago.)

May 10, 2013 at 11:29 AM | Unregistered CommenterJack Savage

( Actually, we none of us will ever know the real reasons for his departure, in all likelihood, but such is now my cynicism about ALL these sorts of people that I regard them all with general contempt. Sometimes I dislike how bitter and twisted I have become....but I hate the people who have made me so even more. As far as I am concerned the Climate Wars reached a "Take No Prisoners" stage a long time ago.)

May 10, 2013 at 11:29 AM | Unregistered CommenterJack Savage

That's me also, Jack. I have come to detest these people with an insatiable vengence. I don't like it but it is no more than they deserve.

Even now none of them has the guts to renounce their past errors publicly. They just want to move on to another trough in this great scam.

May 10, 2013 at 11:57 AM | Unregistered CommenterStephen Richards


You beat me to it! I just looked up that link myself. Riverstone Holdings is (ex BP) Lord Browne's outfit:

He joined Riverstone in 2007 and is co-head of Riverstone’s Renewable Energy Funds.

Browne is also a member of Deutsche Bank European Advisory Board and of their Climate Change Advisory Board, along with Lord Oxburgh and John Schellnhuber from Potsdam. Pachauri was previously a member of that same board.

He likes to keep his options open, he is also a director at Cuadrilla.

May 10, 2013 at 12:07 PM | Unregistered CommenterDennisA

So think about this...if you have to employ high costing policy advisors to advise you about your various policies does this not tell you that the problem is your policies are pointlessly conplex and convoluted?

If you have to employ hi cost proles to tell you what your policies say then perhaps the only sensible solution is to rip those policies up abd replace them with policies based on common sense?

Hahaha...I know...this will never happen as far too many people have far too much invested in our current bloated form of governorship!


May 10, 2013 at 12:07 PM | Unregistered CommenterMailman

Stephen Richards:

I have come to detest these people with an insatiable vengence. I don't like it but it is no more than they deserve.

But does it work? Does it persuade people? Are we going to need to persuade people in order for the worst effects of climatism to be reversed, while preserving democracy and freedom generally?

May 10, 2013 at 12:10 PM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

@John Shade

Thanks John for the Pointman link. I particularly liked his suggested new mantra "people first, planet second".

May 10, 2013 at 12:10 PM | Unregistered Commentersimon abingdon

Back to what Stephen Richards and others have said about anger and how legitimate and effective it is. I admit I've been influenced by reading Iain Martin on supporters of UKIP three days ago:

... the language of the Ukippers online – so often men and not women, with "handles" such as "saxonsteve", thorofthanet", "wizardofwar" and "fightingforfreedominhispyjamas" – suggests that everyone has decided, and it is only the corrupt/degenerate/authoritarian/traitorous political and media class that stands in the way of freedom. Perhaps those who disagree are suffering from false consciousness?

Last Thursday Ukip did well, yet it was on a turnout of only 31 per cent in local elections in the Tory-minded bits of England outside the cities. And 80 per cent of those voting did not vote for Nigel Farage's outfit. I acknowledge, as I did ages ago when the Cameroons were saying that the Ukip threat was meaningless, that the party could have an enormous impact on the next general election. But it has not come anywhere close to winning the argument, let alone winning a seat in Parliament.

These points may not be much liked by many full-on Ukippers (*). Indeed, it is curious how those most exercised by political madness gone correct, sorry political correctness gone mad, who are forever saying that their opponents are trying to gag them, really do not like it when they are criticised. They are also – if they keep up this way of talking to the rest of us – only going to do an entirely legitimate cause grave damage by making Euroscepticism sound unreasonable, uncongenial and unhinged.

Not doing "an entirely legitimate cause grave damage" seems a worthy sentiment in the climate area too. Moxham's departure, after a number of others, suggests we are winning much more than we could have hoped in May 2010. Best not to blow it?

May 10, 2013 at 12:29 PM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

Following Richard's links (11.:27), this is the guy who said
"Our policies would have a relatively small impact on household gas prices
Our policies would increase household electricity prices by 25% in 2015 and 30% in 2020 compared to what they would have been in the absence of policies".
Good riddance.

May 10, 2013 at 12:32 PM | Registered CommenterPaul Matthews

Yeah, Paul, only a small impact. What pedants we are.

May 10, 2013 at 12:43 PM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

Someone gave ZDB an open goal to shoot into. Even as his (and probably my) comment is zamboni'd let's realise that cannot be a smart thing to do.

May 10, 2013 at 12:59 PM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

This has been an interesting fight, a bit like the Battle of Britain as it has been dominated by 'The Few', those intellectually capable of dog-fights in a highly specialised arena. On the one hand we had Big energy and Big Capital, the new fascists, invading the World with their vast Armada of fake science.

On the other hand, we had the generally older scientists and engineers who had kept quiet until CG1 but then gradually came to see through the fraud. Hence for 2 years or so the onlookers, including the MSM became aware of the Gallant Few being attacked by the massed blog armies paid for by the new Establishments and in spite of the overwhelming onslaught, the honest group has struggled through.

What I perceive is Fallon acting to tell the agents of Big Energy and Big Capital who took over DECC to walk before being pushed. The other side of this has been intense activity in private as the sceptics have been questioned by representatives of the Establishment of which this government is more than usually part of.

May 10, 2013 at 1:06 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlecm

"Moxham is understood to have become frustrated that climate change has slid down the government's agenda".

Maybe climate change positions no longer command pay like it used too. So where is he going to wreak havoc next?

May 10, 2013 at 1:27 PM | Unregistered CommenterMartyn

Maybe he was asked to leave!

May 10, 2013 at 1:41 PM | Unregistered CommenterMartyn

Richard Varney, in a post at wuwt sums up the basic problem of wind with devastating clarity:
"On the same theme, there will be no future economy of scale. Consider how the IC revolutionisd electronics whereby dozens, then hundreds, then thousands, then millions of transistors could be incorporated into ever increasing modules. This sort of economy of scale is not available for wind. Each wind turbine has to be a seperate structure, seperately errected, occupying its own seperate space, far away from its neighbour and seperately coupled up. There is no radical economy of scale in the pipeline.

Hence what we have now is largely what we will get. Never significantly more efficient, never significantly cheaper to install, never significantly occupying less land space. The cost of energy will never be significantly cheaper from these units. So subsidies for a fledgling industry are not well spent since it will never be significantly improved and thus can never be weaned off the subsidies. Without subsidies, windfarms are simply uneconomic."

I would suggest that this is the reality driving so many out of the green energy promotion business: there is an inevitable ship wreck ahead, and the wise rats are leaving now.

May 10, 2013 at 1:54 PM | Unregistered Commenterlurker, passing through laughing

@lurker If you're going to use the same word four times in one sentence spell it right cos it's obviously not a typo.

May 10, 2013 at 1:59 PM | Unregistered Commentersimon abingdon

@lurker So sorry, I see it's Richard Varney who can't spell.

May 10, 2013 at 2:08 PM | Unregistered Commentersimon abingdon

Lilley in charge of Energy? Has Cameron gone sane? UKIP really scared him, didn't they?

May 10, 2013 at 2:10 PM | Unregistered CommenterTheBigYinJames

I'm with Jack!

"But does it work? Does it persuade people?" as Richard Drake asks. Well, yes, Richard. I hate the people who cannot and will not be persuaded - because they have a vested interest in not being so - and ditto, trolls; I don't hate the people who are open-minded.

May 10, 2013 at 2:12 PM | Unregistered CommenterSnotrocket

My earlier posting seems to have vanished into hyperspace. I wrote:

Moxham is understood to have become frustrated that climate change has slid down the government's agenda."


I think more likely is that he glimpsed something coming down the turnpike that did not look good to him.

Now we read:

Peter Lilley is David Cameron's new energy adviser

So we now know what was the nightmare that Moxham had glimpsed.

Congrats to Lilley. He has come a long way since I saw him on TV, years ago, blaming the UK's economic problems on unmarried teenage mothers.

May 10, 2013 at 2:14 PM | Registered CommenterMartin A

So a couple of weeks ago Lilley became part of the PM's new policy advice group and now he's a No 10 energy adviser. Not a minister, so presumably he can stay on the DECC select committee? Certainly hope so. Will he still be able to write articles like this week's Spectator piece? Hope so.

Hope this isn't a Machiavellian move to neutralise him, but Lilley should be too experienced to be taken in by any manoeuvre like that.

May 10, 2013 at 2:18 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Page

I wasn't a great fan of Peter Lilley the first time he was in government, but energy policy needs someone who can see past the modern obsession with CO2 so I'll give him the benefit of the doubt for now. Maybe we can actually try and prodice some shale gas now and get a more reliable estimate fo the scale of the resources in the UK.

May 10, 2013 at 2:19 PM | Unregistered CommenterEddieo

Richard Drake,

Much of Nigel Lawson's performance in his earlier role makes my point. A deliberately stoked housing boom and excessive enthusiasm for the ERM being apparent major issues. However, he has gained a great deal of wisdom in his later years - clearly being 60 years from his PPE days is beneficial to his intellect.

May 10, 2013 at 2:23 PM | Registered Commenterflaxdoctor

And now he's not again.

May 10, 2013 at 2:29 PM | Unregistered CommenterTheBigYinJames

SayNo: your mentioning the ERM reminds me of the comments of Mark Reckless at the end of the Commons tributes to Thatcher a month ago. I'll quote in full because it seems so important:

It is a privilege to make the last Back-Bench speech in this debate. I had decided not to speak, but I thank you, Mr Speaker, for giving me the opportunity to do so now.

I came to the debate before Prayers and found that there was nowhere to sit on the Benches, so I sat just to my right on the floor. Just above me to the right was my hon. Friend the Member for Bournemouth West (Conor Burns). He told me—I was not aware of this—that that was the seat on which Margaret Thatcher sat after she stopped being Prime Minister. I felt that it would be a privilege to sit through the seven and a half hours of debate and tributes, and that I would not seek to speak, but I wish to address one area.

The day before yesterday, the noble Lord Bell said that Margaret Thatcher believed in principles, which perhaps set her apart from virtually any politician of today. I am not sure that that is fair and I believe that my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister, and many who sit behind him, were inspired by Margaret Thatcher, and that much of the politics in which she believed has found its way into our Government. In different ways, I believe that we are taking forward her legacy.

When I was at school, perhaps my oldest friend was Daniel Hannan, who is now an MEP. Together we observed the progress of the Thatcher Government, and we took a greater and greater interest, particularly in Europe. At the time, I was beginning to take an interest in economics and seeking to understand the interface of politics and economics. At the time, Margaret Thatcher and the now noble Lord Lawson were involved in a disagreement about shadowing the Deutschmark, and on that issue I believe that Margaret Thatcher was simply right. Even at the time, it seemed to me that it was just too good; we had had a consumer-led recovery, but as a teenager in my naive way I thought it was getting out of control. Nevertheless, I heard that there could not be a problem because the pound was at the same level against the Deutschmark and we had cut interest rates to keep it below three Deutschmarks. There was a disagreement between the Chancellor and the Prime Minister that I think was resolved terribly unfortunately for our country, but it was the Prime Minister who was right.

Towards the end of Margaret Thatcher’s time in office, Europe became the central driving issue. There is too much of a trend to say that in the last days of her premiership she had somehow lost her touch or that the man-management was not there. The issue of Europe did not develop afterwards; it was there in the central disagreement on economic policy in her Government.

I do not believe that Margaret Thatcher’s personal split with Geoffrey Howe was about personality. On 25 June 1989, Geoffrey Howe with the noble Lord Lawson said to Margaret Thatcher that unless she set a timetable to join the exchange rate mechanism, they would resign. She believed that Geoffrey Howe was behind that, and a month later she removed him from his post as Foreign Secretary. Eighteen months later she made a statement when she came back from the Rome summit, which we recall for “No. No. No.”, and which led to Geoffrey Howe’s resignation and his later speech that set in train the events leading to Margaret Thatcher’s downfall. Listening to that debate again this morning, what struck me was how she answered Tony Benn when he said to her, “You now say this, but how do we know that this is any more than you seeking partisan short-term advantage by wrapping yourself in the flag? It was you who took us into the ERM without consulting the British people, you who signed the Single European Act, and you who sat in a Cabinet that took us into the Common Market without a referendum.”

Margaret Thatcher answered him and said that she would have used different words. In essence, however, she agreed with him. There was a mea culpa. On those issues, he had been right and she regretted the stance that she had taken. She said those things while she was Prime Minister, and I believe that it set in train the process that led to her fall. However, she also inspired a new generation of politicians. There is the question whether we will ultimately be part of an ever-closer union in Europe or again be an independent country. Margaret Thatcher at least kept open that possibility by restoring our national strength, so that it could once again be resolved in favour of independence.

It is easy as one gets older to write off the young, as Lord Bell seemed to do, and I thought it was a brilliant stroke for a younger MP to retort in this way and give such a valuable historical perspective into the bargain.

I just wouldn't hang such important stuff on something as flimsy as an Oxford PPE. :)

May 10, 2013 at 2:38 PM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

They will have effectively silenced Peter Lilley if they've got him in the tent pissing out, but we'll see.

May 10, 2013 at 3:01 PM | Unregistered Commentergeronimo

I see Ben Moxham is another Oxford PPE graduate.

What is it about this course that;
a) almost always leads to a government position?
b) renders the holder completely lacking in common science?
c) arrogant beyond belief?

May 10, 2013 at 3:04 PM | Unregistered CommenterDon Keiller

He wishes to spend more time in the environment?

May 10, 2013 at 3:21 PM | Unregistered CommenterMike Haseler

Peter Lilley in the last month hasn't sounded to me like a man gagged or indeed able to be gagged. They know what they're getting. They can't say he's been given charge of energy and climate change policy - nor would I expect that - but they have signalled something significant. Not just Moxham but a whole raft of things are on the way out. But what will they do - can they do - about making the new energy bill in any way rational? A backlog of baloney I'm tempted to call it, as I watch the tweets of the greens go by.

May 10, 2013 at 3:22 PM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

Putting Lilley there is fair warning of some seismic changes coming down the line.


May 10, 2013 at 3:30 PM | Unregistered CommenterPointman

But if as reported above Tara Singh is to take over in the Department, we lose one warmista for another one. Not the way to go. We need a wholesale clearout of the ones in the DECC who have a vested interest in making insane policy to fill their boots. Now would not be soon enough!

May 10, 2013 at 3:52 PM | Unregistered CommenterDerek Buxton

Try as they might Con/Lib/Lab can never renounce their swallowing of the AGW nonsense and the concommitent risible energy policy that spread both land and sea with windmills to reinforce their guilt.
Only the UKIP railed against the madness and their manifesto to that effect was published just a few weeks ago.
It is too late for any of the other three parties to occupy that ground before the next general election.
Without more warming they are toast.
Is that an oxymoron?

May 10, 2013 at 4:02 PM | Unregistered Commenterroger

RAT, sinking ship.

May 10, 2013 at 4:04 PM | Unregistered Commenterstan stendera

Go, Peter Lilley. Is this the same man as Spitting Image used to caricature as a Gestapo officer?

Like Eddieo, I'll admit I wasn't his greatest fan in the past, but his "share price is rising".

May 10, 2013 at 5:33 PM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

No problem. I found the over all point very powerful. I leanred to long ago disregard most spelling issues. We are more like the 18th or early 19th century, when spelling was highly.....individualistic. Add to that the typing dyslexia so many of us suffer from, and the results are often quite entertaining.

May 10, 2013 at 5:53 PM | Unregistered Commenterhunter

I haven't posted on here before, usually though much less frequently on WUWT. But recently I've been reading about these shenanigans with the DECC, as well as some very funny comments. Plus I live in the UK so it's nice reading more local comments from time to time.

I despair at the idea of the DECC and that it appears that so little of them are engineering or science trained. But something happened today that was a little alarming and sorry to be a little off-topic. Two very nice well meaning girls came round my door this afternoon from Greenpeace. (I live in Bristol so not sure if this is relevant).

Anyway they started off by telling me Volkswagen had lobbied the EU to not cap carbon emissions. One of the girls was talking about dirty pollution from these cars when I said: "Hold up, Volkswagen are reknowned for making efficient cars." To which a reply of "Yes, that had that Blue Energy thing" (They used the exact wording - I'm paraphrasing here.

So I was getting the feeling that they wanted me to sign up for something. But they never actually told me what it was! Probably because I told them I was a physicist and had spent some time doing space engineering (satellite engines). I also had to tell them that no-one had actually measured back radiation in a convective environment and what it did to temperature of a surface. We talked about Denmark's windmills (apparently recently they generated over 3 months of power in one go). I tried to tell them that that was a freak event and usually they are about 3 to 10% efficient (I'm not sure of the numbers but it's low).

We talked about Peak Oil, which I agreed with, except that it's ecomonics. Like I read here, it's more about Peak Demand and restricting production than we are going to suddenly run out of oil. They talked about Arctic Ice and its decline over the last 30 years. I countered with we've only been able to look at the Arctic in detail over this time, yet there are account over the last century about open water passages in the ice. Also 2007 appears to be due to wind rather than a CO2 effect, itself not a fact (as said before).

At some point it felt like talking to Jehovis Witnesses (and apologies if you are one). They gave up after a while and said politely that their time would be better spent convincing somebody else, or something similar.

But here's the thing and it ties in with the DECC idiots - I'm sure some people signed up to this and that bothers me. It it was JW or some other bretheren group, the only person involved is that person. It doesn't harm or affect me.

But if people are signing up to a Greenpeace campaign (and a door to door canvassing one at that) then it had all the hallmarks of a con. I know the science is not settled (I actually prefer my science to be "solid", not "settled") but I can see the marketing and spin all to get money. And for something that I still don't know what it was about!

May 10, 2013 at 11:24 PM | Unregistered CommenterMicky H Corbett

key officials at DECC

They were not energy experts but lack-of-energy experts. Good riddence.

May 11, 2013 at 11:35 PM | Unregistered Commenterrobert of ottawa

It seems that the holder of a PPE from what most of us regard as 'good' universities is qualified to do little other than indulge the holder(s) in the fine art of politicing in the tradition of Niccolo Macciaveli. A PPE should be a red flag that leads to rejection for employment if it appears in any curriculum vitae, particularly in areas where the innocent taxpaying public may be affected. Similarly, another item in CVs which are worthy of much caution are 'business' degrees from any university 'school of business'.

May 13, 2013 at 5:31 AM | Unregistered CommenterAlexander K

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