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« Vision of awfulness | Main | Now I've heard everything »

Yeo clarifies to obscure

Tim Yeo has issued a statement "clarifying" his views on climate change:

In the light of what has appeared on the Telegraph website suggesting that I have changed my views about climate change, I wanted to make clear that this is not the case.

My views have remained the same for over two decades. I accept the overwhelming scientific evidence that human activities are having a major impact on the climate – there is an overwhelming probability that the impact of greenhouse gas emissions from human actions are contributing to climate change.

I will continue to press for urgent action on this matter, making the case that the move to a low carbon economy is not just right environmentally but also in our economic interest.

Meanwhile the Telegraph has released its audio recording of what Yeo said (here). His remarks do seem to me to represent a toning down of his position, but it's possible that we are over-interpreting.

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Reader Comments (51)

A phone call from Ibiza, or just from Ollie?

May 30, 2013 at 12:23 PM | Unregistered CommenterAthelstan.

There is nought more pious than a sinner who repenteth!

May 30, 2013 at 12:28 PM | Unregistered CommenterYertizz

A quick transcript of the Telegraph audio:

Well, I think, on climate change - first of all, the first thing to say is it does not represent any threat to the survival of the planet. None at all. The planet's survived much bigger changes to the climate than anything that's happening now.

Secondly, although I think the evidence that the climate is changing is now overwhelming, the causes are not absolutely clear. There could be natural causes, natural phases that are taking place. But there is, at least, a risk that the increased concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is a possible cause. We've just gone through the 400 parts per million, or whatever the figure is, this year.

So I think a prudent policy would say: if we can do things about that, which are no-regrets policies like being more efficient in the use of energy, like looking at non fossil-fuel sources, I think that's prudent to do so.

May 30, 2013 at 12:34 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlex Cull

It seems that, the sinner repented and quickly turned recidivist, indubitably - a Chameleon is an expert in changing his colours.

It would be interesting to be a fly on the walls of this room.....

Rep. McKinley to Host Discussion on the Origins and Response to Climate Change

Washington, D.C.—Today, Rep. David B. McKinley, P.E. (R-WV) announced a panel of distinguished experts in the field of climate science will conduct a panel discussion in Fairmont.

What: Discussion on the Origins and Response to Climate Change

Who: The Office of Rep. David B. McKinley, P.E. (R-WV) and the West Virginia High Tech Consortium Foundation

Where: W.Va. High Tech Consortium Foundation, 5000 NASA Boulevard, I-79 Technology Park in Fairmont, WV

When: Thursday, May 30th from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Marc Morano will be there - sparks will fly.

May 30, 2013 at 12:36 PM | Unregistered CommenterAthelstan.

No one said rowing backwards was going to be easy!

May 30, 2013 at 12:37 PM | Unregistered CommenterJack Savage

The "overwhelming scientific evidence". Is he talking about the fabled 97% consensus, I wonder, or has he conducted his own measurements?

If it is the former, then he should also know that 100% of the world’s top climate models, 44 models in all, projected a rise in global surface temperatures over the last 15 years.

And 100% of the climate models were wrong.

May 30, 2013 at 12:49 PM | Unregistered CommenterRick Bradford

But the trougher complete with a massive conflict of interest is still going to serve the interest of his own bank account. Even if we all have to starve to pay it. Then again how does making our industry "uncompetitive" possibly be in our interest?

May 30, 2013 at 12:50 PM | Unregistered CommenterDerek Buxton

" but also in our economic interest."

Is that the royal 'our'?

May 30, 2013 at 1:00 PM | Unregistered CommenterDaveS

He now has "the causes are not 'absolutely' clear" on his public record.

So, if someone takes him to task in 5 years time, when an ice-age starts, he can say "...but I did say that things weren't certain..."

While if someone from the Greens rings him up and threatens to withdraw his bribe much-needed funding, he can always say "... but all I said was that things weren't ABSOLUTELY clear..."

Political lesson 1.01....

May 30, 2013 at 1:30 PM | Unregistered CommenterDodgy Geezer

He can't be two faced - he wouldn't wear that one.

May 30, 2013 at 1:39 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlan Reed

Passed 400 - or whatever the figure is ?


May 30, 2013 at 1:46 PM | Unregistered CommenterHysteria

'....A low carbon economy is not just right environmentally...'
NO IT ISN'T - not the way the government's going about it, with wind farms and the like, which damage/destroy the environment...
'...also in our economic interest..'
NO IT ISN'T - it will also destroy our economy.
But - hey - we can't have facts getting in the way of a money-making religion...

May 30, 2013 at 1:54 PM | Unregistered Commentersherlock1

One avers that Mr Yeo is a constituent of Scunthorpe.

May 30, 2013 at 2:22 PM | Unregistered CommenterAdhominer

One believes it very likely that worried investors in Yeo & Co (Troughers to the Greenists) wanted reassurance that their reliably safe pair of hands hadn't turned into a pig in a poke.

And this little missive was as far as he could go without getting into even hotter water.

There is more on this to come, I think. Yeo has muddied, not clarified his position.

May 30, 2013 at 2:44 PM | Unregistered CommenterOink Oink

He's trying to sit on the fence and eat it too.

May 30, 2013 at 3:05 PM | Unregistered CommenterJimmy Haigh.

Thanks for the transcript Alex.

Wind farms are not no-regrets policies - they are blots on landscapes, kill wildlife, cost a packet and are an enforced handing over of our money to landowners and corporations/shareholders. Pushing energy prices up is not a no-regrets policy - we become uncompetitive as a nation and poorer as individuals. Putting in large hurdles in the way of renewing coal power stations is not a no-regrets policy - UK electricity supplies are more precarious as a result. Smart meters are not a no-regrets policy - the cost of installing them will be borne by consumers but the benefits will accrue to the suppliers as we manage their network for them. Delaying the exploitation of fracking is not a no-regrets policy - we could cut our CO2 emissions and become more competitive. Biofuels are not a no-regrets policy as has been rehearsed on here many times.

When we have people like Yeo in positions of authority and they cannot properly understand the precautionary principle is it any wonder we are in a mess?

May 30, 2013 at 3:15 PM | Unregistered CommenterGareth

Translation. I've just had a Ratner moment, admitting that the product I've been selling for years is somewhat soiled. If I talk very quickly and wave Leveson about, I may be able to bury the story with minimum damage to the various alternative power operations I am financially involved with.

May 30, 2013 at 3:18 PM | Unregistered CommenterGrumpy Old Man

What a display of the logic of a career politician.

“There is an overwhelming probability that the impact of greenhouse gas emissions from elephant farts are contributing to climate change,” is probably as accurate as Yeo’s contribution.

The only difference is that elephant farts cannot be taxed… yet.

May 30, 2013 at 3:41 PM | Unregistered CommenterRadical Rodent

Also – and I am now in high dudgeon mode, now – “....A low carbon economy is not just right environmentally...”

As all life forms on this planet are carbon-based, that is probably the most fallacious argument ever put forward – EVER!!!!!

May 30, 2013 at 3:47 PM | Unregistered CommenterRadical Rodent

It was his response to the MoS telling everyone that he was earning £245k/annum from renewable energy. He was trying to look even handed.

May 30, 2013 at 4:00 PM | Unregistered Commentergeronimo


"....My views have remained the same for over two decades....."

Really? No matter what new evidence is presented, Yeo has a fixed agenda. What does he glean from the current 17 year standstill in global temperatures?

May 30, 2013 at 4:01 PM | Unregistered CommenterDougS

"My views have remained the same for over two decades"

…the last three-quaters of which have failed to provide data to support that view.

Where is the Keynes who will ask him "When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?"

May 30, 2013 at 4:08 PM | Unregistered CommenterNeil McEvoy

Radical Rodent:

"....The only difference is that elephant farts cannot be taxed… yet...."

Careful RR - you don't want to put ideas in their heads.

Treasury: ' We're monitoring all elephant farts, especially in Africa. I can report a huge upsurge in the Maasai Mara, which means we'll have to bump up taxes to save the planet'.

May 30, 2013 at 4:24 PM | Unregistered CommenterDougS

@Gareth 3:15 pm.
[Wind Farms, raising energy prices, hurdles against coal power station renewals, Smart meters, Delaying fracking, Biofuels] are NOT "No Regrets" policies.

An excellent framework of argument.
Judith Curry has a thread on "Resilence vs Sustainability". Many of these non-No-Regrets policies also harm resilence of society.

May 30, 2013 at 4:26 PM | Unregistered CommenterStephen Rsaey


Joke not wasted on me. I can usually get to the centre of things.

May 30, 2013 at 4:39 PM | Unregistered Commenterpesadia

The question is, has he been at the trough for all those 20 years?

May 30, 2013 at 4:45 PM | Registered CommenterPhillip Bratby

@ Radical Rodent and DougS

They already have had the idea of taxing farts - cattle farts on UK farms. It appeared in a Cabinet Office paper sometime during Blair`s time in office. At first I thought someone was joking - but no, they were serious.

May 30, 2013 at 4:49 PM | Unregistered Commenteroldtimer

Does being a Yeo-Yeo mean you're highly strung?

May 30, 2013 at 5:09 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlecM

Mr Yeo appears as trustworthy in his public life as he is in his well-documented private life.

May 30, 2013 at 5:16 PM | Unregistered CommenterGummerMustGo

Mr Natural:

"He who sits on a fence forever obviously has no balls."

May 30, 2013 at 6:21 PM | Unregistered CommenterLeo Smith

Tim want a challenge sell all your interests in renewable energy and say you still beleive in Climate Change.

Do that and everyone on Bishop Hill will leave you alone and no one will ever mention your past private life ever again.

Come on Tim prove us all wrong.Or Tim are you a man or a coward.

May 30, 2013 at 6:33 PM | Unregistered Commenterjamspid

What part of 'The warming effect of Carbon Dioxide is strongly logarithmic' do these people not understand?How can they all be so thick? So carry on as before then, rich landowners and their windmills fleecing the rest of us.

May 30, 2013 at 6:56 PM | Unregistered Commentermariwarcwm

Mr. Yeo wants to both eat the cake and still have the cake. His support group is likely most unpleased over his bit accidental of frankness. I hope he is encouraged to be brave and nold and to reject the AGW fear mongers around him.

May 30, 2013 at 7:00 PM | Unregistered Commenterhunter

You don't have to to have all your lifts (elevators) go to the top floor to know that "...a low carbon economy is [not]... in our economic interest."

(Shades of Bernard Levin who managed to write a wonderful piece with the word 'not' left out 'by the compositor'...)

May 30, 2013 at 7:00 PM | Unregistered CommenterSnotrocket

Tim how would you to swap places with this guy and the other half a million Brits who are starving.

Tim this country is the 8th largest economy in the world.The pitiful amount of Electricity from your Wind Mils cant save them. But Burning the Coal and the Gas under the ground can.You're denying them that.You're a government minister Why we are on your case.

May 30, 2013 at 7:52 PM | Unregistered Commenterjamspid

I think he was just talking through his fake rational hat while addressing Russians over some gas deal, but the press got hold of it to his embarassment.

May 30, 2013 at 8:53 PM | Registered CommenterPharos

Hi, question off-topic: how do I read BH easily on an android device? The link "Navigation Tools/For mobile devices" doesn't seem to work. Cheers!

May 30, 2013 at 11:16 PM | Unregistered CommenterClunking Fist

May 30, 2013 at 5:09 PM | AlecM

Does being a Yeo-Yeo mean you're highly strung?

Should be strung very highly ;)

May 30, 2013 at 11:18 PM | Unregistered CommenterStreetcred

"What part of 'The warming effect of Carbon Dioxide is strongly logarithmic' do these people not understand?"

'Logarithmic' probably. 97% of greens (and the majority of journalists and MP's) are useless at maths.

May 30, 2013 at 11:18 PM | Registered Commenterjamesp
As it's already tomorrow in Australia, I thought I'd see what was GOING to happen.
From the Illawarra Mercury - the shape of things to come
"Wind turbine axed to make room for coal loader".

May 30, 2013 at 11:40 PM | Unregistered Commentertoad

As 1st post said of course he got quite a few urgent phone calls from UEA and Penn? hahaha

May 31, 2013 at 1:38 AM | Unregistered CommenterRogelio


May 31, 2013 at 1:53 AM | Unregistered CommenterClimate_Science_Researcher

Protected by both a yellow cloak of political protectiveness and a Teflon cloak of green righteousness, they’re above criticism but to my mind, those greedy pigs are no better than vicious muggers, beating an elderly pensioner to death in the street for her pennies.


May 31, 2013 at 2:16 AM | Unregistered CommenterPointman

Your Imminence,
You are being trolled by a dragon slayer.

May 31, 2013 at 2:34 AM | Unregistered Commenterlurker, passing through laughing

What a guy!
He will continue to press for more public funding for this thing no matter how much more money it earns him.

May 31, 2013 at 6:08 AM | Unregistered CommenterKeith L

Troll comments and follow-up removed.

May 31, 2013 at 8:04 AM | Registered CommenterBishop Hill

There is no ''overwhelming scientific evidence'' that humans affect climate. As Dr Lindzen of MIT puts it ''I have been looking for the human input into climate change for fourty years and have yet to find it in the noise of measurement''
So to what scientific evidence is Yeo referring?

May 31, 2013 at 12:04 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Marshall

John Marshall: The problem for lesser (often younger) men than Lindzen is that this seems to be saying:

You've been giving us at least $2 billion a year since 1992 and we still don't have a clue.

Such candour would be bound to be followed by budget reduction. It's also seen as highly embarrassing to funder and fundee alike.

It shouldn't be though. It's a wonderful field of study, simply too much for us at the moment. We need realistic politicians getting together with the likes of Lindzen and making some sensible, not necessarily drastic, cuts.

May 31, 2013 at 12:45 PM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

Time Yeo does not just want to have his cake and eat it, he also wants to keep it and sell it on – and charge you for eating it!

May 31, 2013 at 2:48 PM | Unregistered CommenterRadical Rodent

The issue of "net flows" has been stretched literally beyond belief in the climatology world. The Second Law is talking about an isolated system (See Wikipedia - "Laws of Thermodynamics") and any physicist should be able to tell you that a system in physics has a very specific definition. (Also see Wikipedia "System.") It can of course have a single component (often represented by a one-way heat transfer between two objects) but if it has more than one component, then the components must be interdependent.

Now, if radiation from a cooler atmosphere were actually able to add thermal energy to a warmer target on the surface, say a rock beside a tidal lake, then that is the first "component." The problem then to consider runs like this: if that extra energy is then stored for a while (say, until high tide) and the energy then transfers to some water on the surface by conduction, and then that same parcel of energy eventually gets back into the atmosphere with two further "components" such as evaporative cooling of the water, followed by subsequent release of latent heat, where then is the interdependence between any of these four separate components which you are in effect assuming to be all part of the one system, as defined by the Second Law? Sorry, the very first component (if it could occur) is not just a component of a larger system and it would be an outright and indisputable violation of the Second Law.

Think of Venus. Every 4-month long day its surface warms by 5 degrees, and then it cools by five degrees as the atmosphere radiates to space during the 4-month night. The surface temperatures are in the vicinity of 730K to 735K approximately. It takes a lot of energy to warm it by 5 degrees, and it doesn't happen in the first day of sunshine, especially when you remember that such Solar radiation reaching the surface has only about one tenth of the power of that reaching Earth's surface. So there must be a process in which energy builds up during the 4 month day.

Now we know that about 97.5% of incident Solar radiation is either reflected or absorbed by the atmosphere, so obviously the atmosphere will warm while the Sun is shining, but gradually over 4 months - say I.25 degree per month.

Clearly we are not talking about a radiative process warming the surface here, because incident radiation would have to be about 16,100W/m^2 into the surface to have any effect in that temperature range. And if it were it could probably do the job in a few hours, not 4 months. Furthermore, we at PSI would insist that any such radiation having any effect on such a hot surface would have to be directly from a hotter source, namely the Sun. We just don't believe in non-interdependent components violating the Second Law, so we rule out radiation from the colder atmosphere. In any event, with only about 10W/m^2 of incident insolation entering the surface, there's not a lot of energy to play with for back radiation, now is there?

Perhaps you think that the energy entering the TOA will do the trick. Well look at the figures - something like 2,600W/m^2 from memory before any is reflected away, which is much more than half of it. Perhaps we have about 1,000W/m^2 starting on its way into the atmosphere. (That's to 1 significant figure - it doesn't matter what the precise figure is.) How could the atmosphere somehow magnify this about 16 times before it comes out of the base of the atmosphere and into the surface, and why would it have so much more success getting through the atmosphere than did the Solar radiation? Remember - no more than 10W/m^2 could be from back radiation that was sending back energy from the surface, which was sending back energy from the Sun. By the way, Science of Doom has a totally incorrect figure of about 158W/m^2 (if I remember correctly) for the incident Solar radiation reaching the Venus surface. You'd think he would have checked the data from the Russian probes before using a figure which is at least 10 times the real one.

So the Venus surface is not heated by any "runaway greenhouse effect." If you're not convinced, then think about how energy gets down into the Uranus atmosphere which is mostly hydrogen and helium. I'm happy to discuss any questions you may have about my explanation of what is happening on these planets - and on Earth, where the Sun cannot heat our surface to 288K with direct Solar radiation alone. Just use SBL to convince yourself of this obvious fact.

Radiative forcing is not what is the primary determinant of Earth's mean surface temperature. As on Uranus and Venus, and throughout the universe, temperatures in any atmosphere have a propensity to follow a temperature gradient which is between about 65% and 100% of the quotient of the acceleration due to gravity and the weighted mean specific heat of the gases. The level of the plot is determined by the need for radiative balance, so that Is the "starting point." Then, at whatever temperature the plot intersects the surface, we have a pre-determined base supporting temperature which slows all radiative and non-radiative cooling at night, enabling the Sun (if applicable) to warm somewhat the next day, this being but a marginal effect, as is the slowing of cooling as the surface comes back towards the base temperature. No big changes in climate will occur without natural changes in the parameters just mentioned. That is the "New School of Thought" which we are starting to talk about at PSI. Keep watching for a new article on such within a few days.

Jun 2, 2013 at 5:50 AM | Unregistered CommenterDoug Cotton

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