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« Neil responds to Nucc | Main | Low-sensitivity model outperforms »
Monday
Jul222013

More slipperiness from Baroness Verma

From Hansard:

Lord Donoughue: To ask Her Majesty’s Government by how many degrees they forecast global temperatures will be reduced, compared with a baseline case of what would happen without intervention, as a direct result of the emissions reductions mandated by the Climate Change Act 2008 by (1) 2050, and (2) 2100.

Baroness Verma: The United Kingdom's 80% emissions reduction target for 2050 is derived from estimates of the UK's share of the global effort needed in order to keep the increase in global average temperature to below 2 Degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. The UK does not have emissions reduction target set for 2100. The UK's emissions reductions alone would result in a small but crucial proportion of total global emissions reductions, as all countries need to contribute to achieving the 2 degree goal. It is vital that we show leadership and demonstrate that the shift to a low carbon model is achievable in order to influence other major emitters to take action.

The beauty of asking a question to which the answer is a number is that this kind of evasion is patently obvious. No doubt the question will be put again in due course.

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Reader Comments (64)

The thing here is that both protagonists know the answer very well. We all do.

Jul 22, 2013 at 9:38 AM | Unregistered CommenterRB

What a pathetic charade..

Verma worming.

Jul 22, 2013 at 9:39 AM | Unregistered Commenterjones

But at least now it is on record that even the government doesn't know. Another stick to beat them with.

Jul 22, 2013 at 9:41 AM | Unregistered CommenterLatimer Alder

"Verma worming". Priceless!

Jul 22, 2013 at 9:41 AM | Unregistered CommenterBrent Hargreaves

"The UK does not have emissions reduction target set for 2100"

Is that true? Lord Donoughue is usually pretty careful with his questions, and the CCA should make it clear.

The rest of the answer misses the point by a country mile, of course. I almost feel sorry for the Baroness - damned if she does and damned if she doesn't!

Jul 22, 2013 at 9:42 AM | Registered Commenterjamesp

Breathtaking dishonesty.

Jul 22, 2013 at 9:42 AM | Unregistered CommenterStuck-Record

No number came the stern reply. Instead:

It is vital that we show leadership and demonstrate that the shift to a low carbon model is achievable in order to influence other major emitters to take action.

Another way of putting this would be that it is vital that the UK takes a massive gamble to show whether the shift to a low carbon model is achievable without crippling one's economy. We take the risk and the rest of the world (already laughing its head off, if my instincts are accurate) gets the benefit of seeing the disastrous result.

I'm a great admirer of how much the UK was willing to pay as a nation (and empire) to overcome Hitler. Even then Churchill was totally aware of his dependence on other countries, most of all the United States. That sacrifice was the real thing, leadership of which we can genuinely be proud. And this so-called leadership is fatuous, unnecessary and an insult to the memories of those who paid so dearly in earlier days.

Something I've been wanting to articulate for a little while. It took something this unresponsive from a government spokesperson in the House of Lords to trigger. My advice: don't pretend you're Churchill when in fact you're worse than Chamberlain in your naivety and appeasement of a combination of misanthropic greenies, greedy troughers and internationalist power-seekers.

Jul 22, 2013 at 9:50 AM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

Last year I asked the DECC a very similar question:

"What was the minimum per capita provision of water storage that the water regulator OfWat required water companies to maintain?"

I got a very similar answer. No figure, but a diatribe claiming that we all had to save water because there was a shortage of it.

Shortly after that I learned from other sources that the right answer would have been:

1 - We don't have one - we never bothered to set such an obvious basic 'good-practice' target
2 - Whatever the water companies are now providing is by definition deemed adequate
3 - We are enacting a policy designed to cut whatever provision is made now by 20% in the name of conservation. We will do this by simply not storing any more water as the population expands, thus forcing people to make do with less.

Jul 22, 2013 at 9:51 AM | Unregistered CommenterDodgy Geezer

Baroness Vermiform states "The United Kingdom's 80% emissions reduction target for 2050 is derived from estimates of the UK's share of the global effort needed in order to keep the increase in global average temperature to below 2 Degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels."

So what exactly is that fraction of a degree we will contribute to the "global effort" needed to keep the increase in global temperatures below 2C?

This table of % share of CO2 emissions (U.N. estimates) may prove helpful;

China 7,031,916 23.5%

United States 5,461,014 18.27%

E.U. 4,177,817 13.98%

India 1,742,698 5.83%

Russia 1,708,653 5.72%

Japan 1,208,163 4.04%

Canada 544,091 1.82%

Iran 538,404 1.8%

United Kingdom 522,856 1.75%

So by wrecking our industry and freezing our poor, we will "save" about 1.5% of global emissions.
For simplicity, assuming a linear relationship between CO2 and temperature, our £400+ billion sacrifice will lower global temperatures by (2/100)*1.5 = 0.03C :-)

Jul 22, 2013 at 9:58 AM | Unregistered CommenterDon Keiller

Thank you kindly Brent.

Glad the subtlety of the allusion wasn't completely lost!

Jul 22, 2013 at 10:00 AM | Unregistered Commenterjones

The "correct" answer would be fairly meaningless since the calculation would, presumably, be based on the model currently used by the Met Office. Even so, Baroness Verma should have given that answer. It would have been embarrassing since the size of the reduction in global temperatures would have been minuscule but at least her honesty would have gained her a modicum of respect. She could then have added that if everyone said "we won't do anything because the impact of our actions will be minuscule" then nothing at all would be done and that would be dangerous.

Many people would have disagreed with such an answer, but at least it would have seemed a relatively honest one for a politician - especially for one who wants to combat global warming!

Jul 22, 2013 at 10:01 AM | Unregistered CommenterRoy

"It is vital that we show leadership and demonstrate.."

One way might be to answer the question!

Jul 22, 2013 at 10:15 AM | Registered Commenterjamesp

"Parliamentary language" eh?

When are we going to see / hear somebody sinking their teeth in and not letting go in a single session? - possibly at the risk of some disciplinary measures?

It's far too easy for ministers to slime off questions with assistance of the Speaker - when questions like this are asked it is the duty of the Speaker to hold the government to account.

We need some very "unparliamentary language" - the political class need a kick up their collective behinds.

This charade / pantomime is embarrassing - the Emperor is b****k naked and the overwhelming majority are ignoring it one has to assume because they don't want to be even temporarily kicked off the gravy train.

Jul 22, 2013 at 10:24 AM | Registered Commentertomo

"...It is vital that we show leadership and demonstrate that the shift to a low carbon model is achievable in order to influence other major emitters to take action...."

In plain English: We intend to demolish our industrial base so that Ed Davey and Ed Miliband can feel good and David Cameron can hold his head high in world climate discussions and claim the moral high ground.

Committing commercial suicide while your competitors laugh behind your back - 'pathetic' doesn't even begin to describe such madness!

Jul 22, 2013 at 10:43 AM | Unregistered CommenterDougS

Tim Montgomerie has a withering leader on the huge cost burden and asinine futility of green gesture politics in the Times today, highlighted by the GWPF

http://www.thegwpf.org/tim-montgomerie-greens-defy-gravity-finished/

Jul 22, 2013 at 10:45 AM | Registered CommenterPharos

Waist deep in the Big Muddy.
====================

Jul 22, 2013 at 10:48 AM | Unregistered Commenterkim

Pharos: Thank you. James Delingpole hasn't always been the greatest fan of Tim Montgomerie's irenic style but I think that's what you would call coming off the fence. :)

Jul 22, 2013 at 10:51 AM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

"The UK's emissions reductions alone would result in a small but crucial proportion of total global emissions reductions,..." I pr4esume that His Lordship will ask just what is meant by 'small.'

Jul 22, 2013 at 11:09 AM | Unregistered CommenterPeter Stroud

For simplicity, assuming a linear relationship between CO2 and temperature, our £400+ billion sacrifice will lower global temperatures by (2/100)*1.5 = 0.03C :-)
Jul 22, 2013 at 9:58 AM Don Keiller

And forgetting simplicity and instead assuming the logarithmic relation for CO2 forcing* how much will we have lowered global temperatures?

_______________________________________________________________________________


* delta F = 5.35 ln (C/C0), which BH commenter Entropic Man will assure you is the precise formula, despite it being inherently incapable of being measured.

Jul 22, 2013 at 11:19 AM | Registered CommenterMartin A

Perhaps the Nobel Lord could rephrase the question as follows

Lord Donoughue: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what selection of weasel words and obfuscations they will use in answering the question by how many degrees they forecast global temperatures will be reduced, compared with a baseline case of what would happen without intervention, as a direct result of the emissions reductions mandated by the Climate Change Act 2008 by (1) 2050, and (2) 2100.

Jul 22, 2013 at 11:23 AM | Unregistered CommenterAnoneumouse

A while back Bjorn Lomborg was on TV as part of a climate debate. He stated that the UK's efforts would cost around £200bn and, using official models, would reduce global temps by 2100 by less than two thousandths of a degree.
If memory serves, the other participant was from DECC. He came out with much the same waffle as above, avoiding any hard numbers entirely.
It will be interesting to follow this - I would expect endless evasion and obfuscation as giving out the figures would be a disaster for them.

Jul 22, 2013 at 11:25 AM | Registered Commentermikeh

Isn't it about time someone challenged the two degree myth?

Jul 22, 2013 at 11:26 AM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

While I fully agree that the whole CO2 reduction thing is pointless, and the 2C target seems already acheived, I have some sympathy for the Baroness in that I think the question itself is daft.

This to me is no different from the child who throws sweet wrappers on the floor and the parent who tries to explain that this is a bad thing, and if everyone did it the streets would be a mess.

The Lord's question seems to me like the child responding with "exactly what would be reduction in the level of street rubbish by the year 2100 if I stopped throwing sweet wrappers into the street?".

Jul 22, 2013 at 11:31 AM | Registered Commentersteve ta

If the fine Baroness Verma won't (or can't) shed light on this tricky issue, let's see if we can come up with a figure ourselves.

If we extrapolate from now to 2050 and allow a 2c 'saving', of which the UK contributes via our output of 2% of global CO2 emisions, then we arrive at 2c x 2% = 0.04C.

Divide that by 37 years (to 2050) and that's a whopping 0.00108c per year. Phew, what a saving!
Push that figure to 2100, ie divide by 87 years, and it's a magnificent saving off 0.00045c per year. (I think!)

Worth every penny....

Jul 22, 2013 at 11:34 AM | Unregistered Commentercheshirered

At the risk of causing further problems for Baroness Verma, I recently put the following question to the Met Office:

"The following statement was made in Parliament, in response to Parliamentary Question HL1080:

“The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Baroness Verma): General circulation models developed by the Met Office are continually reassessed against observations and compared against international climate models through workshops and peer reviewed publications. The validity of general circulation modelling has been established for over four decades, as evident in the peer-reviewed literature. Such models are further developed in light of improvements in scientific understanding of the climate system and technical advances in computing capability.”

Please could you supply me with the references to the evidence in the peer-reviewed literature that have established the validity of general circulation modelling for over four decades?"

The MO are in the process of responding to my question. The answer will be interesting, beacuse as far as I know there have been no peer-reviewed publications that have validated GCM methodology over multi decadal timescales - but I stand to be corrected...

Jul 22, 2013 at 11:51 AM | Unregistered CommenterRoger Longstaff

Someone should point out to Baroness Bifida that the planet already is meeting the goal of reducing global warming as cataclysmically predicted by the IPCC. Or at least my planet is. I can't speak for hers.

Who'd have thought that the putative problem could be ameliorated by simply pi$$ing in the wind, eh? By acting to impoverish ourselves without the co-operation of the major powers?

Jul 22, 2013 at 12:04 PM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

@ steveta
"The Lord's question seems to me like the child responding with "exactly what would be reduction in the level of street rubbish by the year 2100 if I stopped throwing sweet wrappers into the street?".
-----------------------------------------------------------------
Not throwing your sweet wrappers in the street doesn't cost anything.

Jul 22, 2013 at 12:23 PM | Registered Commenterjohanna

Steveta,

Except the analogy is suspect.

The child does not incur a crippling expense by the act of NOT throwing the wrapper down. To be correct, the analogy would have to be that it costs the child most of his pocket money to hold onto the wrapper, preventing him from buying more sweets at all.

To run with the analogy, political Greens don't care about the litter, they care about the sweets.

Jul 22, 2013 at 12:26 PM | Unregistered CommenterStuck-Record

Michael: Yep, at what point is one allowed to say that what is needed to meet the 2 deg C target is to do nothing? Problem is, with a system exhibiting spatio-temporal chaos and a completely unknown 'governor' mechanism providing astounding climatic stability for 4 billion years, how can one ever prove for certain that it is right to do nothing?

But it cuts both ways. With such a system how would one ever know that one had cut CO2 emissions enough to achieve such a goal? That's why I decided on the train to Oxford for the first pub meet with J Jones, Rhoda and co that I was not only a sceptic of climate disaster, which I am, I was an even greater sceptic that such a disaster could ever be predictably averted by the actions of man, even with world-government level coercion.

The power and loot a few gain over the rest of humankind in the meantime, that such a process entails, also makes me a tad sceptical of some people's motives for obfuscation. But, back to the Baroness, most obfuscation is just going along with the crowd I guess.

Jul 22, 2013 at 12:28 PM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

Vermin?

Jul 22, 2013 at 12:36 PM | Unregistered Commenterchippy

Richard Drake,
Thank you for the idea of Churchill followed by Would-be Churchills. I wonder if the damage done by the "would-bes" is worse through their emulation than otherwise. I do think this sort of thing is inevitable in the wake of someone like him, don't you?

Jul 22, 2013 at 12:37 PM | Registered Commenterjferguson

Perhaps her Baronnessship should have listened to the US Senate climate hearing last week, as when the witnesses were asked if they agreed with President Obama's climate position/recent speech, there was stony silence! So even Obama's Democrat supporters don't believe him.

Jul 22, 2013 at 12:49 PM | Unregistered CommenterSimon

Richard Drake,
Thank you for the idea of Churchill followed by Would-be Churchills. I wonder if the damage done by the "would-bes" is worse through their emulation than otherwise. I do think this sort of thing is inevitable in the wake of someone like him, don't you?

Jul 22, 2013 at 12:37 PM | Registered Commenterjferguson
---------------------------------------------------
Yes. I worry about politicians who wish to 'leave a legacy', and Johanna has written of green activists who wish to be heroic.

Like Joseph Conrad's Lord Jim, if the opportunity to be a hero doesn't come to them, they have a tendency to go in search of the opportunity they feel they deserve. It is part of the human condition, I think. But I do not recognise a right to inflict hardship and suffering on others merely to satisfy the ego or assuage a tormented conscience.

Of course, management consultants will merely call it "leadership". Especially when the rest of us never consented to be led to any such place.

Jul 22, 2013 at 12:57 PM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

It is vital that we show leadership and demonstrate that the shift to a low carbon model is achievable in order to influence other major emitters to take action

Hmmm. Even if we do demonstrate that the shift to the low carbon model is achievable, why would that influence other major emitters to take action? Can you not hear them, discussing the matter in China's central committe: "I say, the UK have demonstrated that a shift to a low carbon model is achievable. Comrades, let us not spare a moment before emulating this worthy example; and let us send a note of congratulation to our British friends for showing us the right way forward!" Or might not the Chinese leadership gently chuckle at the sight of the great imperialist running dogs shooting themselves in the foot? Or - an outcome our political elite hahaha would cry themselves to sleep over - might the Chinese not even notice what silly little Britain has been up to?

Jul 22, 2013 at 1:45 PM | Unregistered Commenterbill

jferguson:

I do think this sort of thing is inevitable in the wake of someone like him, don't you?

It's more than Churchill himself; it's something that he rightly saw would be a key part of our DNA in the future, if successful:

What General Weygand called the Battle of France is over. I expect that the Battle of Britain is about to begin. Upon this battle depends the survival of Christian civilization. Upon it depends our own British life, and the long continuity of our institutions and our Empire. The whole fury and might of the enemy must very soon be turned on us.

Hitler knows that he will have to break us in this Island or lose the war. If we can stand up to him, all Europe may be free and the life of the world may move forward into broad, sunlit uplands. But if we fail, then the whole world, including the United States, including all that we have known and cared for, will sink into the abyss of a new Dark Age made more sinister, and perhaps more protracted, by the lights of perverted science.

Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties, and so bear ourselves that if the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will still say, 'This was their finest hour.'

Note the role of perverted science in there, by the way.

This ideal of sacrificing ourselves for the greater good of the world is about the finest one could come up with for any country. However, like any ideal, it too can be perverted. Which one is it in this case? I'm content to let the perceptive BH reader decide.

Jul 22, 2013 at 1:51 PM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

'It is vital that we show leadership...'
To whom, exactly, is it 'vital' that we demonstrate this self-flagellating 'leadership..?

Jul 22, 2013 at 2:01 PM | Unregistered Commentersherlock1

It's vital, as Peter Lilley has been saying, to preserve our post-imperial illusions. No unnecessary suffering of the poor and decimation of our industry is too much for that noble end.

Jul 22, 2013 at 2:13 PM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

@Churchill: "Perverted science"

Nice catch, Richard.

Jul 22, 2013 at 3:41 PM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

The answer is revealing. And is, I think, a good illustration of my oft-repeated view that our best line of attack is on the policy, not the “science”. What the Baroness is really saying is this:

OK, Donoughue, we both know that the direct effect of this policy on global temperatures would be vanishingly small. But you’ve missed the point: the provision of “leadership” to the world. We have a duty to take up the White Man’s burden.

As others have pointed out, it’s arrogant, patronising, irresponsible, embarrassing, neo-colonial nonsense.

The standard (only?) defence is that suggested by steveta – the child throwing sweet wrappers into the street analogy. But, as so often with argument by analogy, this one doesn’t work; I don’t think I need spell out why.

Jul 22, 2013 at 3:46 PM | Registered CommenterRobin Guenier

Michael: Arresting phrase in June 1940, over four years before the stuff of nightmares was revealed.

Thank you for your earlier contribution by the way. There is so much that could be said. The danger of man's search for meaning, in the otherwise very positive phrase of one Auschwitz survivor. How to engage in that quest without bringing oppression to the most vulnerable in society. History suggests it's not as trivial as it sounds.

But to my mind that's partly what the worst form of government, apart from all the other forms, is for. And with that guy's example, warts and all, we have a better chance than most.

Jul 22, 2013 at 4:00 PM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

It would probably be wise for the good Lord to specify which planet he requires the answer based on, ours or Baroness Verma's. Because it's been clear for quite some time from the answers offered to other perfectly reasonable questions, the lady inhabits a planet of her own.

Jul 22, 2013 at 4:08 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn B

At least the answer by Baroness Verma told us what we needed to know; that this whole thing has nothing to do with global warming and everything to do with political posturing.
When they talk of showing leadership to the world, they are not talking about the scientists showing leadership, not the media, not the BBC, not the activists or the NGOs. This is all about CAMERON.
We are all paying and some are suffering and the end product is intended to be political stature for Cameron. Do you really want to vote for this cretin?

Jul 22, 2013 at 4:13 PM | Registered CommenterDung

Re: Dung

This is all about CAMERON our political elite.

On this issue there is no difference between any of the main political parties. Blame them all.

Jul 22, 2013 at 4:22 PM | Unregistered CommenterTerryS

BARONESS VERMA FROM “HIGH FASHION” TO CLIMATE & ENERGY POLICY!!!

Biography
Baroness Verma was appointed Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for the Department of Energy & Climate Change in September 2012. She is a Conservative member of the House of Lords.
Education
Baroness Verma attended local schools and university in Leicester.
Career outside politics
Baroness Verma started her first business at the age of 19 in high fashion, supplying high street multiples. In 2000 she changed her business to the service sector.
Personal life
Baroness Verma was born in Punjab, India, and moved to the UK with her parents when she was 1 year old. She lives in Leicester with her husband and has a daughter and a son.

No wonder we can’t get any rational answers out of the Baroness! Why did Verma take on a job in the Lords that she is clearly so unqualified to do?

Experience in “High fashion” and NO higher education at all!

No wonder the Baroness is unable to comprehend our questions - she has obviously been set up to fail - which in a way is rather sexist and racist. What a rotten government!

Jul 22, 2013 at 4:22 PM | Unregistered CommenterFay Tuncay

I have asked Nick Clegg on 2 separate occasions to identify the benefits that his policies to combat climate change have achieved and the benefits which he anticipates they will achieve. On both occasions he has refused to answer. Indeed, he refuses to answer any more questions that I might pose on climate change.

Jul 22, 2013 at 4:35 PM | Unregistered CommenterOneTrophyWin

Does any one of you suppose that by "perverted science" he meant eugenics?

How nice that we have our very own "perverted science."

Jul 22, 2013 at 4:41 PM | Registered Commenterjferguson

Fay - One of Cameron's climate apostles elevated for such

http://eureferendum.com/blogview.aspx?blogno=83324

Jul 22, 2013 at 4:42 PM | Registered CommenterPharos

TerryS

Much as I hated the Labour government, I have believed that their climate policy was based on wrong headed ideology not political prestige and at the time the world seemed united in its desire to act. Today is totally different and most countries now do not sign up to carbon reduction, rather they prioritise their economies in these tough times. Cameron is out on his own as the world's most arrogant idiot.

Jul 22, 2013 at 4:47 PM | Registered CommenterDung

jf: I'm sure Churchill would have been aware of the eugenics and related racial hygiene theories, having spoken out on those issues in the 30s, with the help of the intelligence of Ralph Wigram in the Foreign Office, who later committed suicide under the joint pressure of the dire situation and the threats of the appeasers. So Churchill would I think have been including that. But of course he would also be thinking of the 'applied science' of Blitzkrieg, which was proving so devastating as the military foundation, as it turned out, for the Holocaust.

And now, as people like CS Lewis warned at the time, in books like The Abolition of Man and That Hideous Strength, we find some perverted science within our own bosom. But from Churchill and Wigram we learn the hard way that courage and perseverance under pressure is never wrong.

Jul 22, 2013 at 5:00 PM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

@Pharos TEFLON DAVE

Okay. I can see what’s going on. But I think the Baroness should have the good sense to save herself from the humiliation of being associated with this disastrous Energy Bill. Cameron will be able to point to Ed Davey, Baroness Verma et al and lay all the blame on them. Another example of Teflon Dave.

Jul 22, 2013 at 6:43 PM | Unregistered CommenterFay Tuncay

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