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« Hague's chosen fruitloop | Main | Walport: energy security is paramount »

Lord Deben and the bureaucratic mindset

Experts (it says here) at the University of Leeds have declared that the UK is not really cutting its carbon emissions; it is merely exporting them to China.

The analysis shows that CO2 emissions produced within the UK fell 194 million tonnes in 2012 compared with 1990.

But the cuts were outweighed by a rise of 280m tonnes created abroad during the manufacture of goods imported to Britain.

So it seems that these experts have discovered what Nigel Lawson has been saying for nearly ten years (H/T Paul Matthews). As he put it in An Appeal to Reason (2008):

...the UK has managed to limit its recorded growth in carbon dioxide emissions at modest cost, only by effectively outsourcing them to the developing world, in particular to China.

And Lawson was citing an even earlier study by Dieter Helm.

Graham Stringer has been banging about this for a long time too. Interestingly, in an exchange in Parliament last year, he was contradicted by Lord Deben, who claimed that because China was "doing things" about its emissions, the effect was diminishing:

If one were to rank countries according to the amount they are doing, China now would have to be well at the top. The argument that you move industry to China, for example, and therefore that results in greater emissions is increasingly not so.

Presumably that depends on the level of imports from China as well as the things that China is "doing" about emissions. But as these are going up anyway, and because the size of the carbon footprint unaccounted for is a whopping 100 million tonnes, it's fair to say that Lord Deben is talking out of his hat.

Despite this, the great man is still arguing the case today, quoted as arguing that the accounting approach that makes it look as if the UK is reducing its emisisons when in fact it is merely exporting them, is thoroughly to be admired.

We have considered using total emission figures more widely, but that would mean emissions being double counted - once in China's total and once in ours.

“More importantly, we have direct control over home-produced emissions. Manufacturing methods, carbon intensity, and energy distribution in China are outside our direct control.”

It's a perfect example of the bureaucratic mindset. Record-keeping and form matter far more than the realities on the ground and actually achieving anything.

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Reader Comments (41)

Come on Lord Deben, put an import ban on China after all we have Europe to trade with (;>)

Mar 19, 2015 at 10:49 AM | Unregistered Commenterson of mulder

Am I deluding myself in thinking that not too long ago Harrabin would not have put his name to any news such as this being critical of the great CO2 crusade?

Mar 19, 2015 at 10:52 AM | Unregistered CommenterAnthony Hanwell

Semantics, only viable once you have been pulled into the rabbit hole!

Mar 19, 2015 at 10:59 AM | Unregistered CommenterLord Beaverbrook

China benefits from exporting. So allocating all of the import emissions to the importers makes little sense. To me at least.

Mar 19, 2015 at 11:02 AM | Unregistered CommenterSteve Crook

Perhaps all acounting should be done this way? The UK is not in debt, that's a credit on another country's accounts. It's just needless red tape to record it twice.

Mar 19, 2015 at 11:04 AM | Unregistered CommenterTinyCO2

The Beeb have published this because the underlying message is: we have to do more to reduce domestic CO2 emissions.

In other words, despite exporting our industries elsewhere to achieve nothing apart from massively disadvantaging the UK, we have to disadvantage ourselves even more to achieve "effective" CO2 reductions.

Clearly we're living in a lunatic asylum and the lunatics are in charge.

Mar 19, 2015 at 11:07 AM | Unregistered CommenterTC

Anthony Hanwell, this isn't the first report of this kind. To warmists it's just evidence we have to try even harder.

Mar 19, 2015 at 11:07 AM | Unregistered CommenterTinyCO2


Mar 19, 2015 at 11:20 AM | Unregistered CommenterBloke down the pub

If one were to rank countries according to the amount they are doing, China now would have to be well at the top.
This is the 'trying' fallacy: Instead of committing to success by doing something concrete, it is enough to say one is 'going to try and do something': that is a commitment to failure. And when the failure ultimately occurs one can stand behind the excuse: "I only said I'd try".

In Deben's world it is enough for his friends in China to merely indicate they intend to do something - sometime - maybe - if we try - for him to conclude they are the good guys. In the meantime, we export our high-worth industry to China and beggar our own country, all for the shibboleth that is climate change.

Mar 19, 2015 at 11:27 AM | Registered CommenterHarry Passfield

And at the top of the Horrorbin BBC article we find (taraa!) ...

that photoshopped pollution belching from chimneys picture.

They are completely shameless aren't they!

Mar 19, 2015 at 11:32 AM | Unregistered Commentergareth

Lord Dribble is talking drivel, yet again. The only change that he has made since he was the useless John Selwyn Gummer is that he is now a lot richer, a point that particularly makes my blood heat up as his wealth is being leeched out of MY taxes – as are the riches of so many on this over-bloated green gravy train. It makes it even worse to realise that we will never be able to shout, “Enough!” and demand our money back; the best we can do is to vote for anyone OTHER THAN any of the LibLabCon leeches whenever we can.

Mar 19, 2015 at 11:45 AM | Registered CommenterRadical Rodent

As Mike Kelly pointed out in his Daily Mail article about the Royal Society, we exported our aluminium smelting industry plus the jobs it supported. Now we ship the aluminium back from china where it was smelted using energy from coal whereas we used to use gas.

Mar 19, 2015 at 11:49 AM | Unregistered CommenterSchrodinger's Cat

.......... and therefore that leads to greater emissions, is 'increasingly not so'.

That is pure "Yes Prime Minister". It is almost as though he was admitting that his previous economies with the truth, had developed in a non advantageous direction.

I think that suppliers of arse shaped flak jackets are going to have a good future. Most popular colour Green.

Mar 19, 2015 at 11:53 AM | Unregistered CommenterGolf Charlie

China is the largest market for Jaguar / Land Rover..

perhaps we should ban Chinese people from buying Land Rover Evoques?

Mar 19, 2015 at 11:57 AM | Unregistered CommenterBarry Woods

Now we ship the aluminium back from china where it was smelted using energy from coal whereas we used to use gas.
And not forgetting the cost in cash/pollution/CO2 involved in shipping the stuff halfway round the world.

Mar 19, 2015 at 12:02 PM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

The BBC has ramped up its campaigning for Paris, this was second lead news item on Radio 4, much concerned questioning from the Today presenters, and it looks like the World Service now refers to everything as The Climate related droughts/floods/heat/cold/melting/freezing (select as applicable).

We can expect a lot more green finger pointing and shaming in the months to come.

Mar 19, 2015 at 12:10 PM | Unregistered CommenterMikky

So someone remind me again amidst all this hullabaloo over CO2 levels ... what is the 'actual' effect its having on the planet ?

Mar 19, 2015 at 12:17 PM | Unregistered CommenterBLACK PEARL

Mikky, the BBC is now producing its own evidence, as to why tax payers should NOT continue to fund it. Obviously they will find someone else to blame, for their lack of journalistic/investigative skill.

Mar 19, 2015 at 12:27 PM | Unregistered CommenterGolf Charlie

This mind-set of ecoloons disgusts me. Recall the fuss made a couple of years ago when a ship breaker planned to scrap some old American ships in Hartlepool (?). All hell broke loose about the fact that these ships, having been built in a different era, contained asbestos and other unpleasant materials. The rational choice was to have them carefully taken apart in this country by specialists able to take appropriate precautions, thus providing local employment and taxable profits; or sending them - and with them the employment and profits - abroad, probably to be beached on some third-world beach and broken up by hand by poorly-paid locals with minimal PPE or other precautions. The eco-loons, of course, didn't care about the latter, they just shouted for the ships not to be allowed here.

Mar 19, 2015 at 12:45 PM | Unregistered CommenterDaveS

Read the article folks, you have got the wrong person. Roger quotes Lord Gummer!!!! Who he?

Mar 19, 2015 at 12:46 PM | Unregistered CommenterVees

We must go back to exporting opium to China. Stop them making things.

Mar 19, 2015 at 12:49 PM | Unregistered Commenteresmiff

BLACK PEARL , nobody knows about the effect of a rise in CO2 on the planet.

What is increasingly clear, and worse than we thought, is the fear of a rise in CO2 amongst a limited number of the species, homo sapiens. No actual evidence exists of a causal link with brain development or IQ, however, rather like homeopathic medicines, even the merest concept of a rise in CO2, does seem to have serious consequences, for that part of the brain that deals with logical thinking.

For those familiar with the original TV series Star Trek, it seems that fear of CO2, develops the opposite characteristics of Spock. No cure has yet been found, however temporary relief is obtained by sufferers, by spending other peoples money, and trying to make them feel equally miserable.

A whole new growth industry is forecast in looking for a cure, some psychoshrinks who have helped the condition develop, are likely to take full financial advantageous. Again.

Mar 19, 2015 at 12:50 PM | Unregistered CommenterGolf Charlie

Odd that Horrabin never allows comments on his BBC website pieces...

Wonder why..?

Mar 19, 2015 at 12:52 PM | Unregistered Commentersherlock1

They call it 'showing leadership'.

Mar 19, 2015 at 1:00 PM | Unregistered CommenterJamesG

"the manufacture of goods imported to Britain"

Such as PV panels and wind turbines..?

Mar 19, 2015 at 1:04 PM | Registered Commenterjamesp

jamesp, if they could get the Chinese comtainerships to mount some of their cargo of solar panels and wind turbines on the deck and power the ship..... We could wait and see how viable they were. And wait. And wait

Mar 19, 2015 at 1:32 PM | Unregistered CommenterGolf Charlie

Lord Deben is an interest case study because like Yeo , he is not merely a old school Tory his a Thatcherite, who is using his political position to line his own and an industry pockets at the expense of the public.
Now normal these are the very people hated by the left , the greens and the Guardian but by the application of 'magic green wash' they actual become heroes of these groups.

Not a nice guy at all , but they smart and nice do not have to go together.
And in case your wondering , yes he does have a back up generator at his house , and no wind power or solar in sight .

Mar 19, 2015 at 1:47 PM | Unregistered CommenterKnR

Chinese aluminium smelting is far more damaging than simply the effects of relying on coal fired power: most of their capacity is inefficient, using 20+kWh/kg compared with 13-14kWh/kg for modern Western plant. Moreover, they are notorious for lack of control of associated PFC emissions - 6-9,000 times as potent as a GHG as CO2. These factors far exceed the shipping penalty from an emissions point of view.

Mar 19, 2015 at 1:52 PM | Unregistered CommenterIt doesn't add up...

Is there really a new report ? only a 4 page briefing of 1388 paper words dated yesterday
- I can't find this supposedly newsworthy "new" report the links on the page linked to by Lord Haw Hawrabbin (The Greenblob's hysteria whaw) are not dated and when I examine the pdfs I find in thepaper on Consumption-based accounting in the UK is dated "downloaded On: 16 December 2014, At: 02:14" (It's 22 pages long and I gues it is the basis for the policy brief)

over on @pounce posted

A quick search on the above shows me the bBC has form in promoting this ” We should add the CO2 of other countries industries the UKs” in able to scream the Government is lying angle.
UK CO2 emissions rising, government advisers warn

Carbon emissions ‘hidden’ in imported goods revealed

UK in ‘delusion’ over emissions

Other than the bbC pushing out this story almost every 2 years the only other constant is the author… Roger Harrabin

"China is the largest market for Jaguar / Land Rover.."
Yes brilliant observation by Barry Woods the policy briefing I can see no indication that UK exports have had the CO2 deducted yes there is double counting

//Harrabin, the climate expert), conflated CO2, “carbon emissions” and pollution all together as one entity.//

Mar 19, 2015 at 2:05 PM | Registered Commenterstewgreen

I posted this in unthreaded this morning.

The today programme had the same piece from Leeds Uni. I agree with them, but it shows the futility of making energy expensive and driving manufacturing overseas. The only true way is to revert to cave dwelling subsistence. That is where we are heading. The is no green Nirvana with cheap renewable energy and consumer goods. The sooner we realise we are going to hell in a coal fired electric car the better.

Mar 19, 2015 at 3:10 PM | Registered CommenterBreath of Fresh Air

It takes a special kind of stupidity, even by the standards of the controversial BBC, to not realise that this is a logical conclusion of the policies being promoted by the BBC in defiance of their charter.
Well, duhhh...

And what do they expect to be the result in Paris? God only knows. It's like the EU thought they could casually impose a carbon tax on international flights from China while still selling aircraft to Chinese airlines. The Chinese response, of course, began with a P- and ended in -iss off.

Mar 19, 2015 at 3:14 PM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

Listen folks. All of these people are lying, they aren't making mistakes. They aren't stupid.

Mar 19, 2015 at 3:22 PM | Unregistered Commenteresmiff

Meanwhile, our Heir to the Throne - you know the one - takes every opportunity to berate us plebs into cutting our 'carbon footprints' - has hired a converted Airbus fitted out in ultimate luxury to take just TWENTYSIX passengers, for his trip with Camilla to the States...
According to the Daily Mail, rental cost is likely to be around £250000...
'But, d'you see,its VITAL for us to all behave RESPONSIBLY....'
Yeah - go talk to your flowers, Charles...

Mar 19, 2015 at 3:36 PM | Unregistered Commentersherlock1

'....its fair to say that Lord Deben is talking out of his hat...'

Well - Your Grace - I've never heard it called that before. So Kim Kardashian has a very large - hat..?

Mar 19, 2015 at 3:58 PM | Unregistered Commentersherlock1

China is trying so hard:
Coal Consumption

2003 868.2
2013 1925.3

Mar 19, 2015 at 4:08 PM | Unregistered CommenterBruce

My first thought was that Harrabin doesn't seem to realise that the more we work to reduce our own CO2 emissions, the more manufacturing we transfer to China.

Silly me, of course he does!

Mar 19, 2015 at 5:06 PM | Unregistered Commentermiket

miket, I am not sure you should imply too loudly that Harrabin does not know his arse from his elbow, as he wipes one of his elbows, twice a day, regular as clockwork, having washed it in the bidet. It is a very clean elbow, and he is very proud of it.

Mar 19, 2015 at 5:31 PM | Unregistered CommenterGolf Charlie

Thanks for another great article.

Mar 19, 2015 at 9:57 PM | Registered CommenterMikeHaseler

And us avid watchers of 'Yes Minister' perceived it to be an incredibly-well scripted comedy!

Mar 19, 2015 at 10:23 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlexander K

It's worse than we thought:

IIRC, previous estimates of the extra global emissions resulting from the UK's "cutback" were much more modest. I recall that for Denmark, a figure of 30% was quoted (i.e. each tonne of CO2 "saved" in Denmark resulted in 1.3 tonnes emitted elsewhere. This is a ratio of 280/194, or over 44% more.

Mar 20, 2015 at 11:09 AM | Unregistered CommenterIt doesn't add up...

There are more details on the outsourced emissions story here.

Mar 20, 2015 at 11:22 AM | Unregistered CommenterSimon Evans

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