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« Lewis lands a blow | Main | Developing a consistent message »
Thursday
Mar102016

Barefaced

Professor Catherine Mitchell is one of the those public funded political activists who masquerades as an academic researcher. She has come to the attention of this blog from time to time over the years.

Today's Telegraph carries a letter from the good professor, responding to a Rupert Darwall article about the UK's energy crisis. Here it is:

SIR – Rupert Darwall’s polemic on our energy crunch makes three major mistakes.

First, Britain is not going to see a US-style “shale revolution”; the economics don’t stack up, and British people don’t want fracking.

Secondly, wind and solar do not impose significant “hidden” costs on consumers. The Committee on Climate Change, which advises the Government, calculates the cost at about £10 per year per household.

Thirdly, Mr Darwall assumes that climate change is not a serious issue. It is serious, so a fossil-fuels-as-usual electricity system will not do.

Renewable energy can deliver the market-based electricity system that Mr Darwall wants, but getting there entails some years of transitional support. Renewables will not need the endless subsidies associated with nuclear power and fossil fuels.

Catherine Mitchell
Professor of Energy Policy, University of Exeter
Penryn, Cornwall

Of course, the Committee on Climate Change's estimate on the cost of renewables policies are based on a comparison of renewables against a theoretical world in which fossil fuel prices start high and then get even higher. It's hard to imagine that a "Professor of Energy Policy" is unaware of this.

File under "barefaced".

 

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Reader Comments (187)

4th rate analysis from a 4th rate institution.

Mar 10, 2016 at 9:43 AM | Unregistered CommenterJohn B

Exeter: isn't that where the Hardley Scenter of the Metyourillogcal Oafish is based?

Mar 10, 2016 at 9:45 AM | Unregistered CommenterNCC 1701E

I've crossed swords with this woman and her acolytes on a number of occasions. She is another history graduate and journalist who has made an academic career out of propaganda on a subject she is not qualified to speak about. She has a long history of propaganda.

Mar 10, 2016 at 9:47 AM | Registered CommenterPhillip Bratby

Subsidies associated with fossil fuels? Ummm..... what....?

Mar 10, 2016 at 9:48 AM | Unregistered CommenterSean OConnor

That campus is 100 miles away from the main campus.
I hope University of Exeter staff don't make too many ungreen journeys to the Penryn, Cornwall campus where she works.

Mar 10, 2016 at 9:49 AM | Registered Commenterstewgreen

I make that three clear lies.

1/ "the economics don’t stack up"
2/ "wind and solar do not impose significant “hidden” costs"
3/ "endless subsidies associated with...fossil fuels".

Borderline lies include

"three major mistakes" (she knows they're not mistakes);
"British people don’t want fracking" (if her ilk would stop lying about it, this would change);
"Committee on Climate Change, which advises the Government, calculates the cost..." (this is not an impartial or reliable body);
"a fossil-fuels-as-usual electricity system will not do" (it's going to have to in most places);
"entails some years of transitional support" (entails perpetual subsidy for ever, which will be denied).

I say "borderline" because being charitable, the last five above could perhaps be the products of colossal ignorance and abject stupidity, rather than deliberate deceit.

Mar 10, 2016 at 9:52 AM | Unregistered CommenterJustice4Rinka

Link to the letter page; her letter is about half way down.
- I would stamp it "PR, not Science"
Above it someone called James Allan Fellow, Energy Institute (retd) Hartlepool puts a contrary view

Mar 10, 2016 at 9:55 AM | Registered Commenterstewgreen

Uni students ought be told a Exeter degree may be treated with suspicion

Mar 10, 2016 at 10:04 AM | Registered Commenteromnologos

history graduate and journalist who has made an academic career out of propaganda on a subject she is not qualified to speak about

Thanks for the resume - just nauseating and sucking public funds to boot.

It isn't even "not qualified" - it's repeatedly spouting egregious falsehoods which are trivially disproved.

What does a prof get £70k++ ? spiffing value there - a real bargain.

Mar 10, 2016 at 10:04 AM | Registered Commentertomo

She has her own blog, but not Twitter
Instead there is the Exeter Energy Policy Group

Mar 10, 2016 at 10:05 AM | Registered Commenterstewgreen

Oh misery me! What a sorry state our universities are in. Those of us old enough to remember when in the UK at least, the title 'professor' meant a deeply knowledgeable scholar intent on furthering a field of study, and willing now and then to help others make progress there too. Now I daresay it still means that at the right-hand end of some quality scale or other, but my goodness what we encounter as we move leftwards! Deeply agitated or deeply opportunistic, with superficial, blinkered takes on some issue or other calling for 'action', some 'end' justifying some 'means'. Their students presumably targeted as potential footsoldiers for the 'cause'.

Mar 10, 2016 at 10:05 AM | Registered CommenterJohn Shade

I can't find the letter at the Telegraph.

Quoting from a 2012 report prepared by the Grantham Institute prepared for the CCC titled:
The case for and against onshore wind energy in the UK
by
Samuela Bassi, Alex Bowen and Sam Fankhauser

"Overall, the Committee on Climate Change estimated that the combined costs of transmission upgrades and other flexibility measures related to a 30 to 64 per cent share of electricity from renewables by 2030 would be between £5 and £5.9 billion per year (CCC, 2011b; Pöyry, 2011)."

Perhaps the professor can't read? At those costs that's £185 per household. Elsewhere, CCC quote £18 per household for ROCs costs. And we haven't included provision of response, reserve, etc. If it's as little as £250 per household I'll be surprised. And that's CCC telling us!

But: although it's obviously a lie, it will go round the world by teatime. Expect Bennett to quote it any day soon.

Mar 10, 2016 at 10:13 AM | Unregistered CommenterCapell

Her CV is one of an ambitious political climber. No end to the number of "Panels" and "Boards" on which she has sat. And she is a reader of history and geography, not engineering, not economics.

In short, she is a political animal short of the prerequisites for a well informed opinion on these matters.

Mar 10, 2016 at 10:17 AM | Unregistered CommenterGeckko

The problem with all these types who try to justify the cost of renewables is that they fall back on 'the price of carbon'. Ed Davey was doing it yesterday. 'The price of carbon' - is a made up number which is always high enough to make renewables look economical.

As we all know however 1) it is not carbon, it is carbon dioxide, 2) CO2 is beneficial to the planet, making the world greener. 3) Renewables are totally uneconomical, require 100% back up and massive subsidy.

The insinuation that fossil fuels are subsidised can only be justified using the 'price of carbon' random number generator.

Mar 10, 2016 at 10:22 AM | Unregistered CommenterMattS

Bloody acamedics, living in cloud cookoo-land having never done an honest days work in their lives. Why would anyone listen to them?

Mar 10, 2016 at 10:23 AM | Unregistered CommenterAlan the Brit

Bloody acamedics, living in cloud cookoo-land having never done an honest days work in their lives. Why would anyone listen to them?

Mar 10, 2016 at 10:23 AM | Alan the Brit
====================================================================

Good question. Maybe ATTP can answer when he next graces us with his august presence.

Mar 10, 2016 at 10:30 AM | Unregistered CommenterJeremy Poynton

Even the BBC is today headlining "Low-income households 'need energy cap'". She will probably also be aware that Cornwall is regularly placed as the second poorest region in the UK and one of the poorest in NW Europe. Neither the well-paid professor nor the BBC appear capable of recognising their hypocrisy when it comes to promoting the green political agenda.

Mar 10, 2016 at 10:33 AM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

Why the immediate knee-jerk response of trashing the institution (in this case the University of Exeter) of someone who has dared to write something that offends? This sort of behaviour ( which seems to becoming more frequent here and in other sites) does not add credibility to the argument to the person making the comment or to the BH blog. One of the better characteristics of "denier" websites (in my experience) was their tendency to be politer and more evidence based than their opponents. Please don't risk this.

PS I agree with most of the legitimate criticisms of this stupid letter

Mar 10, 2016 at 10:36 AM | Unregistered CommenterAlan Kendall

She and her fellow academics obviously had a competition to see who could write the most utter crap in the shortest possible time. And she won.

Mar 10, 2016 at 10:47 AM | Unregistered CommenterJimmy Haigh

@Alan Kendall

Snap!

Mar 10, 2016 at 10:56 AM | Unregistered CommenterRoyFOMR

Anyone quoting the DECC as a reliable and trustworthy source of and factual information, is so desperately short of reliable, trustworthy and factual information, that they don't even know it.

Mar 10, 2016 at 11:03 AM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

I read this in the DT this morning and spluttered over my scrambled eggs. Mainly because the following is not the standard of argument I would expect from a 'Professor':

Mr Darwall assumes that climate change is not a serious issue. It is serious

'Tis!
'Tisn't!

Mar 10, 2016 at 11:05 AM | Unregistered CommenterHarry Passfield

Her undergraduate degree is History (London);
So she is well-qualified to drone on about the use of windmills as a primary energy source in the pre 19th Century.

But not a lot else...

Mar 10, 2016 at 11:08 AM | Unregistered CommenterBitter&Twisted

The problem with academics is that they don't live, or at least work in the real world. I was once consulted by a fellow engineer I was on a committee with, about changes to our Institution's Bye-Laws & Rules of Conduct. He consulted me because the changes referred practising engineers. I was then & still am a practicing engineer, & he needed my advice so that he could report back to the Institution on the views of the membership in the south-west through the committee. Even he acknowledged he lacked the practical knowledge as he had only ever spent 3 years as a professional in practice, before entering academia, & a very good lecturer he was, despite his misgivings of changes being forced into the degree criteria to accommodate "green" mantra! Oh the number of times I had to sit through graduate competitions as a panel judge, listening to the parting statements from applicants like, "oh & this method of design & construction produces a lower carbon footprint than the other approach". When quized on the alleged savings they were barely worth doing considering the additional costs involved in the "right" approach. Oh how we live & learn at our cost.

Mar 10, 2016 at 11:29 AM | Unregistered CommenterAlan the Brit

But her title, ha ha, says it all, "Professor of Energy Policy" which is surely just politics under another name. She does not make our Laws, thank goodness. But she is definitely not involved in anything as crude as truth and energy production, it is an empty title!

Mar 10, 2016 at 11:33 AM | Unregistered CommenterDerek Buxton

1. "Professor of Energy POLICY". Need I say more?
2. Alan Kendal - on trashing Exeter Uni - Because every Exeter alumnus I've ever met is firmly of the opinion that Exeter is #1 in the world. Above Oxbridge, above Yale, even above Harvard. They can get REALLY annoying.

SimonJ (Alumnus of Loughborough University OF TECHNOLOGY - as it was then)

Mar 10, 2016 at 11:39 AM | Unregistered CommenterSimonJ

Out of curiosity, does anyone know where the 'Committee on Climate Change' got it's £10 per household figure from? It wouldn't be from a Professor of Basket Case Weaving, or some other equally irrelevant academic, known only amongst Green Blob academics, to be an expert?

Mar 10, 2016 at 11:39 AM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

A regular BH poster informed me a couple of days ago that continually posting the same information is boring for other users. I would be hugely grateful if that person would contact this 'woman' and tell her to stop provoking me! ^.^

Mar 10, 2016 at 11:44 AM | Registered CommenterDung

You do have to wonder why taxpayers' money is being wasted on a Professor of Energy Policy. After all, DECC has shown it is capable of making a complete horlicks of energy policy without her advice. Or perhaps it is because of her advice.

Mar 10, 2016 at 11:48 AM | Registered CommenterPhillip Bratby

Like it or not, this is the type of loon that governments seem to be listening to. It's a mirror of the financial crash that was denied as a possibility by all government (and opposition) economics advisors as well as academics all over the world, despite it being blindingly obvious to contrarian investors. So we can now expect widespread blackouts which will be projected as 'something that nobody expected'. Alas the media is complicit in this carpeting of the world with academic, model-based bullsh*t.

At least she acknowledges there is an energy crunch - she just prefers to pretend, like Doug Parr of Greenpeace, that unnamed and as yet unconstructed renewables will solve it. If that half-baked notion doesn't work there is no plan B and so we all just have to get along with less energy apparently. No doubt, like the Green Party manifesto commitment to deliberate growth reduction, they also imagine this would do us a power of good in a 'cruel-to-be-kind' sort of a way.

Mar 10, 2016 at 11:59 AM | Unregistered CommenterJamesG

Alan Kendall / RoyFOMR
A very gentlemanly point of view and one I would like to agree with.
Unfortunately on the principle that a lie is halfway round the world before the truth gets its boots on we don't have the luxury of being polite any more.
We sceptics or lukewarmers or anything but devout adherents who are not "qualified" as climatologists and therefore not "qualified" to express an opinion on the subject get our backsides roundly kicked.
Pari passu we are entitled to apply the same standards and the same treatment to those who try to defend the paradigm and are prepared to go into print with a piece which, as has been well pointed out up-thread, is a tissue of lies, distortions and half-truths.
Unless she is of exceptionally limited intellect she must be aware of this so we must assume that we are in "but I'm saving the planet so I can say wtf I like" territory, in which case she deserves everything she gets!

Mar 10, 2016 at 12:02 PM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

First, Britain is not going to see a US-style “shale revolution”; the economics don’t stack up, and British people don’t want fracking.

British people don't want higher electricity bills or mass immigration, either -- they're still getting them, though.

Plus, how does she know the British people don't want fracking? The polls taken hardly support such a sweeping statement. Perhaps she has that crucial 'emotional' knowledge which trumps all other forms of reality.

Mar 10, 2016 at 12:03 PM | Unregistered CommenterRick Bradford

Mike Jackson

Oh well said indeed sir!

Rick Bradford

This woman maybe right that we are not going to have a US-style "shale revolution" but if that should turn out to be the case then it will be at her door and those of our poor deluded and cowardly politicians.

Mar 10, 2016 at 12:15 PM | Registered CommenterDung

" If that half-baked notion doesn't work there is no plan B and so we all just have to get along with less energy apparently."

My plan B is to buy a bigger genny.

Mar 10, 2016 at 12:17 PM | Unregistered CommenterStonyground

Rick B.
Go here: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/450674/PAT_Summary_Wave_14.pdf

"When asked whether they support or oppose extracting shale gas, almost half of the public neither supported nor opposed it (46%). Amongst those that did offer an opinion, slightly more opposed (28%) extraction of shale than supported it (21%). This is a reversal of the findings when these questions were first asked at wave 8, when 27% supported it against 21% that opposed. This shift towards more opposition has happened gradually over the last 18 months, with support currently at its lowest since the survey began."

Hence it isn't entirely true to say the British don't want it. I imagine they just don't want it near their own homes. In any event as long as there is a gas glut it is a moot point: All we really need are LPG ports. Collieries were not closed due to a shortage of UK coal but because there was cheaper coal elsewhere and the original shale oil industry in West Lothian closed for exactly the same reason.

Mar 10, 2016 at 12:21 PM | Unregistered CommenterJamesG

More on Mitchell -- a trans-Atlantic Green Blobber.

http://www.climate-resistance.org/2014/10/the-green-blob-in-academe.html

Mar 10, 2016 at 12:23 PM | Unregistered CommenterBen Pile

Stonyground
My own plan B is to move back to France. Hence the main reason I am pro-EU :)

Mar 10, 2016 at 12:23 PM | Unregistered CommenterJamesG

It would appear the Professor has a singular reason for her involvement in 'Energy Policy' and it has nothing to do with energy security, wealth or the health and well being of her fellow citizens they can all go hang!

" Professor Catherine Mitchell says: "95% of climate change emissions derive from energy use. As a result, developing energy policies which meet the challenges of climate change is very important. Teaching and researching at the new Tremough campus, alongside other academics interested in sustainability issues, is therefore very exciting and energising. As Tremough develops, I am certain that it will become an international centre of excellence for environmental research. ""

Mar 10, 2016 at 12:25 PM | Registered CommenterGreen Sand

If the "economics do not stack up", then businesses would not be willing to invest. This was said of US shale gas. Businesses still invested, the price of gas fell, and some businesses still made a profit.

Mar 10, 2016 at 12:36 PM | Unregistered CommenterKevin Marshall

Phillip Bratby, the DECC has an unblemished record of being consistently wrong about everything, since inception. A fabrication of Miliband's gullibility, it has never been fit for purpose, and has been a stepping stone to oblivion for MP's.

This has been achieved by giving credit and taxpayers money, to clueless idiots, who have a selfish interest in maintaining the status quo, and marginalising anyone with common sense.

This letter demonstrates everything wrong with the DECC. The DECC can not demonstrate a single benefit or achievement, of any value to anyone, outside the Green Blob, and that has only been achieved by rewarding them with taxpayer's money, for making things worse for everyone else.

Mar 10, 2016 at 12:42 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

Mar 10, 2016 at 12:21 PM | Unregistered CommenterJamesG

"In any event as long as there is a gas glut it is a moot point: All we really need are LPG ports."

The cost of getting shale gas to the surface is peanuts and heading lower, hence the yanks can liquefy it, ship it across the Atlantic and regasify it and still be competitive. There is a huge amount to be saved if we extract our own world beating reserves. ^.^

Mar 10, 2016 at 12:43 PM | Registered CommenterDung

She is just wrong on every point..

Mar 10, 2016 at 1:03 PM | Unregistered Commentersherlock1

I wasn't taking a dig directly at you, Dung.

I was just highlighting that if one's message is either a good one or a bad one, it can still become stale to the intended audience if repeated too often with too little variation. Characters on the green side like Catherine Mitchell or the BBC are of course most guilty of this, and have reached the point of boring many people witless, IMO. But the retorts can also fall into the same category if one is not careful. Giving an impression of 'freshness' to an idea or opinion is not easy (certainly not easy for me).

Mar 10, 2016 at 1:12 PM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

Mike Jackson

My complaint was not about criticism of the comments expressed in the letter - anyone expressing debatable views in public is fair game (but ideally attack the views not the person), instead I was commenting about unwarrented smears on academic institutions.

Mar 10, 2016 at 1:16 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlan Kendall

I'm only guessing - but it seems entirely possible she might have views of the impact of gender on climate?

Mar 10, 2016 at 1:17 PM | Registered Commentertomo

" Professor Catherine Mitchell says: "95% of climate change emissions derive from energy use. As a result, developing energy policies which meet the challenges of climate change is very important."

Now I have to make , I trust reasonable, assumption that the Professor means by her use of the term "energy use" the combustion of fossil fuels such as coal, oil, gas, wood and their derivatives such as Bunker oil, diesel, kerosese, naptha, benzine, gasoline etc. wood chips and so forth.

Let me try and think of a few " climate emissions" that do not derive from "energy use"

CO2 emissions by animal respiration
CH4 emissions by ruminant animals
CH4 emissions from wetlands,
CH4 emissions from natural gas leakage
CO2 emissions from seawater
CH4 emissions from decaying vegetation
CO2 and CH4 emissions from subaerial and submarine volcanic activity.

I rather suspect these emissions amount to rather more than the 5% the Professor believes come from sources other than energy use

Interestingly the Orbiting Carbon Observatory - having produced some very interesting initial results which were quite different from what its sponsors expeceted - now seems to have gone silent! Has anyone seen ny resuts recently?

Mar 10, 2016 at 1:23 PM | Unregistered CommenterSpectator

Why not a return argumentum ad hominem to her? Will she chip in her jet fuel she uses jetting off to the greenie meetings to help warm the pensioners?

Mar 10, 2016 at 1:27 PM | Unregistered Commentercedarhill

Spectator

Well remembered! The Japanese satellite showed that there was a huge cloud of CO2 emissions over the African Continent, presumably industrial pollution from wild life?

Mar 10, 2016 at 1:33 PM | Registered CommenterDung

"Renewables will not need the endless subsidies associated with nuclear power and fossil fuels."

Jeez ..... yes the subsidies that are required for fossil fuel production ...... the same fossil fuels that provided tax receipts that made Britain so prosperous.

Mar 10, 2016 at 1:38 PM | Unregistered CommenterImranCan

Alan Kendal: "My complaint was not about criticism of the comments expressed in the letter - anyone expressing debatable views in public is fair game (but ideally attack the views not the person), instead I was commenting about unwarrented smears on academic institutions."

I'm not so sure about that. She is employed by that university and her words are only listened to because of the (spurious in this case) authority that appointment confers.

If Exeter employs a clown, why not conclude it is a circus?

Mar 10, 2016 at 1:38 PM | Unregistered CommenterUncle Badger

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