Climate Change Committee loons

The Climate Change Committee states that early action on reducing carbon emissions will be cheaper than later action on carbon emissions. The CCC are, therefore, loons.

Here\’s one little example of said lunacy:

Early power sector decarbonisation is at the heart of economy-wide decarbonisation
because: the power sector is a major source of emissions, accounting for around 27% of
total UK greenhouse gas emissions; there are relatively low-cost technologies available for
power sector decarbonisation (i.e. nuclear, renewables, carbon capture and storage – CCS);

What? Renewables are not low cost. Not yet, at least. And CCS doesn\’t work. It might never work but it certainly doesn\’t work yet. So that\’s two out of three of their assertions that are simply wrong. And it\’s upon evidence, assumptions, like this that they build their castle in hte air.


Low-carbon power offers the opportunity for greater energy
independence, which could reduce exposure to fossil fuel price volatility.

You probably son\’t want to be exposed to volatility if prices are going to go up. But you probably do if prices are going to go down. Ermm, shale anyone? Quite, we\’re at the dawn of a technological revolution that\’s likely to push fossil fuel prices well down: this is not the time to be shielding ourselves from price volatility, is it?

As to their basic case, investing now is cheaper than investing later, they are of course away with the fairies. Non fossil fuel generation systems (most especially solar) are becoming cheaper every day. Thus building later saves a great deal of money over building now.

What\’s interesting though is the numbers they use to reach their conclusion:

The Government’s carbon values rise to around £215/tCO2e in 2050 in a central case.

What? They\’re modelling a carbon tax at four times what even the Stern Review suggested it should be?

This is simply nonsense. Shoot the lot of them.

35 thoughts on “Climate Change Committee loons”

  1. Funnily enough, if you ask a timeshare salesman when is the best time to buy a timeshare, the answer is always now.

  2. Unfortunately they are not alone in this, the claim seems to have a momentum building behind it.

    recently a friend claimed on facebook that wind power was now basically paying for itself. When challenged on this (actually i just called it bollocks) he referred to academics and produced a list of their qualifications that, I swear, filled an entire side of A4 paper.

    Is my experience unique or is it being replicated?

  3. are they getting at the idea that if you want to kick of learning-by-doing processes that cause prices to fall, you need to actually “do”?

    so yes prices are falling, but prices are falling because people are actually investing, learning, scaling-up etc. so additional investment today accelerates that process?

  4. @Luis

    But you don’t want to invest the farm at a point near the top of the long-run cost curve, do you?

  5. Diogenes

    who is “you” – an individual would prefer to wait for others to drive cost reductions then invest, but this is a classic externalities problem – individuals don’t account for the benefit their investments have in accelerating cost reductions for others, so in the market outcome, investment is too low and learning by doing too slow. Hence a government should take steps to accelerate investment.

    this isn’t leftie weirdo thinking, it’s standard mainstream economics.

    I was just pointing out that there is a potentially sensible reason for accelerated upfront investment.

  6. Luis – maybe, if we didn’t already know that we’re wasting money by subsidising renewables. Even if we weren’t perilously indebted, even if the most alarmist CAGW scenarios are true, even if we stopped all carbon emission from the UK, it wouldn’t make any significant difference to the Earth’s climate. We are being asked to slit our own economy’s throat for no benefit except the short term enrichment of those at the green trough.

    We might as well ‘invest’ trillions trying to build a better Ouija Board or an effective dowsing rod. Green energy must be the only industry whose business model depends on making its customers poorer. Even the gambling industry is more ethical because its punters at least get the thrill of hoping they might win.

  7. Is anything at anypoint going to shape up and stop these loons, full stop with the bullshit, or are we set to suffer at the hands of their knowrightness, no matter what?

  8. William Connolley

    > Quite, we’re at the dawn of a technological revolution that’s likely to push fossil fuel prices well down.

    Intereeesting… but how confident of this are you? And over what timeframe, and what locality, and exactly which fuels?

    Next 5 years? In the UK? Oil? Wanna bet?

    Tim adds: For shale gas, very confident in next 10-15 years. Wouldn’t surprise me if the oil price fell over that period as well. But only for the reason that prices do change sometimes. And as we don’t use oil to generate electricity it’s not really relevant to a discussion of the electricity system.

  9. Typical apologetics from WMC. Or maybe he just is that stupid.

    Willie, my dear child, when the grownups are talking they use these things called ‘implicit’ and ‘explicit’. It is clearly implicit in Tim’s blog post that he was talking about the same timescale used in the report he’s criticising with that comment. Maybe mummy or daddy can explain that to you tonight when they’re tucking you into bed, instead of whatever bedtime story they normally read you with your cocoa.

  10. William – based on what’s happening in the US, it’s easily a safer bet than pie in the sky schemes for carbon capture. The biggest obstacle is the lunacy of our politicians and the scary horror stories the green movement manufactures about fracking.

    Interesting to see nuclear mentioned above, since most greens are hysterically opposed to atomic power. Come to think of it, the green movement as a whole is vehemently opposed to any form of mass electricity generation that works and is cheap enough to sustain our consumerist Western lifestyles.

    Why, it’s almost as if they want to destroy capitalism or something.

  11. I’ve a great idea for CCS. We grow a load of plants every year, and bury them.

    It only took a few hundred million years the first time round.

  12. William Connolley

    So, you really are all a bunch of wimps.

    But I wasn’t talking to you, who are all anon nobodies anyway. I was talking to Timmy.

  13. Thank you Mr Connolly. There was me forgetting that Wikipedia editors are mostly unsociable aspergery types.

  14. @ #10 William Connolly
    We don’t even need a technological revolution: Obama has approved foreign investment in export terminals for US Shale gas, so prices for gas in Japan should halve (assuming the export/transport companies pocket a comfortable profit) and those in the UK will drop significantly. We don’t even need UK shale gas production to benefit significantly. The biggest single driver to rising electricity costs in the UK is the subsidy to renewables which involves the poor subsidising the well-off.

  15. Willie>

    But why would Timmy waste his time with your childishly stupid questions and exaggerated sense of self-importance?

    In any case, you’d have to be blinded by your own ego not to realise that when you post a comment in a conversation, people can and will respond to you.

    Do you not realise how ridiculous you make yourself look with your internet presence? Even the manmade climate change advocates I know think you’re a laughable loon. The non-believers commonly point to people like you as one of the reasons for their non-belief.

    Nice work.

  16. Dave: Other than showing how childishly rude you can be, what are you trying to achieve here? Tim seems to have written “fossil fuels” when he meant specifically “natural gas”: there’s nothing wrong with WMC seeking to clarify that.

  17. @Luis

    Of course it is true tht it might take time for private individuals to invest in PV tech industry but, if there is a reasonable case, then they will do so. And private enterprise has a very good track-record. It might not be as fast as the bureaucrats might desire but it does seem to get there in the end.

    Your idea that there is a case for the government stepping in reminds me of the dim and distant corporatist past when the British government stepped in to facilitate the future of jet aircraft and invested in Concorde, while Boeing invested in the 747. who made the better decision? Another case, the British government decided to build the AGR as a way of building a British presence in the nuclear reactor business. Did that work so well?

    Perhaps it is just coincidence. perhaps a government has backed the right horse right at the top of the cost curve. Can you supply some examples tht would outweigh Concorde and the AGR reactor?

  18. Paul>

    Well, one of these days Willie’s going to grow up and realise that his continual lying and dissembling has made him the butt of the jokes. Maybe at that point he’ll become a decent human being. Until then, he’s a scumbag feathering his own nest by selling snake-oil. Whether knowingly or not, he’s a cheerleader for totalitarianism, megadeaths and/or global poverty in the guise of a liberal environmentalist.

    What are you hoping to achieve by not treating scumbags as the pariahs they should be?

  19. I wouldn’t shoot them, I would simply sack them and make them earn a living (removing all directorships etc that go with their former position, of course).

  20. Is it even worth bothering to respond to William M Connolley? – Many believe he is actually in the pay of the Fossil Fuel or extractive mining industries as someone that willing to lie, mislead and falsify data has done more to undermine the green movement than any number of ‘Climate Change deniers’….

    Dave (#20) – Spot on in your assessment of the political ramifications of Connolley’s mindset – I’m told emissions are very low in the ‘Courageous State’ of North Korea…..

  21. That’s a bit harsh on William Connolly chaps. It’s not like he’s a rich hypocrite like Al Gore. Forgive me if I’m wrong here, but he seems to be a fairly junior, no doubt poorly paid, academic and CAGW true believer. Sure, he may be as gravely mistaken as your average SWP groupie, but does that really justify that level of personal vituperation? After that embarrassing Wikipedia incident, a lesser man than William Connolly might have kept a low profile on the internet.

    I salute his indefatigability.

  22. Steve>

    Indefatigability? I’d call him an indefatigable cock, but that would imply something much more useful than a WMC.

    “Forgive me if I’m wrong here, but he seems to be a fairly junior, no doubt poorly paid, academic”

    Actually, seems like he’s got out of academia these days. The only direct benefits he receives are from his blog, I think, although I don’t know if his current day job has any link – you’d expect such a public pariah to find it hard to find work with anyone other than fellow zealots, so it’s hard to say.

  23. Most media and online discussion of AGW is rendered worthless by writers (on both sides) who confuse their political views with scientific insight, or, very commonly, imagine that their political views give them scientific insight. Tim and William, each in his own way, are exceptions to this. It’s a pity that few of Tim’s commentators follow his example.

  24. Serious question for WMC and PaulB: how does climate science work, without a control model?

  25. “The Government’s carbon values rise to around £215/tCO2e in 2050 in a central case” – needs to be something like 2000 per ton to actually work.

    You get about a ton of co2 for 200kg of petrol burned, thats about 40 gallons, so about a fiver per gallon – which is round about current rate. Even if you add it on to current price and go to about twelves a gallon, w’ell still drive lots.


    Though we might motor somewhat less if it goes north of twenty / gallon.

  26. EL: There are many sciences which have been successful without the opportunity to run controlled experiments on the system being studied. Astronomy, for example, or evolution.

  27. What are the criteria for ‘success’, though, Paul? If stars are in fact mere pin pricks through which we can see heaven in a canopy surrounding the earth, so what? If, on the other hand, AGW is wrong but we’ve impoverished billions for decades on the assumption that it’s right, then the cost is terrific.

    And, although I’m neither an evolutionary biologist nor an astronomer, I should have thought it was possible in a multitude of tiny but cumulatively important ways practically to test the theoretical claims of either science with contol groups.

    The better comparison, scientifically speaking, seems to me to be with the social sciences where clever people have expended serious brain power trying to control for a multitude of factors. Personally I’ve long been impressed by the attempt and unpersuaded of i’s plausibility given the various unknowables, feedback loops and so on.

    Full disclosure: I realised some time ago that my answer to the question ‘is AGW occuring?’ is, ‘unless we’re all going to die tomorrow* in a tsunami or a fireball, then I don’t care’, so I am sceptical of the claims of climate science** but in principle I am open to persuasion that in 100 years we’ll have caused sea levels to be higher (or whatever). I just happen to take the view that, even if it’s happening, we should do that evolutionary thing: adapt and survive, rather than crawling back into caves, praying to the sun god and hoping it all goes away.

    *exaggerating a little to make the point.

    **because they can’t be tested, because the people who make them have a bad history of getting things wrong, because meteorologists can’t make highly accurate predictions of what the weather will be doing a month from now, because the leaders in the AGW field are dishonest and unscrupulous to the point of religious zeal and because I am unpersuaded of our ability to measure the aggregate impact of six billion people on what seems to me to be an unmeasurable ‘global climate’ before inputting and modelling the trillions of variables to which these give rise.

  28. If we take effective action to reduce burning of fossil fuels, and if it turns out that AGW is less of a problem than we think, then we’ll have made ourselves a bit poorer now. But fossil fuels are a distinctly finite resource, so we’ll have made our descendants a bit richer. It’s not much of a price.

    The physics of climate science can be tested in much the same way as physics of astronomy. For example, the absorption spectrum of carbon dioxide can be measured in the laboratory.

    Climate science is hard. The error bands on estimates of climate sensitivity are wide. But it doesn’t follow from that that we should ignore the problem. What to do about it is an economic and political decision. The uncertainty in the estimates can be factored into that, but we should remember that sensitivity could be higher as well as lower than the central estimate.

  29. Made ourselves a bit poorer?

    I seem to recall Lomborg claiming the costs of implementing Kyoto at something like 100 trillion dollars over the course of the century. Even a quick Bing of ‘costs of the Kyoto protocol’ brings out eye-watering numbers not commensurate with the claim that we’d be a ‘bit poorer’. I wonder, for example, how many old people died this last winter just that little bit sooner than they needed to because they couldn’t pay fuel bills artificially increased by taxes to support wind farms (although I suppose for the sake of consistency I’d have to accept that you might in response point out that at least they’re no longer drawing their pensions).

    But I’m willing to accept that the costs on any cost-benefit analysis are effectively assumptions based on guesswork extrapolated across billions of people. I find that no more comforting than the fact that the economic benefits are measured in the same way. But as a good little Austrianist, it seems to me axiomatic that top-down warping of economic incentives will on balance make us all poorer over the long-term. I gather you’re a Keynesian, so we’re unlikely to agree on that. We’re also unlikely to agree on the moral propriety of global coercive planning (which is at the heart of my ‘I don’t care’ retort; ie. if I’m harming you, then sue me).

    As to the absorption spectrum of carbon dioxide being measured in a laboratory, isn’t the problem the one identified by my query about the absence of a control model? In other words, the planet is not a laboratory.

    As to ignoring the problem, well that begs the question doesn’t it? I’ve no difficulty with people trying to study the climate and, if they’re rigorous and honest (and let’s face it, there have been significant dents made in the claim that the leaders in this field are either of those things) concluding that we’re in mortal danger, but I remain sceptical of their ability, even with rigour and honesty, plausibly to make those kinds of claims and, as I understand it, the worst case scenarios, if true, are those to which the species is perfectly capable of adapting.

    So yes, per your comment at 25, I have my political views, and I lay claim to little scientific knowledge, but I’m unassisted in overturning my political views on the basis of claims as to incipient disaster by talk of wide error bands and uncertainty in the estimates. Doubtless you’ll think this is a crude point, but this time last year the Met office told us we were in for a summer of drought. 10 or 12 years ago, we were being told that snow in England was to be a thing of the past. Maybe it is a crude point. But these are not a trivial inaccuracies, are they?

  30. These are large questions. To address just one point: I agree that humanity could survive very considerable climate change. But that doesn’t mean that it wouldn’t be hugely expensive and ecologically destructive.

    (Please get in touch if you’d like to discuss this further.)

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