Fools or Knaves?


Professor David Campbell has a fairly virulent article at the GWPF criticising a BBC radio interview with Lord Adair Turner, head of the Energy Transitions Commission and ex-head of the UK Climate Change Committee.
Professor Campbell’s article ends:

Everything Lord Turner said about the Paris Agreement and China’s Intended Nationally Determined Contributions was wrong. That a person of his influence says things that will mislead the listening public is regrettable. That the BBC airs such statements without any challenges is a disgrace.

The article was discussed at Paul Homewood’s blog and there were some interesting comments, with diogenese2 and Robin Guenier among others wondering whether those like Lord Turner who praise the Paris Agreement are knaves or fools. Do they really believe the stuff they spout, or are they lying, confident that no-one will dare contradict them?

To help resolve this important question, I’ve transcribed the interview with Lord Turner below.

Journalist: There was a remarkable moment last week when the leaders of 195 countries started the process of signing the global climate agreement reached in Paris at the end of last year. It commits them to keeping any temperature rise to below 2°C. But how do they do that, let alone go further, which many argue is needed? Lord Turner, who chairs the Energy Transitions Commission says drastic action is now needed. He joins us here in the studio. Good morning.

Adair Turner: Good morning.

J: And countries do have a plan – these so-called INDCs the Intended Nationally Determined Contributions – to get there.

AT: Yes. Each of the countries which are the signatories of this have set out an intended nationally determined contribution, and those are a major step forward, getting all those countries rich and poor to make those commitments. But if you add them up – and many people have pointed this out already – if you add them up, they would still leave us on a path which would take us to a warming of something like 2.7 to 3.4°C, not well below 2°C. And we’ve got to make a big difference quickly. Even by 2030 we’ve got to be on a path with carbon emissions something like 30% below those which are in the combination of the INDCs, and the challenge is to work out how do we actually do that, while also enabling emerging and poorer countries to still economically grow.

J: And your answer?

AT: Well the answer is, it’s going to require a combination of strategies. It is undoubtedly going to require the application of renewable and nuclear technologies to drive the decarbonisation of the electricity, and that is the area which is going incredibly fast at the moment and about which we can be optimistic. The crucial thing to realise however is that electricity consumption accounts for only about 20% of global energy consumption, so we’ve got to have a plan for everything which isn’t electricity, either applying electricity to the rest of the energy system, or by driving down de- … carbon in other areas of energy. The other thing that we’ve got to do, and it sometimes gets missed out in this, is we’ve got to achieve an increase in what’s called energy productivity, use less amounts of energy per unit of GDP produced. And those two dimensions – decarbonising the energy supply, and achieving a rapid growth of energy productivity, are what we’ve got to achieve.

J: But we are so far away from that decarbonising the energy supply, ,and yet you look at the remarkable – I mean last week there was this great little big fanfare about the scale of what had been achieved in Paris, but is it…? Are you suggesting…?

AT: Well no, I, I … Look. This is a glass half empty and half full, but I think it’s half full, and we can build on that. The fact is that if you look at the INDCs, there is remarkable progress intended there, for instance in renewable electricity. We are seeing there solar energy now being provided with contracts, free market contracts across the world at as low as six US cents per Kilowatt hour. Now that is fully competitive with gas or coal supply. So we are going to see, and it’s in the INDCs for India or China – you see very very big commitments to renewable electricity. But we’ve got to expand the range at which we are applying low carbon energy to other areas as well, and that’s the challenge we’ve really got to work out.

J: Ok, but you make the point that even if they do what they’ve said they’ll do, we’re still some way short.

AT: We’re still some way short of it, yes. The figure is basically that if you add up all the INDCs, run’em out to 2030, we’ve got to get about 30% below where the aggregate of the INDCs are …

J: And that’s just to meet 2% [sic] and many people say actually you need to go far further to make a difference.

AT: Yes that is right. Well, I think the crucial… I think Paris had it right in terms of objectives.

J: Right

AT: I think the “well below 2 degrees” should be clearly achievable. I think it is technologically achievable provided there is the will and the investment and the correct policies and all of the different players working together. I think 1.5 bluntly is an aspiration. It will be damned difficult to achieve.


AT: Even two degrees requires that by the end of the century we have a zero carbon economy, no carbon at all.

J: Well there is another element, which often gets missed when people are talking about this, which is the sort of remedy, for example the carbon capture and storage, which Norway and a couple of others are looking at, and we were, but aren’t any longer.

AT: Well, we really don’t know how big a technology carbon capture and storage will be. I think relative to what people expected eight years ago when I started being the chair of the UK Climate Change Committee it has been one of the areas which has been disappointingly slow progress. I think we have to put money into it to work out on how large a scale can it work. We probably definitely need it to decarbonise some uses of energy like in heavy industry where it’s very difficult to see another way forward. I think what’s less clear is whether it can really be a big technology in terms of decarbonising electricity production. We simply don’t know that. But it’s certainly a technology which we have to invest in to make it available as one of the portfolio of possibilities.

J: Lord Turner, Adair Turner, thank you very much.

AT: Thank you.


  1. I don’t think people like Turner know that they’re lying, I think they believe that they’re just nudging at a possible target. Like a dieter who plots weight loss based on the first week and assumes that they’ll be underweight by Christmas. There after, they just replot the graph with the same endpoint but achieved over a shorter time frame. It takes some time to admit to themselves that they’ve lost almost nothing after the first big drop. It’s even easier for Turner because he can convince himself that other countries are more determined or able than we are. He’s making promises that other people can’t keep.

    Of course there comes a point where blind optimism becomes outright lie. That point can’t be very far off. They can’t pretend much longer that renewables are on the brink of replacing fossil fuels. Dithering over nuclear means that we’re going to take a big step in the other direction. Quiet warnings by strained business chiefs hasn’t worked on oblivious politicians but unequivocal closures will have to.

    I do think he’s lying, when he pretends that China and India have any real intention of limiting their emissions until they’ve achieved all the expansion they can manage. What they will do is replace old inefficient stations with cleaner, modern ones. Much as we did, but there’s a finite amount of CO2 reduction involved. Adding a few solar panels and windmills is just the green cherry on a very big CO2 rich cake. I’m sure he thinks if the West pretends that China is following suit eventually they’ll see the light and actually live up to the white lie.

    However the EU is rapidly reaching peak renewables, where countries like Germany will have to stop pretending that they’ve successfully added large amounts of wind and solar to their own network. What they’ve done is add a small amount of renewables to the EU network. A feat that can’t be duplicated in each country, even if they were dumb enough to want to.

    What I’m not sure is what will trigger the return to truthfulness.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. They must be lying. Else the West is in greater danger from gross stupidity than any proposed environmental catastrophe. If they are actually this ignorant, then the range of ways they can destroy our society is virtually limitless: mismanagement economically, through blind foreign policy, poorly planned educational policy, etc. etc.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Everything Lord Turner said about the Paris Agreement and China’s Intended Nationally Determined Contributions was wrong.

    Everything! Wow, that is strong. Let’s see what Turner write about India and China:

    “So we are going to see, and it’s in the INDCs for India or China – you see very very big commitments to renewable electricity.”

    That is it. One sentence. Is it untrue? Do they not have commitments to renewable electricity? Are they not installing such?

    So is that one sentence such a disgrace, Geoff? Or is it everything else that was a disgrace but what he wrote about India/China was okay?


  4. “Do they not have commitments to renewable electricity? ”

    Is that all it takes to satisfy you? Ok I make a commitment to believe in CAGW at some undisclosed point in the future. However I retain the right to change my mind at any point. To demonstrate good will, I’ve installed double glazing, a new boiler and insulation. Good enough?

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Ron, “an alternative universe” nails it. From our house banker;

    So $14 trillion of investment is ignoring his sage advice to disinvest from fossil in favour of renewables.
    This means, to him, these decision makers are incompetent and neglectful of their clients interest.
    But note well that the “risk” is not from the climate (changing or otherwise), but from policy.
    An alternative view, not even considered, is that they are very astute and have judged;

    The demand for fossil fuels will not diminish in the next couple of decades.
    Renewables are hopelessly inefficient and certain destroyers of wealth.
    The new world climate agreement puts no restraint on third world development.
    Pursuit of green policies will destabilise the Annexe 1 legislators and decimate their tax base.

    In passing, Exxon’s defence to charges of “shareholder neglect” could be 30 years of dividends and asset value growth.
    I note that the largest investors compliant with the Mark Carney/ Nic Stern vision are all State employee pension funds. I wonder who will pick up the pieces when these go down the great white telephone.
    Not so much an alternative universe – more like;


  6. AT said with reference to the INDCs (National submissions)

    if you add them up, they would still leave us on a path which would take us to a warming of something like 2.7 to 3.4°C, not well below 2°C

    This is quite untrue, even if the non-policy emissions scenarios result in the predicted warming of 4.5°C. The INDCs submissions covered only the period to 2030. If all the proposals are enacted emissions will still be higher in 2030. Without additional polices, emissions will after a period approximately return to the non-policy trend. It is only by have additional (and more onerous) policies are enacted post 2030 that the 2.7 to 3.4°C will be achieved. All claims of this type use modelled scenarios post 2030. It is the climateers failing to distinguish between their models where the whole world obeys their every pronouncement like the followers of Kim Jong-un and the real world of nearly 200 countries, most of whose Governments have no intention of damaging their economies by enacting emissions-reducing policies.
    This is confirmed from UNFCCC summaries of the INDCs produced prior to the Paris COP21 meeting.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Raff,
    you really think that China and India will keep to those commitments? I think it’s naive to believe so. They may have pledged to do it, but will they? I seriously doubt it. What will happen if they don’t? Will we send in the UN’s Peacekeepers?


  8. Justanotherperson, Geoff quoted a GWPF article that stated “Everything Lord Turner said about the Paris Agreement and China’s Intended Nationally Determined Contributions was wrong.” But Turner only said, “So we are going to see, and it’s in the INDCs for India or China – you see very very big commitments to renewable electricity” and that appears to be correct. So Geoff’s quote is wrong, not surprisingly as it is after all from a GWPF article.

    Whether China/India keep to commitments doesn’t affect the fact that GWPF is wrong. I don’t know whether they will. I’d assume not, which is why I prefer a revenue neutral, unilateral, carbon tax on all goods and services.


  9. ‘a revenue neutral, unilateral, carbon tax on all goods and services.’

    And then you add in government, at which point everything you prefer will be taken and rammed up your-

    ……whether you like it that way or not.


  10. I liked this bit in the interview:
    “ we’ve got to have a plan for everything which isn’t electricity”
    …like they can re-invent almost every other technology the human race has achieved in the last couple of centuries, at the drop-of-a-hat?

    What’s he going to replace Tarmac with? Wood?
    What’s he going to replace rubber with? Wood?
    What’s he going to replace concrete with? Wood?
    What’s he going to replace plastic with? Paper?

    Perhaps he really ought to start with something a lot less ambitious. Like, say, universal everlasting world love and peace.

    Fool or liar? It may seem like a pre-teenage greenpeace-intern probably prepped him, but maybe it doesn’t really matter. Like many a regular politician, his job/position evidently demanded he say something for his boss/employer. So he did. That is probably his entire take on the matter.


  11. China’s INDC was looked at by an outfit called Climate Action Tracker.
    They rated it “medium”, which is above “inadequate” but below “sufficient”.
    The China INDC says they will reach a peak of CO2 emissions by 2030.
    But there’s no mention of how high that peak will be and no specification of any reduction after that peak. The tracker site people are clearly not impressed, and they also don’t seem to think China is likely to stick to it, using phrases like “difficult to reconcile”, “inconsistent with”, “contradict”.

    Turner claims there’s a “very very big commitments to renewable electricity”. The INDC says “Increase the share of non-fossil energy sources in the total primary energy supply to around 20% by 2030”. But that’s a pretty feeble commitment, not a very very big one, since they already had a pledge of 15% by 2020, and they already have a great deal of hydro power.


  12. Paul Matthews “The China INDC says they will reach a peak of CO2 emissions by 2030.”

    A lot of people mistake a levelling off of emissions with a levelling off of the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere.


  13. I read raff’s comment and concluded that this guy is not familiar with elementary figures of speech such as hyperbole and is probably unable to locate his arse with his thumbs.


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