Imagine reading this on the first Friday of August, from a BBC political reporter citing an anonymous Whitehall source she calls “a long time observer of COP conferences”.

Two other names that pop up in conversations about the UK government and the upcoming conference are those of Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab and Chancellor Rishi Sunak – with claims the pair aren’t exuding enough of a sense of urgency.

The source close to COP preparations thinks it’s time for a (non mung bean) Boris Johnson speech in the run up to September’s United Nations General Assembly to set out a vision and to tell Whitehall to “get its finger out.”

But of course many will concede that it’s pretty hard to plan a major event during a pandemic.

Government insiders insist it is full steam ahead for the negotiations, at least, to happen in person.

That is seen as essential.

The UK has even offered to provide vaccines to delegates.

But the COP veteran believes there still a small chance it won’t happen at all if it gets to a point where other countries want more delay.

Let me say that bit again.

The COP veteran believes there [is] still a small chance it won’t happen at all if it gets to a point where other countries want more delay.

Is it possible that Dominic Raab and Rishi Sunak aren’t too bothered about such a prospect? Why would that be? How about this in the Daily Mirror ten days before?

The UK’s ban on gas boilers could be pushed back five years due to backlash over the soaring cost of ‘net zero’ on households ahead of the COP26 climate conference this year.

Boris Johnson is said to be looking at delaying the ban on sales of gas boilers to 2040, in a move that would allow firms extra time to develop more affordable alternatives including cheaper hydrogen boilers and heat-pumps.

However, the push back could result in the UK falling behind on its net zero target of 2030.

Under plans, the public will be incentivised to buy an eco-friendly heat pump next time their boiler breaks down, but would be given extra time to buy one if they want to before the ban kicks in.

At present, a heat pump can set you back an eye-watering £14,000 with even minsters warning that these green measures could cost households £400billion on top of the eye-watering Covid bill.

That eponymously mirroring a polemic by rebel Tory MP Steve Baker in The Sun over two months before: The ‘Net Zero’ boiler ban will leave Britain’s poorest out in the cold.

The wheels on the bus are coming off. Pioneers like Ann Widdecombe (pictured) – one of only five MPs to vote against Ed Miliband’s Climate Change Act in 2008 – are going to be vindicated. Not only beautiful but smart.

Humans as super-agents

Unlike the fairy-tale production of the Anthropocene, the tectonic shift I’m mooting will only take a few, albeit of rare courage. Because the facts are with us. And, as both quotes so far show, Covid is helping. (Not a choice we would have made, given the global suffering involved. But still a fact.)

Davey in the Telegraph, 7th August 2021

That cartoon from the prime minister’s house journal yesterday, under the headline Boris Johnson’s push for net zero plunged into chaos. (H/t Jit and Mark Hodgson.)

Something strange is going on

I don’t know about you but I’ve been pondering the strange alignment of three events this year: the G7 summit in Cornwall in June, the first time the UK has chaired that gathering for eight years, after it had to be cancelled in 2020, the release of AR6 WG1 globally tomorrow, again the first such report for eight years, and COP26, delayed a year by Covid, so also, like the G7, in the UK in 2021 (insofar as it happens). That’s the first time we’ve hosted a COP since that sainted series began in 1995. All that global attention. Just what our government wanted. Or perhaps not.

Still, such challenges bring out the best in some people. Our prime minister has anticipated the totality of the findings of AR6 in the last week, moving the goal posts in dramatic fashion while preserving the XR- and Carrie-approved means of strict Net Zero:

How seriously is the government taking the task of hosting this major climate conference?

Pretty seriously, the prime minister suggested today.

“We need to stop the world gaining another 1.5 degrees” he said.

“The risk of that is clear.

“The way to do that is for countries to move to net zero.

“We want to see an end to coal by 2030… we want to see the planting of millions and millions of trees around the world” he added.

That’s the BBC report from late Thursday again. Our target, we learn, is to stop the world gaining another 1.5 degrees. That’s three times easier – no probably a thousand times easier – than the old target of limiting ourselves to 1.5 degC from pre-industrial.

I’ve not done a substantive post on Cliscep since leaving the scene in March. So I thought I’d rejoin with a post that highlights one article from each month since. (Yesterday’s Telegraph piece with the Davey cartoon makes it two for August but life is seldom neat when wheels are falling off out-of-control juggernauts.)

My selection for April is Richard Lindzen’s talk entitled The Imaginary Climate Crisis: How can we Change the Message?

Lindzen finishes:

Our task is to show the relevant people the overall stupidity of this issue rather than punching away at details. In focusing on the details, we are merely trying to showcase our own specialties. My use of the word ‘merely’ is probably unjustified; the details can, in fact, be scientifically important. However, we are not considering either our target audience or the intrinsic absurdity of the issue. It is likely that we have to capitalize on the insecurity of the educated elite and make them look silly instead of superior and virtuous. We must remember that they are impervious to real science unless it is reduced to their level. When it is reduced to their level, it is imperative that we, at least, retain veracity. Whether we are capable of effectively doing this is an open question.

I would argue that our prime minister has helped greatly in the last week by showing how absurd the whole thing is, that he can get the official message so wrong and not even be corrected, let alone mocked. Except of course on Cliscep.

“The greatest challenge of the post-war era”

That wasn’t the phrase that came to George Monbiot on Saturday:

But it was the prime minister’s in June, quoted in a Telegraph article, just before the G7 summit began, with the feelgood title Exclusive: Queen to honour Kate Bingham with a damehood. There’s no mention of climate at all. It’s all about the Covid crisis and the UK response:

Kate Bingham, 55, is to be rewarded with the honour for her unpaid work leading the UK Vaccines Taskforce and obtaining access to millions of doses of six different coronavirus jabs.

On Saturday, the 40-millionth patient received their first Covid jab. Her damehood is expected to be among a host of honours for “heroes” of the pandemic response, to be unveiled in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list next weekend.

The disclosure comes as the Prime Minister, who appointed Ms Bingham to the Vaccines Taskforce last May, prepares to use his role as host of this year’s G7 summit, to urge leaders to commit to “vaccinating the world” by the end of next year.

Mr Johnson will seek “concrete commitments” from the US, French, German, Japanese, Italian, and Canadian leaders, which UK officials hope to unveil, along with a major rise in British vaccine donations, during the summit in Cornwall.

While some 1.5 billion Covid vaccine doses have been administered globally, only around one per cent of them have been delivered in Africa, according to the World Health Organisation.

Speaking ahead of the summit, Mr Johnson said: “Next week the leaders of the world’s greatest democracies will gather at an historic moment for our countries and for the planet.

“The world is looking to us to rise to the greatest challenge of the post-war era: defeating Covid and leading a global recovery driven by our shared values.

“Vaccinating the world by the end of next year would be the single greatest feat in medical history.

“I’m calling on my fellow G7 leaders to join us to end this terrible pandemic and pledge we will never allow the devastation wreaked by Covid to happen again.”

Boris Johnson is not perhaps as stupid as the previous section might seem to imply. This is the agenda he wanted to be central at the St Ives summit, which of course generously gave a lot of locals Covid-19. The climate elite fought back. “Our crisis is bigger than yours,” they said.

But many MPs, like Steve Baker, know that’s not how most ordinary UK voters see things. All we need is some courage, from both politicians and journalists. It’s hardly too much to ask.


  1. Great article.
    Optimism and reality: what a combination!
    Reality and the utter BS of the great hype storms of the last eighty + years meeting reality: what a combination!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Well, Dom has called Boris the shopping trolley PM, so there is always the chance that he will veer off into a new direction. Lurking at the back of that grey sponge on his shoulders may be the notion that the concept and necessity of Net Zero is absurd. But it might take a figurative backstab from colleagues who understand the mood in the street. The news may not penetrate the Ivory Tower, surrounded as it is by committed acolytes (physically and digitally).

    Boris – or his successor – could easily swing around to a new plan, that the UK will agree to a per-capita emissions rate that matches the world’s average. Unlike Net Zero, that would be achievable. If other countries cut emissions and pull the average down, then at least to meet it won’t put us at such a huge disadvantage internationally, even if it would be trying locally.

    [I’m not saying that’s my prefered policy. It isn’t. It’s something that is trying to steer a line between the fantasy-impossible plan of now and the policy I prefer.]

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Mike Yardley has just tweeted:

    “The BBC is relentlessly pushing Climate Change. There’re no dissenting voices at all. Even if the dissenters are mistaken, there are a significant number of scientists who do disagree. So, why do we never hear from them? The BBC coverage is clearly partisan. That’s not their job.”

    Yardley is a hero to hundreds of thousands, if not millions, for his Covid scepticism. In the above tweet it sounds as if he’s never given a thought to climate change, as if the BBC’s lack of objectivity is news to him.

    Are there many more like him? If so, it’s another wheel off the trolley and support for Richard’s optimistic thesis (though the replies, apart from one by our own Barry Woods are uniformly dismissive.)

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Thanks for those most generous and thoughtful comments. I will return to all of them but Geoff’s quote from Mike Yardley reminded me of this tweet, from April, that Ian Woolley pointed me to in May!

    Twitter on 9 Aug 21 tells me that Grayphil is followed by around 3,250 accounts, including Barry Woods, Latimer Alder, Ben Pile, Roger Tallbloke and Tom Nelson. Was that true before that tweet or is it as a result of it? 🙂

    This in turn triggers a more recent memory from Dominic Cummings’s Substack discussions, in which Boris as trolley looms large, hurtling off in unexpected directions based on the last thing he’s heard, often from Carrie, in a desperate aim to please. But the question for Dom I’m thinking of asked about the apparent correlation between ERG-type Brexiteers and lockdown sceptics.

    And, based on past experience on Cliscep, the answers from Cummings and others could get us into combustible territory indeed.

    Note that in this post I limit myself to talking about Covid as a *political reality* that impinges directly on climate policy, not least because of the money it’s used up.

    (You might not like the term political reality. But I think it’s a fair resting place from which to critique climate craziness in August 2021. And to all who are starting to perceive *that* reality: welcome indeed!)


  5. For more than 30 years some scientists have been predicting catastrophe from Global Warming which never happen if
    you analyse the data correctly. Other scientists disagree but the main stream media ignore them as this does not sell newspapers. In the 1970’s the press were warning of the coming Ice Age. Well we are closer to that now than the later with UAH satellites recording a continuing cooling trend.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. “Dividing lines: the main issues Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak disagree on
    From the climate crisis to levelling up, the PM and chancellor have recently clashed over policy decisions”

    “Net zero
    No 10 wants one of Johnson’s leading legacies in office to be progress on environmental issues and tackling the climate crisis. But dealing with the biggest emergency of our times comes with a price tag. The chancellor is signed up to the principle of net zero but the whole government’s strategy has been held up over arguments about how it will be paid for. Sunak, who is instinctively fiscally more conservative, is now examining how to reduce the costs for lower earners.”

    If Sunak sticks to his guns, what does Johnson do? I think he’ll struggle to sack and replace him. But if Sunak baulks at the cost of net zero, what then? Game over?


  7. Mark: Not game over but game very messy would be my take.

    hunterson7: That was very encouraging, thanks. Optimism yes, but qualified optimism. We have to find people of honesty and courage, both in politics and journalism. Ian Woolley and I were saying in the pub on Friday night that someone must now emerge and take advantage of the massive political opportunity the absurdity of Net Zero presents. On the Labour side, surely? Or on the Steve Baker Tory side. I don’t care which it is. Ian (originally from a trad Labour background in the Welsh valleys) strongly sees it that way.


    [I’m not saying that’s my prefered policy. It isn’t. It’s something that is trying to steer a line between the fantasy-impossible plan of now and the policy I prefer.]

    Yes exactly. There will be messy compromises.


  8. beth: Superb, I’d never read that.

    Later, when the panic had died down and people had gone rather sheepishly back to their homes and their offices, minimizing the distances they had run and offering various reasons for running…

    Oh the indignity. It couldn’t be more apposite.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. So we have had yet another instalment in the climate change Epic. The BBC and Guardian scream at us, laying on the hysteria with multiple trowels. Doom is everywhere and imminent unless we change our ways drastically, forgoing the lure of fossil fuels. New oil and gas fields near Shetland should not be sought, let alone be developed (because it will cause Greek forests to burn). A new coalfield in Cumbria will cause Greenland ice to slide into the sea and drown millions of Bangladeshi. Our government must ban everything reliant upon fossil fuels and set a good example to the Chinese. Now!

    The world is going mad (in a hand cart). What do these people think we will do in the interim, between committing to a fossil fuel free future and being able to implement it? Don’t these people realise that during the period between now and their future ideal fossil fuel free states, we will need fossil fuels, and at the rates we will need to use them, we will need access to even more fossil fuels than we currently have. We will need new oil and gas fields, and China (and some other countries) will even need to mine coal fields. The Gretas of this world just don’t seem to recognise this, or don’t want to. It’s not pleasant to watch reality ride roughshod over other peoples’ dreams and good intentions.

    Liked by 4 people

  10. Alan: I think we all – all climate sceptics, for want of a better phrase – have different graphs of exasperation over time, with occasional bouts of relative elation. The worldview (including recommended praxis) propounded relentlessly by the BBC and Guardian is indeed bleak to those of us retaining even a small grasp on reality. But I am relatively elated, because I think COP26 in a time of Covid, combined with the Tory rebellion on the boiler ban, is the rock and hard place that alarmism-in-politics richly deserves. Time will tell. At best it will be very messy.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. watersider: Indeed. Not just the word but the reality!

    The first comment got me thinking about whether it was possible to have both realism and optimism.

    There are times, I think, that optimism is as welcome as fascism or communism. Just another hated -ism.

    We’ll have to see how we go.


  12. “Fairness will be key to successfully tackling the climate crisis
    Larry Elliott
    Just as inequality fuelled the pandemic, it could wreck plans to cut emissions”

    Larry Elliott is of course signed up to the Guardian view of the world, but within those limitations, I think he is one of the more thoughtful contributors there:

    “…The response to the pandemic has shown what’s possible in an emergency. Governments hit the panic button as hospitals filled up with Covid-19 patients. A combination of private and public sector action brought forward vaccines much more speedily than anybody could have imagined in the early months of 2020. Finance ministries in rich countries spent freely to prevent a medical crisis becoming an economic and social crisis. The imperative was to save lives, not balance budgets.

    But it would be unwise to assume the response to the two crises will be exactly the same. Governments reacted to Covid-19 by imposing restrictions on personal freedom unprecedented in peacetime. In theory Boris Johnson, Emmanuel Macron or Mario Draghi could insist that a new range of curbs are needed in a war against climate change. In reality, they will be wary of going down the compulsion route, not least because the experience of the pandemic is that there is only so much the public will tolerate. Lockdowns work for a while, but then people chafe at the restrictions. Telling them they have to stop doing things they enjoy – foreign travel, for example – will be a last resort for politicians. July was Heathrow’s busiest month since the start of the pandemic.

    Britain, France and Italy each account for about 1% of greenhouse gas emissions, and it seems unlikely that they will insist on their citizens making sacrifices that are not matched by those in other countries. The yellow vest fuel protesters have already shown Macron how unpopular action to tackle climate change can be.

    What’s true for democracies is true for autocracies as well. China is by far the world’s biggest polluter, accounting for 28% of global emissions, but its rapid economic growth and political stability has relied on migration from the fields to the factories, where people earn more and owning a car is a symbol of success. So while the Chinese Communist party is aware of the risks of climate change and is investing heavily in renewables, it also fears slower growth will lead to higher unemployment and political discontent. Hence China is building new coal-fired power plants at the same time as it is home to nearly half the world’s electric passenger vehicles and one in three of the world’s solar panels.

    Most African countries are at an earlier stage of development than China and for them growth is not a luxury but the means to tackle hunger and infant mortality. Johnson won’t get very far at the November Cop26 conference in Glasgow telling poor people that they will have to make sacrifices in order to save the planet, especially in light of the decision to cut Britain’s aid budget.

    It is not going to be easy to replicate the urgency with which countries responded to the pandemic. Despite the floods and the forest fires, there is always a temptation for politicians to put off tough decisions in the belief that they have more time to act. Rishi Sunak is cavilling at the upfront costs of hitting the UK government’s net zero target. Nor does Keir Starmer’s £30bn green investment plan match the scale of the challenge….

    …Inequality, both within and between countries, remains the most serious impediment to tackling climate change and progress will be slower unless it is addressed. The architects of the New Deal in the 1930s understood that responding to the Great Depression was not just about spending money on public works and providing jobs for the unemployed; it was also about giving more power to organised labour, curbing Wall Street and imposing higher taxes on the rich. The New Deal was merely part of a package that included full employment and the US decision to fend off the threat of communism in western Europe through the redistributive mechanism of Marshall aid.

    Updating the New Deal for the modern age requires a green dimension. It also needs a social dimension to ensure buy-in from the low-paid people and those likely to lose their jobs in the inevitable low-carbon shakeout. If governments want people to switch from gas boilers to heat pumps they are going to have to foot the bill. If they want poor countries to skip the fossil-fuel phase and move straight to energy systems based on renewables, they are going to have to come up with a modern version of the Marshall plan. Building back greener means building back fairer.”

    Although he has spotted the problem (unlike his fellow contributors, such as Damian Carrington, who seem to think it’s a denialist distraction technique) he, perhaps wisely, fails to identify the solution. Which is, of course, not going down this road.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Mark, I think the problem is that the “climate crisis” (lol, as the young folk would have it) is no crisis at all, so that the extreme measures taken in response to a real crisis (pandemic) have no chance of being implemented to “fight climate change” by any sane government, democratic or dictatorship. I also think that the majority understand that this is all wind, including those in power. What is it they say? Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face. In Denierland I called the current stage “doing half-assed things at cut price” or something like that. The promises are vast but they can never happen; they have survived reality so far by being far enough away in time that we could all pretend it was possible that they might come to pass.

    Maybe the more absurd the plan is, the louder the acolytes have to shout down the opposition: as much to stop counter arguments from reaching their own ears as anything else.

    By the way, according to EDGAR the share of emissions belonging to China was 30.4% in 2019. I have no reason to suppose it has gone down since.The UK’s emissions were 365 Mt CO2/yr compared to China’s 11,535 Mt CO2/yr.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Jit, yes EDGAR is a great resource. Who knows what the truth is about China’s emissions, especially given that there is a lot of self-reporting involved? Larry Elliott in the Guardian (possibly toeing the party line) says China’s share of world emissions is 28% of the total. ON the TV and radio in the last 48 hours I’ve heard it put at 29%. And, as you say, EDGAR puts it at over 30%. But that’s for 2019. So, who knows? Whatever it is, it’s a lot!


  15. I’d missed this till now. (The fame and the tweet.)

    Boris meet Andrew … wheels depart bus. It’s all the same thing happenin’.

    I will seek to respond to some of these comments tomorrow. But the emphasis on fairness (from a Guardian economics guy, no less) really touched me Mark. Because of a video I’d watched last night, in the early hours. But it may take another post to explain that. For which I may not have enough time.


  16. “Council policies often inconsistent with climate goals”

    “More than a third of English councils support policies that could increase carbon emissions despite having declared a “climate emergency”, BBC research suggests.

    Road building and airport expansion are among examples provided by 45 out of 121 questionnaire respondents who say they have passed climate motions.

    Environmentalists say the findings reveal “inconsistencies” in approach.

    Local leaders insist they are taking action but need more funding.”


    “Between March and June the BBC surveyed all 149 top tier councils in England, of which 136 responded.

    Almost nine in 10 councils (121 out of 136 respondents, 89%) have declared a “climate emergency”
    Of those, more than one in three councils (45 out of 121 respondents, 37%) said they supported at least one policy that could increase carbon emissions, such as new road building or airport expansion
    About two-thirds of councils (91 out of 136 respondents, 67%) said the pandemic had affected their plans to tackle climate change.”

    More evidence that the wheels are coming off:

    “The BBC’s findings highlight the tensions faced by councils trying to balance economic, social and environmental challenges.”

    Yes, whatever Damian Carrington writes at the Guardian, this stuff, far from being the no-brainer he claims it to be, is actually very difficult, and a lot of the actions required to race to net zero will be socially and economically very damaging indeed.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. From WSJ via GWPF:

    Torqued up is right. The U.N. Secretary-General called the new report a “code red for humanity.” And someone at Reuters actually wrote this sentence: “Further warming could mean that in some places, people could die just from going outside.”

    If they really believe this, the policy response has failed miserably. Politicians have spent trillions of dollars subsidizing renewable energy with no effect on climate. Nuclear power, which would sharply reduce CO2, is taboo among the greens. Innovation in developing low-cost natural gas, which substitutes for coal, may have done more than any government policy to reduce U.S. emissions. Yet President Biden wants to crush the gas industry with regulation.

    Throwing subsidies at things can be hidden for a time. Electricity bills are not itemised. Crunch time happens when you force people to change their lifestyles.

    Liked by 3 people

  18. “Treasury blocking green policies key to UK net zero target
    Experts say chancellor refusing to commit spending needed to shift economy to low-carbon footing”

    “…Kate Blagojevic, head of climate at Greenpeace UK, said: “There are strong reports that Rishi Sunak is intent on blocking climate spending at exactly the moment we need it most, and that his fingerprints sit heavily on moves to delay or block crucial investment to cut emissions from buildings or gas boilers.”

    The lengthy charge sheet against the Treasury includes: scrapping the green homes grant insulation scheme; freezing fuel duty while slashing electric car incentives; mulling cuts to air passenger duty on domestic flights, while making above-inflation train fare increases; failing to cut VAT on green home refurbishment; underfunding the new infrastructure bank; and delaying the phasing out of gas boilers.

    There have also been glaring omissions and delays. For instance, the transport strategy failed to back road pricing, which many believe will be essential to reducing emissions, which have remained stubbornly high as more people buy SUVs. Both the hydrogen strategy and heat and buildings strategy have been delayed until autumn, as has the overarching net zero strategy.

    Not all of these policies were under direct Treasury control, but the Treasury holds the purse strings and can effectively veto plans by other departments that require government investment or might raise costs for consumers. “The Treasury is at the root of this,” said Ed Matthew, campaign director at E3G, a green thinktank. “They are completely obsessed with short-term costs. It’s bonkers.”

    Chris Venables, head of politics at the Green Alliance thinktank, said: “The Treasury has this huge institutional resistance to medium term economic benefits [that entail short term costs]. They have to be dragged kicking and screaming to consider it.”

    Ministers and advisers are understood to be anxious that costs such as switching to heat pumps from gas boilers, estimated from £5,000 to £20,000 for some households, or the higher purchase price of electric cars, will hurt consumers’ pockets. …”

    Liked by 2 people

  19. Mark: We have a challenge at the moment in having so many active threads, often covering similar issues in the comments. What I’m about to say bears a strong relationship with John and your excellent discussion on the Friederike Otto thread this morning, around this quote from Politico:

    “A vanishingly small number of scientists have the skills and know-how to respond in detail and quickly enough for journalists on deadline.”

    I was drinking in The Woolpack pub with Ian Woolley last night when I glanced at my iPhone and your Guardian extraction above.

    “Treasury blocking green policies key to UK net zero target
    Experts say chancellor refusing to commit spending needed to shift economy to low-carbon footing”


    Our normal route would be pouring scorn on that term being used for "Kate Blagojevic, head of climate at Greenpeace UK".

    But something else hit me here.

    Doesn't the chancellor also have some experts?

    In little things like economics and the future financial security of the country?

    How expert is Kate Blagojevic on all that stuff?

    Then there’s the engineering side of this massive proposed upending of almost all we’ve come to take for granted in what might loosely be called western civilisation. Who has the best experts there?

    This was very rude of me a couple of years ago:

    But just calling Kate Blagojevic and her ilk experts is so mind-numbingly unbalanced.

    Let’s hear it for all experts – and the open discussion between them that Damian Carrington so handsomely reported on in July 2010 (I mean of course on Wayback Machine). That is the only way that any of us can work out whose expertise is the most genuine and pertinent.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Economist and energy analyst Tilak Doshi has published Squaring The Circle: The UN’s Climate “Code Red” Versus The Real World in Forbes today. His final paragraph is quite hilarious, not because of the words, which seem very sensible to me, but because of the solitary hyperlink:

    If one were a betting sort of person, the choice between predicted outcomes represented by two key individuals in the high-stakes game of the alleged “climate crisis” is an eminently fateful one. On the one hand is the hockey stick model-based prediction of an impending climate apocalypse by UN Secretary-General António Guterres on the basis of which he demands countries to commit to the most profound transformation of the global economic system since the Industrial Revolution. On the other is the recent vow of Saudi Oil Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman. He is investing in expanding his country’s production capacity and he intends to “drill every last (hydrocarbon) molecule” as developing countries — which account for over 80% of the world’s population — aspire for higher standards of living based on cheap and affordable energy. What would you bet on?

    Yes, ‘hockey-stick model’ points to Steve McIntyre’s devastating blog post The IPCC AR6 Hockeystick. Now there are those like Zeke Hausfather who will I’m sure complain that it’s unfair for all of AR6’s super-massive supercomputer modelling to be reduced to that lousy hockey stick graph in the SPM. As for me, I think Doshi has cut through the crap and it’s richly deserved.

    Furthermore, isn’t this the kind of article that Rishi Sunak’s experts might well pay attention to? Which way are we betting it’s going to go? Is it really wheels in the ditch time? I couldn’t possibly predict.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. From Steve Mac post, the data…

    ‘As a first illustration, below is a random sample of 11 PAGES2017 series. The series carried forward to PAGES2019 are in blue. For reference, the IPCC curve is shown in red. As you can easily see, most of the series are non-descript and short. Only one series in this sample (Cape Ghir temperature alkenones) has a hockey stick shape, but it goes down.’

    Liked by 1 person

  22. “UK can’t fight climate crisis with austerity, warns expert
    Author of government study says Treasury resistance to green spending programmes could halt progress to net zero”

    “Imposing “premature austerity” again will undermine the fight against climate change and stop poorer households going green, one of the world’s leading climate economists has warned the government, amid claims that the Treasury is resisting policies to tackle the crisis.

    Nicholas Stern, the author of the seminal 2006 government study into the costs of climate change, said comprehensive programmes were needed to help poorer households make the switch to electric cars and away from gas heating, if the government hoped to bring all greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050.

    In an interview with the Observer, he joined other prominent figures in calling on Boris Johnson and chancellor Rishi Sunak to invest in the technology needed and adopt policies such as subsidised loans to help all households make the switch.

    “It’s going to need determination, some resources and smart design to solve these problems,” he said. “These things have to be made easy for people. Growth has to be driven by innovative investment. And we mustn’t make the mistake that we made a dozen years ago with premature austerity.

    “It’s about helping people make the change. You’ve got to have a credible plan to help people with the replacement of boilers, when there are real costs, particularly for the poorest.”

    It comes after claims from inside and outside government that the Treasury is resisting expensive programmes to tackle climate change in the run-up to the Cop26 climate summit, such as so-called “green cheques” to help people switch from gas. A string of policies, from home insulation to new infrastructure spending, have been scrapped, watered down or delayed. No 10 is now said to be pushing a bigger scrappage scheme for gas boilers.

    On Saturday night, Keir Starmer, the Labour leader, pledged to work with the government on matters of “national and international interest” and back an ambitious plan to tackle climate change. However, he warned that the government’s track record and current plans fell short and that Boris Johnson was failing to convince his party of the urgent need for action.”

    Liked by 1 person

  23. “UK minister ‘eager’ for Cambo oil field talks”

    “The UK government is to meet the developers of the proposed Cambo oil field.

    Scotland Office minister David Duguid said he was “eager” to hold talks with Siccar Point Energy in Aberdeen on Tuesday to discuss the project.

    The Cambo oil field is situated approximately 125km (75 miles) to the west of Shetland and is thought to contain 800 million barrels of oil.

    Plans to develop the site have drawn criticism from climate campaigners.

    Environmental groups have accused ministers of “hypocrisy” as the UK prepares to host the 26th United Nations climate COP26 conference in Glasgow, after it emerged the Cambo development could get the green light.

    But Mr Duguid, the Conservative MP for Banff and Buchan, said he wanted to learn more about the project, adding: “As we transition to cleaner, low-carbon and renewable energy, demand for oil and gas is declining and will continue to do so, even with new fields such as Cambo.

    “But until that transition is made, as the UK government is pioneering with the North Sea Transition Deal, sources like Cambo are still required.”…”.


  24. Going back to Jit:

    Throwing subsidies at things can be hidden for a time. Electricity bills are not itemised. Crunch time happens when you force people to change their lifestyles.

    Yes – especially when many lifestyles have already been dramatically changed for the worse by Covid and the ongoing effect of the countermeasures.

    Crunch time also comes, in a different way, when the Tory government approves the Cambo oil field development prior to COP26 (thanks Mark). Not that that decision, and that rather beautiful timing, is inevitable. But the MP for Banff and Buchan is making worrying noises for the alarmist taliban.

    Compared to all that, I think the views of Nicholas Stern (15 AUG 21 AT 7:43 AM) are an irrelevance. What makes Rishi Sunak tick is far more pertinent. And that, I have to say, I don’t fully know.


  25. Maybe the wheels are falling off the bus in Germany too?

    “German chancellor candidates trade climate barbs as race tightens
    German center-right candidate attacks Green and Social Democratic contenders, saying that climate protection should not kill jobs.”

    “The conservative candidate to be the next German chancellor, Armin Laschet, is warning that pursuing green policies too quickly will threaten jobs and tear at the country’s “social peace” — an attack that has focused the race on climate change a month before election day.

    With recent polls suggesting the election is wide open, Laschet on Tuesday sought to put distance on the climate issue between himself and the two other parties vying to hold the most seats in the Bundestag — the Greens and the Social Democrats.

    The move instantly sparked pushback from the Green Party, which has made climate change a central campaign issue. Tuesday night, Annalena Baerbock, the Greens’ chancellor candidate, argued Laschet’s more hesitant approach was endangering the future of German industry and jobs. And she pushed a “climate tax” that would protect German steel plants from “unfair” competition from countries like China.”


  26. “UK’s top climate adviser says criticism of net zero goal is ‘defeatist’
    Chris Stark urges Treasury to speed up pace of decarbonisation strategy ahead of Cop26 summit”

    “The UK’s top climate adviser has pushed back strongly against “defeatist” criticism that the country’s net zero target is expensive, and urged the Treasury to pick up the currently “incremental” pace of decarbonisation.

    Chris Stark, the chief executive of the Committee on Climate Change (CCC), urged the debate over net zero to be framed in a more positive light: “It can be done,” he said. “It is worth it … I hope we can move away from thinking about the cost and see it as a mission to modernise the economy.”

    Two years ago, the UK led the world in adopting a 2050 net zero target, which is essential if humanity is to have any chance of keeping global heating to the relatively safe level of 1.5C to 2C. Last December, the CCC outlined five ways to reach that goal, which the cabinet will soon have to decide on before the Cop26 climate summit in Glasgow in the autumn.

    In recent weeks, however, there has been a wave of criticism by rightwing commentators that the costs are too high, which has put the spotlight on which side of the debate the Treasury will back.

    Stark said it was essential for the chancellor, Rishi Sunak, to endorse the government’s net zero plan because his spending review would shape its prospects.”

    How sad that apparently only “rightwing commentators” are concerned about increasing costs being pointlessly piled on to poor people who can least afford them.


  27. Although no mention of it was made in his resignation letter, there are many who believe that Lord Frost’s opposition to the government’s net zero taxation programme was a significant reason behind his departure yesterday. Not exactly a wheel coming off, but wasn’t that a wheel nut I just saw bouncing down the road?

    Liked by 3 people

  28. John, thank you so much for raising that. I spotted late yesterday when the news broke that Lord Frost apparently objected (inter alia) to the net zero agenda, and that was one of the reasons behind his resignation. Today I have been out and about in the car for much of the day, and so have listened to BBC radio news coverage rather a lot – and not once did the BBC report on the net zero aspect of the resignation. One would almost think they don’t want listeners to know that some people question net zero…Perish the thought. I regard the BBC’s refusal to mention the fact to be little more than censorship, and I’m not happy about it.

    Liked by 2 people

  29. Mark:

    One would almost think they don’t want listeners to know that some people question net zero… I regard the BBC’s refusal to mention the fact to be little more than censorship

    It’s terrible. And not sustainable.

    Liked by 1 person

  30. Still not a dickie bird today from the BBC regarding the role that opposition to net zero taxation played in Lord Frost’s resignation. Apparently, it had nothing to do with Brexit but everything to do with Covid passports:

    “Lord Frost: I didn’t support PM’s coercive Covid plan”

    The Guardian also led with a similar headline:

    “Brexit minister Lord Frost resigns over Covid plan B measures”

    However, unlike the BBC, even the Guardian let slip the truth within the guts of its article, albeit whilst reporting what the Daily Mail had said:

    “The newspaper reported it was the introduction of plan B coronavirus measures, including the implementation of Covid passes, that prompted Lord Frost’s decision. It also said he had become disillusioned by tax rises and the cost of net zero policies.”

    As Mark Hodgson has observed a number of times already, misleading headlines and lying by omission have become a fine art in some journalistic quarters.

    [URL for Guardian article added — Ed]

    Liked by 1 person

  31. Back in December we were discussing Lord Frost’s position on Net Zero. That’s becoming a live issue again, as is the end of the reign of passionate emission reduction advocate “Carrie Antionette”. But let’s stick to the seemly here, with our old teammate Ben Pile.

    Steve Baker’s retweet of Frost in there is also highly suggestive.


  32. It’s a long and brilliant thread by Ben (in case that wasn’t clear from my earlier comment). I liked this about climate scepticism (in lower case letters):

    It’s all worth reading.


  33. The wheels of the Boris Bus having fallen off there’s plenty to read in many news outlets but I just wanted to highlight this from the ever-reliable BBC. (And I think they are, when not captured by a bone-headed ideology like Net Zero and all that goes with it.)


    Thoughts are turning to a leadership race

    Iain Watson, Political correspondent

    Thoughts are turning to the leadership race in Conservative circles.

    “We will rattle through the process,” one MP predicts – probably two votes a day at Westminster to whittle the candidates down to the final two, who will then go to a vote of the members after a summer campaign.

    But that initial process is likely to be intensely fought.

    So far, Suella Braverman, the attorney-general, is the only person to definitively throw her hat in the ring. Others, including Steve Baker, have heavily hinted they will stand.

    Mr Baker being by now the bravest climate sceptic in Parliament, save for Labour’s wonderful Graham Stringer.

    That’s at (A permalink, as they’re called, to one item in the BBC’s lengthy live page on the general subject. They also seem reliable.)


  34. Raab then Baker it is, then 🙂


  35. More on Cummings’s view of the situation, from his paywalled blog at 9:35am.

    The Cabinet Secretary should already have been in touch with the Queen’s private secretary to prepare for a new PM. This morning Case should tell the PM: a) the Queen would not allow an election, the Lascelles principles (above) are clear, she would ask someone else to be PM and continue the government; b) you, PM, need to prepare for seeing the Queen and resigning today.

    He should also be ready to explain to Boris: if you refuse to resign after the ‘22 change the rules and MPs vote you out, then the Queen will appoint a new PM in a process I will organise, if you refuse to face this then the Queen will dismiss you and I will have the police escort you from the building; you can’t stop this and trying would destroy what’s left of your reputation. This process should be explained to Canzini and Guto who won’t have a scooby doo what’s going on. Even the spad-dregs left in the bunker won’t want to be escorted out of the building by the cops because Lear is mad.

    You may not trust the writer completely but I do. And this bit should scare you.

    He’s accepted he’s off but trying to cling on until October.

    A. He’s playing for time and hoping the war gives him an opportunity to stay.

    B. I wrote above on Monday re this:

    >And the period between Boris losing the next confidence vote and leaving No10 will be hideous. Enraged and embittered he will do crazy things. He’ll try to get hold of documents and destroy them. He’ll give many mad orders. He’ll generate further scandals. People in key jobs, like ‘C’, will have some very tricky moments.

    I fear he’ll cause carnage if he’s allowed to stay.

    A highly unstable character, without normal moral scruples, having an incentive to escalate the Ukraine conflict when Russia is a major nuclear power … not good. Elections will follow, within the Tory Party and, before long, country-wide. And who knows if Baker has any chance at all. But intelligent climate scepticism will be up for debate in a way it hasn’t been for many years. But best not to blow up the planet in order to save it?

    Liked by 1 person

  36. Believe that, and … you’ll no doubt be surprised by the nuclear exchange we get into through the trademark recklessness, bravado and incompetence. But never mind, it may genuinely never happen.

    Nick Watt’s short post is here.


  37. Well, the wheels have certainly come off the Boris Bus now…

    It seems incredible that he could stay as some sort of interim PM until October, nor should he, and yet it might happen. What’s the Chinese curse? May you live in interesting times.


  38. “Boris Johnson’s tragedy is that he used his Brexit triumph to impose socialism and eco-extremism on the UK”

    “…For a short while, at least in the second half of 2019 and until the start of Covid, it felt as if there was some sort of plan, a fusion between his ideas and those of his advisers. I didn’t like all of them by any means, but it felt as if we would end up with a mix of tax cuts, deregulation, a radical reform of the Civil Service and procurement, the end of the licence fee, a semi-libertarian embrace of freedom, a semi-consumerist, conservative (rather than collectivist) approach to environmentalism, as well as lots of extra spending in many areas.

    We ended up instead with massively more spending, a vicious series of tax increases, global corporation tax harmonisation that made a mockery of Brexit, a hard-Left green agenda that is barely less authoritarian than that of Extinction Rebellion, a war on consumers, including drivers, meat-eaters and anybody with a suburban lifestyle, a full-on paternalist agenda, more red tape and bureaucracy, no planning reform, an unleashing of the Civil Service and further gains for the woke classes. None of the good things have been delivered, and all the bad ones have happened, and worse….”.

    Liked by 2 people

  39. Richard, from your Dom quote – “Enraged and embittered he will do crazy things. He’ll try to get hold of documents and destroy them. He’ll give many mad orders. He’ll generate further scandals.”

    don’t you think that’s a bit OTT ?

    Liked by 1 person

  40. Will the Guardian and the BBC come to regret their campaign to bring Boris down? What was it Churchill said? Always hold on tight to nurse for fear of finding something worse.

    “Green Tories fear lurch away from progress on climate after Johnson
    Successor may be less sympathetic to environmental concerns, some supporters say”

    “Johnson’s premiership has brought more major environmental legislation and arguably greater progress on tackling the climate and nature crises than either of his Conservative predecessors in the past decade.

    Three landmark acts of parliament – the Agriculture Act, the Fisheries Act, and the Environment Act – as well as a plan for reaching net zero emissions, an energy security strategy and the Cop26 UN climate summit in Glasgow last November, have made for an energetic two and a half years. Johnson has also overseen plans to phase out petrol and diesel cars, a boom in offshore wind, and a pledge to protect a third of the UK’s land and seas.

    Sam Hall, of the Conservative Environment Network, said green policies were always central to Johnson, not an add-on. “Despite the political turbulence caused by Brexit and the pressures of responding to the pandemic, the prime minister has delivered an impressive amount of new green policy domestically and prioritised environmental issues in international fora, such as Cop26 and the G7.

    “Net zero in particular has been viewed as integral to the government’s levelling up strategy, with a huge amount of new investment set to flow into the UK’s industrial heartlands as a result of our net zero goal. In response to the Ukraine crisis, the prime minister has doubled down on renewables in order to bolster the UK’s energy security and ease the cost of living, although he has not been able to unlock further support for energy efficiency from the Treasury.”

    Ben Goldsmith, a prominent green Tory supporter and brother to Zac, the Foreign Office minister elevated to the Lords by Johnson, said: “I have not seen a prime minister before who has placed such importance on the climate and nature recovery. It has been greater than we have seen from any previous government.”

    Goldsmith emphasised Johnson’s genuine interest in nature and animal welfare issues, shared by his wife Carrie Johnson. “He has a sense of the sacred,” said Goldsmith. “Nature really matters to him. I’m not sure many political leaders share that.”

    Even diehard green campaigners give Johnson credit. Dave Timms, head of political affairs at Friends of the Earth, said: “As prime minister, Johnson increasingly made the climate crisis part of both his personal and the Conservative party’s public narrative. His rhetoric at moments such as the UN climate negotiations, while idiosyncratic, did not shy from acknowledging the level of catastrophe the world was facing, nor the urgency of action needed.””

    I’m guessing they’d never have printed that before he had agreed to go.


  41. Another formidable woman, this time one who had a ringside seat during the Brexit campaign, the disastrous fallout between Michael Gove and Boris Johnson immediately after victory, and the sacking of Gove, her ex, by a furious, now doomed prime minister two days ago. Sarah Vine’s piece doesn’t have anything about climate but she’s sided with James Delingpole, a family friend, in the past. What my ringside seat at the most talked about psychodrama in politics taught me about Boris Johnson's flaws


  42. Something else I didn’t know about. Michael Gove backs Kemi Badenoch as next prime minister. “You’ve reached your free article limit” as the Telegraph is wont to say. But I had noticed this, in a hilarious series of tweets yesterday about the Spectator summer party. Badenoch’s climate and energy views? Others may know.

    She’s not big into woke though …


  43. Ok, this sounds encouraging enough, from the Guardian today:

    Eco-friendly conservatives are concerned that [Braverman] has joined forces with MP Steve Baker, who has denied the climate crisis is a pressing matter and wants to dismantle green policies. Instead, he favours expanding the use of gas and reinstating fracking.

    The MP for Wycombe holds sway within the party’s right wing and commands the powerful Eurosceptic ERG group. His pugnacity during the EU negotiations led Baker to dub himself the “hardman of Brexit”. Another worry is that Kemi Badenoch, who is also running for leader on an “anti-woke” platform, also this weekend came out against net zero by 2050.

    Meanwhile, the green wing of the party is still scrambling to fall behind an ecofriendly candidate, with nobody yet setting out a positive climate policy vision. A number of green conservatives have unenthusiastically mooted Nadhim Zahawi and Sajid Javid as potential contenders for their support. Javid and Jeremy Hunt both committed to keep the pledge when interviewed on Sunday morning.

    One does shed a tear on reading that last paragraph.

    Green Tories fear next party leader could ditch net zero strategy


  44. It looks like the story broke with Gove’s piece in The Sun this evening:

    When I was Education Secretary we had to tackle vested interests, set higher standards and embark on a moral mission of liberating every child’s potential – in the teeth of fierce opposition.

    So I know what is required to make Government work and ensure the state supports the most disadvantaged.

    That is why I have no hesitation in saying our next PM should be Kemi Badenoch.

    I’ve worked with Kemi since before she became an MP and served alongside her in Government. She is brave, principled, brilliant and kind.

    She led on the Government’s response to Tony Sewell’s Commission on Racial and Ethnic disparities.

    The Commission’s report had provoked controversy.

    But Kemi didn’t flinch. She came up with concrete measures to remove barriers to opportunity while taking on the mumbo jumbo peddled by left wing culture warriors that only deepen division and foster zero sum identity politics.

    No mention of climate science by the Govester but we mustn’t be too greedy. This is already quite something.


  45. James Forsyth gives some pretty good reasons why it would be quite a turn up for the books for the UK to wake up to find Kemi is our new PM in only a few weeks:

    Michael Gove has endorsed Kemi Badenoch for Tory leader. Badenoch, who was one of his junior ministers at the Department for Levelling Up, is described by Gove as ‘Keir Starmer’s worst nightmare’ and she has a ‘focus intellect and no-bulls**t drive’.

    Gove’s support is a coup for Badenoch. It is not every day that someone throws their weight behind someone who was their junior minister until a few days ago. Gove makes a typically eloquent case. But the jump for Badenoch from being a minister of state to being prime minister would be immense. The challenge for her is persuading 120 MPs – the final-two threshold – that she can make that leap at a time when there is an energy crisis, a security crisis and inflation.

    If the Tories were holding this leadership contest after a general election defeat, you could very easily see how Badenoch’s candidacy could take off and she could win the whole thing. But in office this there is no time to prepare: you have to be ready to be PM on day one and it is a stretch to think that any minister of state is.

    What is certain, though, is that Badenoch is establishing herself as a major force in this race. She is clearly going to be a significant figure in the party in the coming years.

    But I’m inclined to go with it. 😉


  46. As things stand Penny Mordaunt seems to have a far better chance of becoming PM than Badenoch or Braverman. Though Mordaunt could still be excluded from the final two put to Conservative members by ‘tactical voting’ by Sunak supporters for someone they consider more likely to be beaten by their man in that final vote. Liz Truss is also in the running. The lack of real questioning of Net Zero dogma by these two women, unlike Kemi and Suella, made the following interaction thought-provoking for me.

    Competence has to include seeing the Net Zero dogma for what it is: dangerous nonsense. I agree with Emily Kate. Better to have a man who, based on past experience, has a better chance of pulling out of damaging emission reduction measures for good economic reasons. But also striking that it’s two women who have been clearest on this crucial subject. Just as I chose an older Tory woman with her marbles much better in tact than almost all the men around her in 2008 for my banner pic. All power to the elbows of all such women.


  47. We mentioned this possibility in passing back a while.

    Well, Dominic Cummings did. It’s almost as if he knows the guy.

    Not the route to any joy on Net Zero, that seems certain.


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