The 80% renewables solution: IPCC “author teams” have freedom to propagandize

I am not a climate scientist. Nor – unlike Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) chair, Rajendra K. Pachauri – have I ever pretended (or failed to correct** the assertions of others) that I am one.

[** please see below for the only instance I’ve ever heard Pachauri correct the record.]

In what may or may not be an attempt to redeem itself from its mindless endorsement of “the Anthropocene”, even The Economist has noted:

Renewable outrage

[T]he authors of the IPCC chapter involved declined to evaluate the scenarios they looked at in terms of whether they thought they were plausible, let alone likely. Ottmar Edenhofer, a German economist who was one of those in overall charge of the report, gives the impression that he would have welcomed a more critical approach from his colleagues; but there is no mechanism by which the people in charge can force an author team to do more, or other, than it wants to. (The same goes for authors on the team, Mr Teske says; he was one of twelve authors on the relevant chapter, and over 120 authors overall, and had no peculiar Greenpeace lantern with which to bend them all to his will.)

What’s more, evaluating the scenarios in a quantitative way would be extremely hard for any number of reasons. Asked at an IPCC event [presumably this one -hro] in Brussels yesterday what the most important thing to come out of the report was, Dr Edenhofer said nothing about the prospects of an 80%-renewable world (indeed, in his presentation he didn’t mention it). Instead he points to his discovery of a striking dearth in reliable peer-reviewed data on what it costs to generate renewable electricity and what determines those costs. The report put a lot of effort into developing such numbers (there are huge appendices devoted to the data) but Dr Edenhofer considers what they came up with little more than a start on what needs to be done. Without really understanding costs, how can one go forward to assess the merits and believability of scenarios. [emphasis added -hro]

The Economist also interviewed Pachauri for this particular article. Their transcript includes the following:

B[abbage’s Oliver Morton]: You don’t think there’s an implicit endorsement in having Greenpeace up here on stage with you?

RP: Not really. I don’t see why. I can share the stage with the devil.

B: But it’s clear that you have quite a lot in common with Greenpeace.

RP: But I also have a lot in common with industry.

B: What sort of thing would you point to?

RP: I talk to industry groups all the time, I advise industry groups, I don’t think there’s any imbalance there whatsoever. And I think being chair of the IPCC it’s for me to reach out to every section of society and to encourage debate, to encourage discussion irrespective of where it takes place. And I’m not taking any positions. [emphasis added -hro]

If Pachauri is “not taking any positions” – unless he has redefined “taking positions” – I wonder how he would describe his many recent claims and exhortations during the course of his performance (starts at approx 01:00) at the International Student Energy Summit, in which – in addition to declaring that (contrary to his frequent billing as such) he is not a climate scientist – he claimed:

“Jimmy Carter was one of best Presidents US ever had: he told the truth”

“Scientists must take positions”.

“We have not been effective in spreading the message” ***

We have to ensure that there is a price on carbon

*** I really do think it would be a good idea if Pachauri could make up his mind about the IPCC’s “effectiveness” in “spreading the message”. During the course of articulating his 2009 “Vision” statement, Pachauri had declared:

[A]wareness on climate change issues has reached a level unanticipated in the past. Much of this change can be attributed to the findings of the AR4 which have been disseminated actively through a conscious effort by the IPCC, its partners and most importantly the media [emphasis added -hro].

Is it possible that the “message” has changed in the intervening two years? I certainly haven’t noticed any difference. Change in buzzwords of choice, yes. But change in message? Nah.

It’s no wonder that Canada’s National Post has awarded Pachauri (and the boss of the IPCC’s parent, the UNEP’s Achim Steiner) special “Rubber Duck” awards as “Giants of Junk”:

Together they are collectively responsible for uncountable thousands of reports, initiatives, policies, statements, comments, studies and panels that are based on science that is politically motivated, either in content or objective.


2 thoughts on “The 80% renewables solution: IPCC “author teams” have freedom to propagandize

  1. Pachauri says: I advise industry groups all the time.

    This is a man who is involved in one kind of a conflict-of-interest by supporting environmental pressure groups, and thinks it all evens out because he is also involved in other kinds of conflicts-of-interest involving their opponents, i.e., industry.

    Clueless and arrogant indeed.

  2. But the arrogance is part of a well-established (and often practiced) pattern of response whenever he (or any of the IPCC upper echelons for that matter) is presented with evidence of their less than saintly behaviour, is it not?

    I haven’t quite determined, though, whether he’s “clueless” or simply … uh … railroading (in the rather futile hope that anyone who learns of his remarks is “clueless”) ;-)

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