Saturday, January 23, 2010

Glaciergate And The TERI Link

It seems that Climategate wasn't the only scandal to develop over the last few months. The latest involves the rigorous peer reviewed science (or complete lack there of) the IPCC applied to its claim that Himalayan glaciers would completely disappear by 2035 or sooner if the current rate of melting due of course to man made global warming was to continue. Here is the quote from chapter 10 of the IPCC's 4thAssessment Report:

Glaciers in the Himalaya are receding faster than in any other part of the world (see Table 10.9) and, if the present rate continues, the likelihood of them disappearing by the year 2035 and perhaps sooner is very high if the Earth keeps warming at the current rate. Its total area will likely shrink from the present 500,000 to 100,000 km2 by the year 2035 (WWF, 2005).

This was used at both governmental and non-governmental level as a reason to justify introducing Emissions Trading. As can be seen here for both the Garnaut Report and Government white paper responses and here for Australian Religious Response to Climate Change as an example of a non governmental one.

In addition to this new scandal is another involving the relationship of the IPCC"s top climate official Dr Rajendra Pachauri (who I have written about before) has with The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), based in New Delhi, which is India's most influential private body involved in climate-change issues and renewable energy and the millions of dollars he is apparently making by incorporating both his role as a top climate official with business opportunities that he can direct TERI's way in that capacity.

Let's first look at the new scandal known as Glaciergate:

From an article (one of many that have now been written on this) from the U.K.'s Express newspaper is this explanation:

FRESH doubts were cast over controversial global warming theories yesterday after a major climate change argument was discredited.

The International Panel on Climate Change was forced to admit its key claim that Himalayan glaciers would melt by 2035 was lifted from a 1999 magazine article. The report was based on an interview with a little-known Indian scientist who has since said his views were “speculation” and not backed up by research.

It was also revealed that the IPCC’s controversial chairman, Dr Rajendra Pachauri, described as “the world’s top climate scientist”, is a former railway engineer with a PhD in economics and no formal climate science qualifications.

Dr Pachauri was yesterday accused of a conflict of interest after it emerged he has a network of business interests that attract millions of pounds in funding thanks to IPCC policies. One of them, The Energy Research Institute, has a London office and is set to receive up to £10million from British taxpayers over the next five years in the form of grants from the Department for International Development.

Dr Pachauri denies any conflict of interest arising from his various roles.

Yesterday, critics accused the IPCC of boosting the man-made global warming theory to protect a multi-million pound industry.

Climate scientist Peter Taylor said: “I am not surprised by this news. A vast bureaucracy and industry has been built up around this theory. There is too much money in it for the IPCC to let it wither.”

Professor Julian Dowdeswell, a glacier specialist at Cambridge University, said: “The average glacier is 1,000ft thick so to melt one even at 15ft a year would take 60 years. That is a lot faster than anything we are seeing now so the idea of losing it all by 2035 is unrealistically high.”

The IPCC was set up by the UN to ensure world leaders had the best possible scientific advice on climate change. It issued the glacier warning in a benchmark report in 2007 that was allegedly based on the latest research into global warming.

The scientists behind the report now admit they relied on a news story published in the New Scientist journal in 1999. The article was based on a short telephone interview with scientist Syed Hasnain, then based in Delhi, who has since said his views were “speculation”.

The New Scientist report was picked up by the WWF and included in a 2005 paper.

It then became a key source for the IPCC which went further in suggesting the melting of the glaciers was “very likely”.

Yesterday, Professor Murari Lal who oversaw the chapter on glaciers in the IPCC report, said: “If Hasnain says officially that he never asserted this, or that it is a wrong presumption, then I will recommend that the assertion about Himalayan glaciers be removed from future IPCC assessments.”

Last year the Indian government issued its own scientific research rejecting the notion that glaciers were melting so rapidly.

Before the weakness in the IPCC’s research was exposed, Dr Pachauri dismissed the Indian government report as “voodoo science”.

The revelations are the latest crack to appear in the scientific consensus on climate change.

It follows the so-called climate-gate scandal in November last year when leaked emails from the University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit appeared to show scientists fiddling the figures to strengthen the case for man-made climate change.

The scandal prompted critics to suggest that many scientists had a vested interest in promoting climate change because it helped secure more funding for research.....

So what we have instead of a rigorous peer review process is a journalist interviewing a scientist who gives a wildly speculative view on a topic. This journalist prints this speculation as fact in New Scientist magazine. This is then picked up by the WWF (note that they are the sited source by the IPCC in the quote given above from the 4th AR) who wrote:

glaciers in the Himalayas are receding faster than in any other part of the world and, if the present rate continues, the livelihood[sic] of them disappearing by the year 2035 is very high

From there we have the IPCC disregarding any rigorous peer review process and incorporating it as "fact" and "settled science" into their 4th Assessment Report. Yet we were constantly told that the IPCC is the "gold standard" for climate science and all of its science is peer reviewed. Apparently not! Dr. Joanne Nova has a good summary of this and other areas the IPCC has missed the golden mark as can be seen here.

As we saw in the original article I referenced in this section was this quote:

Dr Pachauri was yesterday accused of a conflict of interest after it emerged he has a network of business interests that attract millions of pounds in funding thanks to IPCC policies.

The original article by Christopher Booker and Richard North of the U.K. Telegraph says:

No one in the world exercised more influence on the events leading up to the Copenhagen conference on global warming than Dr Rajendra Pachauri, chairman of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and mastermind of its latest report in 2007.

Although Dr Pachauri is often presented as a scientist (he was even once described by the BBC as “the world’s top climate scientist”), as a former railway engineer with a PhD in economics he has no qualifications in climate science at all.

What has also almost entirely escaped attention, however, is how Dr Pachauri has established an astonishing worldwide portfolio of business interests with bodies which have been investing billions of dollars in organisations dependent on the IPCC’s policy recommendations.

These outfits include banks, oil and energy companies and investment funds heavily involved in ‘carbon trading’ and ‘sustainable technologies’, which together make up the fastest-growing commodity market in the world, estimated soon to be worth trillions of dollars a year.

Today, in addition to his role as chairman of the IPCC, Dr Pachauri occupies more than a score of such posts, acting as director or adviser to many of the bodies which play a leading role in what has become known as the international ‘climate industry’.

It is remarkable how only very recently has the staggering scale of Dr Pachauri’s links to so many of these concerns come to light, inevitably raising questions as to how the world’s leading ‘climate official’ can also be personally involved in so many organisations which stand to benefit from the IPCC’s recommendations.

...The original power base from which Dr Pachauri has built up his worldwide network of influence over the past decade is the Delhi-based Tata Energy Research Institute, of which he became director in 1981 and director-general in 2001. Now renamed The Energy Research Institute, TERI was set up in 1974 by India’s largest privately-owned business empire, the Tata Group, with interests ranging from steel, cars and energy to chemicals, telecommunications and insurance (and now best-known in the UK as the owner of Jaguar, Land Rover, Tetley Tea and Corus, Britain’s largest steel company).

Although TERI has extended its sponsorship since the name change, the two concerns are still closely linked.

In India, Tata exercises enormous political power, shown not least in the way that when it expressed its interests in developing land in the eastern states of Orissa and Jarkhand, it led to the Indian government displacing hundreds of thousands of poor tribal villagers to make way for large-scale iron mining and steelmaking projects.

Initially, when Dr Pachauri took over the running of TERI in the 1980s, his interests centred on the oil and coal industries, which may now seem odd for a man who has since become best known for his opposition to fossil fuels. He was, for instance, a director until 2003 of India Oil, the country’s largest commercial enterprise, and until this year remained as a director of the National Thermal Power Generating Corporation, its largest electricity producer.

In 2005, he set up GloriOil, a Texas firm specialising in technology which allows the last remaining reserves to be extracted from oilfields otherwise at the end of their useful life.

However, since Pachauri became a vice-chairman of the IPCC in 1997, TERI has vastly expanded its interest in every kind of renewable or sustainable technology, in many of which the various divisions of the Tata Group have also become heavily involved, such as its project to invest $1.5 billion (£930 million) in vast wind farms.

Dr Pachauri’s TERI empire has also extended worldwide, with branches in the US, the EU and several countries in Asia. TERI Europe, based in London, of which he is a trustee (along with Sir John Houghton, one of the key players in the early days of the IPCC and formerly head of the UK Met Office) is currently running a project on bio-energy, financed by the EU.

Another project, co-financed by our own Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and the German insurance firm Munich Re, is studying how India’s insurance industry, including Tata, can benefit from exploiting the supposed risks of exposure to climate change. Quite why Defra and UK taxpayers should fund a project to increase the profits of Indian insurance firms is not explained.

Even odder is the role of TERI’s Washington-based North American offshoot, a non-profit organisation, of which Dr Pachauri is president. Conveniently sited on Pennsylvania Avenue, midway between the White House and the Capitol, this body unashamedly sets out its stall as a lobbying organisation, to “sensitise decision-makers in North America to developing countries’ concerns about energy and the environment”.

TERI-NA is funded by a galaxy of official and corporate sponsors, including four branches of the UN bureaucracy; four US government agencies; oil giants such as Amoco; two of the leading US defence contractors; Monsanto, the world’s largest GM producer; the WWF (the environmentalist campaigning group which derives much of its own funding from the EU) and two world leaders in the international ‘carbon market’, between them managing more than $1 trillion (£620 billion) worth of assets.

All of this is doubtless useful to the interests of Tata back in India, which is heavily involved not just in bio-energy, renewables and insurance but also in ‘carbon trading’, the worldwide market in buying and selling the right to emit CO2. Much of this is administered at a profit by the UN under the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) set up under the Kyoto Protocol, which the Copenhagen treaty was designed to replace with an even more lucrative successor.

...It is one of these deals, reported in last week’s Sunday Telegraph, which is enabling Tata to "mothball" nearly three million tonnes of steel production at its Corus plant in Redcar, while opening a new plant in Orissa with a similar scale of production, gaining in the process a potential £1.2 billion in ‘carbon credits’ (while putting 1,700 people on Teesside out of work).

More than three-quarters of the world ‘carbon’ market benefits India and China in this way. India alone has 1,455 CDM projects in operation, worth $33 billion (£20 billion), many of them facilitated by Tata – and it is perhaps unsurprising that Dr Pachauri also serves on the advisory board of the Chicago Climate Exchange, the largest and most lucrative carbon-trading exchange in the world, which was also assisted by TERI in setting up India’s own carbon exchange.

But this is peanuts compared to the numerous other posts to which Dr Pachauri has been appointed in the years since the UN chose him to become the world’s top ‘climate-change official’.

In 2007, for instance, he was appointed to the advisory board of Siderian, a San Francisco-based venture capital firm specialising in ‘sustainable technologies’, where he was expected to provide the Fund with ‘access, standing and industrial exposure at the highest level’,

In 2008 he was made an adviser on renewable and sustainable energy to the Credit Suisse bank and the Rockefeller Foundation. He joined the board of the Nordic Glitnir Bank, as it launched its Sustainable Future Fund, looking to raise funding of £4 billion. He became chairman of the Indochina Sustainable Infrastructure Fund, whose CEO was confident it could soon raise £100 billion.

In the same year he became a director of the International Risk Governance Council in Geneva, set up by EDF and E.On, two of Europe’s largest electricity firms, to promote ‘bio-energy’. This year Dr Pachauri joined the New York investment fund Pegasus as a ‘strategic adviser’, and was made chairman of the advisory board to the Asian Development Bank, strongly supportive of CDM trading, whose CEO warned that failure to agree a treaty at Copenhagen would lead to a collapse of the carbon market.

The list of posts now held by Dr Pachauri as a result of his new-found world status goes on and on. He has become head of Yale University’s Climate and Energy Institute, which enjoys millions of dollars of US state and corporate funding. He is on the climate change advisory board of Deutsche Bank. He is Director of the Japanese Institute for Global Environmental Strategies and was until recently an adviser to Toyota Motors. Recalling his origins as a railway engineer, he is even a policy adviser to SNCF, France’s state-owned railway company.

Meanwhile, back home in India, he serves on an array of influential government bodies, including the Economic Advisory Committee to the prime minister, holds various academic posts and has somehow found time in his busy life to publish 22 books.

...But the real question mark over TERI’s director-general remains over the relationship between his highly lucrative commercial jobs and his role as chairman of the IPCC.

TERI have, for example, become a preferred bidder for Kuwaiti contracts to clean up the mess left by Saddam Hussein in their oilfields in 1991. The $3 billion (£1.9 billion) cost of the contracts has been provided by the UN. If successful, this would be tenth time TERI have benefited from a contract financed by the UN.

Certainly no one values the services of TERI more than the EU, which has included Dr Pachauri’s institute as a partner in no fewer than 12 projects designed to assist in devising the EU’s policies on mitigating the effects of the global warming predicted by the IPCC.

In a very convenient and no doubt profitable arrangement Dr. Pachauri and TERI are now "cleaning up" around the world. There are even reports that Dr. Pachauri used his TERI email account to conduct official IPCC business furthering the calls of "Conflict of Interest."

Dr. Pachauri responded to the Booker/North article as can be seen in this follow up article by Christopher Booker:

In a series of press and television interviews, Dr Pachauri described our report as "a pack of lies". He accused us of being part of that same "powerful vested interest" responsible for "Climategate", the emails and other documents leaked from the East Anglia Climatic Research Unit, which revealed the methods used by the small group of scientists at the heart of the IPCC to manipulate temperature data to show that the earth has been warming further than is justified by the evidence.

When asked whether he intended to take legal action over our article, Dr Pachauri replied that he hadn't yet made up his mind.

In typical fashion of an alarmist note Dr. Pachauri's instinctive reaction to criticism: to deny and abuse but not to fight back with facts.

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