Mark Carney reckons most fossil fuels “un-burnable”?

Mark J. Carney - mine's about this big and its fully sustainable Or so energylivenews says (thanks to J). Their text is:

Governor of the Bank of England Mark Carney appears to agree most fossil fuels can’t be used if the world is to avoid climate change. At a World Bank event on Friday, he is quoted as saying: “The vast majority of reserves are unburnable.” This is a reference to the idea of a so-called carbon bubble – when investors in oil, gas or coal suppliers lose out on money because the reserves can’t be used.

I’ve bolded his words, the rest is editorial interpolation. I find this particularly irritating. If I’m reading about what Carney thinks, I want to read his words, not what someone else thinks about his words. I’m prepared to read analysis of his words, but it has to be primarily based upon what he said. Searching, I can find a bit more in the Graun:

The governor of the Bank of England has reiterated his warning that fossil fuel companies cannot burn all of their reserves if the world is to avoid catastrophic climate change, and called for investors to consider the long-term impacts of their decisions. According to reports, Carney told a World Bank seminar on integrated reporting on Friday that the “vast majority of reserves are unburnable” if global temperature rises are to be limited to below 2C. Carney is the latest high profile figure to lend his weight to the “carbon bubble” theory, which warns that fossil fuel assets, such as coal, oil and gas, could be significantly devalued if a global deal to tackle climate change is reached.

Here again we’ve got the same very brief quote surrounded by acres of unreliable interpolation. Did Carney actually warn about “catastrophic climate change”? In those words? We don’t know. Perhaps, as the text from the Graun above suggests, he only qualified his words with “if global temperature rises are to be limited to below 2C”, which is a very different matter. Indeed, what did he mean by “reserves” or “fossil fuel companies”? If he’s merely saying that we can’t burn all the coal without going over 2 oC then meh: that’s just the bleedin’ obvious, though the fact that he choose to say the bleedin’ obvious might be interesting. Nor is the meaning of “vast majority” obvious. If by “vast majority” he means, say, 90% then I think I’d find that surprising and non-obvious. But I’m not really up with burnable-resources proportions, please feel free to inform me. The Graun links to but that, too, has the same tantalisingly brief quote about my topic. There’s a bit more quote:

The value of integrated reporting, he argued, was to help investors think about “not just things that can be managed in the short term” but also “costs companies are likely to be exposed to as policy responds to challenges” like climate change. He referred to a “tragedy of horizons” – the market failure by which actors including some investors, companies and governments are not looking far enough ahead to coming problems like the environment, even though these are known to them.

and here’s he’s on a reasonable topic for an econ-bod, possible market failures by not looking ahead far enough. Whether he’s right about that I don’t know; what I actually wanted to know was what he’d said about GW, since that was the headline.

The forum referred to is, I believe, How Integrated Reporting Facilitates Transparency and Financial Stability; October 10, 2014; Washington DC. But they don’t seem to have published any text. Anyone know where to find what he actually said?

I’m slightly puzzled this didn’t cross my radar earlier.


* Bank [of England] prods insurers about climate plans?
* Investors warn of ‘carbon bubble’ as Shell predicts climate regulation will hit profits?

Floods not linked to climate change shocker

In shocking news just in, record heavy rain in the Lakes and extensive flooding has not been linked to global warming. Dr Bogus, spokesman for the Made-Up Institute of Twaddle, said “This is completely unprecedented. Normally, any unusual – or even merely somewhat uncommon – weather event is immeadiately linked to global warming. All of the usual Pinko suspects have failed us in this case. The best we have so far is “David Balmforth, a flooding expert at the Institution of Civil Engineers, said deluges on a similar scale will become more frequent as a result of climate change.” and that is very weak. But in breaking news, the Torygraph has supplied the void with “The flooding in Cumbria is part of a pattern of weather which shows that global warming is occurring faster than anyone expected, says Geoffrey Lean.”

Oh lordy, that last one is pretty awful. I was hoping not to have to see it, but now I have. It sez Three factors cause heavier storms as the climate heats up. As it gets hotter, more energy is injected into the climate. There is a sharper contrast between land and the sea (which warms more slowly), causing stronger winds and greater instability. And as the seas do heat, more water evaporates from them – and comes down as heavier rain. Can you see the obvious problem? Yes that’s right: if it was correct, there would be an enormous seasonal cycle in rainfall, with far more in the summer than winter. As it happens, there are places where this is true – Cairns, for example, according to [[Wet Seaason]]. But the UK isn’t like that – there is more rain in winter, as we all knew. Which immeadiately tells you that the primary driver of rainfall in the UK is not temperature. Global warming might produce more rainfall in the UK – but it might not. If you were relying on the interseasonal T-PPN regression as a proxy for the long-term T-PPN relation, you’d predict *less* rainfall as the climate warms.

Incidentally, whilst writing this I ran across:

Isn’t that nice. It’s from the site, originally from An observationally based energy balance for the Earth since 1950 by D. M. Murphy et al..

Oh yes: I’ll get on to the emails some time.

Yet another bunch of people kicking the IPCC

Only this time they are “warmers” rather than septics, and even include some IPCC folk. That seems to be the take Nurture is using for the recent Copenhagen meeting. Ah well.

How dangerous is climate change? It is hard to say for sure, we will have to act in the face of uncertainty. But what is certain is that saying Delegates agreed that more stringent and urgent action is needed in order to avoid ‘dangerous climate change’, currently defined by the European Union as a temperature rise of more than 2°C above preindustrial values. is stupid. You cannot redefine “dangerous” to mean “> 2 oC” and expect anyone to believe you, unless they already believe, in which case there is no need to bother.

Presumably there was some new science to come out of the meeting, but Nature doesn’t bother report it, so it is hard to know. I didn’t find any but I wasn’t looking very hard. And RC hasn’t said owt :-).

Hot air

I’ve pretty well given up paying the slightest attention to climate-change negotiations (err, hence this post…), as they seem to be utterly pointless. The political response to something is to talk about it, and so they do, spending large amounts of money and emitting large amounts of CO2 in the process. But as Nature admits, these are talks about talks about talks. Obama’s election is more significant. All these stupid conferences should be cancelled.

Paradox of flying to meetings to protect the environment

Nuture has a letter from David Gremillet who says: Scientists are becoming increasingly concerned about the environmental impact of their work… reduce our carbon footprint by attending fewer scientific conferences… Regular long-distance flying can easily triple an academic’s carbon footprint. During the past year, I have ‘spent’ about nine tonnes of carbon, two-thirds of this on plane trips. Yet I am a good consumer otherwise (see, and I don’t even own a car. Such figures are particularly hard for field ecologists to stomach, as we hope our long-term work will highlight the environmental consequences of climate change and may ultimately influence the public and policy-makers.

The last sentence is rather problematic: is it necessary for field ecologists to believe in global warming? Could someone skeptical of global warming still be a good field ecologist? Would it indeed be better if field ecologists didn’t worry about policy implications but just did good science? Some scientists (most obviously Hansen) make no bones about using their visibility for advocacy. Most are uncomfortable in that role.

One is left wondering whether the carbon footprints of ecologists outweigh the environmental benefits of their findings and of their lobbying. Lobbying? Hmm.

The outcome is a personal decision that may be dictated more by ambition than by environmental awareness. Yep, I think that is most likely. But not just ambition. Flying off around the world is fun (if you don’t overdo it) and one of the perks of the job.

Nevertheless, as a German environmental campaigner told me 15 years ago, “Industry would be all too pleased if we did not attend distant meetings because we refuse to board aeroplanes.” Nah, don’t believe it. That just excuse making.

The bottom line, I think, is that even those who are supposedly most aware of global warming and its effects aren’t about to stop flying around the planet if their careers “require” it. So why should the ignorant unwashed masses do any better?

[Update: funnily enough, this just came my way: I’m writing on behalf of the Toyota International Teacher Program to request a phone number where we can reach you? Toyota is sending U.S. teachers to the Galapagos Islands, Costa Rica and another soon to me announced location, in order to study environmental issues and observe new cultures so that they may implement their findings in the classroom. This program strives to improve environmental education in our schools. We are currently searching for environmental and education bloggers to accompany the teachers on these trips (all expenses paid) and blog about the experience. At least its cheaper (CO2-wise) than sending teachers up in space shuttles. And less dangerous.]

Rubbish weather

England is famous for its rubbish weather, but this summer has been unusually poor. As it happened that didn’t affect us much and we had a great summer: we got a few days sun on the beach to start us off; managed to climb Snowdon and not get rained on by the summit cloud much; spend a week off in the sun in the Med; and it was grey in the Lakes but then it always is. But I draw the line at having to walk back from the local in the pouring rain; thats just not on. Now that school has restarted and we’re not on hols the weather should be tantalisingly fine, but its worse than ever. I blame that Piers Corbyn myself. Or possibly its global warming. Or the Russians. Or the lingering after effects of the Chinese weather-modification for the olympics? Now there’s a thought…

Bali round up

Just to remind you, my prediction was that Bali was going to be a waste of time. But I’m open-minded, and happy to be persuaded otherwise. I rather suspect that any benefits are going to be hard-to-analyse-or-see, though possibly no less real for all that.

Its time to look through the usual suspects for their views. And then I’ll put up my initial reaction. I’m slightly heartened to hear Bush condemning the deal, which suggests it might be worth something.
Continue reading “Bali round up”


Yes, blog action day, time to post something. mt is as ever sensible, as is Gavin: if you aren’t prepared to take action when your lakes get covered with toxic scum; or when even on a clear day, you cannot see the sun: then why are you going to worry about global warming?

FB has more inspiring things to say. Read him instead.

Tip of the iceberg

I was going to comment on Court challenge for school screening of Gore film but that sort of stuff has been done to death. I have sympathy for the idea that the film is propaganda (though the science is largely correct, see stoat passim), but none for “Although climate change is clearly taking place, there remains great uncertainty about the extent to which human actions contribute…” so this is just septicism under a different guise, methinks. It won’t work, anyway.

But it does make me wonder about whats taught in schools: is it being sexed up too much in a desperate attempt to interest the pupils? I think so. For example… I saw a nice maths picture the other day of an iceberg on a maths poster, with the tag line that icebergs melt from underneath, become unstable, and roll; and you can understand this via catastrophe theory. All very cute and sexy. And true, for the smaller bergs (apart from the understanding, which I don’t vouch for). But it was illustrated (dominated) by a beautiful photo of a *tabular* iceberg. Which can’t roll, no matter how much you melt from underneath. But clearly that didn’t matter to the poster makers.