New IPCC error: renewables report conclusion was dictated by Greenpeace
15 June 2011 205 comments
The headlines were unequivocal when the IPCC renewables report came out a few weeks ago. Here’s the first line of the BBC News piece:
Renewable technologies could supply 80% of the world’s energy needs by mid-century, says the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
The Guardian led with the same conclusion:
Renewable energy could account for almost 80% of the world’s energy supply within four decades – but only if governments pursue the policies needed to promote green power, according to a landmark report published on Monday.
And so on. But what you weren’t told was that the actual report had not yet been released – the headlines were based on a ‘Summary for Policymakers (PDF)’ which referenced statistics and scenarios which journalists would not be able to check until the entire full report was released a month or so later.
That release of the full report happened yesterday. And a close reading of it shows that the IPCC has made an error much more serious than the so-called Himalayagate and associated non-scandals last year – it has allowed its headline conclusion to be dictated by a campaigning NGO. Moreover, the error was spotted initially by none other than Steve McIntyre, who has been a thorn in the side of the IPCC and climate science generally for a long time. Yet this time McIntyre has got it right.
Here’s what happened. The 80% by 2050 figure was based on a scenario, so Chapter 10 of the full report reveals, called ER-2010, which does indeed project renewables supplying 77% of the globe’s primary energy by 2050. The lead author of the ER-2010 scenario, however, is a Sven Teske, who should have been identified (but is not) as a climate and energy campaigner for Greenpeace International. Even worse, Teske is a lead author of the IPCC report also – in effect meaning that this campaigner for Greenpeace was not only embedded in the IPCC itself, but was in effect allowed to review and promote his own campaigning work under the cover of the authoritative and trustworthy IPCC. A more scandalous conflict of interest can scarcely be imagined.