The Carbon Brief – The European rapid response team

Originally a guest post at Watts Up With That

Originally blogged at Realclimategate

The Carbon Brief is a new website  designed to provide a rapid response to any climate chaage related stories in the media.

It is also appears to be intended as a resource for articles and it claims to be an independent mediator between journalists and climate scientists.

The Carbon Brief’s twitter followers seem to have different expectations.

Andrew SimmsNef Bio: 10:10 Campaign Board Member, New Economic Foundation (NEF), Greenpeace UK board member, co-author of The Green Deal Report, founder of the 100 Month initiativeTrustee of TERI Europe(alongside Rajendra Pachauri, Sir John Houghton and Sir Crispin Tickell)

The Carbon Brief seems particularly concerned about how sceptical stories in UK media and blogs are being received by people in India and China and reported in non-EU countries media and blogs. (my bold).

“The media has a huge impact on the way that the climate debate has taken shape in the UK, as it has in the US, Australia and around the world. Comment articles in newspapers and blogs here are often copied and published thousands of times around the globe. The arguments fomented in the pages of The Guardian or the Daily Telegraph can have a significant impact on how climate change is reported in India and China.” – The Carbon Brief

On further investigation, the website demonstrates that they appear to be nothing but advocates of consensus climate change policy.  A look at their further resources  page gives the first two links as the Climate Science Rapid Response Team and RealClimate and it also include Climate Progress. There are no sceptical or even lukewarm website or blog links of any kind.

“Our team of researchers will provide a rapid response service for climate science stories. We go straight to peer-reviewed science and the relevant scientists to get their opinions” – The Carbon Brief

The Carbon Brief appears to have been set up for the specific purpose of countering sceptical stories relating to ‘climate change’ by going to AGW consensus  scientific sources for an instant rebuttal.  It is a project of the Energy and Strategy Centre, funded and supported by the European Climate Foundation (ECF)

ECF describes itself as “the largest philanthropic organisation in Europe focused on influencing government policy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions”. –The Carbon Brief

“…. To meet that challenge, six funding partners joined forces in 2007 to create a new multi-million euro philanthropic entity called the European Climate Foundation.”  – About Us –  ECF 

On the The Carbon Brief website they say they are just getting started.

I am concerned about this new apparent big Green EU AGW PR and media machine swamping any sceptical voices with instant rebuttals and twitter mobs. They would appear to have very experience PR, Media and Communications professionals at work now, with all the tools of modern media management, all the funding they need and briefed to follow the European Climate Foundations’ agenda.

If you take a look for example at the Carbon Brief’s Twitter profile, followers already include The Guardian’s environment team and editors, The Times’ science editor, Greenpeace, the Green Party, 10:10, 350, Transitions Towns, left leaning think tanks like the NEF and IPPR.  Basically the whole ‘consensus’ media, NGO, politicians and lobby groups seem to know about it.

And they will twitter and retweet the Carbon Brief’s tweets and links propagating the ‘message’ to their thousands of twitter followers (remember key media people) and the ‘climate change’ activists will no doubt descend on the sceptical blogs and comments section to ‘troll’ the articles.

In the future will every sceptical article have an instant twitter response, links and a full PR professional paid  media crafted response. I have seen tweets for Watts Up, Bishop Hill, Bjorn Lomborg, Jo Nova, Christopher Booker, GWPF and others already.  How can independent unpaid, unfunded bloggers possibly fend off professional PR of this nature from an organisation with multi-million Euro funded backers with the agenda described above.

Nobody seems to have  told the Telegraph, James Delingpole (I asked), Christopher Booker  about the Carbon Brief, all those journalists organisations and lobby groups.  I wonder why?

James Delingpole (Telegraph) had a nasty twitter mob experience himself, just recently, courtesy of an abusive tweet by Ben Goldacre (Bad Science  – Ben is the second follower of the Carbon Brief, in the graphic above, he has 85,000 followers alone)

I expect James will get some more soon, as they twitter about every story he writes that they take exception to.

Who is running the Carbon Brief

From the website, the key team members are: Carbon Brief’s Director, Tom Brookes, is director of the Energy Strategy Centre (ESC) the communications unit funded by the European Climate Foundation (ECF). Editor Christian Hunt has worked as a researcher and web editor for Greenpeace and the Public Interest Research Centre.

We believe accuracy should be the key value in discussing climate change, and we aim to act as an independent mediator between the media and scientists.

Our aim is to increase social and political understanding of the risks of climate change so that we can make more informed decisions as a society. – The Carbon Brief

Tom Brookes is a very senior experienced communications professional, drafted in to counter sceptics?

Tom Brookes, Director, ESC – bio ECF

Tom is the head of Energy Strategy Center (ESC), the communications unit of the European Climate Foundation. He has held senior corporate and consultancy posts in government relations and communications.

Christian Hunt is still on the Board of Trustees of the Public Interest Research Centre which describes it’s work below:

Our work examines the connections between climate, energy and economics.

Our team is accomplished at presenting science to non-scientists, including policy makers. With the knowledge and experience to interpret cutting-edge research, and the skills to build it into effective communications tools, we provide a bridge between those at the forefront of climate science research and wider audiences.

I might ask how independent of thought on the Climate Change issue are they really, given the people, organisation and funding partners involved?

Profiles of Commentators

The Carbon Brief separates profiles into those who are commentators and scientists, these profiles appear to be designed as a resource to be used by any media organisation, journalist or blogger as an instant profile on that person, or of an event, or about an organisation.  Compare the profiles of Rajendra Pachauri, George Monbiot and Phil Jones, with those of James Delingpole, Christopher BookerChristopher Moncton, Benny Peiser and Bjorn Lomborg, to witness a mastercraft  example of PR and Media management at work, to promote an European Union AGW consensus media brief.

The intent appears to be that any media looking at a sceptical climate change story, ( Chinese and Indian particularly? ) will use The Carbon Brief as a resource, without actually seriously getting into the detail of any of the issues or ask any further questions.

An extract from The Carbon Brief’s – ‘Climategate’ profile 

The message was interpreted by sceptics as suggesting scientists wanted to “hide the decline” in global temperatures. This interpretation was offered despite the email being sent in 1999, when temperatures had been rising for some decades.

The process referred to by the word “trick” was characterized by the Russell Report as a legitimate and peer reviewed method of dealing with the fact that a set of proxy temperature data from tree rings had diverged from temperature measurements – the proxy temperatures had declined while real temperatures continued to increase. This problem had been widely discussed in the scientific literature, prior to the UEA email hack.

Personally, I think that proxies for historic temperatures that don’t actually follow thermometers are a little unreliable and not to much faith should be be given to them. Particularly when they have been used to reconstruct a historic temperature record, which has been used  inform us that temperatures are now unprecedented, proof of AGW and that we must do something now!

An extract from The Carbon Brief’s – ‘Hockey Stick’ Profile

“…Mann published a list of  rebuttals to myths around the hockey stick graph on the website in 2004.

Sceptic commentator Andrew Montford published the book The Hockey Stick Illusion in 2010. The central claim of The Hockey Stick Illusion is that the iconic graphic has survived only because a conspiracy amongst scientists sought to undermine the peer review process and bully journals into suppressing dissenting views.

Richard Joyner, emeritus professor of physical chemistry at Nottingham Trent University reviewed the book in Prospect magazine, suggesting that “Montford’s book is not an honest contribution” because he “consistently and without evidence…queries the actions and motives of those with whom he disagrees.”

Now I  wonder why The Carbon Brief choose that particular review, was it really being independent and balanced, as Matt Ridley (author The Rational Optimist) gave a VERY positive review, which was ALSO in the Prospect Magazine!  I wonder what Steve Mcintyre and Andrew Montford will make of those two profiles above (please read in full). Andrew Montford has lots of very positive reviews of his book, some other reviews here.

Andrew Montford had a response to – ‘without evidence’

“This is most peculiar. I mean, there are 270 references in the book. That’s really quite a lot of evidence. And Prof Joyner may have heard of the Climategate emails, heavily sourced in Chapter 17. What are these if not evidence?

What else is there? Well, he says I should have referred to Steve M’s failure to publish his tree ring research. In a book in which one of the themes is the difficulty sceptics have in getting published, this seems a rather bizarre position for Prof Joyner to take.” – Bishop Hill

Well funded with political influence

The Carbon Brief is a backed by the European Climate Foundation and it appears to me to be a PR  machine designed to squash counter any scepticism and it has the funding, resources, political backing and contacts to do just that.

“European Climate Foundation aims to promote climate and energy policies that greatly reduce Europe’s greenhouse gas emissions and help Europe play an even stronger international leadership role in mitigating climate change.” –

“…. To meet that challenge, six funding partners joined forces in 2007 to create a new multi-million euro philanthropic entity called the European Climate Foundation.”  – About Us –  ECF

However, the activities of the Carbon Brief seems to me to be at odds with the other stated commitement of the European Climate Founsdation, which made me laugh in disbelief at their apparent ‘doublethink’.

“We seek to maintain a reputation for objective, high-quality work that is neither ideological nor politically biased.” – About Us ECF

The European Climate Foundation (ECF) is well funded by its partners and even more importantly is very well connected politically in Europe for the clear aim of 80-95 % reduction in CHG’s by 2050. The Energy Strategy Centre is the European Climate Centre’s communications and media arm, which would indicate that The Carbon Brief  far from being non-ideological and not politically biased, has as it’s sole purpose the promotion of the ECF’s agenda, which is to lobby hard for European Union climate and economic policy change.

“The majority of the European Climate Foundation’s fund is re-granted to NGOs engaged in trying to bring about meaningful policy change. When we see an unfulfilled need we also engage in direct initiatives, such as commission papers, convene meetings or launch a new organisation. We seek no public attention for our efforts and instead prefer to highlight the success of those who are actually doing the work.

We have identified four major areas for immediate intervention within Europe:

• Energy Efficiency in Buildings and Industry

• Low-Carbon Power Generation

• Transportation

EU Climate Policies and Diplomacy

The  European Climate Foundation describes the members of the Advisory Board

This international body consists of distinguished professionals who draw on their individual and collective experiences in politics, business, academia and civil society. Members of the Advisory Council actively engage in advancing ECF’s mission both by providing strategic advice and through advocacy.

They represent the elite of European business people, NGO’s, politicians and lobbyists. Including, a Co-editor of the IPCC, Chair of WWF, Chair of Globe EU, VP Club of Rome, fomer MEP’s, Tony Blairs former Chief of Staff, CEO’s,  Directors and Senior partners of corporations and consultancies, including BP and Unilever. Truly the European elite.

I have had a brief look at some of their funding grants (see here), these include, Club of Rome, Greenpeace, WWF,  Globe International, Centre for European Policy, in fact over 500 grants in less than 4 years. One organisation called Sandbag, which lobbies for improved emissions trading in the European Union, struck a chord with me. Sandbag have received funding and written significant reports in the area of lobbying for Carbon Emission policy in Europe, backed by the European Climate Foundation.

The founder of Sandbag is Bryony Worthington, she is now Baroness Worthington as she was made a life peer in the House of Lords last year by the Labour party leader Ed Milliband, as she was ‘instrumental in the writing’ of the UK Climate Change Act.  Unlike Viscount Christopher Monckton she now a full voting member of the House of Lords for the rest of her life and will no doubt continue her climate change work there (she studied English by the way).

Bryony Worthington is also a board member of the 10:10 Campaign, who were behind the ‘No Pressure’ video nasty.  Fellow 10:10 board members are the environmental campaigner Andrew Simms and Tony Juniper. Other Sandbag board member colleagues include Ed Gillespie founder of Futerra and Mike Mason the founder of Climate Care which will sell you carbon offsets (I have one!, but I’ll write another time about that) which is now owned by JP Morgan Chase . When Mike Mason from Climate Care debated Christopher Monckton at the Oxford Union last year he was listed as part of the JMorgan Climate Care organisation (he seems to have since left)

This one organisation alone provides ample evidence to me that there are significant interests and representation by media, politicians, banking and consensus AGW lobby groups at the heart of the EU policy formation.

What next for sceptical websites?

If I get the time, I will follow this post up with an article about the Green Social Network, and how perhaps to engage with it.

It is still very, very early days for The  Carbon Brief, it has only just got started. They say they are independent and claim climate science is distorted by vested interests.

“Carbon Brief fact-checks stories about climate science online and in the press. We provide briefings on the people and organisations talking about climate change, and we produce background materials on science issues and news stories.

Distortions of climate science occur regularly, partly because climate science is a complex area, and partly because various interests, motivated by finance or ideology, have sought to confuse the issue.

We are a service for journalists and the online climate community. Our team of researchers will provide a rapid response service for climate science stories. We go straight to peer-reviewed science and the relevant scientists to get their opinions.

Right now we are in the early stages of developing the site.” – About Us – The Carbon Brief

What to expect from for The Carbon Brief because expectations seem to be very high?

Andrew Simms Bio: 10:10 Campaign Board Member, New Economic Foundation (NEF), Greenpeace UK board member, co-author of The Green Deal Report, founder of the 100 Month initiativeTrustee of TERI Europe(alongside Rajendra Pachauri, Sir John Houghton and Sir Crispin Tickell)

What next indeed?

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3 Responses to The Carbon Brief – The European rapid response team

  1. Al Gore's Left Boot says:

    Look – what do you expect.

    I’m very disappointed in this site – no debate on the science, but a constant winge inhow much the BBC, twitter, the modern world etc etc picks on you.

    FFS grow up and understand that you have to fight to make your message heard.

    If Climate Change WAS a scam your pages would be filled with real science by real scientists, not winges at the BBC and any other mainstream media that doesn’t tow the line. Where is the science? Where is the credibility? Can’t find it amongst the paranoid conspiracy theory nonsense you peddle as fact.

    There’s a reason James Delingpole is derided by “believers”. It’s because he’s an idiot who does not understand science very well.

  2. Barry Woods says:

    you are welcome, but if you don’t like it ;), why waste your time on it.

    It is my own little personal blog, no more no less…..

    To be clear there are plenty of science related blogs, climate audit, realclimate, Climate Etc, Pielke jnr, Dot Earth and even Deltoid, etc,etc

    Collide a scape is good, both sides pop in from time to time Gavin (Rc) Michael Tobis, Judith Curry
    And you will find me there discussing science

    My focus, is on policy, media, politicians and advocacy.

    So try not to be too disapointed by something it is not..

    Pistonheads has a long running UK laymans’s blog going on CC 😉
    I only get to check comments/moderation once/twice a day

    Watts Up has over 140 comments on this article alone, MORE comments than in the history of this blog

    So any debate here might be a bit slowwwwww 😉

  3. Barry Woods says:

    Actually if you want to discuss this article, ie real time, where there is lots of action in the comments section, just pop over to Watts Up, where the article originally appeared.

    I doubt if I’ll get time to check back here to this evening (maybe)
    Kids football, ballet, swimming, etc, family life

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