Climate Reality, 400 ppm

In June 2013 Frack Free Chew Valley convened a meeting in Chew Magna and invited 20 local parish councils to attend.  The next week the Conservative councillors in Bath and North East Somerset (BANES) tabled a motion to oppose unconventional gas development and this was supported by both the Lib Dems and Labour. Eventually all of the licences in BANES were relinquished and the gas has remained in the ground (where it belongs) not in the atmosphere.

During that meeting a slide was shown of atmospheric CO2 concentrations with time. This graph, produced by the late Professor David MacKay, showed atmospheric CO2 concentrations hovering around 395 parts per million (ppm).  In June 2013 it had just been reported in the media that the symbolic 400 ppm had just been touched, although the values varies with the season. A safe concentration is considered to be 350 ppm to avoid the possibility of “seeding irreversible catastrophic effects”.

CO2 Concentration with time

CO2 Concentration with time. 1769 was the year that James Watt patented his steam engine. The blue line are direct CO2 measurements at Mauna Loa in Hawaii. 

The World Meteorological Organisation has just reported that the 2015 global average was 400 ppm, pushed past the post by the recent El Niño warming event.  These cumulative concentrations are going in one direction (so far as people who are alive today are concerned) and will persist for generations.

CO2 Concentrations, with time, WMO

CO2 Concentrations, with time, WMO

Meanwhile, climate change denial remains alive and well in the West of England with UKIP MEPs proud to deny the science, MPs peddling misinformation on renewables, and journalists engaged in extreme cherry-picking (the rebuttal).

Far better to go to someone who knows what he is talking about (and who has got a Nobel Prize):

Here are the resources he is talking about. Have a read!


Yet more climate change denial from UKIP South West MEP Julia Reid

Julia Reid, MEP for the South West, has stood up in the European Parliament yet again to (yet again) repeat a standard set of climate myths that were debunked years ago, saying:

We in UKIP deny climate change alarmism supported by green lobbies, often financed by the Commission, …“&c, &c, &c.

When she says “green lobbies” what she means is mainstream climate science which is uncontentious.

We have already covered these tired and debunked myths from Dr Reid before:

South West MEP Julia Reid repeats climate myths (again)

We have also commented on the spooky correlation between climate change denial and Euro-scepticism:

Flat Earth Politics

It is quite extraordinary that one of Britain’s political parties has a stated policy of climate change denial when the world’s science academies, governments and the United Nations consider it to be the most serious issue of our times.

It is also extraordinary that our MP Mr Jacob Rees-Mogg seems to share these unscientific myths that make up the UKIP energy & climate policy, see Climate change alarmism cause our high energy prices and Carbon Emissions and Climate Change

On cheap energy Mr Rees-Mogg has said “Hydraulic fracturing may be part of the solution but carbon emission targets will not be” but his figures on renewables are all muddled up and based on bad journalism rather than credible sources.

Far better to listen to our national Science Academy on the important subject of Climate Change:

and follow up with their evidence and causes resources.

NB Science has know about this for well over 100 years.


You are invited to a special screening of How to Let Go of the World and Love All the Things Climate Can’t Change followed by a Q&A with Josh Fox (Gasland).

The Odeon Bristol Union St, Avon, Bristol, Gloucestershire, BS1 2DS, United Kingdom

Wed, Oct 12, 2016 5:30 PM. 

3 days left to book a ticket!



Why are we promoting this film? Because unconventional gas, like the gas in the coal beneath the Chew Valley, is a fossil fuel that can’t be exploited if we want to prevent disruptive climate change.

Get involved, start talking !

Jacob Rees-Mogg’s Muddled View on Carbon Emissions & Renewables

Concerned constituents have written to their MP Mr Jacob Rees-Mogg about Hinkley Point nuclear power station and the need to decarbonise our power sector in a cost effective and timely manner maximising the use of non-nuclear renewables.  Regarding renewables Mr Rees-Mogg responded:

I also understand that some people would like the Government to spend more money on renewable energy instead of nuclear power. It is important to remember that the United Kingdom produces approximately only 2% of the world’s carbon emissions. It is, therefore, more important that the UK Government ensures that the most vulnerable people in society are protected rather than producing renewable energy that, even though it may be greener, is nonetheless unreliable and would raise energy bills for everyone. Households are already estimated to be paying £60 per year which may rise to £226 by 2020 owing to subsidies for renewables. I have included an article explaining this potential rise for you reference“.

Giving this Telegraph article as evidence.

It sounds reasonable but what lies beneath this logic and evidence?


It is true that the UK only produces about 2% of the world’s annual carbon emissions but it is our cumulative emissions that define our climate change impact.  As the UK was at the forefront of the Industrial Revolution we have a head start on the rest of the world and we come 7th  in the world’s cumulative emissions ranking after the USA, China, Russia, Brazil, India and Germany.  On a per capita basis the UK has historically produced more CO2 emission than any other country in the world.  That is quite an achievement.  This places a heavy moral responsibility on the UK to take a lead in reducing our national and per-capita emissions considering that we have already hogged such a dis-proportionate slice of the world’s safe carbon budget.  See National contributions to observed global warming


Fulfilling this moral responsibility (to both the rest of the world and to future generations) to reduce emissions is not mutually exclusive with fulfilling our moral responsibility to help those in our society in fuel poverty.  Presenting it as an either/or choice is a false dichotomy.  Those in fuel poverty can be helped with energy efficiency measures or by putting the costs of developing renewable energy onto general taxation rather than on bills, so that those who can pay do pay.  This does not preclude also dealing with climate change. Similarly, dealing with climate change using renewables doesn’t mean living in caves – another of Mr Rees-Mogg’s false dichotomies.


What of Mr Rees-Mogg’s assertion that renewable subsidies on household bills “may rise to £226 by 2020”?  In a nutshell Mr Rees-Mogg has cherry-picked a confused and incorrect journalistic article (from a paper he writes for) rather than referring to the transparent analysis of the government’s statutory advisors.  He also ignores the vastly larger subsidies that are given to the fossil fuel industry

So, Mr Rees-Mogg i) misrepresents the UK’s contribution to global warming, ii) makes a false moral argument about fuel poverty based on i, and iii) uses a set of incorrect statistics to exaggerate renewable subsidies whilst ignoring fossil fuel subsidies and readily available credible estimates from authoritative sources.

Chapter & Verse

Mr Rees-Mogg quotes from an article by the Telegraph’s deputy political editor Stephen Swinford (19/3/2015) who says “Green levies on energy bills will treble by 2020 because of renewable targets, official figures suggest”, attributing the figures to the Office of Budget Responsibility, although Mr Swinford gives no source for the figures which seem impossible to verify, including by climate sceptic bloggers.  Mr Swinford adds “Separate figures published last year show that the policies account for 5 per cent of energy bills at present – equivalent to £68 a year – to 15 per cent of an annual energy bill by 2020, equivalent to £226”, quoting the Telegraph’s energy editor Emily Gosden (6/11/2014) in Green levies on energy bills to double by 2020, official estimates show.

However, Mr Swinton isn’t quoting Ms Gosden he is miss-quoting her and has taken the estimated 2030 subsidy and moved it to 2020 creating not a doubling but a trebling of the subsidy by 2020.  As presented in Ms Gosden’s article the correct figure for 2020 is £141, not £226.

Mr Swinton ploughs on regardless and quotes from a report by the Centre for Policy Studies (18th March 2015) saying “Scrapping the UK’s green energy targets in favour of gas-fired power plants would save consumers £214 a year by 2020, the report suggests – despite ministers’ insistence that the total impact of the policies will be only £141 per household by then”.  So having replaced the government’s 2020 estimate with the 2030 estimate, as reported by his energy editor colleague, he then mistakenly uses another report referring to 2020 to erroneously justify the mistake he has made whilst also mentioning the correct figure for 2020 of £141.

This is seriously shoddy journalism on the part of the Telegraph, but it gets worse.

What is this Centre for Policy Studies (CPS) report, what does it say and who wrote it?  The report’s main message is that “ditching the renewables target and returning the sector to the market would save households around £214 a year, assuming gas replaces renewable power” and that “This option would depend on securing a permanent opt-out from the EU renewable directive”.  The report concludes, “ditching renewables and encouraging shale fracking is better economics and more effective at reducing carbon dioxide emissions”.   These conclusions are based in part on work by Professor Gordon Hughes for the Renewable Energy Foundation (REF) and emails to the CPS report author.  Professor Hughes has produced reports on wind power for both REF and Lord Lawson’s Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF).  Both REF and GWPF are climate sceptic and anti-renewable energy, although this may not be immediately obvious to the casual viewer of their web sites.  The GWPF has been a relentless promoter of hydraulic fracturing. The director of REF is GWPF’s energy editor and has recently joined the GWPF’s, so called, Academic Advisory Council.  Professor Hughes’ work on wind for these organisations has been robustly debunked by the late by Prof David MacKay of Cambridge University, by Imperial College and by the UK Energy Research Centre.  CarbonBrief also comment.

In her Telegraph article reporting on the CPS report Emily Gosden said the DECC points out (but Swinton ignores) that “The figures in this report don’t add up and ignore the urgent need to cut our carbon emissions.” DECC unusually published a rebuttal of the CPS report saying “The report today by the Centre for Policy Studies ignores the reality of the energy market. It wrongly suggests that we can ditch renewables for gas, with no explanation of where we would source that from. It also appears to suggest that we should row back on the tremendous gains we have made in the fight on climate change. Given the dire consequences of global warming this is not an option”.

The CPS report was written by Rupert Darwall who is a prominent climate sceptic and who has published with the most prominent climate sceptics some of whom have been outed as being paid by the fossil fuel industry.

What do the various renewable subsidies actually mean for household energy bills?  CarbonBrief provided a clear explanation of what these figures mean (7th November 2015).

cb_graphic graphic of the same data, showing how bills are predicted to be lower with renewable policies than without – including support for households in fuel poverty and network costs

As we move forward these estimates will change and Mr Rees-Mogg would probably do better to read the government’s statutory advisor’s report Power sector scenarios for the fifth carbon budget  (October 2015) with analysis by Imperial College.  This shows that the likely cost to consumers of renewables in 2020 is £105, not £226 nor £214 or even the £129 in the above graphic.  And for that we get to meet our climate change commitments and deal with renewable intermittency issues and support households in fuel poverty.

Why does Mr Rees-Mogg choose to use unreliable information sources rather than the robust and transparent analysis of the Committee on Climate Change?

Appeal from Frack Free Ryedale

No, the picture below is not Mendip or the Chew Valley, it is Ryedale in Yorkshire which is under threat of unconventional gas development by INEOS. Frack Free Rydale are now at the sharp end of onshore gas exploration and need your help. This is where the Chew Valley was just a couple of years ago and potentially could be again. Have a read, think about it and consider responding. Don’t forget that the Somerset coast, the Wye Valley, the Forest of Deane and the Somerset Wiltshire border are in similar situations.  UK Methane have just applied to the Coal Authority to extract gas from the coal seams across the water near Port Talbot as part of their exploration programme – the Welsh Moratorium doesn’t cover exploration. Following is an extract from the Frack Free Rydale newsletter:



The August Bank Holiday is probably the biggest weekend for the tourism industry in the UK, and we hope that everyone is having a good time with friends and family, and even getting a bit of sunshine!

Rural tourism is vital to Ryedale’s economy, with 4.5 million visitors a year helping to provide 6,500 jobs in Ryedale alone. (You can read more about the Ryedale Tourist Economy here). Tourism in the whole of Yorkshire generates more than £6.3 billion per annum and supports 11% of its workforce, which is equivalent 243,000 jobs.

But rural tourism in Yorkshire is under threat from widespread fracking and the inevitable industrialisation of the countryside this will entail. With INEOS saying that they are planning up to 396 wells on 30 sites in each 10×10 km2 licence block, how would this affect the county’s vibrant tourism economy in the future?

Well, here’s the chance for you to have your say on the future of rural tourism. The Government is holding an enquiry on the future of sustainable rural tourism in England. We want to send the message that fracking is incompatible with rural tourism – AND WE NEED YOUR HELP! 

Please take a few minutes to send in a response to the enquiry. To find out how to do this, and for a downloadable Word template that you can quickly customise, please read the RESPONSE GUIDELINES page on our websiteAnyone can put in a response, and comments from those involved in the tourist industry are particularly welcome.

So, if you only do one thing this weekend to fight fracking, please do this. Future generations who visit beautiful Yorkshire will thank you! (and just to spur you into action, here is what the Defra report said about fracking and the tourist enconomy last year …)

Ryedale quote

Yorkshire Rally


At the end of July, an estimated 3,000 people from Yorkshire and beyond gathered in York City Centre to protest against fracking, which was claimed to be the biggest fracking rally ever held in Yorkshire. The rally, which received extensive media coverage on the TV, radio and in the press, proceeded from the York Eye to the Minster, where people heard rousing speeches from climate experts, campaigners and local politicians.Thank you to everyone who came along to show your support, it was a really great day and certainly put fracking back in the news in Yorkshire. The photo of part of the crowd setting off (above) sets the scene, and to watch a brilliant video of the rally, click here. There are also links to all the speeches on that page too. For some of the press coverage, see this report in the Northern Echo and this one in the York Press.

Fracking Jobs

“Flat Earth Politics”

What is the connection between the referendum on our membership of the European Union, climate change denial and fracking?

Well, by and large it is the same set of politicians who are engaged in the Brexit campaign who do not accept climate science and who promote hydraulic fracturing for unconventional gas.  Climate science is uncontentious mainstream science which shows that the Earth is warming and that the current warming trend is caused by humans burning fossil fuels – including unconventional gas – and that it is potentially dangerous. Misrepresenting climate science to the public, and indeed Members of Parliament, subverts our democratic process which can only function based on good information.

The scientific consensus on climate science is challenged by some politicians such as Lord Lawson and Mr Jacob Rees-Mogg MP .  Indeed, it is UKIP policy to deny climate science and burn more fossil fuels. The vested interests of the fossil fuel industry have for decades secretly funded climate scepticism and a sector of politicians have picked it up and run with it. For example,  Dr Julia Reid MEP  (UKIP) regularly berates the European Parliament with climate change myths. Roger Helmer MEP (UKIP) has spoken twice at the Heartland Institute’s climate change denial conference presenting climate science as a EU power grab, as has local journalist Christopher Booker.  Christopher Monckton (formally of UKIP) goes so far as to equate climate science with “global communist tyranny”.  These misrepresentations of science are well and truely in Flat Earth territory.

The funding of science denial by the fossil fuel industry is starting to unravel with Exxon Mobil’s role now being legally challenged.  Peabody Energy’s recent filing for bankruptcy is uncovering another can of worms with funding of organisations and individuals to promote climate change denial. Closer to home Lord Lawson’s Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF) is embroiled in similar accusations.

Lord Lawson is the chairman of the GWPF and was formally chairman of the Vote Leave campaign. The GWPF is regarded in the science community as a dangerous joke with the President of the Royal Society saying on climate change Lawson has “lost his way” whilst Sir David Attenborough says “I think that most people would recognise that Lawson is up a gum tree“.  FFCV analysis has shown that the GWPF is as much about promoting shale gas as it is about global warming denial.  Judging from the content of the VoteLeave leaflet which dropped through doors the other day, Lawson is bringing his considerable skills at spreading misinformation to the Brexit debate. Nissan is apparently taking legal action over the same leaflet.

Further reading:

Guardian: Neocons linked to Tea Party paid for Andrea Leadsom’s flights to US Brexit campaign leadership dominated by climate-sceptics

University of Bristol:  Consensus on consensus confirms 97 per cent of experts are convinced people are changing the climate

The Independent: The address where Eurosceptics and climate change sceptics rub shoulders

The Economist: Where Brexit and climate-change scepticism converge

DesmogUK: Brexit Climate Deniers

The Guardian: Brexit voters almost twice as likely to disbelieve in manmade climate change

The Independent: EU referendum: Brexit will lead to fracking free-for-all as environmental regulation will be up for grabs, experts say

For a more detailed analysis of these issues we are republishing the following article by John Cook of the University of Queensland.

A brief history of fossil-fuelled climate denial

John Cook, The University of Queensland

The fossil fuel industry has spent many millions of dollars on confusing the public about climate change. But the role of vested interests in climate science denial is only half the picture.

Interest in this topic has spiked with the latest revelation regarding coalmining company Peabody Energy. After Peabody filed for bankruptcy earlier this year, documentation became available revealing the scope of Peabody’s funding to third parties. The list of funding recipients includes trade associations, lobby groups and climate-contrarian scientists.

This latest revelation is significant because in recent years, fossil fuel companies have become more careful to cover their tracks. An analysis by Robert Brulle found that from 2003 to 2010, organisations promoting climate misinformation received more than US$900 million of corporate funding per year.

However, Brulle found that from 2008, open funding dropped while funding through untraceable donor networks such as Donors Trust (otherwise known as the “dark money ATM”) increased. This allowed corporations to fund climate science denial while hiding their support.

The decrease in open funding of climate misinformation coincided with efforts to draw public attention to the corporate funding of climate science denial. A prominent example is Bob Ward, formerly of the UK Royal Society, who in 2006 challenged Exxon-Mobil to stop funding denialist organisations.

John Cook interviews Bob Ward at COP21, Paris.

The veils of secrecy have been temporarily lifted by the Peabody bankruptcy proceedings, revealing the extent of the company’s third-party payments, some of which went to fund climate misinformation. However, this is not the first revelation of fossil fuel funding of climate misinformation – nor is it the first case involving Peabody.

In 2015, Ben Stewart of Greenpeace posed as a consultant to fossil fuel companies and approached prominent climate denialists, offering to pay for reports promoting the benefits of fossil fuels. The denialists readily agreed to write fossil-fuel-friendly reports while hiding the funding source. One disclosed that he had been paid by Peabody to write contrarian research. He had also appeared as an expert witness and written newspaper op-eds.

John Cook interviews Ben Stewart, Greenpeace at COP21, Paris.

The bigger picture of fossil-fuelled denial

Peabody’s funding of climate change information and misinformation is one episode in a much larger history of fossil-fuel-funded misinformation. An analysis of more than 40,000 texts by contrarian sources found that organisations who received corporate funding published more climate misinformation, a trend that increased over time.

The following figure shows the use of the claim that “CO₂ is good” (a favourite argument of Peabody Energy) has increased dramatically among corporate-funded sources compared with unfunded ones.

Prevalence of denialist claim from corporate funded and non-funded sources.
Farrell (2015)

In 1991, Western Fuels Association combined with other groups representing fossil fuel interests to produce a series of misinformation campaigns. This included a video promoting the positive benefits of carbon dioxide, with hundreds of free copies sent to journalists and university libraries. The goal of the campaign was to “reposition global warming as theory (not fact)”, attempting to portray the impression of an active scientific debate about human-caused global warming. has been tracking fossil-fuel-funded misinformation campaigns for more than two decades – documenting more than A$30 million of funding from Exxon alone to denialist think tanks from 1998 to 2014.

Exxon’s funding of climate science denial over this period is particularly egregious considering that it knew full well the risks from human-caused climate change. David Sassoon, founder of Pulitzer Prize-winning news organisation Inside Climate News led an investigation into Exxon’s internal research, discovering that its own scientists had warned the company of the harmful impacts of fossil fuel burning as long ago as the 1970s.

John Cook interviews David Sassoon from Inside Climate News.

Even Inside Climate News’s revelation of industry’s knowledge of the harmful effects of climate change before engaging in misinformation campaigns has precedence. In 2009, an internal report for the Global Climate Coalition, a group representing fossil fuel industry interests, was leaked to the press.

It showed that the coalition’s own scientific experts had advised it in 1995 that “[t]he scientific basis for the Greenhouse Effect and the potential impact of human emissions of greenhouse gases such as CO₂ on climate is well established and cannot be denied”. Nevertheless, the organisation proceeded to deny climate science and promote the benefits of fossil fuel emissions.

Ideology: the other half of an “unholy alliance”

However, to focus solely on industry’s role in climate science denial misses half the picture. The other significant player is political ideology. At an individual level, numerous surveys (such as here, here and and here) have found that political ideology is the biggest predictor of climate science denial.

People who fear the solutions to climate change, such as increased regulation of industry, are more likely to deny that there is a problem in the first place – what psychologists call “motivated disbelief”.

Consequently, groups promoting political ideology that opposes market regulation have been prolific sources of misinformation about climate change. This productivity has been enabled by the many millions of dollars flowing from the fossil fuel industry. Naomi Oreskes, co-author of Merchants of Doubt, refers to this partnership between vested interests and ideological groups as an “unholy alliance”.

Reducing the influence

To reduce the influence of climate science denial, we need to understand it. This requires awareness of both the role of political ideology and the support that ideological groups have received from vested interests.

Without this understanding, it’s possible to make potentially inaccurate accusations such as climate denial being purely motivated by money, or that it is intentionally deceptive. Psychological research tells us that ideologically driven confirmation bias (misinformation) is almost indistinguishable from intentional deception (disinformation).

Video from free online course Making Sense of Climate Science Denial (launches August 9).

The fossil fuel industry has played a hugely damaging role in promoting misinformation about climate change. But without the broader picture including the role of political ideology, one can build an incomplete picture of climate science denial, leading to potentially counterproductive responses.The Conversation

John Cook, Climate Communication Research Fellow, Global Change Institute, The University of Queensland

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

South West & Wales Fractivist Network Gathering

Frack Free Somerset is holding a gathering for fractivists (aka concerned citizens) in Weston-super-Mare on the 19th March 2016. Details below…

Network, drink tea & eat cake, whilst assimilating knowledge and inspiration to support South West anti-fracking campaigns. An opportunity to meet with local campaigners and groups from across the South-West, Bristol and Wales.

Opening presentation from Tina-Louise Rothery – Lancashire Nana, writer, occupy activist & inspirational woman.

The day is designed to be participatory, and will include diverse and engaging activities.
Taster below:

  • Local fracking update
  • Info exchange on national fracking situation
  • Reclaim the Power – Groundswell info
  • Underground Coal Gasification workshop with Frack Off

Doors open @ 10.30 am for informal Frack Free Somerset welcome, with tea.

Lunch @ 1pm followed by presentation from musician & environmental activist Theo Simon, who plays with the band Seize The Day

Networking, workshops, & short films until 6 pm

Stay for as long as you choose…

To Book:  Please send an email to

Admission free

Donations invited to cover costs

Anti-Fracking Gathering, 19th March 2016

Anti-Fracking Gathering, 19th March 2016