Dear Channel 4 News
I have enjoyed Channel 4 News over the years, but was so shocked at the
poor quality of your item on climate change and renewables earlier this
week I decided to offer some feedback.
Your weather balloon stunt was mildly entertaining and showed pretty
pictures of clouds, but what was the point exactly?
Cathy Newman began her interview by claiming:
‘The extreme rise in temperatures many of you predicted hasn’t
happened’- Prof Nigel Arnell was clearly nervous and did not make a
FACTS – No-one has predicted an extreme rise in temperature. What has
been predicted is an apparently small but steady rise in global
temperature, believed to be due to human activity, which if not
addressed will have extreme effects on our climate. The real time
monitoring data showing this steady rise is easily available, and the
broad worldwide consensus among climate scientists makes their argument
compelling. Anomolies and extremes, such as the recent cold weather in
UK, have been widely predicted by climate scientists and will continue;
to suggest that our recent cold winter indicates that ‘Global Warming’
is not true is fatuously simplistic.
Cathy Newman said
‘Green Subsidies will cost us a fortune’
FACTS – Total paid out for renewable energy feed-in-tariffs in UK during
financial year 2011-2012 according to Ofgem was £150million
(http://bit.ly/12SLQkz). This support for developing technology has been
very effective in unit cost reduction (See example in attached graph
PVPriceVol.jpg). Bjorn Lomberg said nothing of consequence in his usual
charismatic way on this.
Compare this level of subsidy to those given to established nuclear and
fossil fuel based technologies.
‘The C&AG’s report on the 2010-11 WGA shows the Nuclear
Decommissioning Authority’s estimated cost of civil nuclear
decommissioning increased by around £16 billion to £53 billion between
2007 and 2011.’ from Public Accounts Committee report on nuclear legacy
costs. Margaret Hodge spoke about this on the Today programme recently.
A figure of £50 billion represents around 4% of GDP. This taxpayer
subsidy for nuclear energy will be funded by taxpayers, as will the £150
billion over 30 years to French state owned EDF if Hinckley C goes
ahead. Annual worldwide subsidies for fossil fuels are estimated to
amount to around $1 trillion. A good summary of relative levels of
subsidies, based on credible data from the International Energy Agency,
appeared in the Guardian last year – http://bit.ly/Ayitoj. Green
subsidies will not cost us a fortune, are much better value than other
energy subsidies, and will help mitigate the effects of climate change
if they are allowed to develop.
An internet search on ‘green subsidies’ produces links to lots of
ideological rants. They are just that and have a very tenuous link to
The insinuation that windpower and/or PV (solar panels) are ineffective
and a waste of money has no basis in fact – actual data on the
increasing proportion of our electricity generated from renewables, and
rising commercial investment in them, is easily available if you look.
Link to some pertinent DECC stats:
The growth of electricity generation by renewables:
The growth in installed capacity:
A short video on recent global warming trends:
Channel 4 news should consider whether to listen to the careful,
detailed, credible work of hundreds of trained professionals, or go
populist and reflect the widespread ranting of ideologs, climate change
deniers and vested interests. Please take your responsibility as a
public broadcaster a little more seriously and do a ‘factcheck’ on
climate change and renewable energy.