IPCC faces criticism for bad economics in UK House of Lords

by William Yeatman on April 27, 2004

Lord Lawson, a former British Chancellor of the Exchequer, took the opportunity of an April 21 debate in the United Kingdoms House of Lords to accuse the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change of operating an environmentalist closed shop that is unsullied by any acquaintance with economics, statistics or, indeed, economic history.  The debate was initiated by Lord Taverne, a former minister in previous Labour governments, who asked the government whether they were satisfied by the economic and statistical work of the IPCC.   

Lawson said that Taverne had put his finger on what is potentially a major scandal.  The basis for this assessment is the criticism made by Ian Castles and David Henderson of the economic assumptions used by the IPCC (see lead story).  This view is upheld by a new report from the International Policy Network, which assesses the way in which the IPCC predicts future climate change. 

 According to the IPN report, the IPCC appears to have exaggerated its estimates of temperature increases by using highly implausible scenarios of future growth in emissions of greenhouse gases.  It has done so by underestimating technological advancement and greatly overestimating gains in economic growth.  In order to gain credibility, the report argues that the IPCC should rely more heavily on the work of economic historians and statisticians.  (International Policy Network, Apr. 23).

 

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