Monday, 27 December 2010

Devious Action by Warming Bank

Des Moore is the founding Director of the Institute for Private Enterprise. (Link in title) The following is an email received from Des Moore re the Deutsche Bank

Des Moore
Dear All

The articles below, published on 14 December in Canada and forwarded to me by one of the authors (David Henderson), reveals an astonishing example of devious behaviour by a warmist. Involving as it does one of the world’s leading banks, Deutsche Bank, it also displays the extent to which some leading private sector institutions are prepared to support the warming thesis principally on the basis that it allows them to make money from advising or trading in associated activities. Note that members of the Deutsche Bank’s Climate Advisory Board include Dr Pachauri, the infamous chair of  the IPCC who was forced to acknowledge the incorrect use by IPCC of data on melting of glaciers supplied by one of his associates without review.

The report by the Deutsche Bank climate change advisors portrays a sign of desperation in that it directly attacks the analysis by Canadian economist Professor Ross Mckitrick and presents his conclusions wrongly in what seems to be a deliberately false portrayal. McKitrick has done more than most sceptics in demonstrating that:

  1. There are basic errors in the so-called hockey-stick graph used in the DB report as support for the warming thesis (that graph purports to show little or no increase in temperature prior to the industrial revolution followed by a steady upward movement). With colleague Steve McIntyre, McKitrick has demonstrated that the graph had no substantive basis and that analysis was confirmed by statistician Wedgeman in a report commissioned by Congress. (See Hockey Stick cons dupes)
  2. The attempt by Phil Jones of the Climate Research Unit at East Anglia University to “hide the decline” in temperatures in the late 20th century by switching from the use of normal temperature records to measurements based on tree rings. (As I have previously reported, in his interview with the BBC environment reporter last February following the Climategate revelations, Jones acknowledged that from 1995 to 2009 there was no statistically-significant global warming).      

McKitrick has also published a critique of the official investigations into the activities of the CRU, all of which “cleared” Jones and his colleagues from any serious wrongdoing. McKitrick’s conclusion (published in September) was that “the world still waits a proper inquiry into Climategate: one that is not stacked with global warming advocates, and one that is prepared to cross-examine evidence, interview critics as well as supporters of the CRU and other IPCC players, and follow the evidence where it leads”. I have read only one of those official reports but that was obviously biased.

It is remarkable that the analyses by McKitrick and McIntyre have received almost no attention in Australia. Of course, other analyses by sceptics  have also been given only limited attention by comparison with commentary by warmists. But the two are professional economists who have exposed fundamental errors in what is supposed to be based on an analysis by scientists. This exposure shows that the warmist theory can be challenged successfully by non-scientists who are prepared to examine the statistical data. But the two Ms are Canadian. Why aren’t more professional economists in Australia, including in the Treasury in Canberra, able to tackle the issue?    

Des Moore

Corporate irresponsibility

David Henderson, Financial Post · Tuesday, Dec. 14, 2010

As the Cancun postmortems continue, one area that calls for attention is the questionable role of leading businesses. Recent episodes involving the Deutsche Bank Group are illustrative of a wider problem. They give grounds for serious concern.

In September a report entitled "Climate Change: Addressing the Major Skeptic Arguments," was issued under the auspices of Deutsche Bank. It was published by DB Climate Change Advisors, a unit described on the bank's website as "the brand name for the institutional climate-change investment division of Deutsche Asset Management, the asset-management arm of Deutsche Bank AG in the U.S." The report was co-authored by three climate scientists at the Columbia Climate Center at the Earth Institute of Columbia University.

As the title suggests, the authors' avowed purpose in preparing the report was to demonstrate that the "major skeptic arguments," and any conclusions based on them, are to be rejected. To quote the document's introduction: "This study aims to respond to the most common misconceptions that are presented to challenge the position that [greenhouse gas] emissions are adversely impacting Earth's climate and will continue to do so."

In an editorial preface to the report, the Deutsche Bank global head of climate-change investment research, Mark Fulton, describes it as "a balanced, detailed and expert assessment of the scientific case for climate change that will help investors navigate these extremely complex issues."

The document's claims to balance, and to accuracy as a navigational guide, were promptly put in question by the Canadian economist Ross McKitrick of Guelph University, one of the "skeptics" supposedly disposed of within it. Prof. McKitrick's critique, entitled "Response to Misinformation from Deutsche Bank," is dated Sept. 13. It focuses on two central topics treated in the report, with the main emphasis on the well-publicized "hockey stick" controversy. In relation to these topics, it identifies and spells out an extended list of errors, misrepresentations and falsehoods.

In response, the authors of the document have put out a revised text which replaces the original. But to create this new version they have simply inserted at the end a three-page "Response to McKitrick." In these pages they admit to a few "mischaracterizations" and offer amended versions of three sentences that they acknowledge to have been misleading. However, the original wording of these confessedly faulty sentences survives, unchanged and unfootnoted, in an unaltered main text. McKitrick has described this behaviour on the authors' part as "unsporting." Others might characterize it as unprofessional. The Deutsche Bank sponsors of the study should not have sanctioned it.

In a second set of comments, dated Nov. 8 and entitled "Response to Revised Report from Deutsche Bank," McKitrick has extended and reinforced his critique. Up to now, there has been no further response from the authors of the report or from Deutsche Bank.

Viewed together, McKitrick's twin presentations appear as damning and unanswerable. As a guide to investors, or indeed for any other purpose, this Deutsche Bank/Earth Institute report is worthless.

The report's deficiencies put in question the conduct of its sponsors within Deutsche Bank, as also the conduct of those whom they report to. It would be interesting to know whether the officials who commissioned and approved this deeply flawed initiative took the precaution of submitting a draft for expert review to competent persons not already firmly convinced that "the skeptics" have been refuted.

Looking at the list of members, it would seem that no such person is to be found among the eminent individuals who make up the Deutsche Bank's high-level Climate Advisory Board: All of these appear as people who are (to quote a nice phrase from Clive Crook) "pre-committed to the urgency of the climate cause." They include the chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Dr. R.K. Pachauri, and a former executive director of the United Nations Environment Program, Klaus Topfer.

It is not clear whether the Climate Advisory Board saw a draft of this Earth Institute report, or indeed whether they were aware that it had been commissioned. A more representative Advisory Board, spanning a wider range of opinions, might have taken more trouble to ensure that it was kept fully informed, and that any published work on climate change issues put out by Deutsche Bank would measure up to professional standards.

The Deutsche Bank Group has also taken its climate-change involvement into the political sphere. In the recent Californian elections, voters were invited to accept or reject Proposition 23, which would have placed strict constraints on the state government's plans to introduce further curbs on carbon dioxide emissions. A few days before the vote, the Financial Times reported that "Sixty-eight big investors, managing US$415-billion in assets, have united to urge Californians to vote against efforts to roll back the state's carbon legislation.... Signatories include ... Deutsche Bank Climate Advisers...."

It would thus appear that its Climate Change Advisors, who are no more than "the climate-change investment division of Deutsche Asset Management," took a strong position on behalf of Deutsche Bank on a controversial political matter. If so, it would be interesting to know whether and to what extent this action, which appears as questionable in itself, was authorized and approved at higher levels within the bank.

As its website confirms, Deutsche Bank is fully committed to the doctrine, now widely endorsed by businesses and governments, of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). How far its current handling of climate change issues can be viewed as responsible is clearly open to doubt.

For any organization of standing, not least a leading multinational company such as Deutsche Bank, an obvious aspect of responsible conduct is a demonstrated concern for accuracy and the truth. The bank's management board could now manifest such a concern, first, by commissioning an independent and informed review of this report, and second, by withdrawing and repudiating the report if the review supports McKitrick's analysis.

In the wider context, however, Deutsche Bank is one of many, while the report shares its faults with numerous cousins. Both are symptomatic.

Businesses across the world, and governments too, have made unqualified and uncritical commitments to the view that in relation to climate-change issues "the science" is "settled." Within the business world, as in the case of Deutsche Bank, endorsing this received opinion forms a leading aspect of CSR and, for many companies, of corporate strategy.

Received opinion largely rests on a belief, reinforced by statements from leading science academies, that in relation to climate science the official expert advisory process as a whole, and the IPCC assessment reports in particular, are to be seen as reliable guides.

Increasingly in recent years, arguments and evidence to the contrary have been presented by informed critics, prominent among whom have been McKitrick and his fellow Canadian, Stephen McIntyre. In my view, these critics have made a powerful case. The IPCC process has been exposed as being far from a model of rigour, inclusiveness and impartiality, while influential publications on climate-change issues have been shown to be professionally flawed.

Neither businesses nor governments have given the critics due attention. But in the past year or so, new developments have cast further doubt on the claims to objectivity and competence of the official expert advisory process and its official sponsors. In particular, the so-called "Climategate" and "Glaciergate" episodes have exposed attitudes and practices which were clearly unprofessional.

In response to these embarrassing revelations, Dr. Pachauri and the UN Secretary-General asked the InterAcademy Council, a creation of science academies around the world, to appoint an expert independent review committee to report on the process and procedures of the IPCC.

The resulting report was published at the end of August. Because of its careful and qualified wording, both sides of the climate-change debate have been able to draw encouragement from it. I see the report as making a major contribution in two respects: first, it made numerous recommendations for improving the IPCC process; and second, it stressed the need to ensure that a full range of informed views is taken into account, thus confirming that "the science" is not "settled."

These twin conclusions are subversive of received opinion. Hence the report could help pave the way for significant improvements in the handling of climate-change issues.

The main focus of improvement is clear. In an area of policy where so much is at stake, and so much remains uncertain and unsettled, policies should be evolutionary and adaptive, rather than presumptive as they are now; and their evolution should be linked to a process of inquiry and review that is more thorough, balanced, open and objective than has so far been the case.

Whether and how far a more judicious approach on these lines will gather momentum depends principally on governments, but businesses and business organizations could play a useful -- and more responsible -- part in raising the quality of debate. As the current example of Deutsche Bank confirms, there is a long way to go.

- David Henderson was formerly head of the Economics and Statistics Department of the OECD. He is currently chairman of the Academic Advisory Council of the London-based Global Warming Policy Foundation. His latest publication on climate-change issues has just appeared in the quarterly Newsletter of the Royal Economic Society.

Deutsche's climate
Terence Corcoran, Financial Post · Tuesday, Dec. 14, 2010

The corporate climate change bandwagon, an unprecedented global scramble of money-grubbing and subsidy-seeking opportunists, shows no signs of ending. Whatever the failures and limitations of last week's United Nations' conference in Cancun, the prospect of cashing in on the idea of carbon-free energy has galvanized corporate players all over the world, generating a momentum that seems to have left the UN effort in the dust. The carbon targets proposed in the Kyoto Protocol may be too crazy for governments to adopt, but they're just fine with all the banks, solar power firms, turbine makers, consultants, real estate speculators, regulatory manipulators, scammers and spinners who aim to make a killing off climate change.

An example of such a pro-climate change campaign is the work of Deutsche Bank, the giant German financial institution that has imbedded itself in the renewable energy field. Deutsche Bank claims to have funded more than $5-billion in renewable projects, the result of its aggressive marketing of Feed-in Tariffs (FIT) as government policy. It promotes FIT pricing of electricity all over the world, from Ontario to developing nations. Investors are urged to sink money into renewable energy, on the claim that the returns will beat the market.

Earlier this month, the bank announced a $70-million funding of two solar power parks in Ontario to be installed by SkyPower Ltd., a company that has a turned the province's rich solar-power pricing schemes into a corporate bonanza. Similar announcements pop out of Deutsche regularly, along with weighty reports from a section of the bank called DB Climate Change Advisors.

DB Climate Change Advisors is a part of the bank's asset management group, whose leader, Kevin Parker, likes to point out in the reports that it is the bank's belief "that Feed-in Tariffs create a lower risk environment for investors." No kidding. That's because the risk is being picked up by ratepayers and taxpayers. In the bank's view, Germany and Ontario set global standards in policies that subsidize solar and wind power.

To support its corporate strategy, Deutsche Bank recently went after climate change critics who might upset the gravy train of subsidies, regulation and FIT programs. David Henderson reports elsewhere on this page on the bank's efforts to discredit skeptics.

In a report in September, titled "Climate Change: Addressing the Major Skeptic Arguments," DB Climate Change Advisors commissioned scientists at the Columbia Climate Center at the Earth Institute of Columbia University to take down the work of such skeptics as Ross McKitrick of Guelph University. They picked the wrong skeptic to go after.

Prof. McKitrick focused on two central topics treated in the Deutsche Bank report. The main emphasis is on the so-called "hockey stick" controversy. The other issue is an infamous quote from a Climategate email in which Phil Jones, head of the Climatic Research Unit at University of East Anglia in the U.K. refers to a "trick" to "hide the decline" in a graphic presentation of temperatures.

Prof. McKitrick identifies and spells out an extended list of errors, misrepresentations and falsehoods in the Deutsche Bank report. As is typical of climate science conflict, the subject quickly gets complicated and arcane.

The opening segment in the Deutsche Bank report attempted to demolish the "hockey stick" portion of the skeptics' arguments. The famous hockey-stick graph, created in 1997 by U.S. climatologist Michael Mann, appeared to show that recent temperatures were the highest in 1,000 years. Beginning in 2003, Mr. McKitrick (along with Toronto consultant Steve McIntyre) demonstrated conclusively that the 1,000-year claim was unsupportable.

According to the Deutsche report, the U.S. National Academy of Sciences had investigated the hockey stick issue and "rejected the claims of McIntyre and McKitrick and endorsed, with a few reservations, Mann et al.'s work." The Deutsche report also claimed that another investigation into the hockey stick conducted by a team of statisticians headed by Edward Wegman, "also concluded that the methodological errors in the original Mann et al. papers had no impact on the scientific conclusion." According to Deutsche Bank, the NAS and Wegman reports "confirmed the soundness of the [Mann] research and concluded the primary conclusions were unaffected by any methodological problems."

All of this was too much for Prof. McKitrick. In his formal response to the Deutshe report, he wrote: "In addition to misrepresenting the NAS findings, this is a wholly false misrepresentations of the findings of the Wegman report." Not only did the Deutsche document distort the process, it got the Wegman conclusions wrong. The Wegman committee actually said that "the assessments that the decade of the 1990s was the hottest decade in a millennium and that 1998 was the hottest year in a millennium cannot be supported by the [Mann et al.] analysis."

In a second set of comments, "Response to Revised Report from Deutsche Bank," Prof. McKitrick takes another critical whack at the Deutsche report. Among other things, Prof. McKitrick turns his attention to a direct attack on work. "Attempts to reproduce the work of McIntyre and McKitrick," said the Deutsche paper, "have shown their original claims to be largely spurious."

This is untrue, and Prof. McKitrick cites the Wegman review, which said: "In general, we find the criticisms by [McKitrick and McIntyre] to be valid and their arguments to be compelling. We were able to reproduce their results and offer both theoretical explanations and simulations to verify that their observations were correct."

The Deutsche Bank treatment of the Climategate email about "hiding the decline" is particularly wrongheaded. In the email, Mr. Jones, the East Anglia chief, refers to the official graph of northern hemisphere temperatures that blended actual temperature records with tree ring measurements of temperature records without acknowledging the switch. This "trick" gave the impression of a continuous record of rising temperatures in the late 20th century, when no such record existed.

The authors of the Deutsche report glossed over this misleading use of data, calling it "inappropriate." But Prof. McKitrick said the hiding-the-decline trick is more than a case of bad graphic presentation. It was misleading -- or worse. "Data manipulation ... is not 'poor presentation.' " He added: "The WMO chart did not suffer poor presentation; it was, in fact, quite an attractive graph. The problem was that it was misleading, and in that sense the care that went into making it look compelling only compounds the problem."

To date, the Deutsche Bank organization has not responded to Prof. McKitrick's second round of criticisms. The original report still stands in the web-site. The few corrections admitted to so far remain buried in the back in a barely readable form.

Prof. McKitrick makes another striking observation: "At a certain point it becomes disconcerting that Deutsche Bank, which is among other things one of the few international banks qualified to act as a primary dealer for the New York Federal Reserve, and is thereby subject to particularly stringent requirements about accuracy of commentary it publishes on economic and policy issues, is going to such efforts to excuse publication of misleading information."

As Mr. Henderson puts it, the Deutsche report on climate skeptics has been rendered worthless as a guide to the science and for investors. It also betrays a larger issue, which is a corporate role on the part of Deutsche Bank that makes Exxon look like a Boy Scout.

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