PMQs: Is Lord Donoughue the best person to quote on climate change, Mr Cameron?

According to the register of Lords' interests, Lord Donoughue has shareholdings in Premier Oil, the National Grid as well as Scottish and Southern Energy.

During PMQs today, David Cameron mounted a strident defence of the government’s opposition to the 2030 carbon target by siezing on comments made by Labour Peer Lord Donoughue:

“The point about voting for a price rise, he [Ed Miliband] has to answer because this is what former Labour energy spokesman Lord Donaghue said in the Lords:.. ‘the amendment will raise the cost of living and is conflict with a price freeze’… the whole country can see he’s a one-trick pony and he’s run out of road,” Cameron said.

Cameron is correct: Lord Donoughue did indeed say that. The question is whether Lord Donoughue is the best person to quote on the case for renewable energy.

Perhaps not.

According to the register of Lords’ interests, Lord Donoughue has shareholdings in Premier Oil, the National Grid as well as Scottish and Southern Energy.

He is also one of the board of trustees on Lord Lawson’s crackpot climate-sceptic think tank the Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF).

The GWPF claims that there is “huge controversy about the relative contribution of man-made CO2 versus natural forces”, when in reality there isn’t. An analysis of abstracts of 11,944 peer-reviewed scientific papers published between 1991 and 2011 and written by 29,083 authors found that 98.4 per cent of authors endorsed man-made global warming.

Sorry Mr Cameron, but Lord Donoughue is probably not the most reliable source on decarbonisation.

Like this article? Left Foot Forward relies on support from readers to sustain our progressive journalism. Can you become a supporter for £5 a month?

7 Responses to “PMQs: Is Lord Donoughue the best person to quote on climate change, Mr Cameron?”

  1. Selohesra

    Simply dismissing people who hold different opinions to you as ‘crackpot’ is hardly consistent with evidence based blogging

  2. mememine

    Do as science does, NEVER say a crisis WILL happen.

    YOU news editors cannot say a crisis WILL happen since science has NEVER said or agreed it WILL and have NEVER said or agreed on anything beyond “COULD BE A CRISIS”. Prove me wrong.

  3. GO

    Rhetorical trickery. You set up a dichotomy between “a crisis is certain” and “a crisis is possible” and imply that since science stops short of endorsing the former claim, it must endorse nothing stronger than the latter. But of course, science is generally concerned neither with cast-iron certainties nor with mere possibilities. Rather, it is concerned with probabilities.

    On a sliding scale from, say, 0.000001% (barely possible) to 100% (certain to happen), science assesses the probability of a crisis happening as being much closer to 100% than to 0.000001%. So yes, let’s avoid misleading claims that a crisis is certain to happen. (No such claim is made in this article, incidentally.) But let’s also avoid similarly misleading claims that a crisis is no more than a possibility.

  4. Daley Gleephart

    That’s one down and just 3,929 of mememine’s comments to go.

  5. henrytinsley

    Except that the evidence in favour of man made global warming is overwhelming, in spite of the hairsplitting above. It’s not just some nice little debate.

  6. GO

    Yeah, I might leave it there I think…

  7. usefulmusic

    In discussions between a man-made global warming skeptic and a protagonist, the skeptic provides facts, figures and logical reasons for his or her views while protagonists assert, insult and rely on a supposed overwhelming consensus.

    If any scientific theory is proposed, such as: The Increase in Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide Resulting from Increased Industrial Activity Has More Effect on Global Temperature Than Natural Causes’ the presence of skeptics is essential to validate the data, The data that underpins AGW has not been rigorously investigated,

    My lifelong interest is science: its history and why it has been more successful than any other method of increasing knowledge. Climate Change (strange title – of course climate changes, think ice age) ticks most ‘bad science’ boxes.

Leave a Reply