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Call for Royal Commission on Climate Change

The New Zealand Climate Science Coalition

26 July 2006

Call for Royal Commission on Climate Change

A call for a Royal Commission into the science and economics of climate change has been made by the New Zealand Climate Science Coalition in an open letter to members of Parliament. The coalition describes itself as “concerned citizens who believe that the public is being given incomplete, inaccurate and biased information about the effects of increased concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. This information is often tainted by the emotional arguments of the environmental movement and seldom stands up to objective scientific analysis.”

The acting chairman of the coalition, energy consultant Bryan Leyland, of Auckland, said a recent example of this is the discrediting of the “Mann hockey-stick” in a report issued by the United States House Committee on Energy and Commerce earlier this month. The Mann hockey-stick graph is an important temperature assessment that has previously been adopted by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and is widely cited in the international media as evidence of global warming.

The coalition says that claims that the world is threatened by dangerous global warming caused by man-made emissions of greenhouse gases are widely propagated but cannot be substantiated. “The climate is always changing and the nation may well benefit from moderate global warming. Having said that, temperature records indicate that New Zealand has not warmed significantly in the last fifty years.”

“Future projections of large temperature increases are based on computer models that over-simplify the vastly complex climate system. These models have not been validated and are unable to forecast changes in the sun, the oceans, or in volcanic activity. Climate models failed to predict the 1998 peak in global temperatures caused by El Nino, a natural climatic event. Because of these flaws, the models are incapable of providing a reliable projection of future temperatures.

The coalition believes that the New Zealand Government relies too heavily on advice from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to develop its global warming policies. It quoted a Wall Street Journal editorial of July 14 which said: “climate research often more closely resembles a mutual-admiration society than a competitive and open-minded search for scientific knowledge”. Scientific expertise that is independent of the IPCC needs to be consulted.

“Our government is presently reviewing its climate change policies. It is vitally important that any policies that are adopted should be reasoned, cautious and founded on valid scientific evidence, rather than on the questionable projections of flawed computer models and discredited temperature assessments. Costly mistakes have already been made. Our commitments under the Kyoto Protocol may cost the nation over $1 billion more than was originally estimated. We cannot afford to make such mistakes again.

“The present misinformation circulating about global warming resembles the recent hysteria surrounding genetic modification. An independent Royal Commission made an excellent job of bringing out the scientific facts about genetic modification, and provided sensible and reasoned advice to the government. We believe that in the present environment a similar process is the best way to examine climate change.”

The coalition is calling for the establishment of an independent Royal Commission into the science and economics of climate change. This would be asked to:

- Establish the scientific facts,

- Review theories about global warming,

- Examine the credibility of climate change models,

- Determine how New Zealand’s environment and economy, and the welfare of its citizens, are likely to be affected if the climate changes,

- Review the diplomatic implications of not aligning our climate change policies with those of our major trading partners, Australia and the United States,

- Review the need for, and the effectiveness of, the New Zealand Climate Change Office, and

- Provide recommendations to the government.

The coalition cites nine reasons why it believes a Royal Commission into climate issues is justified:

1. There is no scientific consensus about man-made global warming.
2. The extent to which the globe is warming is questionable.
3. New Zealand climate data shows little evidence of warming and no evidence that humans are affecting the temperature.
4. Climate change projections are based on unproven computer models.
5. The IPCC uses circumstantial argument, vagueness and ambiguity to hide the fact that direct evidence to support man-made global warming is lacking.
6. Carbon dioxide is essential to life on earth and an increase in its atmospheric concentration may be beneficial.
7. There is a poor relationship between annual carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere and global temperatures.
8. The Kyoto Protocol will not prevent climate change, and could well cost the nation many times more than the $1 billion the media has been focusing on.
9. Advice to the government has thus far been one-sided, with little provision for contestability.

Mr Leyland said the cost of a Royal Commission inquiry would be substantially less than the cost of making another poor decision about New Zealand’s climate change policies.


See... Open letter to MPs

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