Greenpeace in the IPCC: the Edenhofer Excuse

IPCC WG-III Co-Chair Ottmar Edenhofer of the PIK, Germany

It has been a recurring pattern that the most dramatic of conclusions reached by the IPCC, are shown to arise from exaggerated claims in literature put out by environmental pressure groups. The latest addition to the list is the Greenpeace-generated factoid that ‘80% of the world’s energy demand in 2050 could be met by renewable sources’ which found its way onto the IPCC pedestal. For new readers, is an accessible source for much of the background and primary information (search for posts tagged ‘Greenpeace’ appearing in June 2011)

Many interested parties responded to the initial criticism which arose mainly in the and environmentalist Mark Lynas blogs. The responses that issued from the IPCC official organ – via statements from Ottmar Edenhofer – followed particularly predictable lines. In a recent opinion piece in Nature Climate Change reiterates and expands the same points offered previously. Unoriginally one might add, writer Kyle Niemeyer in ArsTechnica paraphrases and reproduces exclusively ‘the Edenhofer Excuse’.

What is the Edenhofer Excuse?

Ottmar Edenhofer’s arguments defending the IPCC, though multifarious are plainly contradictory to each other and are easily seen to violate commonly-understood academic standards. It goes like this:

  1. ‘the problem of conflict, if any, is very limited’, ‘Teske was just one author (and not the lead author)’, ‘it is a multi-authored report which went through ‘many’ rounds of review’, ‘the SRREN is a massive effort with hundreds of pages’
  2. the Greenpeace’s scenario was ‘just one of one-hundred and sixty four scenarios’ evaluated
  3. Sven Teske was just one of the authors of the Greenpeace scenario
  4. The Greenpeace scenario was actually performed by the German Aerospace Agency DLR. Greenpeace only just commissioned it.

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