In any game of make-believe, there is one basic rule. You just play along and dont ask logical questions. For instance, when Greenpeace and the European Renewable Energy Council stated that ‘80% of the world’s energy can be supplied by renewable sources’, you just suspend your disbelief and nod along. That’s how it works.
Greenpeace however, forgot this basic rule. Therefore, please don’t blow your irony gasket when reading below.
McKinsey a consultancy company, has made this hockey-stick looking graph shown below, called the CO2 abatement cost curve. Apparently, in the carbon-reduction and REDD world it is very famous. As with fantasy solutions to imaginary problems, the McKinsey’s curve recommendations have real-world consequences. But governments are buying it, and Greenpeace’s become angry.
The world of the carbon-reduction policy market, is crowded, with its numerous specialists, strategies, wedges, masterplans, cap-and-trades, carbon taxes, feed-in-tariffs, and ecosystem payment schemes. Yet, Greenpeace was so upset that it released a whole special report – just to address this one graph from McKinsey.
Look at the complaints Greenpeace has to make about the McKinsey curve (emphasis mine):
- Furthermore, McKinsey’s intellectual property rights on some of the data underpinning its cost curve prevent proper scrutiny of its rationale.
- [McKinsey] is entirely unwilling to transparently disclose the data and assumptions relied upon in its calculations
- [McKinsey] keeps most of its assumptions commercially confidential. Since these flawed cost curves are at the heart of its advice, how can the REDD+ McKinsey inspires be trusted?
- McKinsey’s secrecy means that the scientific community and policymakers can’t see or challenge the assumptions behind how McKinsey arrives at different cost estimates or emission savings. McKinsey’s work is not open to public scrutiny
- Many of the assumptions and calculations underpinning the results of the cost curve are concealed as if in the workings of a black box.
- …in some instances the so-called data that McKinsey has used to produce recommendations may simply not exist.
- … McKinsey co-authored studies are full of simple mathematical errors and inconsistencies.
- For example, a fact sheet on the Indonesia cost curve gives emissions reduction estimates in 2030 to two decimal places. This level of precision obviously gives an exaggerated picture of the reliability of the estimates
- The potential victims of a REDD+ policy which displaces local farming will thus never have access to the reasoning behind why this policy was deemed cheap in the first place, let alone considered acceptable.
- These examples suggest these reports are not based on hard evidence. They present possibilities as if they were firm policy plans, backed by inadequate, if not absent, data.
There you go – Greenpeace criticizing McKinsey for reasons of open data availability and access to full methodology in influential calculations. One can only wish that Greenpeace had shown the same enthusiasm in critically examing the hockey-stick and the IPCC science behind it, the very problem McKinsey is trying to solve with its pretty graph.
Consider the profound complaint #10: Greenpeace points to how McKinsey’s presentinng ‘possibilities’ as ‘firm policy plans, backed by inadequate data’. Yes, it is the same Greenpeace which managed to foist up its own fantastic ‘Energy [R]evolution scenario’ onto the world stage using the IPCC, as a plausible plan worthy of consideration.
Here’s Greenpeace’s final call (on page 29):
Sounds like what a fossil-fuel funded ‘denier’ would say.
Environmentalists are perhaps increasingly aware that the corporate ‘solutions’ that arise in response to their hoary proselytising and campaigning, can do far more damage than the original problem. Will Greenpeace stop at exhorting the virtues of free data availability just to nag at McKinsey? Or will it turn to examine the more fundamental problem of radical monetization of tropical forests by REDD?