Greenpeace demands open data availability

Bad Influence: The Greenpeace report

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.

The McKinsey Curve for the United States

Look at the complaints Greenpeace has to make about the McKinsey curve (emphasis mine):

  1. Furthermore, McKinsey’s intellectual property rights on some of the data underpinning its cost curve prevent proper scrutiny of its rationale.
  2. [McKinsey] is entirely unwilling to transparently disclose the data and assumptions relied upon in its calculations
  3. [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?
  4. 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
  5. Many of the assumptions and calculations underpinning the results of the cost curve are concealed as if in the workings of a black box.
  6. …in some instances the so-called data that McKinsey has used to produce recommendations may simply not exist.
  7. … McKinsey co-authored studies are full of simple mathematical errors and inconsistencies.
  8. 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
  9. 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.
  10. 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.

Explanatory graphics from Greenpeace making clear the problem with the McKinsey report

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.

From the Greenpeace report - the same quote that made its way to the IPCC press release

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?



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  2. Russell C

    The absolute unrestrained IRONY here is beyond breathtaking. Greenpeace is at the epicenter of what I call the ’96-to-present smear of skeptic climate scientists (click on my name for more on that).

    Those scientists are accused of being in a fossil fuel industry-funded conspiracy to “reposition global warming as theory rather than fact”, which supposedly mimics old tobacco industry conspiracy tactics to downplay the harm of smoking. In my June 15th RedState article, I detailed how that specific accusation phrase (spelled out in red letters full screen in Al Gore’s movie just before the 1 hr 13 min point) is: 1) from a 1991 memo NO ONE is allowed to see, 2) it is an OUT-OF-CONTEXT sentence, promoted by a person who was NOT a Pulitzer winner despite accolades to the contrary, 3) Al Gore credited that person with finding the memo, and, 4) Gore had the memo collection in his own possession at his Senate office YEARS BEFORE that person. Please see: “Forget the Science; Is Al Gore’s Accusation of Skeptic Climate Scientists a Hoax?”

    I spent 7 months trying to find that 1991 memo, it is deeply buried in Greenpeace scan archives in a way where it can’t be found via regular internet searches, and not one accuser ever shows it in its full context in any movie, book, magazine or newspaper article, or web site where it is quoted. And NOBODY links to that Greenpeace scan except myself.

    If their accusation evidence against skeptic scientists is so damaging, you’d think they would have it plastered on billboards across the country, and as a downloadable framable PDF on all of the sites accusing skeptic scientists of fossil fuel industry funding corruption.

  3. RayG

    I took the liberty of posting links to this in “unthreaded” at BH and CA giving Donna L. a h/t for helping to give it greater exposure. Thanks for this stunning example of irony not to mention hypocrisy.

  4. hunter

    It is not irony. It is what corrupt and ignorant and dangerous organizations do.
    They see no problem with keeping everything they do secret and demanding everything skeptics or critics say be public because their goal is not truth, it is war.
    If they have to misdefine or misconstrue or lie about what they are doing, those issues are no more than small speed bumps on their path to victory.

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  6. DirkH

    Greenpeace is known for simply making numbers up; for instance the remaining oil in the Brent Spar, which was about 20 tonnes, Greenpeace said 2000. They fit right in with climate scientists.

  7. Peter Walsh

    New Zealand Governments are not normally regarded as being free thinking on AGW.

    They believe in the scam.

    However, recently, the same NZ Govt cancelled the “Charitable” status of Greenpeace, declaring it to be a political organisation

  8. Pete H

    That has made my weekend Shub! Booze all over the keyboard! I bet S.M. is gasping!

    The two faced irony is truly astounding!

  9. Jeff Wood

    I agree that “irony” is an unnecessary understatement, and Hypocrisy is the mot juste in this case.

  10. scott

    it seems people here are confusing mainstream science with the agendas of partisan organizations. who cares what greenpeace says about AGW?? they obviously have an agenda. they are not a scientific body……

  11. Russell C

    “…who cares what greenpeace says about AGW?…”

    What they say is that skeptic scientists are corrupt. What the mainstream media has NEVER noticed is that Greenpeace and all the other AGW promoters cannot prove this basic accusation.

    If the general public now has no reason why they should ignore skeptic scientists, they should ask why the MSM, and so many other pushers of AGW employed the tactic of marginalizing their critics rather than prove them wrong. This is NOT so much about what Greenpeace says, it is instead about how their assertions were accepted without question for 15+ years, and how their accusation against skeptic scientists was used to hoodwink the uninformed public to believe that the issue was settled science.

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