Facing a legal challenge in the Royal Courts of Justice,
HMG's refusal to revise its target is in fact based on statistical nonsense.

 

Judicial Review
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Plan B is the plaintiff in this application for a Judicial Review. Pictured above are some of the co-plaintiff's in this suit.
It is requested because of the UK Government's refusal to revise and strengthen its carbon reduction target.

The UK Government is a signatory to the Paris Agreement.The case is being brought against Greg Clark the Secretary of State for BEIS
BEIS is the Government's Department of Business, Environment and Industrial Strategy, which absorbing DECC has taken over on this matter.

Plan B ask inter alia what is the point of the UK claiming 'global leadership' with an example that encourages all other parties to emulate an 80% emissions cut
by 2050, when the need is there to get a 100% cut globally by 2035 for at least a 50% chance of staying around 1.5° C, as per the Paris Agreement?

UK Government's refusal to revise its target for cutting CO2 (-80% by 2050) appears to rely on statistical nonsense

This Climate Change Committee Report (CCC - 2016) lists Government's Department of Business, Environment and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) as among its supporters.
The CCC Report refers to and uses the table in the IPCC Synthesis report AR5. This is also the table referred to and used by the Plan B, the plaintiff in this application.

This is table 2.2 on page 64 of the IPCC AR5 Synthesis Report. The conflict here is that the CCC uses the nonsensical bit of the table and to government implies
this justifies its refusal to revise the UK 'target' in the UK Climate Act (2007/8), while it also ignores the parts of table 2.2 that completely refute that implication.

CCC quote the 'simple model' version for 1.5° C. How come? The table in AR5 shows 'no data'. RCP numbers for 1.5° C and 2.0° C are shown in the AR5 table.
These are used by Plan B, but ignored by CCC. Why? For the IPCC AR5 preparations, the RCP scenarios replaced all the previously used 'SRES' scenarios (1994-2007).

Indeed the
whole of IPCC AR5 (finally published in 2015), was based on these newly & specially constructed RCP scenarios and not on 'simple models' & 'no data'.

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The full set of RCP spreadsheets (2.5, 4.5, 6.0 & 8.5) were first distributed in May 2010, all excepting for RCP 1.5° (why) which seem to be untraceable (again, why)? Preparations began in 2010 for the AR5 (2015). Was the shared assumption that 2.0° C would be the lowest, so 1.5° C was not relevant?

It was clearly not forseen that, "efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5° C" would end up as Article 2.1a of the 'Paris Climate Agreement' in 2015.
However, a 'Climate Change Risk Assessment' by Sir David King et al, leading a group at the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) certainly did foresee this.

CCC quotes simple model numbers for 2.0° C from IPCC AR5 which is accurate. But as the chart below shows, both IPCC & CCC citing 'simple models', project 66% odds for 2.0° C that don't change for
a range of budgets that goes from 590 Gt CO2 (160 Gt C) to 1,240 Gt CO2 (338 Gt C).

What! - this is 'statistical incompetence'; to make it central to government's defence is a monumental statistcial blunder.
Why? - the RCPs (not 'simple models') had completely dominated the entire 6-year preparation of IPCC AR5.



Simple model or not, spreading the same 66% odds over that huge range of carbon budgets is statistical nonsense & worse than useless.

These questions are not about 'scientific uncertainty' or 'different models'. The least worse explanantion of this is that it's simply 'statistical nonsense'.
The question is, why are these 'simple' figures being used? Is it because the highest number (338 Gt C) is equal to the carbon budget in the UK Climate Act (2008) on which the 80% cut by 2050 was based?

Also, technical work underpinning the UK Climate Act itself (2008), gave only 46% (not 66%) odds of keeping within 2.0° C and these were for just the high-end 338 Gt C budget.
These odds were certainly not given for any - let alone
all - of the other carbon-budgets in this wide range of smaller budgets.

HMG/BEIS/CCC are propagating nonsense. The reason is that the range implies there is no need to change the existing UK target of an 80% cut by 2050, since the upper limit of the range (338 Gt C) is consistent with this existing target as per the UK Climate Act with its target.

Minus 80% for the UK by 2050 is the target that government is determined 'vigorously' to defend simply emphasizing the claim that, 'it is achievable'. However, the science has changed, the situation has changed to become more urgent, more & more people are dying right now directly due to the accelerating rates of climate change & we all know that it provides a global example of cutting too little too late.

In choosing to quote these 'simple models' and this statistical nonsense, the CCC dutifully offers spurious support to the government's defence of its existing inadequate target.
Taken together, all these points constitute grounds for speculating as to whether there has been serious political interference with this entire process.

The Titanic sank itself due to a fire on board at the time of its launch.

It seems hard to believe that the UK Government could defend its refusal to revise its target of an 80% emissions cut by 2050, based on a global range of carbon
budgets which more than double
from lowest to highest, whilst maintaining this ludicrously constant probability distribution of 66% for 2.0° C for all of them.

Ddoing this, the UK government implies it is basing the fortunes of its refusal to revise its target on the use of the absurdity of this fatally damaging statistical nonsense.
HMG must now realize this is fire in their boiler room that sinks their ship. So it may be they revise the target and the need to use this argument no longer arises.

However, it remains helpful to have had sight of this, just in case the UK Government continues with its 'vigorous' defence of that on-board fire.
Afterall, we do all now know that the Titanic was doomed to sink because of that fire on board when it was launched in Belfast 31st of May 1911.

The iceberg had little to do with it; what is needed is putting that fire out i.e. cutting emissions enough soon enough.

Here is a detailed comparison of the UK Government's future Carbon Budget with the UK Carbon Budget from Plan B.

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