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03 Sept 2009 - Press Release - Appointment at DECC

David MacKay, Professor in the Department of Physics at Cambridge University and author of the influential book ‘Sustainable Energy - without the hot air' has been appointed Chief Scientific Advisor to the Department of Energy and Climate Change.

The Chief Scientific Advisor’s role is to ensure that the Department’s policies and operations, and its contributions to wider Government issues, are underpinned by the best science and engineering advice available.

Professor MacKay said:

“Climate change and secure energy are two of the most urgent issues facing the UK and the global community. The solutions must be rooted firmly in the science and I look forward to advising the Government on how it can help deliver these important goals.â€

Secretary of State Ed Miliband said:

“David MacKay is known for making science accessible and helping to explain clearly the urgency and the challenges of moving to a low carbon economy. I want him to bring all of these qualities to the job of advising DECC on how we can meet Britain’s carbon targets and energy security needs.â€

Notes to editors

1. David MacKay is a Professor in the Department of Physics at the University of Cambridge. He has taught Physics in Cambridge since 1995. Since 2005, he has devoted increasing amounts of time to public teaching about energy. David MacKay is a Fellow of the Royal Society and a member of the World Economic Forum Global Agenda Council on Climate Change.

2. The appointment was made on merit and in accordance with the Recruitment Principles of the Civil Service Commissioners. He will be seconded from Cambridge University from 1 October and will receive an annual salary of £108,000, working 4 days a week.

Although this guy is a lot smarter than the usually eco sheep you get he is a big advocate of a carbon tax. Reading his book he suggests £50 a tonne minimum and likely £250 a tonne!!

If that happened, it would bring in more than VAT or be equal to increasing basic income tax from 20p to over 40p!!

figure240.png

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Although this guy is a lot smarter than the usually eco sheep you get he is a big advocate of a carbon tax. Reading his book he suggests £50 a tonne minimum and likely £250 a tonne!!

If that happened, it would bring in more than VAT or be equal to increasing basic income tax from 20p to over 40p!!

figure240.png

When will these idiots realise that we've been coping with climate change since the beginning of the earth. Stability is not natural.

The UK warmed 3c between 1650 and 1950 totally naturally. And now they're trying to brainwash the gullible by being alarmist over changes less than 1c, based on dodgy science and fraudulent statistics.

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When will these idiots realise that we've been coping with climate change since the beginning of the earth. Stability is not natural.

The UK warmed 3c between 1650 and 1950 totally naturally. And now they're trying to brainwash the gullible by being alarmist over changes less than 1c, based on dodgy science and fraudulent statistics.

His argument is that we should switch anyway as fossil fuels will run out one day.

Ok argument if you live in a world of plenty and excess as you can afford to pay for the switch now when the switch is more expensive. Not ok if you are just about surviving on the wages you earn.

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When will these idiots realise that we've been coping with climate change since the beginning of the earth. Stability is not natural.

The UK warmed 3c between 1650 and 1950 totally naturally. And now they're trying to brainwash the gullible by being alarmist over changes less than 1c, based on dodgy science and fraudulent statistics.

I can't believe that given the state of the global economy they haven't let go of this global warming rubbish yet.

in the 1950's and 60's the scientists were warning that we faced a new ice age. Since then we have produced so much co2 that the world will end?

global warmers have pointed out that a few recent cold winters do not disprove their beliefs, well, a few warmer decades do not make a certain trend either!

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Great, as if we weren't being fleeced already.

I doubt it will happen simply because it would both be unproductive and be politically unacceptable but who knows.

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If anything like this came in it'd be bye-bye UK for me and the missus.

Why should we pay more than we already do for fuel!? Ok, if the price increases then fair enough, but this ratcheting up of the tax on fuel is infuriating :angry: . You have a car that emits more co2, you therefore have a less fuel efficient car, you also need to buy more fuel, and you pay more tax. Simple.

In terms of energy consumption for the home, is it our fault if our electricity is produced via coal vs wind? Surely that's not our problem? If the infrastructure isn't in place for low co2 emitting power generation then who's fault is that?

This country is an absolute disgrace.

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I can't believe that given the state of the global economy they haven't let go of this global warming rubbish yet.

in the 1950's and 60's the scientists were warning that we faced a new ice age. Since then we have produced so much co2 that the world will end?

global warmers have pointed out that a few recent cold winters do not disprove their beliefs, well, a few warmer decades do not make a certain trend either!

The irony is that given the current events on the sun - it appears to be entering a Grand Minimum - an ice age is now more likely. They were right before they were wrong. :huh:

I hope the cooling continues and at a decent enough pace that we can stop this global warming idiocy. But not too quick as cooling is worse for humans than warming is. :blink:

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I doubt it will happen simply because it would both be unproductive and be politically unacceptable but who knows.

I apologise if this post is not considered appropriate, but perhaps I should explain what is behind my stance.

I can't speak for anyone else, but I lost my job during this recession. I've even borrowed social fund money from the DWP to make ends meet. The computer I'm using to type this is my last item of any significant value (overstated really, it depreciated a lot over the last 3-4 years in particular). Flog that, and if I'm still broke its off to beg to more fortunate people for assistance.

The increase in energy costs hits people like me the hardest...I still need to clean, have showers, use the iron etc. That doesn't change. My landlord is demanding I pay more to compensate for his increasing energy bills when I have a mere £45 a week to pay for that plus costs like food, transport etc.

It seems the cost of sedating your mind with crap like weed, alcohol and cigs is the only thing thats gotten cheaper these days, apart from Far-Eastern manufactured tat that is.

Edited by HPC001

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If anything like this came in it'd be bye-bye UK for me and the missus.

Why should we pay more than we already do for fuel!? Ok, if the price increases then fair enough, but this ratcheting up of the tax on fuel is infuriating :angry: . You have a car that emits more co2, you therefore have a less fuel efficient car, you also need to buy more fuel, and you pay more tax. Simple.

In terms of energy consumption for the home, is it our fault if our electricity is produced via coal vs wind? Surely that's not our problem? If the infrastructure isn't in place for low co2 emitting power generation then who's fault is that?

This country is an absolute disgrace.

For an average family of 4 it would equal £3500 tax for @£250 a tonne.

Most of that cost will be on your electricity and gas.

Assuming the average house uses 30,000kWh of gas (~£900pa) that equals 5.82 tonnes or a tax of £1455 on your gas bill. Or you new eco gas bill becomes £2355 pa.

It won’t happen, at least not at £250 a tonne, as it would piss too many people off.

However I could see it starting at £10 and increasing by £10 every year.

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I apologise if this post is not considered appropriate, but perhaps I should explain what is behind my stance.

I can't speak for anyone else, but I lost my job during this recession. I've even borrowed social fund money from the DWP to make ends meet. The computer I'm using to type this is my last item of any significant value (overstated really, it depreciated a lot over the last 3-4 years in particular). Flog that, and if I'm still broke its off to beg to more fortunate people for assistance.

The increase in energy costs hits people like me the hardest...I still need to clean, have showers, use the iron etc. That doesn't change. My landlord is demanding I pay more to compensate for his increasing energy bills when I have a mere £45 a week to pay for that plus costs like food, transport etc.

It seems the cost of sedating your mind with crap like weed, alcohol and cigs is the only thing thats gotten cheaper these days, apart from Far-Eastern manufactured tat that is.

What do you expect from these idiots earning 10 times or more the national average wage. They have never really needed to budget and assume everyone is the same.

Everyone in public office who makes critical decisions should be put on the average wage and no more and have no second or longer income and should not be able to access any savings prior to that position.

Edited by cells

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I apologise if this post is not considered appropriate, but perhaps I should explain what is behind my stance.

etc.

Good observation. Heat and light are fairly basic requirements for existence (as is a affordable roof over one's head). With this wanton fleecing of the public on a misguided campaign, it can only hit the poorest and the vulnerable hardest.

The problem isn't so much that we should use our resources wisely, but the politicians seeing it as a tax raising income stream. As with petrol and alcohol, once they start, they won't be able to help themselves.

The answer is, of course, less/cheaper government and a move away from growth at all costs (maybe if we all slowed down and valued life a bit more... )

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Good observation. Heat and light are fairly basic requirements for existence (as is a affordable roof over one's head). With this wanton fleecing of the public on a misguided campaign, it can only hit the poorest and the vulnerable hardest.

The problem isn't so much that we should use our resources wisely, but the politicians seeing it as a tax raising income stream. As with petrol and alcohol, once they start, they won't be able to help themselves.

The answer is, of course, less/cheaper government and a move away from growth at all costs (maybe if we all slowed down and valued life a bit more... )

I have no idea what my specific use is, because the meter is for the entire 3-storey structure, but it must be close to insignificant in the grand scheme of things. I don't own a car so no "pollution" there.

You silly sausage you.

Why don’t you go advise the government like this prat and earn £100s of k?

Then you can be green!!

That is the exact thing these fools don’t get.

They don’t consider cost probably because they have never needed to consider costs earning wages 5-10-20 times the average.

If I had no moral scruples I'd have considered criminality or the sex industry :P seriously though, this professor was probably already on a high income - what does he know about the misery for the average person??

The scrappage scheme is one example of misguided "green" initiatives. Scrapping perfectly good medium-small cars for a tiny Kia made in the far east and shipped here...how is that carbon neutral exactly? It is only delaying the inevitable with the manufacturing (whats left of it).

Edited by HPC001

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Prof Mackay is a peak oil/energy protagonist. In the foreword to his ebook "Sustainable energy, without the hot air" he gives three motivations for his discussions:

"First, fossil fuels are a ï¬nite resource. It seems possible that cheap oil

(on which our cars and lorries run) and cheap gas (with which we heat

many of our buildings) will run out in our lifetime. So we seek alternative

energy sources.........

Second, we’re interested in security of energy supply. Even if fossil

fuels are still available somewhere in the world, perhaps we don’t want to

depend on them if that would make our economy vulnerable to the whims

of untrustworthy foreigners.......

Third, it’s very probable that using fossil fuels changes the climate.

Climate change is blamed on several human activities, but the biggest con-

tributor to climate change is the increase in greenhouse effect produced by

carbon dioxide (CO2)......

Whichever of these three concerns motivates you, we need energy num-

bers, and policies that add up.."

I read that as peak energy worldwide sometime in the near future; dependence of the UK on imported energy NOW (his real beef, if you read the book), and a probability that the CO2 is not good for the planet.

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Good observation. Heat and light are fairly basic requirements for existence (as is a affordable roof over one's head). With this wanton fleecing of the public on a misguided campaign, it can only hit the poorest and the vulnerable hardest.

The problem isn't so much that we should use our resources wisely, but the politicians seeing it as a tax raising income stream. As with petrol and alcohol, once they start, they won't be able to help themselves.

The answer is, of course, less/cheaper government and a move away from growth at all costs (maybe if we all slowed down and valued life a bit more... )

Indeed.

If the above was done in a way that would be tax neutral and return the taken tax monies to those who would be worst hit, I would be all for it. For example if your fuel costs increased 100GBP at current consumption per year, but you got a 100GBP check in the mail....

Well you'd cut consumption, wouldnt you?

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Indeed.

If the above was done in a way that would be tax neutral and return the taken tax monies to those who would be worst hit, I would be all for it. For example if your fuel costs increased 100GBP at current consumption per year, but you got a 100GBP check in the mail....

Well you'd cut consumption, wouldnt you?

The problem is, at least for some of us, we *can't* cut consumption without going back to nomadic lifestyles...even if that were possible, the rest would still be increasing their CO2 output :/

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Although this guy is a lot smarter than the usually eco sheep you get he is a big advocate of a carbon tax. Reading his book he suggests £50 a tonne minimum and likely £250 a tonne!!

If that happened, it would bring in more than VAT or be equal to increasing basic income tax from 20p to over 40p!!

Nope. It would incentivise everyone to reduce waste. And it would incentivise industry's R&D budgets to work on technological solutions.

http://bahumbug.wordpress.com/2006/10/30/green-taxes/

Green taxes are all over the meeja again. But this time it seems a little different: it’s not just negative ranting.

For those of us who have wanted this for a long time, this could be good news. Especially if they make it tax-neutral, so that increased taxes on destruction are offset by reduced taxes on productive activity. And they’re even talking about that now: the Tories have said in principle that’s what they want, and the libdems have made specific proposals involving a modest reduction in income tax.

Alas, it’s still all very timid. So here’s a better proposal. First, lets set primary targets not on the increases, but on the reductions: giving us back our hard-earned money. Then move boldly towards them.

My candidate target: move towards the total abolition of that part of income tax known as “National Insuranceâ€. That gives money back both to business and to people. Adding up both employers and employees “contributionsâ€, it’s about half the total tax on earned income for most of us. That leaves deficits both in personal and corporate taxes, which the treasury now has a reasonable case to plug with additional taxes on destructive activities. As an added bonus, it makes the tax system more transparent, and it takes out one of the the most regressive components of it (national insurance falls hardest on middle-earners, with the rich paying proportionally less).

Now, what realistically might happen? It is perhaps instructive to look at the only serious attempt at a green tax we’ve had in this country: John Major’s “fuel price escalatorâ€.

That was accepted at the time, and survived the beginning of Brown’s stewardship of the economy. But in 2000, someone set up a website, and a huge meeja campaign grew up against the escalator, now labelled one of Gordon Brown’s “stealth taxesâ€.

First there was a campaign, supported with millions worth of free publicity from the likes of the BBC, called “dump the pumpâ€: motorists were exhorted to boycott petrol stations every Monday in protest at “high†prices. Come the first boycott Monday, the petrol stations reported no difference: if anything a slight increase in trade. After the second week, they abandoned the campaign: the silent majority had decisively rejected it.

So, after a couple of months of quiet, they took a different tack. Instead of looking for public support, a few thugs took “direct actionâ€, the kind of thing that would probably be described as terrorist today. But they had support from some prominent public figures: notably the Tory leader of the time: a raving demagogue who shortly afterwards took his party to their worst (but best-deserved) election defeat in … well, certainly in my time. And more importantly – indeed crucially – they again had the support of the meeja: if I might make a cheap jibe, London journalists want their cheap travel to their country cottages (having already priced local people out of the market)!

Having dispensed with the idea that the public (indeed, the motoring public) would support a peaceful campaign, the terrorist campaign was extraordinarily successful. Instead of standing up to the thugs and taking all necessary measures to ensure essential services were maintained (as Mrs Thatcher certainly would have done), the government cravenly capitulated. Green taxes were effectively abolished. I’m not sure, but I have a slight suspicion that retrospective shame at that capitulation may have influenced The Liar to play tough: to defy public opinion next time there was a campaign (supported by the biggest ever peace marches) against going to yet another war.

Major’s escalator was in fact an extremely good way to go. It signalled a change, but gave people and business ample time to adjust to it. What would seriously higher fuel prices really mean?

Well, if travel costs more, it shifts the economic balance in favour of local facilities. And, in our times, online. Those of us in rural areas like here (West Devon) have seen closures of village schools, shops, post offices, etc, as the affluent abandon them in favour of more distant facilities in the towns and cities. The carless (and there are many, especially among the old and infirm) are marginalised: this is social exclusion rural-style. we can bring back more local facilities.

Similarly, if the middle classes (as in the selfish part, as opposed to a liberal fringe) feel motivated to drive less, they’ll demand much better public transport facilities. With increased demand, bus operators will benefit, and can improve their services. I expect there will be some resistance at first from those who scorn the bus, but that won’t last more than a few years. Buses and cyclists are already resented by the arrogant.

In an information age, there’s no excuse for knowledge-workers to be trapped in the old office lifestyle of the 19th and 20th centuries. An economic incentive for more people to work at home or in smaller, decentralised offices will be a very strong benefit for all but the office tyrant.

And with fewer commuters on the road, there is less congestion getting in the way of those who really do need to travel. Our road haulage industry complains of congestion costing them billions a year. Yes they’ll pay more for their pollution, butby their own figures they also stand to make a lot of money back.

Of course, some services will cost more. When you need a plumber, his/her fuel costs will have to be reflected in what you pay. Unless of course that too can be offset by reduced congestion, and less time wasted on the roads.

Finally, of course, what better than good economic incentives to investment in R&D on improved technologies for supporting less-destructive lifestyles?

[edit] add some highlighting in the quote

Edited by porca misèria

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The problem is, at least for some of us, we *can't* cut consumption without going back to nomadic lifestyles...even if that were possible, the rest would still be increasing their CO2 output :/

Even if you didn't cut consumption, surely you'd be no worse off with the rebate?

Personally I'd prefer sliding scales on domestic consumption, eg first x units come free of any levy, then increasing percentage charge as consumption rises.

That would at least handle metered energy. Petrol/diesel would need a different approach, a hint that road pricing might be back on the agenda maybe?

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Guest eight
The scrappage scheme is one example of misguided "green" initiatives. Scrapping perfectly good medium-small cars for a tiny Kia made in the far east and shipped here...how is that carbon neutral exactly? It is only delaying the inevitable with the manufacturing (whats left of it).

It's worse than that. I'm currently in the process of putting a car that I otherwise would have scrapped through an MOT (replacing brake parts etc. with new) in order to scrap it under the scrappage scheme.

Don't blame me guv, I don't make the rules, I just work here.....

eight

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Even if you didn't cut consumption, surely you'd be no worse off with the rebate?

Personally I'd prefer sliding scales on domestic consumption, eg first x units come free of any levy, then increasing percentage charge as consumption rises.

Who's going to decide whats a fair value then? The government staff won't be seen as impartial.

That would at least handle metered energy. Petrol/diesel would need a different approach, a hint that road pricing might be back on the agenda maybe?

This would impact everything that needs to use the roads wouldn't it, including buses and finished goods? Unless you have exemptions. Sure, local produce and business may improve in scale but thats not a cast-iron guarantee.

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Indeed.

If the above was done in a way that would be tax neutral and return the taken tax monies to those who would be worst hit, I would be all for it. For example if your fuel costs increased 100GBP at current consumption per year, but you got a 100GBP check in the mail....

Well you'd cut consumption, wouldnt you?

The problem with messing with the markets is that you get suboptimal behaviour and usage.

There is a good reason we don’t use wind turbines and solar PV etc to generate power. If they were a good idea in and of themselves then we would use those technologies and wouldn’t be need to be forced to use them.

You then have a wealth transfer from those who do “go green†to those who do not.

For example lets say the USA and Europe both decide to go green and somehow within 10 years manage to build everything required to go 100% green.

Well the coalmines are still there, the oil fields are still there, the gas fields are still there. OPEC still needs money, Australia still needs money, Russia still needs money, the UK still needs money. Those countries that produce a lot of fossil fuels are not just going to say you know what, we would rather shut them down and live in poverty. No what will happen instead is that those countries divert what was going to the US and Europe into markets that are still willing to burn the fuels they sell.

So it would be a direct subsidy to countries like china and India. Taxing us to give to them.

Then there are the big energy companies, which probably have a market cap of over £2T. who owns these? Well a big portion is your and my pension fund. Well with no oil/gas/coal they will be worth a lot less. So you will take a hit on your retirement fund.

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The problem is, at least for some of us, we *can't* cut consumption without going back to nomadic lifestyles...even if that were possible, the rest would still be increasing their CO2 output :/

All these tax theories assume that in 50 years time, we'll still be only using oil or gas for the majority of power. We won't. We'll be using something else.

Nuclear fusion has been achieved in research facilties, barring any totally unexpected developemnts, fusion generation plants are a given, the only question is the timescale. Other designs (the polywell is the main one) are being looked into aside from the ITER style tokamaks which may or may not have potential.

Pebble bed fission plants (and some other designs) are cheaper and faster to build than the older style reactors. There's no shortage of uranium, breeder reactors will run for hundreds of years on plutonium, etc.

You can use the energy from the nuclear plants to synthesise hydrocarbons to make conventional liquid fuels for vehicles, if you don't want to start a mass-shift towards electric vehicles or hydrogen vehicles.

If everyone just ignored all the advice about 'saving energy' and consumed absolutely as much as possible, we'd see alternatives in place much quicker and a lot more research being directed in that direction. The more research we conduct on efficiency and ways of saving energy, the less likely we are to develop carbon-irrelevant sources of energy.

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For every barrel of oil we dont use, china/india/someone else will happily use it.

It solves nothing unless the whole world agrees to the same rules.

[protectionist hat on]

We should use as much god dam oil/coal/everything now while there's plenty of it around, and put ourselves in a better position to adapt later, otherwise we are just giving the growth associated with cheap energy away

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