Examination of Witnesses (Questions 120-129)|
Professor David Henderson
25 JANUARY 2005
Q120Lord Sheppard of Didgemere: I do not know
how you measure the audience, or the family audience, but are
you winning or losing the debate?
Professor Henderson: You would have to ask a
more neutral observer.
Q121Lord Sheppard of Didgemere: How does it
feel to you; you are not about to give up, are you?
Professor Henderson: For me, if I were stating
the case now, I would make two changes in my arguments. They do
not weaken the arguments, in my opinion, I would just state it
in a different way. First, I would withdraw the criticism, or,
at least, not emphasise it so much, that the scenario-builders'
procedure exaggerated emissions projections. The reasons are rather
complex reasons, which I will try to sketch out. In fact, they
have a built-in, legitimate, non-exaggerating factor and I had
not taken account of that, the Norwegians pointed it out, so I
would not protest. For reasons I have stated at the beginning,
that does not weaken the other reasons I have for thinking that
the SRES should not be taken, as it is being taken, as the basis
for the Fourth Assessment Report. The other point I would make
is, and this is something, as counsel for the defence for the
scenario-builders, I would certainly argue, when we wrote we said,
"Look, you're ignoring clearly-stated doctrine on the use
of PPP. Nothing could be clearer than what is said in the system
of national accounts in 1993, which is not referred to in your
report, that purchasing power parities must be used and market
exchange rates must not be used for inter-country comparisons
do output." In saying that, we thought we were representing
a clear majority of others in the profession of economics and
statistics and economics. Not for the first time in my life I
discovered that our professionor trade, as Lord Lawson
would prefer to call itis more disordered than I thought.
Indeed, the scales began to drop from my eyes in April last year,
my Lord Chairman, when seated in the House of Lords, listening
to questions being put by Lord Taverne and by Lord Lawson himself
about the handling of economic issues by the IPCC,I heard one
of your noble colleagues actually say that the choice between
MER and PPPs was a matter of taste. I must say, that rather shocked
me. We have found other instances since. Economists are less agreed
than I thought, but that has only made me feel that more people
than I thought have to be brought round to what has been called
the creeping acceptance of purchasing power parity.
Q122Lord Sheldon: If you had the responsibility,
and we have dealt with some of these matters already, how would
you have gone ahead in looking at the IPCC process, how would
you have started it?
Professor Henderson: That depends what responsibilities
you are putting on my shoulders, Lord Sheldon.
Q123Lord Sheldon: The lot.
Professor Henderson: If I can answer that in
a way which perhaps you did not quite intend. If my responsibilities
were those of a Treasury officialand I have been a Treasury
official, and when I was in the OECD my clients were Treasury
officialsI would have looked at this whole process with
a much more critical and much more worried eye. This echoes a
point you yourself were making earlier in the Committee's hearing,
because I have the feeling that quite large, and possibly very
large, expenditures are being undertaken on the basis of what
is thought and believed about what might happen in the very long
run, beliefs which, in fact, are not strong enough to bear this
foundation. If I were a Treasury official I would be worried about
that and I think there should have been more worry.
Q124Lord Sheldon: Would you have settled for
30 years rather than 100 years, is the answer?
Professor Henderson: I would have said, "Let's
look very hard at 30 years and let's not do so on the basis just
of the people you have involved now," I am told there are
now 800 members of the Government Economic Service. Allow me to
boast. Two score and four years ago I wrote an obscure article
advocating the creation of a Government Economic Service, though
I do not know that it had much to do with the result. I feel very
strongly about the use of economics in administration. I cannot
think why it is that, with so many of these people who seem to
be involved in this process, the Treasury have not asked themselves
the questions we have asked and made the points we have made,
and I hope the Committee will ask the Treasury that, because certainly
they have not responded to what I have been saying.
Q125Chairman: Do national governments have much
say in who is appointed to these bodies?
Professor Henderson: Yes, almost the entire
Q126Chairman: They have the complete say and
they do not want to involve themselves?
Professor Henderson: They have delegated to
IPCC, but the whole process, quite rightly in my opinion, is closely
supervised by governments. The IPCC is technically the creation
of two UN agencies, so it reports to them, but the UN agencies
themselves are government-controlled and they report to their
member governments. The member governments are very strongly represented,
as they are bound to beagain I think this is quite rightat
the IPCC plenary meetings and particularly in the last stages
of preparing the big reports, the Summaries for Policymakers.
My criticism is of government departments just as much as of the
Q127Lord Lawson of Blaby: Specifically, what
would you like to see the Treasury doing now that it is not doing?
Professor Henderson: I would like to see the
Treasury making it difficult for the IPCC to continue with business
as usual, which clearly they are determined to do. I have a very
specific way into that, which I have suggested, in fact, more
than once in different places. After talking to all the others
concerned in other countries, the Treasury should instruct its
delegates to the next meeting of the OECD Economic Policy Committee
to request the Committee to look at these issues, to open the
issues that we have opened up.
Q128Lord Sheppard of Didgemere: I want to ask
a bottom-line question, of which I realise there are many, many
variables. Supposing we, or more relevantly the IPCC, accepted
all of your arguments and rolled over, what would be the temperature
range that you would be projecting, all other factors remaining
the same? Is it quite a dramatic impact or small?
Professor Henderson: I am worried about the
way a process is being handled rather than the final results,
which are very difficult for a lay person to judge. I do think
that there is in this whole process what I might call a tendency
towards alarmism, but I may be wrong.
Q129Chairman: Thank you very much. I am really
very grateful to you and the whole Committee is very grateful
to you for coming to give us your views on these things and answering
the questions in a clear and precise way. It has been very helpful
to us in our inquiry.
Professor Henderson: Can I say just one thing,
my Lord Chairman. If at any stage you or any member of the Committee,
or your Special Adviser or the Clerk have any questions or points
on which they would like my opinion or to have any information
from me, I am at your disposal.
Chairman: Thank you very much indeed. We are most
grateful to you.