Examination of Witnesses (Questions 160-179)|
Dr Rajendra Pachauri
1 FEBRUARY 2005
Q160Lord Lawson of Blaby: By "the bulk"
what do you mean?
Dr Pachauri: I would not be able to give you
an immediate answer. I can submit it in due course.
Q161Lord Lawson of Blaby: I think it is only
fair to ask you this because, as you know, our next witness is
Professor Lomborg. He will be able to comment on anything you
say because I suspect he is here now, but I have been toldI
am sure this must be wrongthat you compared Professor Lomborg
to Hitler. Is that true and, if so, why?
Dr Pachauri: I am sure you would know, having
been in public service for a long time, if one believes everything
that the media says one could be misled. I made no such comparisons.
I was interviewed by two Danish journalists and we got into an
extensive discussion. There was some discussion about the way
Hitler treated human beings but it had nothing to do with Professor
Lomborg's behaviour. I drew no such comparison and I was quite
surprised when this was broached.
Q162Lord Lawson of Blaby: You would not cast
any aspersions of any kind against people who in good faith disagree
with your analysis?
Dr Pachauri: Absolutely not. As someone who
has spent the best part of his life on research, I would be to
say the least very ill intentioned if I were to say that anyone
who disagrees with me has some evil design behind it.
Q163Lord Goodhart: You have been asked about
the question of non-believers on the IPCC. How strongly do you
think the IPCC is influenced by people at the other end of the
spectrum? Perhaps I could describe them as those who have a philosophical
belief in the virtues of the simple life and would therefore support
reduced energy use in any event, quite apart from the question
of global warming.
Dr Pachauri: I am not sure we seek out such
persons because after all it is governments who nominate the authors
of the IPCC and I presume they carry out a process of some selection
where they look at the capabilities and research records of these
distinguished individuals. We carry out a very thorough process
of scrutiny in which I can assure you there is no place for political
beliefs at all. We only look at the scientific record of the individuals
who are to be drawn into this process.
Q164Lord Elder: I would like to ask you about
the consensus which appears to be on global warming science. It
has been suggested to us that the consensus has been at least
to some extent reinforced by the relative ease with which people
who believe in the consensus get funds for their research from
governments and the European Commission. Do you think that balance
of availability of funds for research has somehow affected the
strength of the consensus?
Dr Pachauri: Research has to depend on funding
that is provided, whether by the European Union or individual
governments or other international organisations, but that does
not in any way distort the objectivity and honesty of the scientists
who are working on it. May I take the liberty of suggesting that
any such allegation would be a slur on the dignity and the integrity
of the scientists who are working on it. Every scientist depends
on funding. If international organisations or the European Union
or governments feel that climate change research requires substantial
funding, that is the only means by which you can draw specialists
and scientists to work on the subject, but I do not think any
funding organisation lays down a condition that you have to become
a believer in climate science. These are people of some integrity,
some solid, intellectual capability. I doubt if they would get
thwarted in their values purely because funding is available.
It is probably easier to get funding for so-called sceptics these
days. Without naming any organisations, if I were to go on to
say, "I do not believe in climate change science; can you
fund me to debunk whatever the IPCC is doing?" I can assure
you I can raise a few million dollars without difficulty.
Q165Lord Elder: Would you consider it would
be equally easy to take these views across once the research was
done or even easier perhaps than that side of the argument?
Dr Pachauri: I do not know.
Q166Lord Skidelsky: Are you suggesting that
scientific opinions are entirely unaffected by the source of funding?
It is a disinterested study which has only scientific criteria
behind it and scientists are never influenced by where their funds
are coming from?
Dr Pachauri: If we rely only on peer review
literature as the IPCC does, whatever is published does go through
a process of peer reviewed. Unless the entire scientific community
is corrupted, I cannot possibly believe that something that is
published in a journal of some standing, where people make an
honest effort to be counted, could not be scientifically valid.
This is a general statement. Possibly there are some that could
slip through but the general body of literature in this field,
as in any other, where you go through a process of peer review
would probably be totally defensible and carry a high level of
integrity and credibility.
Q167Lord Goodhart: Compared to the science of
climate change, where there is a consensus it seems, we hear less
about any consensus on the economics of climate change. Do you
think there is a consensus about the economics and, if so, what
do you think the main features of that consensus are?
Dr Pachauri: One area where I think there is
a growing, strong consensus is in respect of the cost of mitigation
of greenhouse gas emissions. I believe if one were to look at
options by which you could reduce emissions there are so-called
no regrets options, so-called negative cost options, where you
can bring about efficiency improvements and technological advances
by which, without in any way affecting human welfare in a negative
direction, you could reduce emissions. There are ample studies
to show that this is done. I lived in the US in the early seventies
and I recall vividly the period that we went through with the
first oil price shock. Everybody thought that the economies of
the world would collapse as a result but there was such a resilience
in terms of new technologies being developed, in terms of efficiency
improvements in the use of energy, that pretty soon the world
was on track. That is only a small period I am referring to, but
if one looks at a whole range of examples, even in the developed
countries, there are enormous differences in the technologies
that are used and the relationship between energy use and GDP.
One can allow for differences in climate and so on. There are
some countries where you need much more space heating and so on
but I think today there is an enormous opportunity by which you
could reduce emissions without incurring significant and in some
cases any costs at all. A lot of these options have substantial
local benefits. It is often pointed out that if China and India
were to go the way of the developed world, look at the number
of cars we would be running on our roads and streets. I see no
reason why we should adopt that path. There are enormous benefits
in setting up efficient public transport systems which will create
local environmental benefits, which will reduce congestion to
a large extent, which would make transportation and locomotion
available to the poorest of the poor who cannot possibly afford
privatised transportation or private vehicles. Quite apart from
the costs involved which in a number of cases are extremely low
if not negative, there are also substantial local benefits or
co-benefits from several of these measures. There is a growing
body of literature on the economics of these options, not to speak
of possible technological changes in the future which at the moment
cannot even be estimated. On the adaptation side, yes, the impacts
and the adaptation area are where a lot more economic analysis
is required. I am afraid when you deal with issues of morbidity
and mortality you run into a very serious ethical issue. How can
you value human life? Professor David Pearce is here. He knows
some of the heat that was generated in trying to come to grips
with an evaluation of morbidity and mortality in different parts
of the world. On impacts and adaptation, I concede there is a
lot more work that needs to be done and I hope social scientists
will get involved in this on a much larger scale.
Q168Lord Skidelsky: I want to listen to your
opinion on two key assumptions which underline the emission scenarios
produced by the IPCC. For example, some argue that the convergence
assumption is a piece of political correctness and it is not realistic
to suppose that poor countries' and rich countries' incomes will
be equalised by 2100. Others say the report makes inappropriate
use of a market exchange rate approach to aggregating incomes
and that purchasing power parity should have been used; and that
these two assumptions result in an exaggeration of emissions projections.
Can you let us have you view on this and how far was this debate
conveyed to you as chairman of the IPCC?
Dr Pachauri: I have been involved in this debate
right from the moment I took over as chairman of the IPCC. As
a matter of fact, we organised a meeting a couple of years ago
in Amsterdam where I took the initiative of inviting two of our
critics on the methodology for coming up with these scenarios
in the hope that we might be able to arrive at some agreement.
I would like to point out two issues here. On the question of
the down-scaling of growth rates, I am afraid there has been a
bit of a distortion of facts. There is a website that is maintained
as an assistance to the IPCC in which some years ago people down-scaled
growth rates and came up with some estimates for countries in
Africa and elsewhere, which incidentally were not approved by
the IPCC. They do not represent the work of the IPCC; it is only
as a form of assistance to the IPCC and IPCC researchers. The
controversy started with some conclusions that were drawn from
those totally non-IPCC, unauthorised data that were available.
On the issue of whether there would be a convergence, we have
data on the long term growth rates of several countries. If you
look at Korea, Japan and some of the others, they fit in very
well with the scenarios that we have come up with. Today, if one
looks at the estimates drawn up by Goldman Sachs on Brazil, Russia,
India and China, their projections clearly indicate that by the
middle of the century these countries are going to be fairly major
economies in the world. More recently you have probably read about
the CIA report which more or less comes to the same conclusion.
I would suggest that the scenarios developed by the IPCC are certainly
not out of line with what we see happening in the rest of the
world. All this is drawn on the work carried out by several models,
by several projections that have been developed by a very competent
set of researchers. Nothing that we have produced is on the basis
of research by anybody in the IPCC itself. It is on the basis
of peer reviewed, model-driven literature which has gone through
the usual processes of review and acceptance. On the question
of PPP versus market exchange rates, our critics do not mention
that we did have some PPP-purchasing power parity-related model
runs which did not deviate significantly from what we have achieved
from the other models that have been used. The use of purchasing
power parity is not such a simple matter. It is a very useful
device for looking at welfare levels across different societies
at a given point of time, but when you are making projections
for the next 100 years, how does one alter the parity between
market exchange rates and purchasing power parity, particularly
as economies develop, where this relationship will change over
a period of time? Subsequent to all this criticism, several of
our colleagues in the IPCC have carried out runs, which incidentally
have now been published, using purchasing power parity, and there
is hardly any deviation between their projections and what we
Q169Lord Skidelsky: So the critics have influenced
the methodology. In other words, they have stimulated the IPCC.
Dr Pachauri: We welcome that. It only validates
the methodology that the IPCC used earlier. It does not require
any deviation from it.
Q170Lord Skidelsky: What strikes me is that
the convergence scenarios are historically blind. If you take
a long period going from 1600 through to the 19th century, you
start from a position of convergence between the major economies
of the world at that time and then there is a process of increasing
divergence and the forecast is that this will now be reversed
and that you will get increasing convergence. There are so many
intervening events here, I do not know how you can make any kind
of projection with any confidence.
Dr Pachauri: If one looks at the 20th century,
I am afraid there has been a sharp departure from what one saw
from the 17th century onwards. We are dealing with a period when
there is much greater flow of capital and technology. There is
also an accretion of human capital in different parts of the world.
We are dealing with a totally different world. What we have based
our scenarios on and the models that have provided us the ammunition
for these scenarios is essentially work that has been done in
the 20th century, going back in time and seeing what would happen
in the 21st century. The extensive literature that we have used
in arriving at the scenarios for the future is based essentially
on fairly solid work which relates to the modern day world.
Q171Lord Sheldon: You may have had solid work
in the past but 100 years into the future there are things that
are completely unknown. It surprises me that you have thought
of taking this so far ahead. I can understand the next 30 years.
One can make some reasonable assumptions but much beyond that
and one is almost in dreamland, I would have thought.
Dr Pachauri: It is for this reason that we have
a range between the lowest levels that might be attained versus
those that are at the upper end. It is fairly plausible to come
up with scenarios of the future. After all, there are modellers;
there are economists, who are grappling with these problems on
a continuous basis. It is really the work that they have carried
out which has provided us with the basis for our scenarios. To
be quite honest, one really does not know what will happen five
years in the future but, given the momentum of economic activity
worldwide and a set of plausible assumptions where even businessmen
have to make projections, several companies are looking at the
year 2050. These are companies that are driven essentially by
their objectives to maximise profits in the next quarter. If one
is looking at global challenges, clearly as a species we need
to look at what is likely to happen 100 years from now.
Q172Lord Sheldon: In the beginning of the last
century, it was thought that coal would be running out and the
world would change fundamentally in the next 100 years. That has
not happened because of changes in power supply. All sorts of
things can happen in this period which render completely useless
some of the projections that can be made so far into the future,
Dr Pachauri: We have had major changes. Who
knew that nuclear power would come into existence?
Q173Lord Sheldon: Exactly.
Dr Pachauri: Similarly, with our knowledge today,
we can certainly project what kinds of changes might take place
in the use of renewable sources of energy, whether there might
be a resurgence of nuclear energy, so all of these things have
been taken into account in giving us the range of projections
that we have come up with. Nobody can swear by it but it is something
that is based on some fairly strong assumptions and fairly plausible
factors that might bring about changes. It is for this reason
that we have a range. If we are looking at an issue like climate
change, I am afraid we just have to go that far into the future
because what has happened so far goes back to the beginning of
industrialisation. The accumulation of greenhouse gases in the
earth's atmosphere has taken place cumulatively over this period
of almost a century and a half and therefore we have no basis
but to look at the end of this century.
Q174Chairman: Since we started this study, I
do not think you have any difficulty in persuading us that some
of these projections are pretty difficult to arrive at. If you
were to look at the figures produced, what sort of assumptions
have been made about what is going to happen so far as nuclear
power is concerned in the next 50 or 100 years? What view does
the IPCC take? I ask this question because I read somewhere last
week that China is planning to build 300 nuclear power stations.
There are only just over 300 in the world at the moment. These
are massive decisions that may or may not be taken, as far as
I can see. How do you project all that stuff into your future?
Dr Pachauri: It is based essentially on the
work that has been done by a whole range of researchers and that
has been published. Given that China is growing very rapidly,
there is a substantial amount of work that is being done to look
at China's energy future. Within that, there are all kinds of
possibilities that have been put forward, modelled and looked
at in terms of the implications. We have just taken all of that
into account in developing our scenarios for China, for India
and other developing countries, and of course for the developed
countries as well. It is the aggregation of substantial research
that has been done across the world and that is the best we can
Q175Lord Layard: We have been talking mainly
about the IPCC, its procedures and its conclusions. I wonder if
you could say a little about what your own personal view is both
on the science and what has been going on and what are the things
which seem to you to be the most likely; also, what kind of forms
of mitigation you think would be the most cost-effective if there
is a real problem.
Dr Pachauri: There is a whole range of options
that are possible. I will not mention the country that I went
to but, for example, it took me two hours to go through immigration
and there was a car waiting to receive me. The person who was
waiting to receive me said, "I thought you had not arrived."
I said, "It took that long getting through all the procedures."
He took me to the parking lot. The engine was running. The air
conditioner was running. He said, "It is a warm day. I thought
I should keep the car cool." There are simple things like
just changing habits of this nature. I was in Korea three months
ago and the chairman of one of the major companies said he went
and saw this movie The Day After Tomorrow, something that
I do not necessarily support. He said, "My son came home
with me after watching the movie and said, `I am going to switch
off all the lights because I do not want to contribute to climate
change.'" I am just giving these examples as means by which
human beings can cut down on something that I feel is a waste
of energy without in any way reducing human welfare. There are
also means by which I look at my own country, India, where if
we were to expand the grid to supply electricity in the villages,
on a rational, economic basis, that really would not be the best
option in several parts of the country. We have an enormous quantity
of biomass. We have wind. We have solar. Technologies are being
evolved and I am prepared to sit down with anybody and show that
these would be economically viable. Unfortunately, the policy
framework does not give you the kind of signal to move in that
direction and therefore we also need some changes in pricing systems,
whereby we take into account the real price of electricity from
the grid, the externalities that are imposed. So there is a whole
range of things that could be done and I do not think they would
in any way lead to loss of welfare of any community.
Q176Lord Lawson of Blaby: There is an institution
known as the market which gives signals. If it is clear to you
that for example there are significant things that could be done
where it would be cheaper to do something new, why does this not
Dr Pachauri: The market very often does not
take externalities into account. There are also subsidies in several
goods and services which are very difficult to remove. If you
take nuclear power, in most countries in the world it is heavily
subsidised in one form or the other. If one looks at the price
of energy produced by nuclear power stations, it is really not
an accurate reflection of what it costs in the market. Rationalising
prices is particularly important. Also, an area that we need to
look at carefully is the whole issue of energy security. If we
look at the projections of the International Energy Agency, it
clearly projects that by the year 2030 the bulk of increase in
supply of oil will be coming from a handful of nations in the
Middle East, where production will have to go up from something
like 19 million barrels a day to over 50 million barrels a day.
That is almost a three fold increase. If the world is going to
get dependent on oil imports from a very small part of the world,
there are issues of energy security that somehow need to be factored
Q177Lord Lawson of Blaby: I am aware of these.
I was for a time, like our Chairman, Secretary of State for Energy
in this country some years back. From your rather dismissive remarks
about subsidies, do we take it that you are not in favour of subsidies
to those methods of power generation which do not create emissions?
Dr Pachauri: I would be in favour.
Q178Lord Lawson of Blaby: That is what nuclear
Dr Pachauri: Fine. I agree, but that should
be done explicitly. If it is for this reason, I would fully accept
the fact that you are building an externality which is associated
with, let us say, coal-based power generation, into the cost of
coal-based power. Therefore, nuclear comes out cheaper. I fully
appreciate that. Whether one looks at a form of taxation or subsidy
are two sides of the same coin.
Q179Lord Lawson of Blaby: Can I ask a quick
question about "futurology", the difficulty of looking
ahead? What do you do to try and predict changes in technology
and the economic effects of changes in technology? It seems to
me very difficult. Again, based on my own experience, there have
been enormous improvements and technological developments in the
carbon-based energies which have made them very much cheaper than
they used to be. How much have you factored in for that, for example?
Dr Pachauri: That is a very difficult challenge.
I appreciate that and, if I can express a personal opinion, I
have an enormous interest in technology issues. In the fourth
assessment report of the IPCC, technology is one of the cross-cutting
themes among seven such cross-cutting themes that we have looked
at and that we are including. We need to look at technology and
the potential it is likely to bring very carefully. I fully appreciate
that we are really gazing into a crystal ball. It is very difficult
to say what the impacts of technology will be in the future but
at least over the next 30 or 40 years we might come up with some
intelligent estimates that could be taken into account.
1 No supplementary evidence received. Back