Skip to content

Andrew Montford: Climate Activism In The FCO

Andrew Montford, Bishop Hill

From time to time I have reported on climate activism among UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office officials. There was, for example, the Washington diplomat’s decision to spend his time (and public funds) on supporting Democrats in the US Senate. Or the official who used public funds to make climate change awareness films in Africa. Today there is new evidence that activists within the civil service are spending your money to advance their own political views. This comes in the shape of an official email circulated by an official in the Beijing embassy which sought to counter David Rose’s recent Mail on Sundayarticle about recent temperature history.

A Daily Mail report, headlined ‘Global warming stopped 16 years ago, Met Office report reveals’ was widely reported in China claiming that there was no discernible rise in aggregate global temperatures from the beginning of 1997 until August 2012.

A number of scientific organisations, including the UK Met Office on whose data this claim was supposedly based and the London School of Economic and Political Science (LSE) , have both issued rebuttals. And this week, Tim Yeo, the Chairman of the UK Parliament’s Select Committee on Energy and Climate Change confirmed to Professor Du Xiangwan, the Chairman of the Second National Committee of Experts on Climate Change during his visit to China that these sort of articles were common in some parts of the UK media and that they do not have any effect either on the position of his Committee or that of the UK government on climate change.

The email went on to go through the Met Office “rebuttal”, which agreed that the trend since 1997 was indeed zero but argued that this was start and endpoint dependent and that it didn’t matter anyway. This has all been discussed elsewhere.

Going on from here the FCO’s offical communique to our friends and allies around the world went on to quote those two noted authorities on climate science, the public relations “director” at the Grantham Institute (Bob Ward) and a Democrat-linked rabble-rousing blogger (Joe Romm).

Further information

UK Met Office’s official press release

Analysis of the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment, LSE

Convincing charts that make clear the planet just keeps warming

Helena Ou (, 电话:010-XXXXXX),
If you want more information, please contact Helena Ou. To unsubscribe, please email the contact. Thanks!

I don’t think anyone can seriously now question the depth of the corruption at the FCO, although I don’t suppose the permanent secretary Simon Fraser is bothered. And if one needed any confirmation of the mindset at the FCO, the response of Sophie Benger of the FCO press office to Rose’s complaint has to be seen to be believed:

I have followed up with our Embassy in Beijing to find out how this came about and why it was sent.

Following a conversation there, I understand that your original article was taken by a large number of people we work with in China as being official Government policy on climate change and they believed that the UK had changed its position. In sending out the note below, the intention was to re-state the UK’s views on this subject and to explain why we hold them. It was aimed at increasing understanding of the UK’s policies in China, which is something our Embassies work very hard at achieving.

However, I understand your concerns about how this was presented and how it came across. This should not have been focused on your paper nor issued as a direct retraction of what you had written. Nor should your paper have been referred to as the Daily Mail rather than the Mail on Sunday.

As I say, I have raised this with the people who sent out the message and relayed your complaint. They have undertaken not to do this again and to use a different approach to flag the UK’s policies in future.

The Chinese thought a temperature trend reported in the Mail on Sunday was government policy?

I don’t think so.

Bishop Hill, 6 November 2012