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Background on Greenpeace/IPCC Author Sven Teske

The news was recently broken, by Steve McIntyre, that the IPCC’s recent renewable energy report’s most notable conclusion was based on a Greenpeace report. Not only that, but the same person who authored the Greenpeace report was also an IPCC author of the renewable energy report, unacceptable by any standard.

The author in question was Sven Teske. I had planned on doing an in-depth biography of him for curious readers following the story. After a few minutes of research, I realized my job was mostly already done for me by another blogger Donna Laframboise, who has the excellent blog NoFrakkingConsensus. I helped Donna as a citizen reviewer for the IPCC citizen’s audit. I can say with near certainty that no one has looked into the IPCC more thoroughly than she has.

So I e-mailed Donna and asked if I could re-post Teske’s background here. She agreed (thanks Donna!), and here it is. It’s from this article written way back in Jan 2010 about Greenpeace’s links to the IPCC. She wrote about two other Greenpeace IPCC reviewers before, and Teske is the third and last. Donna warned that some links may be outdated. Everything in between the following headings is from her post here.

Sven Teske’s background

The third Greenpeace representative given official standing as an IPCC reviewer is Sven Teske. When a Greenpeace protest vessel shut down Europe’s largest coal port in 2005, Teske was on board. Described as a renewable energy expert, he declared:

Climate change is now the single biggest threat facing our planet…Greenpeace is here today to expose Europe’s dangerous addiction to coal.

Elsewhere, he insists that: “Renewable energy is the true answer” to coal’s shortcomings [italics added]. According to this bio, Teske has a BSc in engineering and a masters in “wind energy technology.” Curiously, a 1995 Greenpeace press release described him as a “nuclear expert[screengrab here].

In April 2009, Teske was one of two speakers at a “Public Forum on Climate Justice” held in Ottawa, Canada. Although he resides in Amsterdam, a month later he was quoted in a Greenpeace press release calling for Canadian “political leadership” on green issues. A month after that, he called Australia “a global climate change pariah.”

Teske is a co-author of a Greenpeace publication titled “New Zealand Energy Revolution: How to Prevent Climate Chaos. It features a forward by (and photograph of) Dr. Rajendra Pachauri, the IPCC’s chairman.

In 2006, Greenpeace released another report in conjunction with the European Photovoltaic Industry Association (a solar power lobby group). Teske is described as the “Greenpeace Co-ordinator and scenario analyst” in its credits and his name is one of two appearing at the end of that document’s forward.

This attractive, 50-page publication is an extended brochure of the sort distributed by solar energy marketing departments. Although it is data and graph-intensive, it contains a grand total of four footnotes. Although it mentions external documents in passing, no list of full citations is provided.

Thus, we read on page 14 that, “According to a WHO study, as many as 160,000 people are dying each year as a result of climate change.” Should we care to double-check this claim, we’re on our own.[a critique of the WHO study]

As incredible as it sounds, this publication/brochure is itself cited in the Nobel-winning IPCC report as evidence that a particular statement is true. Appearing in the list below as Greenpeace 2006, it is one of two references mentioned in a single sentence, as discussed above.

Which begs an important question: how did it get into the same room with serious scholars? Why would it even be under consideration by a scientific body tasked with producing an assessment of the latest scientific research?

There appears to be an interesting chronology here. First Teske is granted “scientific expert reviewer” status by the IPCC. Second, a non-academic, non-peer-reviewed document in which he was closely involved gets added to the climate change research canon by virtue of it being cited by the Nobel-winning report.

Third, Teske co-authors a new Greenpeace report that receives an extra measure of prestige when it features a forward authored by the high-profile IPCC chairman. Fourth, in a final flourish, Teske – like his Greenpeace colleauge von Goerne – gets elevated to lead author status of yet another IPCC special report (on renewable energy) due to be published this year.

Where does Greenpeace stop and the IPCC begin? Sometimes it’s difficult to tell.

[Well said, and recent events have made that even more true today.]

Environmental activist, renewable energy advocate, and IPCC author

Should Sven Teske have been an IPCC author on the renewable energy report? Well, he clearly has been involved with Greenpeace for a long time. That alone might be enough to disqualify him. Why? The IPCC is supposed to provide policymakers with the unbiased information they need to make decisions, not to prescribe certain policies themselves. Greenpeace is a campaigning organization to advocate for certain policy positions.

Sven Teske is Greenpeace International’s renewables director. Can we expect the director of Greenpeace’s renewable energy program to simply play an informative role and not be unbiased? No, and Sven Teske shows that. He is blatantly an advocate for renewable energy, especially solar.

For example, read this interview with Teske about solar power. Or read an article he penned himself entitled The Energy Revolution has Begun. In both he is advocating a massive effort towards renewable energy, including a massive amount of money.

Don’t take my word for it. Listen to him in remarks made to a group of Argentinians before Copenhagen fell apart:

Developing countries paying $100 billion a year. I can’t believe anyone every thought that was viable.

Sven Teske has every right to advocate for renewable energy. He can even try to get governments to take our money and give it to other countries. But we must be clear what he is: a biased advocate for renewable energy. This disqualifies him from taking part in the IPCC report, if the IPCC wants to be unbiased. Quoting a Greenpeace/solar energy industry report and inviting the author on board is not unbiased. In fact, they even issued a press release with the primary claim (80% renewables by 2050) taken from that Greenpeace/solar energy industry report.

I think this is a crossroads for the IPCC. In the past, they have reacted very poorly to negative criticism. They circled the wagons and pretended there was nothing wrong. If they try that again, I can’t imagine anyone who would take them seriously. Who could ever repeat the “gold standard of science” claim with a straight face again?

 
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Posted by on June 19, 2011 in IPCC, UN, Uncategorized

 

IPCC coordinating lead author's own paper falsely cited in AR4

Adil Najam

Yesterday I posted about a contributing author’s own paper being incorrectly cited in the AR4. However, I have now found something worse than that: a Coordinating Lead Author’s own paper has been falsely cited.

Recently I posted about an interesting claim and comment made in the AR4. In the Second Order Draft (SOD), the following claim appears (page 43, lines 34-36):

Relatively few NGOs are directly accountable to members in the same way that governments are to voters or businesses are to shareholders, raising further questions about the extent to which their claims to the mantle of civil society are justified.

The claim had no citation, which led an expert reviewer to make the following comment, Comment 12-189 (page 78):

Seems a bold claim – can you substantiate it? ENGOs in most cases are supported through financial contributions from individuals as well as from foundation funding. They are also governed through Boards that in principle represent their consituency. If you leave this, you need to provide a citation.
(Jan Corfee-Morlot, University College London (on
leave from OECD))

The reviewer thinks that this claim is bold, and seems to imply it is false. He ends “If you leave this, you need to provide a citation.” The writing team responds:
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Posted by on March 16, 2010 in IPCC

 

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Some climate humor from the AR4

I thought some of my readers may find the following claim (section 1.2 The Nature of Earth Science of WGI) in the IPCC AR4 humorous:

The attributes of science briefly described here can be used in assessing competing assertions about climate change. Can the statement under consideration, in principle, be proven false? Has it been rigorously tested? Did it appear in the peer-reviewed literature? Did it build on the existing research record where appropriate? If the answer to any of these questions is no, then less credence should be given to the assertion until it is tested and independently verified.

Let’s take them in turn, shall we?

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Posted by on March 15, 2010 in Humor, IPCC

 

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Contributing Author's report cited falsely

I’ve found another mistake in the IPCC AR4, this time a Contributing Author’s own report was incorrectly cited.

Let’s start at the beginning. In the First Draft Order of Chapter 11 of WG II, Australia and New Zealand, the following claim appears on page 22, line 25:

The capital value of the built environment in New Zealand accounts for almost 10% of GDP.

This prompts an expert reviewer to comment, Comment 11-967:

To say that the capital value of NZ’s built environment is nearly 10% of GDP is absolute nonsense. Even an elementary calculation shows that this is far too low. Given the 1.4 million homes, at an average value of $300,000 gives a total value of $420 billion. GDP is about $140 billion, so even without counting office buildings it is clear that the 10% should be a at least 300%.
(Adolf Stroombergen, Infometrics)

He’s right, and this claim was dropped. However, other reviewers noticed the fact that there was no Australian equivalent to this statistic, Comment 11-965:

Can similar statements be made about the value of Australia’s built environment?
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Posted by on March 15, 2010 in IPCC

 

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IPCC first makes claim, then adds reference later

In other posts I have claimed that the IPCC process appears to be along these lines: Make a claim, then find a citation. While it was fairly obvious they did this often, I hadn’t found a slam-dunk case I could point at to prove it. I now have that case.

I am participating in the Audit of the IPCC’s AR4 conducted over at NOconsensus.org (I recommend you spare an hour or two to help if you can). I was given Chapter 12 of WG III, which I’ve completed. Afterwords, I decided to look at the expert reviewers comments for my chapter. I found quite a few biased remarks, which will make another post coming soon. I also found one particular comment interesting. Comment 12-189 (page 78):
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Posted by on March 11, 2010 in IPCC

 

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IPCC independent review not reviewing!

The IPCC announced yesterday that they were having an independent body review themselves. The implication in most people’s minds was that they would look at how the IPCC could allow so many errors in their AR4, so that they could attempt to reestablish some credibility. But there is a problem.

The review won’t review the AR4.

That’s right, it will only “focus on improving procedures for the future”.

I’m not kidding.

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Posted by on March 11, 2010 in IPCC

 

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Help audit the IPCC AR4 – Group project

Over the past couple months, story after story has emerged about shoddy references in the IPCC’s Fourth Assessment Report (AR4). While the IPCC, and Pachauri in particular, claim the AR4 is based on all peer-review (or the ‘vast majority’), this claim is clearly suspect. However, the process which has revealed this claim to be suspicious has been somewhat haphazardly done by various bloggers working independently of each other.

Until now.

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Posted by on March 9, 2010 in IPCC audit project

 

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