4 thoughts on ““Citizens’ Assemblies” and mandate manufacturing”

  1. Posted 18/02/2021 at 08:49 | Permalink

    Firstly, Ben Pile has produced a report for the Global Warming Policy Forum. The Global Warming Policy Forum does not say that it is created to promote climate change scepticism – at least not quite. According to Wikipedia, the GWP Forum is a wholly owned subsidiary of the GWP Foundation, and the Foundation has been characterized as promoting climate change denial. Its got form, too. It was accused of “demanding absolute transparency from everybody except themselves. Therefore, it is entirely reasonable to suggest that Mr Pile’s view is not that of an entirely unbiased observer.

    Secondly, the idea that because a stated policy aim is agreed by politicians of all sides it must be undemocratic is just strange. They probably all agree on lots of things (e.g. drunk driving is a bad idea; murder should be discouraged; MP’s play a vital part in democracy), but it doesn’t make it undemocratic.

    Thirdly, this article criticising groupthink is posted on the IEA website. What do you think the IEA is ? Its a monument to groupthink. That’s what it is for.

  2. Posted 18/02/2021 at 14:05 | Permalink

    Andrew Campion raises three objections to my article above, which I don’t think he can have read with any intention of understanding it. He certainly hasn’t read the report from which the article is drawn, but seems sure all the same that you shouldn’t.

    1. I am accused of being ‘biased’, by association, and via a Wikipedia article. I deny that there is any such thing in the world as an ‘unbiased observer’ — especially in Wiki world. Observation is by its nature *biased*. If Andrew believes that an ‘unbiased’ position has been obtained, he should offer it. It is debate between perspectives — observations — that is the foundation of science and democratic politics. Excluding inconvenient dissent does not achieve an ‘unbiased’ position in science or democracy. It is anathema to both science and democracy.

    2. “[T]he idea that because a stated policy aim is agreed by politicians of all sides it must be undemocratic” is not mine. It is Andrew’s misconception. I claim that the cross-party political consensus on climate change creates a democratic deficit. Nobody disagrees with me on this. Not even greens. I’ve even debated XR founder Roger Hallam on this point, and he agrees with me, too. I examine the origins of the development of that consensus briefly in the report and at length on my blog. I point out that politicians and the organisations behind forging the consensus became aware of the deficit that they had created, and recognised it as a problem for the policies they had already committed to. Hence the Climate Assembly was convened in the hope of overcoming that consensus in their view. But in my view, all they have done is reproduce the problem.

    3. Andrew criticises the IEA for ‘groupthink’. This is manifestly a nonsense. I have had plenty of disagreements with IEA staff/members. And I’ve watched plenty of IEA members disagree with each other. (I am not an IEA member). I wouldn’t assume that the IEA in general (yet) shares my view of climate change science or politics, democracy, or even the notion of Citizens Assemblies in general, and I suspect I would not be given an easy ride by them in a debate on those issues. It may surprise Andrew that people who have overlapping perspectives converge at organisations that represent the political ground encompassed by that overlapping. But that is how people are brought together in fear of climate change as much as by criticism of fearmongering and incautious climate policymaking. That’s how democratic politics *works*. Excluding inconvenient dissenters is how groupthink works.

    If Andrew is genuinely against groupthink — rather than a victim of it, and its agent — he might want to read the late Christopher Booker’s GWPF 2018 report on groupthink in climate policymaking, which he can download from https://www.thegwpf.org/content/uploads/2018/02/Groupthink.pdf . There is also a video introduction to the idea at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y8350XaGeZY .

  3. Posted 23/02/2021 at 11:56 | Permalink

    When you refer to ‘transformative technology’ what do you mean? It is a rather vague statement which sits uncomfortably with the rest of your article which is detailed and well structured.

  4. Posted 24/02/2021 at 18:44 | Permalink

    BEN: — When you refer to ‘transformative technology’ what do you mean? —

    The expression ‘transformative technology in its full sentence is:

    — But pressure has been mounting to turn ‘legally binding’ targets into policies that are going to weigh heavily on British households and businesses, whereas no sufficiently transformative technological development has occurred, no public will has been generated, and no reasonable cost-benefit analysis of Net Zero has been produced, much less survived scrutiny. —

    In the main, the ‘*sufficiently* transformative technology’ refers to the point made in a preceding sentence in the same paragraph:

    — MPs believed that the green technologies required to fulfil its policy goal would magically appear out of nowhere, just because the policy goal is there – let’s call it a unicorn rather than a horse. —

    It also pertains to the next sentence:

    — Second, and despite historic levels of public disengagement, MPs believed that they could somehow retroactively persuade people to support far-reaching policy that had already been made legislation. —

    Greens may reply that there are existing alternatives. But they are not like-for-like replacements from the consumer’s perspective. And as the Climate Change Committee has made clear, more than 60% of emissions-reduction will be the result of ‘behaviour change’. I.e., there is no conceivable route to achieving Net Zero without a reduced level of utility and increased cost to the consumer. Moreover, the CCC’s advice to Parliament rests on technology that does not yet exist or has not yet proved itself to be economic, and may never be. The CCC’s analysis depends on hydrogen and CCS, for example — ‘unicorns’ which very many, even from the green camp, are deeply sceptical of, with very good reason.

    This is a problem for policymakers because the Net Zero agenda will place a very serious burden on households, without public support (i.e. political will) for that burden having been tested. If this was a matter of perhaps a few £hundred a year, I would not be so concerned. But I would suggest the possibility that this is very likely to lead to an unprecedented policy failure, and is a recipe for a crisis for democratic politics bigger than anything seen in the last century or this.

    For example, there being no like-for-like replacement for gas boilers, homeowners are going to face large bills to ‘retrofit’ their homes — both to install heat pumps and to install sufficient insulation to make homes compliant with legislation. Estimates of this cost — from the green camp itself — vary from between £20,000 for *new*, average-sized homes, through to the full bricks-and-mortar cost of the home. This is far in excess of what is available to most households, either in the form of ready cash or debt. Households will also be facing negative equity, higher energy bills, increased costs of living, reduced mobility, and the concomitant reductions in economic opportunities, such as work, making such ‘investments’ even harder to find the money for or to maintain loan repayments for. I find it extraordinary that public opinion has been only an afterthought to such a radical imposition on the public, by government and politicians from all parties. The risks of a political backlash to such intransigence and obvious indifference to the public are incalculable.

    Had politicians stated from the outset that either technology or a clear statement of the public’s appetite for the transformation of society implied by Net Zero were the conditions of manifestly draconian policies, then it would be much harder for me to have said any of the above. If like-for-like technologies existed, then there are only easily managed, small-p political consequences. And if we all agreed to suffer for Gaia, the point is also defeated — I may lose my home, my job, my comfort, but it’s all for the greater good. But the technology doesn’t exist and the public have had no say. The risk of policy failure is therefore extremely high, and is almost certainly going to be worse for people than anything climate change can plausibly throw at us. Hence I argue that the climate change agenda is manifestly *ideological*, rather than a face-value response to climate change, and that it intends to dismantle democratic control of politics, and it requires it, too.

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