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Needs for new data in climate change analysis. Robin Webster, carbonbrief.org. The Carbon Brief ( www.carbonbrief.org ). Focus on fact-checking media coverage of climate and energy debate in the UK Came into existence as a result of misleading media coverage in the wake of ‘ Climategate ’.

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Needs for new data in climate change analysis

Needs for new data in climate change analysis

Robin Webster, carbonbrief.org


The carbon brief www carbonbrief org
The Carbon Brief (www.carbonbrief.org)

  • Focus on fact-checking media coverage of climate and energy debate in the UK

  • Came into existence as a result of misleading media coverage in the wake of ‘Climategate’.

  • Our experience reflects how climate data is used by the media, NGOs & politicians


Media coverage of climate science
Media coverage of climate science

  • Statistics on global temperature rise from: UK Met Office, NASA/ GISS, NCDC

  • Arctic sea ice decline: data from US National Snow and Ice Data Center

  • Temperature rise projections from International Energy Agency (IEA) in the World Energy Outlook

  • Interim papers and Assessment Reports from IPCC e.g. SREX

  • Peer-reviewed research papers released online


9th June 2011


9th October 2011

12th October 2011

13th July 2011

18th October 2011



At one point last week, Britain’s 3,500 turbines were contributing 12 megawatts (MW) to the 38,000MW of electricity we were using. (The Neta website, which carries official electricity statistics, registered this as “0.0 per cent”).”


Some recent questions
Some recent questions…

Prompted by recent events and current policies

  • Was Hurricane Sandy caused by, or related to climate change?

  • Does wind power produce emissions?

  • Will we get an ice-free Arctic? When?

  • How much will an expansion of wind power cost energy consumers?

  • Are gas prices going to go up or down in the future?


Energy data sources i have recently used
Energy data sources I have recently used…

  • Reports and underlying modelling from DECC

  • DECC Digest of Energy Statistics (DUKES)

  • Quarterly data reports and summaries from market regulator Ofgem

  • Neta website

  • Reports from the National Grid (ENSG)

  • DECC Renewable Energy Performance Statistics (RESTATS)


It s data war
It’s data war!

£200

Because journalists need numbers – any numbers…

19th Sept

£300

£85

18th Sept

18th Sept


Lessons learned from our experiences
Lessons learned from our experiences

  • Public debate focused on what we are experiencing now or in the forseeable future

  • A great deal of attention paid to data and projections – particularly numbers that can be turned into headlines

  • Journalists dig into documents and statistics to get headlines.

  • There is a call for more transparency – the rise of citizen journalism. Where does a particular number come from? What assumptions lie behind it? Is the working freely available on the internet?


Lessons learned from our experiences1
Lessons learned from our experiences

  • There is a lot of jargon, very little public-facing material, basic results don’t get written down

  • Numbers will continue to be uncertain - energy statistics are political by their very nature. Explaining assumptions helps.

  • There is a real desire from some quarters to misrepresent the data

  • Difficult to mitigate against this entirely but transparency and clarity go a long way. Someone on hand to talk tomakes a big difference.

  • Future areas: more focus on adaptation, geoengineering technologies?



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