Ben Pile: Does The UK Need Another Climate ‘Unit’?

  • Date: 29/08/14
  • Ben Pile, Climate Resistance

Imagine that you are a journalist — it’s not hard to do — in need of some information about climate change. Where would you turn to first?

You might start with the UK’s allegedly independent Committee on Climate Change, they are charged by the Climate Change Act 2008 with establishing the UK’s ‘carbon budgets’. Or, of course, for more policy-related matters, you could ring the Department of Energy and Climate Change. Both these organisations have media officers.

But perhaps you want more of a science angle. In which case, you could have got in touch with the Met Office. The Met Office scientists do lots of research into climate change and its impacts — work that needs no introduction here — much of which comes out of its Hadley Centre.

Or you could get in touch with some of the other academic research departments that have been created over the years: The Climate Research Unit at UAE, or al at UEA, the Tyndall Centre for Climate Research, which has branches at Cardiff UniversityNewcastleCambridgeManchesterOxfordSussex, or Southampton Universities.

Or you could get in touch with The Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at the LSE, or it’s sister, The Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at Imperial College, just down the road.

There’s The Walker Institute for Climate Research at ReadingThe National Centre for Atmospheric Science, which is part of the National Environmental Research Council, which funds and directs an array of research programmes across many research organisations, throughout the UK and beyond.

Perhaps you’re more interested in responses to climate change. In which case, there are the government-backed non-profit companies Carbon TrustEnergy Saving Trust, and The Waste & Resources Action Plan (WRAP).

Or there are the departments, quangos, statutory bodies and non departmental public bodies, not already mentioned, like OFGEM, the Dept. for Environment, Food and Rural AffairsThe Environment Agency,The Forestry Commission, and many others.

And of course, let us not forget the charities and NGOS!… GreenpeaceFriends of the EarthThe WWF, TheRSPB, and those one-time development and relief charities, who prefer to concentrate on making the weather noce, rather than saving people’s lives, like OxfamTearfund, and Save the Children. An even fuller list can be found on Wikpedia.

In other words, if you wanted to find out about the climate, there are, literally, thousands of people, in hundreds of organisations, with budgets totalling many, many £billions, that you could call on — and that’s before we’ve even considered other individual experts and organisations in other countries. Each of them has a view on climate change and probably wants to share it with you. Every organisation listed above has at least one media officer, if not an entire media team.

(In other words, if you are a journalist, and you’re unsure about where to go for a comment about climate change, you are doing the wrong job, and the discussions about mediocrity in the previous two posts on this blog apply to you absolutely.)

So why, then, has this week seen the birth of a new climate change organisation, the ominously-titled, Energy & Climate Intelligence Unit?

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