The British House of Commons on the East Anglia climate emails

Following up on claims of scientific impropriety at the University of East Anglia, the Science and Technology Committee of Britain’s House of Commons produced a report on the leaked emails. The report includes consideration of datasets, freedom of information issues, and independent inquiries. The report’s three conclusions clearly express how the content of these emails does not undermine climate science, or does it suggest that action should not be taken on climate change. I will quote them verbatim and in full, to avoid any appearance of selective editing:

  1. “The focus on Professor Jones and [Climate Research Unit] CRU has been largely misplaced. On the accusations relating to Professor Jones’s refusal to share raw data and computer codes, we consider that his actions were in line with common practice in the climate science community. We have suggested that the community consider becoming more transparent by publishing raw data and detailed methodologies. On accusations relating to Freedom of Information, we consider that much of the responsibility should lie with UEA, not CRU.
  2. In addition, insofar as we have been able to consider accusations of dishonesty—for example, Professor Jones’s alleged attempt to “hide the decline”—we consider that there is no case to answer. Within our limited inquiry and the evidence we took, the scientific reputation of Professor Jones and CRU remains intact. We have found no reason in this unfortunate episode to challenge the scientific consensus as expressed by Professor Beddington, that “global warming is happening [and] that it is induced by human activity”. It was not our purpose to examine, nor did we seek evidence on, the science produced by CRU. It will be for the Scientific Appraisal Panel to look in detail into all the evidence to determine whether or not the consensus view remains valid.
  3. A great responsibility rests on the shoulders of climate science: to provide the planet’s decision makers with the knowledge they need to secure our future. The challenge that this poses is extensive and some of these decisions risk our standard of living. When the prices to pay are so large, the knowledge on which these kinds of decisions are taken had better be right. The science must be irreproachable.”

As they say, their purpose was not primarily to study the science produced by the CRU. Other examinations of that are ongoing. Still, it seems clear from this that claims made by climate change delayers that these emails revealed a massive conspiracy seem to be clearly contradicted by these findings.

Evan Harris, one member of the committee, successfully moved an amendment to the report expressing that: “the scientific reputation of Professor Jones and CRU remains intact.”

There are many uncertainties that remain about the nature and future of the climate system, and it is essential to both scientific and political processes that the scientific investigation of those things continue to take place in a rigorous, robust, and transparent way. At the same time, we mustn’t allow climate deniers to use any little ambiguity or issue that arises to suggest that the whole edifice of climate science has been undermined. We are rather too far along in the research now for such claims to be credible.

Author: Milan

In the spring of 2005, I graduated from the University of British Columbia with a degree in International Relations and a general focus in the area of environmental politics. In the fall of 2005, I began reading for an M.Phil in IR at Wadham College, Oxford. Outside school, I am very interested in photography, writing, and the outdoors. I am writing this blog to keep in touch with friends and family around the world, provide a more personal view of graduate student life in Oxford, and pass on some lessons I've learned here.

2 thoughts on “The British House of Commons on the East Anglia climate emails”

  1. House of Commons Finds No Evidence of Tampering In Climate E-mails

    “The first of several British investigations into the e-mails leaked from one of the world’s leading climate research centers has largely vindicated the scientists involved. The House of Commons’ Science and Technology Committee said Wednesday that they’d seen no evidence to support charges that the University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit … had tampered with data or perverted the peer review process to exaggerate the threat of global warming.”

    According to the article, the head of committee which produced the report “said the lawmakers had been in a rush to publish something before Britain’s next national election, which is widely expected in just over a month’s time”; two further inquiries are to examine the issue more closely. The “e-mails appeared to show scientists berating skeptics in sometimes intensely personal attacks, discussing ways to shield their data from public records laws, and discussing ways to keep skeptics’ research out of peer-reviewed journals,” but the committee concluded that East Anglia researcher Phil Jones was not part of a conspiracy to hide evidence that weakens the case for global warming.

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