Is the My2050 team a bit touchy?

A very curious development following yesterday’s blog post about the My2050 Pathways tool launched by the Department for Energy and Climate Change.

Having posted the piece I submitted two Freedom of Information requests to find out more about the costs to the taxpayer of this website and tool, using my pseudonym.  The FOI system I use allows people to send messages that arrive in the email inbox for my account and by midnight I had received two emails from people involved in My2050.

The first one reads:

I was looking for the URL to “My 2050” when I found your interesting request for information – apologies for “virtually butting in”.  I was part of the expert group hosted by IMechE to help DECC produce this tool – and it may or may not help you to know that as well as DECC direct costs, there are a lot of people who have given their time free to make sure the tool is good.  I doubt anyone has recorded the value of that contribution. You can estimate part of it – one all-day workshop with ~20 senior industry & academia people.  Anyway, I hope that’s useful.

The second one reads:

I was creative director of the DECC My2050 person. As a curious person I was curious to know why you were curious about the budget (having seen your freedom of information request while checking out how the project was doing online today). Can I put in a freedom of information request for the reasons for your freedom of information request? ;) I am not being narky at all, just genuinely curious (and I’ve no idea if I am supposed to tell you the answers to how much our bit cost – I’ll leave that to DECC as it was their money).

The two emails struck me as a touch defensive. I replied to the first email thanking the writer for the background and adding the following explanation:

I have no doubt there are some very decent and committed people who have been engaged on the project, but for me there are a number of questions about the default position vis a vis CO2 and the cost to the public of pushing this position despite an increasing body of evidence that the science is far from settled.

The first writer replied thus:  ‘Sorry, I didn’t realise. That explains your question.’ and politely wished me luck.  But I’m curious as to how they just stumbled across the FOI request as a simple Google search doesn’t take a reader to it, at least in the first few pages of results I could be bothered to look at.

As for the second email, I’ve not yet replied and I’m wondering quite how to respond to the question. Feel free to offer any suggestions in the comments…

 DECC My2050 person. As a curious
     person I was curious to know why you were curious about the budget
     (having seen your freedom of information request while checking out
     how the project was doing online today). Can I put in a freedom of
     information request for the reasons for your freedom of information
     request? ;) I am not being narky at all, just genuinely curious
     (and I've no idea if I am supposed to tell you the answers to how
     much our bit cost - I'll leave that to DECC as it was their money).

13 Responses to “Is the My2050 team a bit touchy?”


  1. 2 John B 04/03/2011 at 12:04 pm

    Suggestion for response to No 2

    “I am a taxpayer and therefore it is reasonable for me, and I have a Right to enquire and know how my taxes are being spent.”

    Next suggestion; Put ‘Leave a comment’ at the end of your articles not at the top. I am easily confused, but receiving treatment.

  2. 3 Autonomous Mind 04/03/2011 at 12:12 pm

    I considered that, Bill. But as the email says he was looking for the URL which doesn’t suggest an alert.

  3. 4 Jonathan Stuart-Brown 04/03/2011 at 2:14 pm

    Any Government funded body has to give information about how they spend this money to a member of the public (whose money it is). There are exceptional occasions when they can validly withhold the information. They have to state their reasons to with hold. The basic principle is that they must make the information public either by their own initiative or upon request.
    A private body (which receives no government funding) has no duty to inform members of the public any information over and above the specific details they must disclose under various laws. For example a plc must state it is a plc, actively disclose its shareholders who hold 3% or more of the shares, disclose directors identity and addresses etc
    It has no duty to answer questions from the public under The Freedom of Information Act, nor from the media. However, private bodies frequently choose to do so – as they like to inform customers, potential customers, etc
    I have put the Freedom of Information request as I want to know, have a right to know, and wish to inform others who may not have the time or the nous to put in an FOI request.
    I hope this satisfies your curiosity.

  4. 5 JohnM de Melle 04/03/2011 at 3:47 pm

    He says that he was a/the(?) “creative director”.

    I suggest that you reply that, perhaps, he can create an answer which will satisfy himself.

  5. 6 Stuck-Record 04/03/2011 at 3:55 pm

    Q. “Can I put in a freedom of information request for the reasons for your freedom of information request?”

    A. Yes. When I start demanding money from you on pain of imprisonment.

  6. 7 Cassandra King 04/03/2011 at 5:45 pm

    I suppose the government has learned a thing or two from the EU on how to channel funding to lobbyists who then use the funding to allow the government to effectively lobby itself using astroturf fake grass root organisations.

    Take a campaign like this for example, it effectively lobbys the regime to enact changes demanded by the very pressure group the regime funds, certain people make money and the regime can be shown to listen to the concerns of the ‘people’ when in effect it is using nothing more than a cynical fraud.

    All very clever indeed eh?

  7. 8 Katabasis 04/03/2011 at 6:10 pm

    Maybe I have completely missed the point here – but those two responses, or ‘pre-responses’ set off some alarms for me. Not only do they come across as wholly inappropriate communications regarding a FOIA request, but their defensiveness I find downright disturbing.

  8. 9 Cassandra King 04/03/2011 at 6:33 pm

    If I may add a couple of extra thoughts.

    The regime is desperately trying to pimp a series of highly destructive policies, fiscally irresponsible and economically suicidal and deeply unpopular policies and I would be very surprised if they didnt lavish funds on this kind of propaganda indoctrination. What the regime needs is some kind of/any kind of legitimacy to cover its actions, it is trying to buy that legitimacy with our money. The UK needs cheap plentiful reliable power, the regime by its actions intends to supply expensive unreliable rationed power. As you can imagine the regimes plans are very unpopular to put it mildly, what they need is to provide the excuses for their actions plans.

    We now have enough evidence to know with reasonable accuracy that CO2 is a completely harmless trace gas that has a negligible impact on the global temperature cycle even at double or more the current levels, this leads us to the conclusion that CO2 is simply a tool used and exploited to serve a political purpose. You can almost smell the desperation emanating from the regime, it lacks legitimacy and it lacks mass support and it lacks genuine real scientific grounds for its actions but what it has is lots and lots and lots of money, more money than you can shake a stick at! The regime is trying to buy that which it lacks rather like a rich powerful despot of old trying to buy immortality, the regime will realise that money can buy many things and they will find out soon enough that all the money in the world cannot buy the things they are seeking to purchase.

  9. 10 Keith McGuinness 04/03/2011 at 8:38 pm

    “I am not being narky at all, just genuinely curious (and I’ve no idea if I am supposed to tell you the answers to how much our bit cost – I’ll leave that to DECC as it was their money).”

    Actually, it is NOT the DECC’s money; it is UK taxpayer’s money and hat’s all the justification you need for an FOI: “I want to know how much of my money is being spent on this?” (I am not a UK resident.)

  10. 11 Martin Brumby 04/03/2011 at 8:40 pm

    It would be more than reasonable to ask No.1 why, if he is part of “an expert group hosted by the IMechE”, he is either unaware of the derisory and inconsistent results from the present 3000+ wind turbines or, alternatively, why he is dishonestly and cynically promoting policies which can only hugely increase fuel poverty?

    You might point out to No.2 that DECC’s own calculation suggests the need to spend £18 Billion per year, each and every year until 2050, in order to pay for the requirements of the Climate Change Act 2008.

    And suggest that, at a time when the nations finances are in desperate straights, it is surely not unreasonable to enquire how much we are having to contribute from our taxes for his black propaganda?

    As self-styled “creative director”, one might further enquire why there is no facility in his cyber-toy to query the premises upon which his “creation” is founded? Nor any facility to inform ‘players’ what are the tax and energy costs to the Citizens of this country of the options offered? Nor, indeed, an estimate (based, if he likes, on the IPCC’s laughably inflated ‘projections’)of the degrees warming and metres sea level rise which will be avoided by the adopting the policies available in his toy?

  11. 12 Techno Mystic 06/03/2011 at 8:10 am

    Next time, set up a special e-mail address for the request which you keep secret. Then when you get emails about it you can see which address they used. That will tell you whether it was from a web search or from the request.

  12. 13 Matt Golding 08/03/2011 at 12:41 am

    Hey guys, It was me who posted the question. I found the link to the freedom of information request simply by searching google for the name of the project. I was just looking for info on how the project was being received. I wasn’t being defensive at all (although I was being slightly flippant about the freedom of information request for your freedom of information request. I literally didn’t know anything about your blog / cause at that time, I could only see the request, and was curious to find out more). It was meant in slight jest and is not an official communication – I just found you through google and wanted to understand more.

    Hope that explains things a little.

    Matt


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