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…