Irish Climate Science Forum

The Irish Climate Science Forum (ICSF)

Background

The Irish Climate Science Forum (ICSF) was founded in 2016 and initially launched at an event on May 4, 2017 in Dublin. [1]

According to its website, ICSF is “committed to identifying and disseminating the latest climate science” and its stated goal is “to better inform national energy and climate-related policymaking in the best long-term national interest.” [2]

Guest speakers headlining the ICSF’s first two meetings were both well-known climate science deniers: Richard Lindzen and William Happer[1]

The ICSF described itself as “a voluntary group of Irish scientists, engineers and other professionals, currently in a formative stage.” The ICSF said it plans to carry out “neutral, independent analysis of the latest climate research with the purpose of better informing climate and energy policies in Ireland.” [1]

The ICSF has ties to the UK's main climate science denying group, the Global Warming Policy Foundation. The GWPF has been invited to speak at ICSF events and published work by ICSF co-founder, Ray Bates. [10]

Stance on Climate Change

According to the group's website, in a statement by ICSF chair Jim O'Brien: [2]

ICSF members are convinced that climate science is not yet settled and continues to evolve almost on a daily basis.

“Most agree that recent research and observations indicate significantly lower climate sensitivity, that is, significantly less global temperature rise due to increasing GHG (Green-House Gas) levels than was predicted by IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) in its Assessment Reports.

Many also agree that there are solar-related and other natural influences on earth’s climate, and suggest that the relative magnitudes of these influences may be comparable to or possibly even greater than those of GHG.”

Funding

The ICSF claims to be only funded by “modest personal donations from its members and has no vested interests other than seeking the most sustainable future for Ireland and its citizens.”  [1]

At the “strictly private” launch meeting in May 2017, event organizer, Jim O’Brien, an energy consultant, said: “People think our organisation is funded by fossil fuel interests, but we have no donations from fossil fuel sources, only from private sources.” According to O’Brien, the group's inaugural guest speaker Richard Lindzen didn’t charge to give the talk and ICSF only paid for his expenses (however it wasn’t clarified who the “they” were). O’Brien reiterated that ICSF is all self-funded, stating its total funds are “only around €5,000.” [1]

On its website, the group claims it is “modestly self-funded through member contributions only.” [2]

Key People

Jim O’Brien — Chair and Co-Founder

Jim O'Brien was one of the founders of ICSF. O'Brien works as a CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) and Energy Consultant “ promoting industry sustainability through strategic, advisory and leadership support roles.” He formerly worked as President of CEPMC (the Council of European Producers of Materials for Construction) from 2003 to 2007. His background is in electrical engineering. [3], [4]

According to his LinkedIn profile, O'Brien is also the former President of UEPG (European Association of Aggregates Producers), a group that “actively lobbies the European institutions and other stakeholders on issues key to the industry.” [5]

Ray Bates — Co-Founder

Retired University College Dublin meteorologist Dr. Ray Bates is understood to be a key mover behind the development of the ICSF. In recent years he has become an active lobbyist for climate inaction in defense of Ireland’s greenhouse gas–intensive beef and dairy sectors. [1]

Featured Speakers

As part of its “Lecture Series,” ICSF has featured a wide range of prominent climate change deniers. According to its website, speakers have included: [6]

Actions

March 13, 2019

The ICSF held a “mini-seminar” entitled “Climate action to 2030 – what is really feasible?” Guest speakers included Trevor Donnellan, head of economics and farm surveys at Teagasc, an Irish government agency responsible for agricultural research. Also speaking were David Timoney, a mechanical engineer from University College, Dublin and Kevin O’Rourke, described as ‘an independent specialist in sustainable energy policies’. [11]

The leader of the Irish Green party, Eamon Ryan, criticised Teagasc’s decision to allow Donnellan to speak at the event, questioning why a Teagasc representative was involved with a group whose events have been “clearly designed to call into question climate science,” GreenNews.ie reported. [12]

January, 2019

The ICSF held a “mini-seminar” entitled “Climate Action – Too Taxing?” with speakers including Harry Wilkinson, a researcher at the GWPF. DeSmog learned that the invitations to the ICSF seminar were sent to all members of the Irish Parliament's Joint Oireachtas Committee on Climate Action. Ireland’s Regulation of Lobbying Act requires individuals and groups engaged in lobbying to register and verify their details on the Lobbying.ie website and make written returns every four months. The ICSF had not lodged any account of its ongoing lobbying activities at time of publication. [10]

December 20, 2018

The GWPF published a paper by ICSF co-founder Ray Bates criticising the UN IPCC's “SR1.5” report on the difference between 1.5 and 2°C of global warming. The paper claimed the IPCC's report was “deficient in scientific rigour” in a number of respects. [13]

A foreword to the paper was written by Dr Edward Walsh, founding president of the University of Limerick and former chairman of Ireland’s National Council for Science, Technology and Innovation, warning that: “Policymakers should carefully reflect on the significant deficiencies identified in the report before considering implementing its recommendations.” [13]

June 2017

At the ICSF’s second meeting, the guest speaker was noted climate science denier William Happer, a retired Princeton professor who was reportedly on a shortlist for the role of Science Advisor to the climate-denying Trump administration in the US. Happer is a director of the US-based CO2 Coalition, whose tagline is “Carbon dioxide, a nutrient vital for life.” [7], [8]

Happer delivered his behind-closed-doors presentation in an upmarket Dublin hotel to a hand-picked audience, numbering around 40 to 50, which included several senior staff from Met Éireann, Ireland’s national meteorological service. His presentation was titled: “Irish Agriculture – A New Look at the Influences of Methane, Nitrous Oxide and Carbon Dioxide.” [7]

May 2017

The inaugural guest speaker for ICSF’s launch meeting was noted US climate science denier and retired MIT professor Richard Lindzen. The lecture was entitled “The Science and Politics of Climate Change.” Lindzen is also an academic adviser to the UK climate denial group the Global Warming Policy Foundation and works at the U.S. conservative think tank the Cato Institute, which has been funded by the billionaire petrochemical brothers Charles and David Koch. [1]

Lindzen opened his talk by condemning the “narrative of hysteria” that he claims surrounds the science of climate change. Carbon dioxide, he told the audience, is a plant fertilizer, and the Earth was lush 600 million years ago when atmospheric CO2 levels were far higher than today. He described any climate change that has occurred to date as “miniscule,” calling it all for the good, later adding “warming would actually benefit the Earth.” [1]

Related Organizations

The ICSF lists a number of climate change denial organizations and individuals on its “Useful Links” page. Some groups listed include: [9]

Contact & Address

The ICSF does not list a physical contact address on its website.

Social Media

The ICSF does not appear active on social media.

Resources

  1. John Gibbons. “New Climate Science Denial Group Launches in Ireland,” DeSmog, May 5, 2017.

  2. Welcome to the Irish Climate Science Forum,” Irish Climate Science Forum. Archived January 25, 2019. Archive.fo URL: https://archive.fo/tNla1

  3. ICSF,Jim O'Brien CSR Consulting. Archived January 25, 2019. Archive.fo URL: https://archive.fo/0oN7M

  4. Jim O'Brien CSR Consulting,” Jim O'Brien CSR Consulting. Archived January 25, 2019. Archive.fo URL: https://archive.fo/MneDG

  5. Jim O'Brien,” LinkedIn. Accessed January 24, 2019. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog.

  6. Our Lecture Series,” Irish Climate Science Forum. Archived January 24, 2019. Archive.fo URL: https://archive.fo/XXd5Q

  7. John Gibbons. “New Irish Climate Science Denial Group Hosts CO2 Coalition Director William Happer,” DeSmog, June 13, 2017.

  8. Hannah Devlin. “Trump's likely science adviser calls climate scientists 'glassy-eyed cult',” The Guardian, February 15, 2017. Archived January 25, 2019. Archive.fo URL: https://archive.fo/dADmb

  9. Some Useful Links,” Irish Climate Science Forum. Archived January 25, 2019. Archive.fo URL: https://archive.fo/PwDA0

  10. John Gibbons. “'Incoherent, Inconsistent, and a Little Bit Funny' — Debunked Report Shows Strengthening Ties Between UK and Irish Climate Science Deniers,” DeSmog, January 13, 2019.

  11. John Gibbons. “Government Agency Accepts Invitation to Speak at Irish Climate Science Denier Event,” DeSmog, March 13, 2019.

  12. Niall Sargent. “Greens critical of Teagasc talk at ‘climate sceptic’ event,” Green News.ie, March 13, 2019. Archived April 24, 2019. Archive.fo URL: http://archive.fo/KGIWw

  13. New Paper Documents Main Reasons For International Controversy About The IPCC’s SR1.5 Report,” Global Warming Policy Foundation, December 20, 2018. Archived April 24, 2019. Archive.fo URLhttp://archive.fo/gbZWo

Photo: DeSmog UK