Have scientists really admitted climate change sceptics are right?

Ian Johnston

For a section of the right-wing media, it was too good to miss, an opportunity to cast doubt on one of their favourite bugbears – climate change.

A scientific study had estimated that there would still be a reasonable chance of restricting global warming to 1.5C by the end of the century even if humans used the equivalent of current fossil fuel consumption for 20 years.

The lead scientist involved in the research, Dr Richard Millar of Oxford University, in an article on the Carbon Brief website said this “update” on earlier estimates suggested that “we have a little more breathing space than previously thought” to achieve the target to avoid dangerous global warming adopted by the Paris Agreement.

But some found a rather different message in the paper in the journal Nature Geoscience.

“Fear of global warming is exaggerated, say scientists,” screamed an article on Mail Online.

And the Conservative MP David Davies – not to be confused with Brexit Secretary David Davis – tweeted: “World's scientists now being forced to admit they were wrong and sceptics like the Global Warming Policy Foundation were right all along.”

He actually included a link to The Independent's story, although his remark was very much his own spin on the subject and not reflected in the article.

“Climate models are ‘wrong,’” proclaimed the Telegraph on its front page.

And The Times' front page had scientists “admitting” that the “world is warming slower than predicted”.

Curiously the Mail Online also published another article about the same research with a headline much more in keeping with the paper. “We CAN meet ambitious Paris climate change agreement goal to limit global temperatures rise to 1.5C by 2100 (but only if countries stop using coal),” it said.