Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Science tsar John Beddington calls for honesty on climate change

Ben Webster, Environment Editor

The impact of global warming has been exaggerated by some scientists and there is an urgent need for more honest disclosure of the uncertainty of predictions about the rate of climate change, according to the Government’s chief scientific adviser.
John Beddington was speaking to The Times in the wake of an admission by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that it grossly overstated the rate at which Himalayan glaciers were receding.
Professor Beddington said that climate scientists should be less hostile to sceptics who questioned man-made global warming. He condemned scientists who refused to publish the data underpinning their reports.
He said that public confidence in climate science would be improved if there were more openness about its uncertainties, even if that meant admitting that sceptics had been right on some hotly-disputed issues.

He said: “I don’t think it’s healthy to dismiss proper scepticism. Science grows and improves in the light of criticism. There is a fundamental uncertainty about climate change prediction that can’t be changed.”
He said that the false claim in the IPCC’s 2007 report that the glaciers would disappear by 2035 had exposed a wider problem with the way that some evidence was presented.
“Certain unqualified statements have been unfortunate. We have a problem in communicating uncertainty. There’s definitely an issue there. If there wasn’t, there wouldn’t be the level of scepticism. All of these predictions have to be caveated by saying, ‘There’s a level of uncertainty about that’.”
Professor Beddington said that particular caution was needed when communicating predictions about climate change made with the help of computer models.
“It’s unchallengeable that CO2 traps heat and warms the Earth and that burning fossil fuels shoves billions of tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere. But where you can get challenges is on the speed of change.
“When you get into large-scale climate modelling there are quite substantial uncertainties. On the rate of change and the local effects, there are uncertainties both in terms of empirical evidence and the climate models themselves.”
He said that it was wrong for scientists to refuse to disclose their data to their critics: “I think, wherever possible, we should try to ensure there is openness and that source material is available for the whole scientific community.”
He added: “There is a danger that people can manipulate the data, but the benefits from being open far outweigh that danger.”
Phil Jones, the director of the University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit and a contributor to the IPCC’s reports, has been forced to stand down while an investigation takes place into leaked e-mails allegedly showing that he attempted to conceal data.
In response to one request for data Professor Jones wrote: “We have 25 or so years invested in the work. Why should I make the data available to you when your aim is to try and find something wrong with it?”
Professor Beddington said that uncertainty about some aspects of climate science should not be used as an excuse for inaction: “Some people ask why we should act when scientists say they are only 90 per cent certain about the problem. But would you get on a plane that had a 10 per cent chance of crashing?”
Mike Hulme, Professor of Climate Change at the University of East Anglia, said: “Climate scientists get kudos from working on an issue in the public eye but with that kudos comes responsibility. Being open with data is part of that responsibility.”
He criticised Rajendra Pachauri, the IPCC chairman, for his dismissive response last November to research suggesting that the UN body had overstated the threat to the glaciers. Mr Pachauri described it as “voodoo science”.
Professor Hulme said: “Pachauri’s choice of words has not been good. The question of whether he is the right person to lead the IPCC is for the 193 countries who make up its governing body. It’s a political decision.”
Blowing hot and cold
The IPCC says its statement on melting glaciers was based on a report it misquoted by WWF, a lobby group, which took its information from a report in New Scientist based on an interview with a glaciologist who claims he was misquoted. Most glaciologists say that the Himalayan glaciers are so thick that they would take hundreds of years to melt
Sea levels
The Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research says sea levels could rise by 6ft by 2100, a prediction based on the 7in rise in sea levels from 1881-2001, which it attributed to a 0.7C rise in temperatures. It assumed a rise of 6.4C by 2100 would melt the Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets.
UK Climate Projections, published last year by the Government, predicted a rise of one to two feet by 2095
Arctic sea ice
Cambridge University’s Polar Ocean Physics Group has claimed that sea ice will have disappeared from the North Pole in summer by 2020. However, in the past two summers the total area of sea ice in the Arctic has grown substantially
Global temperatures
The Met Office predicts that this year is “more likely than not” to be the world’s warmest year on record. It claims the El NiƱo effect will join forces with the warming effect of manmade greenhouse gases.
Some scientists say that there is a warming bias in Met Office long-range forecasts which has resulted in it regularly overstating the warming trend

UK's top scientist urges care in presenting results of climate change

• Be frank on degree of uncertainty, but as such it is no excuse for inaction• John Beddington responds to scepticism after melting glaciers mistake

Haroon Siddique, Wednesday 27 January 2010

A failure by some scientists to be candid on the uncertainty of predicting the rate of climate change is to blame for fuelling scepticism about such predictions, according the ­government's chief scientific adviser.
John Beddington's comments come in the wake of an admission by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that a claim in its 2007 report that Himalayan glaciers could melt away by 2035 was unfounded. The admission has been used as ammunition by climate change sceptics, who say the public is being misled.
Beddington said scientists should give a caveat to their predictions where there was uncertainty, and release source data "wherever possible" – but added that uncertainty was no excuse for inaction. "I don't think it's healthy to dismiss proper scepticism," he tells the Times newspaper today. "Science grows and improves in the light of criticism. There is a fundamental uncertainty about climate change prediction that can't be changed."
He said the false claim in the IPCC's report was symptomatic of a wider problem with the way evidence was presented in the field of climate science. "Certain unqualified statements have been unfortunate," he said. "We have a problem in communicating uncertainty. There's definitely an issue there. If there wasn't, there wouldn't be the level of scepticism. All of these predictions have to be caveated by saying, 'There's a level of uncertainty about that'."
He explained that large-scale climate modelling using computers meant "quite substantial uncertainties" which needed to be communicated. While it was unchallengeable that burning fossil fuels released CO2 that warms the Earth, "where you can get challenges is on the speed of change".
He acknowledged that where source data was released there was a danger it could be manipulated, "but the benefits from being open far outweigh that danger".
The head of the University of East Anglia's climatic research unit, Professor Phil Jones, stepped down last year while an investigation was conducted into emails leaked from the unit and seized upon by climate change deniers as alleged evidence that scientists had been hiding and manipulating data to support the view that the world is warming up. Shortly after the row, the Met Office released data which showed a rise in the global temperature.
Beddington said the fact that scientists were not 100% certain about every aspect of climate science did not make ignoring the phenomenon a risk worth running.
The IPCC and its head, Rajendra Pachauri, have also come under fire for another claim in its 2007 report – that the cost of natural disasters had risen gradually since 1970 due to climate change. But the IPCC released a statement yesterday saying that the Sunday Times report which carried the allegation was incorrect, insisting that the IPCC had provided a "balanced treatment of a complicated and important issue". While the IPCC admitted that it was wrong about the Himalayan glaciers, scientists maintain that glaciers are melting at historically high rates.

IPCC denies newspaper claim that it overstated costs of natural disasters

UN body rebutts Sunday Times allegation that it exaggerated link between costs of natural disasters and climate change
James Randerson, Tuesday 26 January 2010 16.48 GMT
The UN body that summarises climate science for governments has condemned as "misleading and baseless" claims that it overstated the effect of global warming on natural disasters.
A newspaper report alleged a section in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's 2007 report incorrectly stated that the cost of natural disasters had risen gradually since 1970 due to climate change. Yesterday, the IPCC issued a statement saying the Sunday Times report was wrong on "two key points".
The IPCC, and its head Rajendra Pachauri, are currently under fire following the inclusion in the same report erroneous of a claim that Himalayan glaciers could melt completely by 2035. The statement was not based on peer reviewed data and the true figure for Himalayan glacier melt is thought to be closer to 300 years. The IPCC has admitted the claim was incorrect, but all senior scientists emphasise that glaciers are melting at historically high rates and that the role of human activity in causing global warming remains very likely. Pachauri said yesterday: "I am not going to stand down, I am going to stand up."
Bob Ward, policy director of the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change at the London School of Economics, said the row over natural disasters is neither a blunder or a new criticism of the report. He said the row is the result of criticisms that date back to 2006 that are being raked over because the IPCC's procedures for reviewing scientific work is currently under the spotlight.
The controversy centres on why the cost of repairs after hurricanes, floods and other natural disasters, has risen from $75.5bn in the 1960s to $659.9bn in the 1990s. Much of the increase is because economic growth has given people more to lose, but some could be due to more destructive natural disasters as the Earth warms. The infrequency of natural disasters coupled with the short period of data also means that a small number of events in a rich region of the world could have a large impact on the figures.
The IPCC's report said that one study by Dr Robert Muir-Wood had identified a "small statistically significant trend" of annual catastrophe losses increasing by 2% a year since 1970, after economic growth had been taken into account. This claim is under attack because the original finding was presented at a scientific workshop in 2006 and was not peer-reviewed. When it was peer reviewed and subsequently published the authors reached the same conclusion but noted the statistical trend disappears when the particularly heavy 2004/05 hurricane season was omitted from the data.
In its rebuttal, the IPCC says its report made clear other studies disagreed with the Muir-Wood finding and that it provided a "balanced treatment of a complicated and important issue." The statement continues, "It clearly makes the point that one study detected an increase in economic losses, corrected for values at risk, but that other studies have not detected such a trend...In writing, reviewing, and editing this section, IPCC procedures were carefully followed to produce the policy-relevant assessment that is the IPCC mandate." The IPCC report also refers to three other studies by Professor Roger Pielke Jr of the University of Colorado and colleagues. Ward said that Pielke has criticised both the IPCC report and the Stern review - the influential report on climate change by the economist Lord Stern - several times on his blog since 2006 for citing the Muir-Wood study.
But even if the 2% a year trend is not correct, Pielke's own data suggest there is cause for alarm, said Ward. "He is right that an increase in the number of valuable properties in high-risk areas is overwhelmingly the cause of increased financial losses from extreme weather events over the past few decades," he said. "That in itself is a worrying conclusion given that climate change is expected to lead to changes in the occurrence and severity of such events."

Nike cuts carbon footprint

Greenhouse gas emissions down as company says it will no longer offset carbon.
Tom Young for BusinessGreen, part of the Guardian Environment Network, Tuesday 26 January 2010 10.51 GMT
Footwear manufacturer Nike reduced the emissions of its supply chain by four per cent in 2009 compared to 2008 levels, according to the firm's corporate social responsibility report (pdf) released yesterday.
Although the firm has been hit hard by the recession, revenue still grew by three per cent in 2009 and 14 per cent in 2008, indicating carbon cuts are not a result of decreased activity.
Nike said its total greenhouse gas footprint stood at 1.53 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent in 2009, which is down from 1.6 million in 2008 and 7.5 million in 1997-98.
But the firm has still not set itself any carbon reduction targets.
It has introduced a programme to monitor and improve the carbon footprint of factories, as well as provide better energy training for employees.
It has also reduced the carbon footprint of its IT through end user education and automated shutdown software.
And a focus on teleconferencing and videoconferencing has reduced the impact of business travel.
The firm also decided last year to stop purchasing carbon offsets, meaning all carbon reductions going forward will be made by Nike itself.
"Our preference is to achieve climate neutrality through a combination of energy efficiency and the purchase of more direct forms of renewable energy, through onsite applications and other means," says the report.
The firm also saw a 15 per cent drop in CO2 emissions from Nike-owned and operated facilities in 2009 compared to 2007, despite a 41 per cent growth in square footage in the facilities, and a six per cent decrease in the absolute CO2 footprint of the 19 factories operated by Nike's five largest contract manufacturers, despite a nine per cent increase in production.
Two thirds of Nike's suppliers are now compliant with its water programme, which aims to have water-intensive production take place where water is abundant and to return all water used to local communities in a clean and drinkable form.
The firm is also developing an energy- and water-efficient factory design for new production facilities.

Car makers 'failing consumers' on emission data

Consumers are finding it hard to buy fuel-efficient vehicles because car makers are burying CO2 figures for their models online, report claims

Adam Vaughan, Wednesday 27 January 2010 00.05 GMT
Car makers making the process of searching for a fuel-efficient car "like looking for a needle in a haystack" by burying CO2 figures for their models online, experts and campaigners claimed today.
A report from the government's Energy Saving Trust, Friends of the Earth Europe and We are Futureproof, said car companies are failing consumers with "confusing" websites.
The online survey involving members of the public found that only half (52% of attempts by consumers to find CO2 figures for specific UK cars were successful. Less than 5% of the 363 people who took part came across the widely recognised A-G energy efficiency label while attempting to look up emissions data.
Mini, Kia, Lexus and Honda were lauded for the ease of use and accessibility of finding CO2 data on their sites, while the worst - ranked by user experience criteria - were Alfa Romeo, Nissan, Smart, and Mercedes-Benz.
The consultancy Ecolane, which carried out the survey, rated the websites on five "design principles" including site navigation; providing CO2 data alongside core data such as performance; how clearly individual models and different "trims" are described; whether comparative emissions information was provided (such as the A-G label); and whether the sites relied on large downloads of PDF files. The report also evaluated how long it took survey respondents to find the data.
The average time taken to find CO2 figures for cars ranged from 74 seconds for Lexus to nearly eight minutes for Alfa Romeo, whose site came bottom of the overall usability table. Other sites coming in for criticism included the low ranking Smart site - "very slow and difficult to find correct model. CO2 not given high importance compared to other car features such as equipment and style" and the Seat site which received the ultimate condemnation "about as easy as dealing with the civil service". At the opposite end of the spectrum was Peugeot. One tester said: "Very easy to find the emissions data, all sites should be like this."
Car makers must display a car's fuel consumption and CO2 data in their showrooms but are not legally required to do so on their sites. Marian Spain, the director of strategy at the Energy Saving Trust, said: "Nowadays most people do initial online research when looking into buying a new car. Our research shows that in many cases, finding out the running costs of cars and their impact on the environment from the car manufacturer website is like looking for a needle in a haystack."
Blake Ludwig, managing director for the We Are Futureproof group, said: "More and more people want to choose greener, more efficient cars, but our study shows that some car makers expect them to spend time hunting around confusing websites for information. Other car markers have got it right, putting the data upfront and easy to find, and we think all companies should have to follow this model."
A spokesperson for the Society of Motor Industry Manufacturers and Traders said: "Vehicle manufacturers are highly aware of the important role driver information can play in reducing road transport emissions and the significant influence this data has on a person's purchasing decision."
A Department for Transport spokesperson said the government recognised that people wanted "clear information on the environmental credentials of new cars" and pointed to the requirements to show figures for new cars in showrooms and government's voluntary scheme for used cars. But they said the government was not looking to mandate car makers to improve CO2 data on their own websites.
Consumers can also find CO2 figures elsewhere online, such as on the government's Act On CO2 site and the VCA website.

Davos delegates with gas-guzzlers left in the cold

Davos delegates arriving in gas-guzzling 4X4s and limousines being turned away and forced to take a "green" bus.

By Jonathan RussellPublished: 8:24PM GMT 26 Jan 2010

A car windshied with a 'green inspection sticker' at the World Economic Forum in Davos. In an effort to adhere to a new climate change initiative, the WEF is attempting to block the gas guzzling cars and limo's that normally clog the roads around the Photo: AP
They'll be discussing climate change in the bars of Davos tonight. The event may only be into its first day but delegates at the World Economic Forum's annual jamboree are already feeling the chill wind of change.
Financiers and politicos turning up at the Swiss ski resort with gas guzzling 4x4s and limousines found their cars turned away and were forced to take the bus as part of the new "Greener Davos" initiative.

Although the temperature in the resort was due to drop to as low as minus 6C today, organisers of the event have denied access to parts of the conference venue to any cars emitting more than a specified level of CO2.
Instead of being chauffeured from hotel to the seminar delegates were being urged to catch a special shuttle bus circling the resort. Organisers promised a waiting time of no more than seven minutes.
Only cars emitting less than 230g/km of CO2, roughly equivalent to a Mitsubishi Shogun, have been given the "green" pass. The UK Government's emission criteria for company cars to attract a lower tax rate is 120g/km, soon to be reduced to 99g/km.
As The Daily Telegraph went to press the World Economic Forum's policy on helicopters arriving in Davos was unclear.

Nuclear watchdog reveals harmful safety incidents

Britain has had seven safety breaches of "actual consequence" at its nuclear power stations in the last decade – one of which was classed as serious.

By Rowena MasonPublished: 7:00AM GMT 26 Jan 2010
Operators of Britain's nuclear power stations reported 1,343 incidents to the Health and Safety Executive since 2001. The authority's inspectors classified 773 of them as posing no threat, while 563 were safety anomalies.
But seven incidents, five of which were related to power plants operated by British Energy, have been listed as harmful.

The most recent occurred last year at Dungeness B, after British Energy had been taken over by French nuclear giant EDF, when there was found to be "non-compliance or inadequacy" in its safety arrangements.
The most serious incident was a leak at Sellafield power station in 2005 which went undetected for months. No one was injured when around 80,000 tonnes of acid containing 20 tonnes of uranium and 160kg of plutonium leaked from a broken pipe into a sealed concrete holding.
The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, which is responsible for the UK nuclear industry, fined Sellafield's operator, British Nuclear Group £2m. The company was also criticised for not realising there had been a safety breach any sooner.
Mike Weightman, the Health and Safety Executive's director of nuclear safety, said: "The UK's nuclear safety regulatory regime is acknowledged to be one of the most stringent in the world, and the nuclear industry has a strong safety record."
Of of the 10 nuclear power stations in the UK, seven will have come to the end of their working lives by 2018.
Britain wants to build 10 new stations, but the first is not likely to be ready before 2017.
The National Audit Office last week cast doubt on the Government's plans for new nuclear power stations without public subsidies.

WWF nets Marks & Spencer commitment to sustainable fishing

The retailer is the first high street name to sign the Seafood Charter, which aims to protect Europe's waters from overfishing

Rebecca Smithers, consumer affairs correspondent, Tuesday 26 January 2010 13.41 GMT
Marks & Spencer has become the first major high street name to sign a new charter that aims to protect Europe's waters from overfishing. The retailer, which is already undertaking a £200m green plan, hopes that joining conservation organisation WWF's Seafood Charter (pdf) will underline its commitment to sustainable sourcing of its entire range of fish and shellfish.
By backing the new charter, the company has entered a joint commitment with WWF to work towards sustainable fisheries management and sustainable farmed fish production. Over the next few years WWF will help M&S evaluate the sustainability of its wild and farmed fish products and give the retailer guidance on identifying and developing more sustainable sources. The two organisations plan to tackle issues such as overfishing, bycatch and discards, and will work with fisheries to find solutions to improve their fishing practices.
WWF said the problems surrounding the management of Europe's depleted fish stocks have been well documented, but that there was scope for building on the positive steps being taken around Europe to tackle the problem of dwindling fish stocks. In Scotland, for example, the pioneering Conservation Credit Scheme where fishermen are rewarded for sustainable fishing is yielding signs of improvement in some fish stocks and some fisheries are now in the Marine Stewardship Council-certification process. WWF said this model could be replicated by more fisheries across Europe.
A recent report from the Marine Conservation Society (MCS) said supermarkets should be doing more to help the environment and boost Britain's dwindling fish stocks by offering consumers a wider variety of fish and seafood. It praised Marks & Spencer – along with Morrisons, Sainsbury's and Waitrose – for all having clear policies on sustainability, although the Co-operative chain led the way for its overall approach.
WWF said it is in discussions with other retailers and players in the seafood industry with the aim of encouraging more support for its charter, but praised M&S for its leadership in committing to sustainability on the full range of its products.
Sally Bailey, head of fisheries and seafood policy at WWF-UK said: "We are delighted to be working with one of the UK's best known retailers to protect our fish stocks and safeguard the health of our oceans. The Seafood Charter may be directly targeted at retailers and processors, but it has implications for the thousands of fishermen in the UK and other parts of the world that depend on a healthy supply of fish to support their income, and ultimately the millions of people who buy, cook, and eat fish. Fish and shellfish are a renewable resource, if managed properly, and it's vital we take action now to prevent any further decline in their stock levels."
Paul Willgoss, head of technology at M&S, said: "We've had a sustainable fishing policy for over a decade, but now we're going even further by being the UK's first company to sign WWF's Seafood Charter. As part of Plan A, our £200m 'eco-plan', we are working with WWF to ensure that by 2012, all of our wild fish are Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certified or where MSC-certified sources are not available, our fish comes from fisheries that have sustainable practices in place that respect the natural environment."

We are not launching a badger extermination programme

We're trying to protect dairy farming from TB, and the cull will go ahead in a limited area only

Christianne Glossop
The Guardian, Wednesday 27 January 2010

George Monbiot writes that "2010 is the Inter­national Year of Biodiversity. The Welsh assembly is celebrating the occasion by launching a project to exterminate the badger". Had he met with us to discuss the bovine TB eradication programme in Wales, his article may have been more informed (When our economic interests are at stake, the war on nature resumes, 18 January).
In 2008, 12,000 cattle in Wales alone were slaughtered because of bovine TB, and £24m spent on resulting compensation. Sir David King, former scientific adviser to the UK government, said last week that if we do not take decisive action on badgers, the TB epidemic could end dairy farming in Britain. We are determined to eradicate TB in Wales, and it is highly misleading to suggest that this is a badger extermination programme. We recognise the importance of tackling all sources of infection.
Badger culling will go ahead in a limited pilot area where the disease is rife, as part of a comprehensive TB eradication strategy. Several scientific trials, including the randomised badger culling trials to which Monbiot refers, have shown that culling badgers can reduce TB in cattle. Over the past two years, scientists, vets and animal-health and wildlife experts have worked together to develop our comprehensive TB eradication programme, including testing and modelling various strategies. We are not replicating previous trials, but applying lessons learnt from them. Furthermore, the decision to proceed with the programme in the pilot area was informed also by an independent ecological review.
Monbiot says: "The purpose of the experiment is to discover whether the number of cows with the disease is reduced when the badger is exterminated." But this isn't an "experiment"; it is a concerted effort to deal with all sources of infection. We know that culling badgers and heightened cattle measures can reduce TB in cattle – and we will apply both. This is a new approach in Britain, but comparable to the one which is delivering results in New Zealand, where both cattle and possums are infected.
"Governments should do more to control the way that cattle are kept, tested and moved," he says. But strict cattle controls, improvements to bio­security, and linking compensation to good practice on farms, are as much a part of our approach as the badger cull which grabs the headlines. We will use the programme to increase our knowledge of the disease, including evaluating both cattle and badger strategies alongside each other (answering Monbiot's point that "there is no means of telling which of the two measures is working").
We are also looking at how we could best use badger vaccination in Wales – when it is available and is a tested option – and have secured the legal powers to do so. But a badger vaccine is not helpful in an area where TB is already a serious problem, as it does not deal with badgers already infected. An option under consideration outside the pilot area is vaccination of badgers in areas of low infection to keep them disease-free. Finally, our offer to meet George still stands. It is important that we all understand the facts.

Lord Drayson launches environmental venture capital fund

Science minister Lord Drayson says that Government must continue to support companies as he launches £125m venture capital fund

By Richard TylerPublished: 6:36PM GMT 26 Jan 2010
LORD Drayson, the science minister and former technology entrepreneur, has said that the economy remains "very fragile" and requires further Government support.
His comments came as he launched a £125m venture capital fund with Hermes Private Equity that will invest in young, fast growth environmental companies.

Lord Drayson said that technology companies expanded more quickly than others as economies recovered from recession and it was critical to ensure that they were not starved of capital.
"As a former science entrepreneur I absolutely know now is the time to invest in UK technology businesses. They are key to future growth and prosperity," he said.
"The really important thing I believe is that action the Government has taken over the last 18 months has ensured that we have come out of this recession with the majority of our growth potential intact."
But he added that while private funding into clean technology companies between 2003 and 2007 had doubled, it had declined significantly in the last two years, creating an "equity gap".
"It was a lack of access to capital that was really hindering their development," he said. "The recovery is very fragile. It underlines the importance of such initiatives as this. It depends on us, the Government, to take action to ensure the recovery is sustained and the UK moves to a more balanced and diversified economy."
Hermes Private Equity will invest the £125m fund over the next three years. It is made up of £50m of public money and £75m from the BT pension fund, which owns Hermes.
Sue Flynn, chief executive of Hermes private equity, said that "a minimum of 50pc" of the fund would be invested in the UK and "a minimum of 50pc will be in the environmental sector", which includes nuclear technology.
The fund could not guarantee that all the public money would back UK companies, she said, because the fund managers that would receive the investment operated pan-European funds.
She added that up to 30pc of the fund – £37m at the first close – would be invested directly. While her team had not made direct investments in companies before, Ms Flynn said "it was a natural extension" of Hermes' services. "We have built up a team to do that" she said.
Hermes will invest in around 10 fund managers out of the 50 that Hermes had identified as active in the clean technology or generalist investment space and that met the investment criteria of the fund.
Ms Flynn said Hermes had agreed "a very competitive fee" with the Government that would see management fees paid to cover its costs and a bonus based on the performance of the fund. "If our investors do well we do well," she said.
Lord Drayson said that contracts signed with Hermes protected the 10 year fund – one of two within the Government's £325m UK Innovation Investment Fund initiative, from the influence of a change of government.
"When ever we have an election coming people ask that question and that's why it's important to have the fund set up with a legally binding contract. This is now launched," he said.
He added that unlike previously Government-backed venture funds, Hermes has been told to invest in environmental companies that will maximise the returns for investors, rather than meet other objectives like job creation.
"It is to provide a return in the top quartile for its investors," Lord Drayson said. "Learning from some of the multiple objectives set on previous funds and [talking to institutional investors] the feedback was don't muddy this. We think this is a fantastic investment opportunity. It's that lack of political agenda that shows the understanding that we have."
He added that the fund had been structured so that large companies could invest alongside Hermes in promising new technology. "When I was doing my world tour talking to the CEOs of large corporations in Japan and the US they wanted a structure that allowed them to invest alongside the funds," he said.