Michael Kelly

Michael Joseph Kelly


  • Ph.D., solid state physics, Cambridge (1974). [1], [2]
  • M.Sc., Mathematics and Physics, University of Wellington, New Zealand. [1], [2]
  • M.A. [1], [2]
  • SC.D. [1], [2]
  • FR.Eng. [1], [2]
  • FRS. [1], [2]


Michael Kelly is the former Prince Philip Professor of Technology at Cambridge University and a trustee of the UK‘s principal climate science denial group, the Global Warming Policy Foundation, as of August 2019. [1], [2], [14]

According to his university profile, Kelly’s research includes “the many downsides of the current carbon dioxide emission mitigation strategies that are making things worse by ignoring the complete system within which such measures are taken. The big problem for 2050 is energising mega-cities and only nuclear power and fossil fuels (perhaps with carbon capture and sequestration) produce the supply numbers that come anywhere near satisfying the demand numbers.” [15]

From 2003 to 2005 Kelly was executive director of the Cambridge-MIT Institute. From 1981-1992 he worked at the General Electric Company’s Hirst Research Centre in the UK, subsequently moving to the University of Surrey. There, he served as professor of physics and electronics from 1992 to 2002 and the head of its School of Electronics and Physical Sciences from 1996 to 2001. [1]

He was previously a non-executive director of Laird Group plc, a now defunct electronics and technology business, and chief scientific adviser to the Department of Communities and Local Government from 2006 to 2009. [1], [3]

Kelly is a Fellow of the Royal Society of London, the Royal Academy of Engineering and the Royal Society of New Zealand. [1]

Stance on Climate Change

June 4, 2011

“It is perfectly possible to adopt a position, as I have, of ‘a principled climate science scepticism.’ It is based on the fact that every time an engineering-standard analysis is done of the climate data, one ends up contradicting the results of the climate change modellers. I am heavily involved in the debate in the UK.” [4]

Key Quotes

As a panel member for an inquiry into the “Climategate” controversy in 2009, Kelly said:

“Up to and throughout this exercise, I have remained puzzled how the real humility of the scientists in this area, as evident in their papers, including all these here, and the talks I have heard them give, is morphed into statements of confidence at the 95% level for public consumption through the IPCC process. This does not happen in other subjects of equal importance to humanity, e.g. energy futures or environmental degradation or resource depletion. I can only think it is the ‘authority’ appropriated by the IPCC itself that is the root cause.” [5], [6]

Key Deeds

December 2, 2020

Kelly appeared on an episode of the Leighton Smith Podcast at the NZ Herald to “discuss climate mitigation and why NZ is making a big mistake.” [19]

November 24, 2020

In an article for The Spectator, Kelly characterised Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s 10 point plan for a “Green Industrial Revolution” as “doomed from the outset,” and “reckless, unscientific and certain to fail.” Kelly disputed the cost implications of Johnson’s plan, writing: “Johnson’s green revolution would mean that we would need to completely upgrade electric wiring in our homes, streets, substations, and transmission lines. To meet demand would require enormously costly upgrades to local electricity grids, which we would all ultimately pay for through higher energy bills. If this really is part of the plan, then the government must be honest about who is to foot the bill.” [18]

December 28, 2019

Kelly appeared on an episode of BBC Radio 4’s Today programme guest-edited by fellow GWPF trustee Charles Moore. During an interview with presenter Nick Robinson he criticised the UK‘s “net zero” target and questioned the potential of renewables to replace fossil fuels. Kelly also claimed climate models had been exaggerating global warming. [17]

It’s no good looking at a model today and saying it’s done well for the last 30 years. If you look at a model made 30 years ago and look how well it’s done in the 30 years since, if you look at the data for the last 30 years, on average the models have been heating twice as fast as the data,” he said. [17]

Analysis by Carbon Brief has found models have “not been too far off from what actually occurred”.

November 11, 2019

Kelly gave the Global Warming Policy Foundation‘s annual lecture in London, entitled “Energy Utopias and Engineering Realities”, having been made a trustee of the climate science denial group in August. According to a press release about the event, Kelly argued the UK‘s commitment to reach “net zero” emissions by 2050 was “beset by superficial thinking that ignores engineering reality” and would be “unachievable without major social disruption”, calling the Committee on Climate Change’s cost estimates “pie in the sky”. [16]

January 27, 2012

Kelly was one of 16 scientists who appended their signatures to a Wall Street Journal Op-Ed opinion piece titled “No Need to Panic About Global Warming.” [7]

The article argues that elected officials should avoid implementing climate change policy because it would “divert resources from real needs and are based on alarming but untenable claims of ‘incontrovertible’ evidence.”

Media Matters reported on the 16 scientists who signed the Op-Ed, and found that most of them have not published any research in the area of climate science. Many, including Burt Rutan, have experience in fields entirely unrelated to climate science. Numerous other signatories also have connections to the oil and gas industry, or to industry think tanks.

When they contacted the Yale economist cited in the Op-Ed, he replied that it had been a “Complete Mischaracterization Of My Work.” [8]

Other “scientists” whose signatures appear include Claude Allègre, J. Scott Armstrong, Jan Breslow, Roger Cohen, William Happer, William Kininmonth, Richard Lindzen, James McGrath, Rodney Nichols, Burt Rutan, Harrison H. Schmitt, Nir Shaviv, Edward David, Henk Tennekes, and Antonino Zichichi..

June 4, 2011

Kelly sent a letter to the editor of the Taranaki Daily News to complain that their columnist Rachel Stewart was “doing journalism a disservice,” presumably for her belief in mainstream climate science. [9]

Kelly goes on to cite a common climate change skeptic argument, saying “She might like to look at the recent analysis by Pat Franks which tightens the conclusion that the anthropogenic contribution is at most 0.3°C per century. This concludes that it is rising temperatures that are increasing the atmospheric carbon dioxide, not the other way round.”

He also cites a chart made by climate skeptic Syun-Ichi Akasofu, which Kelly claims is proof of a “systematic divergence, now 16 years old, between the modelling results and the actual data on climate temperatures.”

March 2010

Kelly was part of an independent scientific assessment panel (his chaired by Lord Oxburgh) to investigate the Climatic Research Unit email controversy. [10]

The panel as a whole concluded that “We saw no evidence of any deliberate scientific malpractice in any of the work of the Climatic Research Unit…” [11]

Kelly himself concludes that there is “no evidence of blatant mal-practice,” but also mentions his distrust of climate models. In his comments, Kelly also points to a paper (PDF) by the skeptical Science and Public Policy Institute (SPPI), hosted on the ICECAP website, that suggests censorship by the Journal of Geophysical Research, which SPPI suggest may be “coerced into defending the climate alarmist faith.” [12]

Steve McIntyre picked up Kelly’s comments on the CRU and posted them at ClimateAudit, suggesting that they had been “suppressed by Oxburgh.”  [6]



Kelly has published numerous articles in peer-reviewed journals on physics and electronics. He does not appeared to have published any research articles on the subject of climate change.


  1. Professor Michael Kelly,” Centre for Science and Policy, University of Cambridge. Archived October 30, 2019.
  2. Board of Trustees,” Global Warming Policy Foundation. Archived October 30, 2019. Archive.fo URLhttp://archive.md/mPjWS
  3. “The disclosure of climate data from the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia” (PDF), House of Commons Science and Technology Committee, Printed March 24, 2010. Part of a series of attachments making up the “Oxburgh Inquiry.”
  4. Richard Treadgold. “Prof Kelly shows the middle way,” Climate Conversation, June 5, 2011. Archived April 30, 2019.
  5. “The disclosure of climate data from the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia” (PDF), House of Commons Science and Technology Committee, Printed March 24, 2010. Part of a series of attachments making up the “Oxburgh Inquiry.”
  6. Steve McIntyre. “Kelly’s Comments,” Climate Audit, June 22, 2010.
  7. No Need to Panic About Global Warming,” The Wall Street Journal, January 27, 2012.
  8. The Journal Hires Dentists To Do Heart Surgery,” Media Transparency, January 30, 2012.
  9. Richard Treadgold. “Prof Kelly shows the middle way,” Climate Conversation, June 5, 2011.
  10. CRU Scientific Assessment Panel announced,” University of East Anglia, March 22, 2010.
  11. “Report of the International Panel set up by the University of East Anglia to examine the research of the Climatic Research Unit” (PDF), Retrieved January 30, 2012, from The University of East Anglia.
  12. “Censorship at AGU: scientists denied the right of reply” (PDF), March, 2010 SPPI Paper – in press at http://scienceandpublicpolicy.org/.
  13. About Laird: The Board,” Laird. Accessed January, 2012.
  14. Richard Collett-White. “Cambridge Professor and Anti-BBC Campaigner Join Board of Climate Science Denial Campaign Group,” DeSmog, August 9, 2019.
  15. Professor Mike Kelly,” University of Cambridge. Archived October 30, 2019. Archive.fo URLhttp://archive.md/gQjtY
  16. Prof. Michael Kelly: Energy Policy Needs ‘Herds Of Unicorns’,” Global Warming Policy Forum, November 12, 2019. Archived November 13, 2019. Archive.fo URLhttp://archive.md/Xyaqk
  17. Richard Collett-White. “Climate Science Deniers Took Over BBC Radio 4 For a Morning During the Holidays,” DeSmog, January 6, 2020.
  18. Michael Kelly. “Britain’s green industrial revolution is doomed to fail,” The Spectator, November 23, 2020. Archived November 24, 2020. Archive.vn URL: https://archive.vn/gWT8o 
  19. Leighton Smith Podcast Episode 93,” NZHerald.co.nz, December 2, 2020. Archived .mp3 on file at Desmog.

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