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Carbon Brief’s Attempt To “FactCheck” The Telegraph Backfires Badly!

August 3, 2017

By Paul Homewood



Carbon Brief have been up to their tricks again:




Several newspapers, most prominently the Daily Telegraph, are pointing the finger at “green taxes” today, after British Gas blamed policy costs for its latest energy bill price rise.




The UK’s largest utility is raising its electricity prices by 12.5% and scrapping its dual-fuel discount, adding £76 to customers’ average bills.

The claims revive the long-running debate over energy bills and the impact of government policy.

This debate typically ignores the significant savings that have resulted from energy efficiency policies to lower demand, focusing only on the smaller costs of supporting the development of low-carbon electricity.

Carbon Brief explains what makes up an average energy bill and how policy is influencing the total.

Latest claims

British Gas is the last of the “Big Six” major utilities to raise its electricity prices this year, the other firms having already done so this spring. Before these increases, energy bills had largely slipped off the political agenda, as average bills were in decline and public concern over paying them fell to record lows.

Now, after each of the Big Six has raised prices, energy bills are firmly back on the political radar. Both the Conservatives and Labour promised to cap bills in their election manifestos, though Theresa May’s weakened post-election government appears to have backtracked on this.

In the wake of the British Gas announcement, a Daily Mail editorial today says: “British Gas claims [green levies] have added up to £98 to the average bill since 2014.”

Meanwhile, the Telegraph’s frontpage splash says: “Green taxes adds £150 to home energy bill”, above an article that goes on to say: “Green taxes will cost households almost £150 from next year, British Gas has claimed.”



The Daily Telegraph, 02/08/2017

The Daily Telegraph, 02/08/2017



In a video interview published with the online version of the Telegraph article, Centrica chief executive Ian Conn refers to a different figure on increases since 2014, saying:

“What is driving [the price rise] is the increase in transport and distribution costs, the costs of operating the grid and, secondly, the other area is environmental and policy costs, feed-in tariffs, the cost of building the data centre for the smart meter programme, the carbon pricing strategies. These are the things that increased by about, approaching £100, and so that is the driver for the increase in September of 12.5% on our electricity prices.”

These different numbers have caused confusion, not least within the Telegraph’s own article, which includes a chart showing “green levies” adding £73 to the average electricity bill in 2015/16.



The Daily Telegraph, 02/08/2017

The Daily Telegraph, 02/08/2017



Carbon Brief asked Centrica, British Gas’s parent company, to explain where these various figures come from. It had not responded by the time of publication. However, on a page announcing its interim 2017 financial results, Centrica has a graphic showing “environmental and social policies” adding £135 to average dual fuel bills in 2016.

This appears to be the key distinction missed in the Telegraph and Mail reporting, with British Gas referring to the cost of all policies, including carbon reduction and fuel poverty, whereas the newspapers conflate this total with “green taxes”.

A spokesperson for the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) says in an emailed press statement:

“We don’t recognise these figures put out by British Gas. A number of independent reports have shown energy policy costs make up a relatively small proportion of household energy bills.”


In fact, it is Carbon Brief who are deliberately misleading here. The facts actually could not be simpler.

As I pointed out yesterday, Environmental Levies are projected by the OBR to cost £10.7bn next year, which equates to £148 per household electricity bills, confirming the Telegraph story, which specifically states “next year”.




Carbon Brief attempts to confuse its readers by comparing these claims with Centrica’s Ian Conn, who talks about cost increases since 2014:

These are the things that increased by about, approaching £100, and so that is the driver for the increase in September of 12.5% on our electricity prices.

The Daily Mail make a similar statement that British Gas claims [green levies] have added up to £98 to the average bill since 2014.

And, indeed, this statement is also essentially correct.

Environmental Levies cost £3.1bn in 2013/14, equivalent to £43 per household, meaning an additional cost by next year of £105.




Carbon Brief’s next attempt to mislead is this:

These different numbers have caused confusion, not least within the Telegraph’s own article, which includes a chart showing “green levies” adding £73 to the average electricity bill in 2015/16.

The Daily Telegraph, 02/08/2017

But as they point out, but don’t appear to realise, this is based on 2015/16!!

And going back to the OBR chart, the cost of Environmental Levies was £4.8bn, equating to £66 per household.



They then say:

Centrica has a graphic showing “environmental and social policies” adding £135 to average dual fuel bills in 2016.

The OBR figure for 2016/17 is £6.9bn, or £96 per household. As they go on to state, the figure of £135 also includes other costs, such as smart meters, estimated at £15 per household. In other words, it is fair to say that the Telegraph has underestimated the true effect of govt policy.

Carbon Brief makes absolutely no attempt to actually disprove any of the numbers given by the Telegraph, Mail or British Gas. And for the very good reason that they can’t, as the numbers are correct.

Instead they try to throw enough mud at the wall in the hope it will confuse people.

Not only that, but they make no mention of all of the other costs being loaded on to energy bills as a result of govt policy, such as smart meters, carbon levies and transmission costs.



They end up by trotting out the old red herring about energy savings, which have partly offset higher prices. Yet this has absolutely nothing at all to do with the price increase announced by British Gas.



So who are Carbon Brief?

Their Editor and Director is Leo Hickman. His prior career included 16 years at the Guardian, and a stint at the WWF, which hardly inspires confidence in his objectivity or accuracy.

The team includes a bunch of grant troughing climate scientists including the unreliable Zeke Hausfather.

If that is not bad enough, they appear to receive all of their funding from the European Climate Foundation (ECF).



The ECF is notoriously at the heart of the green lobby funding web in Europe, receiving millions from far left, liberal foundations, mainly in the US, and distributing it to all sorts of green groups across Europe.



The fact that supposedly honest scientists allow themselves to be involved with such an organisation says a lot about their own integrity and motivation.




Comments are open on the Carbon Brief article. I suggest we leave a few comments, and see how long it stops open for!



  1. August 3, 2017 2:01 pm

    Carbon Brief must have gone through over 2 million Euros by now. I do prefer Leo over the previous editor though..

  2. rwoollaston permalink
    August 3, 2017 2:06 pm

    So it hasn’t backfired in the Telegraph or the Mail? I haven’t read them so I don’t know. Is it just here that the attempt to mislead has been published?

  3. August 3, 2017 2:08 pm

    Their carbon briefs are on fire, it seems.

  4. August 3, 2017 2:15 pm

    ‘Their Editor and Director is Leo Hickman. His prior career included 16 years at the Guardian’

    Old Leo won’t have changed his spots 😉

    Btw if anyone thinks ‘green’ subsidies are too high now, they’re not going to like this…
    ‘The Office for Budget responsibility, the fiscal watchdog, has forecast that environmental levies will rise from £4.6billion in 2015-16 to £13.5billion by 2022.’ – Telegraph

    • tom0mason permalink
      August 3, 2017 4:51 pm

      It is this government policy to hike the green levies.

  5. CheshireRed permalink
    August 3, 2017 2:41 pm

    Lobby group. Activists. Attempt to portray credibility when in reality they’re all troughing furiously. Green Blob personified. Wouldn’t give them the time of day.

  6. Tim Hammond permalink
    August 3, 2017 2:43 pm

    But…but…but smart meters are supposed to be free!

    You mean the cost of them is being added to my bill!

  7. August 3, 2017 3:01 pm

    Does anybody (apart from the BBC) take any notice of Carbon Brief? Anybody with any intelligence knows it is just a propaganda arm of Big Green and its troughers.

    • Joe Public permalink
      August 3, 2017 4:49 pm

      “Does anybody (apart from the BBC) take any notice of Carbon Brief?”

      The circle-jerk that is GreenPeas & the vote-halved Green Party.

  8. John F. Hultquist permalink
    August 3, 2017 3:53 pm

    The ECF Funders graphic shows “Children’s Investment Fund Foundation” in the upper left corner. The wiki entry for that group is interesting and contains this:

    CIFF focuses on improving the lives of children living in poverty in developing countries. Its main areas of activity are children and mothers’ health and nutrition, children’s education and welfare and smart ways to slowdown and stop climate change

    Talk about a square peg in a round hole.
    One of you Brits should make a public expression of regret that CIFF is wasting money on climate nonsense while great needs of children are being ignored.
    For example, in the USA (and elsewhere), measles outbreaks are surging in Italy & Romania Link even though the medical folks know how to stop this. Where is the CIFF?

  9. Jackington permalink
    August 3, 2017 4:40 pm

    Carbon Brief? – Carbon Waffle more like.

  10. Bloke down the pub permalink
    August 3, 2017 6:05 pm

    Much is made of supposed energy use reductions. Is there any proof as to how much households have reduced their usage, or have all the new must have gizmos actually demand?

  11. Bitter&twisted permalink
    August 3, 2017 6:07 pm

    “Liar” Hickman would be closer to the truth.
    Along with his partner in crime, “Blob” Ward.

  12. August 3, 2017 9:17 pm

    Leo and Dr Si Evans are not CarbonBrief’s
    …They are more like CarbonPants

    In another one of their famous debunks last week they claimed that if the whole UK went EV we’d only use 10% more leccy.

    IIRC their building is full of interconnected Greenblob NGOs

  13. MrGrimNasty permalink
    August 3, 2017 10:32 pm

    Invariably you can’t have ‘energy savings’ without up front expenses, that realistically you’ll never recoup.

  14. richard verney permalink
    August 4, 2017 8:43 am

    It is much worse than they suggest. There is an ongoing cover up on the true cost to the bill payer and the reason why energy prices, particularly electricity have risen so dramatically.

    About 5 years ago the outgoing chairman (or financial director) of SSE was interviewed by the BBC on Hardtalk. Bishophill carried an article on this interview on which I commented following my listening to the interview (on iplayer).

    The guy from SSE explained that the electricity bill is made up of 3 components, namely 50% covers the cost of supply, 25% covers new infrastructure investment (coupling windfarms to the grid and balancing), and 25% is the green levy, green initiatives (eg., subsiding loft insulation double glazing, cavity wall insulation, boiler replacement) and help to those in fuel poverty (due to the high cost of energy those in fuel poverty are growing year on end).

    So right at the outset one can see that 50% of the electricity bill is made up by green policy initiatives (the push towards renewables, and sustainability). But in addition of the 50% that represents the costs of supply, this is far higher than it would be but for green policies.

    Within the 50% that goes towards the cost of supply, there is the carbon floor tax, the fact that the energy company has to pay the high strike rate for wind and solar, and the compensation paid to windfarms when the grid cannot take the wind energy etc.

    Thus about 60% of the electric bill is directly referable to green policies. The guy from SSE said that the position with respect to gas bills was not as high since there was little infrastructure investment in the gas pipelines/distribution .

    So don’t be fooled, everyone is already paying approximately £400 pa and this is increasing year on end.

  15. Jack Broughton permalink
    August 4, 2017 9:43 am

    Note in PEI that the Scottish Government have given another £1.5m to the Carbon Trust for wind developments: clearly victims of the hype.

    That money could be better used for the benefit of Scottish people than in a vanity project. The SNP have truly lost the plot!

  16. August 4, 2017 10:30 am

    Energy efficiency savings are offsetting the rise in bills…..

    Don’t quite see this happening, as a bill payer, and would dearly like an explanation as to how this comes about without actually buying more efficient electrical appliances and not having a need for insulation products. Perhaps someone from Carbon Brief could provide a breakdown on how this happens!

  17. Athelstan permalink
    August 4, 2017 2:25 pm

    carbon brief talk carbon pants. Good grief! I’ve read more cogent stuff penned by bog standard fifth formers. Realists, we go up against spoilt and very petulant children and yet sadly, vexingly, it is the likes of ‘carbon brief’ who have the ears and command of our political masters.

    Perhaps our MPs attention spans are far more suited to the kids running the green lobby, infantilization is the key, fits the lock and is the prison which dooms us to a really – a very “scary future” – to use nomenklature ‘en vogue’..

  18. August 5, 2017 5:22 pm

    Article begins
    “This debate typically ignores the significant *savings* that have resulted from energy efficiency policies to lower demand, focusing only on the smaller *costs * of supporting the development of low-carbon electricity.”
    * Costs : unicorns don’t pay for them we do
    * Significant savings : BS
    I’ve received no grants so had no savings.
    Someone who got a new boiler grant is maybe saving on overall power bills by a bit .. So has slightly small bills.

  19. August 5, 2017 5:24 pm

    CB have tweeted that they updated their article, perhaps due to Notalot’s article.
    What’s changed ?

  20. August 5, 2017 5:35 pm

    I hadn’t spotted Pauls ending bit saying CB’s article has open comments.
    Good on them for that !
    It’s the hallmark of LibMob that usually their articles don’t have comments or they are rigorously censored, cos they can’t withstand scrutiny.

    Evan’s claims their comments are not closed that way but just close after a set number of days.

    In the comments he attempts to debunk Paul saying that domestic consumption is 30% if the total not 38% so the Green extra costs component in your bill is smaller.
    That’s immaterial cos although some of the Green extra costs show up in buisness or gov electricity bills, it is us the public who ultimately pay in the products we buy and taxes we pay.

  21. August 6, 2017 4:16 pm

    Reblogged this on ajmarciniak.

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