Skip to content

Theresa May is about to spend £1 trillion on a pointless policy. This climate madness has to end–Bjorn Lomborg

June 11, 2019

By Paul Homewood


Once again, Bjorn Lomborg points out the emperor has no clothes!


Chancellor Phillip Hammond was slapped down by Downing Street last week for warning that reaching net zero carbon emissions could cost the UK £1 trillion and require cuts to funding for schools, hospitals and the police force. Climate change needs a response, but Mr Hammond is right to highlight the cost – and in fact, he is likely to be underestimating the real price-tag.

Almost all signatories to the Paris Agreement on climate change are failing to live up to their promises. This is nothing new, countries have been failing to deliver ever since the Rio de Janeiro Earth Summit was held back in 1992. Their grand promises always run up against the hard reality that forcing a transition from fossil fuels to alternatives remains incredibly expensive and is the reason why renewable energy has only increased by 1.1 percentage points in that time — from meeting 13.1 per cent of the worlds energy needs in 1992 to 14.2 per cent today.

The UK is, reportedly, already resorting to the use of "creative accounting" as it attempts to meet its current obligation of reducing emissions by 80 per cent by 2050. However, that hasn’t stopped the government considering an even bolder promise: net zero.

This will have no meaningful impact on temperatures because the UK is responsible for just one per cent of global emissions. If it eradicated its entire emissions forever, global temperatures in 2100 would be affected by less than 0.014°C. Yet while the benefits of reaching net zero are negligible, the cost of delivering this pledge would be massive.

The government’s advisers the Committee on Climate Change somehow came up with an astonishingly small cost estimate of just £50 billion a year. Philip Hammond’s calculation is higher at £70 billion per year – but both are drastically lower than international research indicates because higher energy costs mean slightly lower growth.

The UN’s climate scenario modelling shows that reaching net zero carbon around 2050 (a scenario in which we keep temperature rises to 1.5°C) would cost 5.3 per cent of GDP by 2050.

For the UK, that would mean an annual cost of £187 billion by 2050. And that is based on the heroic assumption that for 30 years politicians manage to consistently implement the most efficient policies imaginable, using a single carbon tax, while avoiding any gilets jaunes-style backlash even as the measures force up the cost of living.

Studies show that in the real world where policies are not implemented efficiently, it is more likely the cost would double – meaning £374 billion annually. That’s more than the UK currently spends on health, education, police, courts, defence, environment, housing, recreation and culture.

Evidence from abroad suggests that even this could under-count the true figure. New Zealand (also reliant on “creative accounting” to meet its carbon promises) is similarly contemplating aiming for net zero by 2050. A government-commissioned report established the cost: 16 per cent of GDP. Translated to the UK that would mean £560 billion per year if everything were done efficiently.

Full story here.

  1. A C Osborn permalink
    June 11, 2019 2:35 pm

    The man who has to balance the books is having to face up to reality.
    The rest of them are still in cloud cuckoo land.
    We had the BBC’s Harribin yet again talking Renewables dribble this morning about how EV batteries are going to supply the Grid.
    The delusional force is strong in that one Obi Wan.

    • June 11, 2019 3:15 pm

      Does anybody know how many times you can recharge an EV battery, before it deteriorates?

      • John F. Hultquist permalink
        June 11, 2019 3:47 pm

        My guess is the “how many” number will have wide error bars.
        The resale value of the vehicles will not hold-up without assurances of the batteries, and that a new one can be attained, and installed at reasonable cost. How long will factories continue to make older batteries?
        Say in 7 years battery technology has advanced by 25%. Would I buy a 7 year old car not knowing whether it has 2 years of 7 years of use left?
        Or would a buy a new one? Buyers of older autos are looking for transportation, not interested making a statement about saving the world.
        Unlike a conventional fuel engine, the battery of an EV will need to be replaced, rather than being repaired.
        The EV industry will have to deal with such issues, or ramping up sales will be hard.

      • Dave Ward permalink
        June 11, 2019 4:22 pm

        The lifetime of any rechargeable battery depends on the “Depth of Discharge”, and also on how fast one wishes to charge (or discharge) it. High current flows will generate heat, reducing the life, and also wasting even more of the power you are trying to store. The greater the DoD before re-charging, the lower the number of cycles it will provide before losing capacity. For traditional lead-acid chemistry you are looking at a range of hundreds to (for the best types) up to 1,000 cycles. For Lithium this can be several thousand cycles, depending on which chemistry is used. There are some graphs here:

        This article refers to “State of Charge”, which is essentially the opposite of DoD

      • A C Osborn permalink
        June 11, 2019 4:54 pm

        I saw a price of £12,000 for a Nissan Leaf Battery.

      • Pancho Plail permalink
        June 11, 2019 10:34 pm

        It is clear that cycling degrades battery performance over time. Under normal use it is unlikely that a battery would be cycled once per day, whereas using the battery as part of a grid storage system would require at least one cycle per day, possibly twice a day if driving any great distance.
        A practical rule of thumb indicates a useful life of about 1000 cycles, say 300,000 km or between 4 and 6 years of driving.
        Using a nightly charge, discharge and recharge regime once per day results in the 1000 cycle point being reached in less than 3 years, meaning a reduction in battery life of between 25 and 50%.
        That strikes me as yet another expensive way of signalling ones virtue.
        Also looking at current Tesla mileage based warranties, I would expect them to void warranties if any car participates in a grid storage scheme.

  2. tim leeney permalink
    June 11, 2019 3:01 pm

    They’ll have to come clean soon. It’s getting too obvious.

  3. John F. Hultquist permalink
    June 11, 2019 3:30 pm

    Translated to the UK that would mean £560 billion per year if everything were done efficiently.
    CCC .. came up with an astonishingly small cost estimate of just £50 billion a year.
    The non-technical term for these numbers is WAGs.

    I get the idea these people don’t have clue.
    They should be funding nuclear power and adaptation.
    In many instances, adaptation can be useful for warming or cooling, or neither insofar as most countries are negligent of their current roads, bridges, and other needs.
    CO2 isn’t a serious issue as increasingly recognized by serious people.
    How much will it cost to dismantle all the wind industry structures?

  4. June 11, 2019 3:44 pm

    Here are indicative estimates of capital and long-term costs of the current installation of EU(28) Weather Dependent Renewables.

    10 -11 times more expensive than Gas-firing: 2 – 3 times more expensive than Nuclear

  5. June 11, 2019 4:16 pm

    Don’t people realise that
    1. The recent short pulse of Global warming stopped 20 years ago and recent temperatures are now stable or declining.
    2. The last millennium 1000 – 2000 AD was the coldest of our current Holocene interglacial and the world has already been cooling for the last 3000 years.
    3. At 11,000 years our Holocene interglacial, responsible for all man-kind’s advances, is reaching its end.
    4. The world will soon, (in geological time scales), revert to true glaciation.

    That is something to be truly scared about both for the biosphere and for man-kind.

  6. ianprsy permalink
    June 11, 2019 5:23 pm

    Thanks, Paul. Next stop, how to make money out of your EV:

  7. June 11, 2019 5:53 pm

    I’ve got a drawfull of duff rechargeable batteries.

  8. keith permalink
    June 11, 2019 6:51 pm

    I do believe our idiot PM May could sign this off. After all she has ****** up Brexit, why shouldn’t she **** up the whole country with this ludicrous proposal?
    However, having said that I do not believe it will ever come to fruition. First, where on earth where this amount of money come from even spread over 30 years. It is a colossal amount. Oh yes, I forgot the Tory’s have bought a money tree just like Labour. The next point is that the UK Government has a very bad record of delivering projects, let along infrastructure projects, on time and in budget. HS2 is a good example. The national grid said last year, I think, that it could handle EVs but not a full conversion of heating to electricity. And who will pay for that conversion, any Government who tries to make people pay for heating conversion will soon be out on their ear. And then there is the little subject of raw materials for millions of UK EV’s. That problem was covered on this sight just a few days ago.
    It is just amazing the hysteria the climate issue has brought by a load of individuals who have no idea what they are talking about and many of these are MPs!!!!!

  9. Don B permalink
    June 11, 2019 7:53 pm

    ” Almost all signatories to the Paris Agreement on climate change are failing to live up to their promises.”

    For example, in the New York Times: July 1, 2017:

    ” 1,600 coal plants are planned or under construction in 62 countries..”

    Signing the Paris Accord signifies nothing to those 62 countries and most other nations.

  10. Jackington permalink
    June 11, 2019 8:32 pm

    Everybody seems to think a Labour Government under Corbyn will be a disaster but it will be a catastrophe under the Tories regardless of who leads it.

  11. hsabin permalink
    June 11, 2019 9:53 pm

    Theresa May is a bloody idiot like all the Democrats in the USA with this stupidity called climate! Climate change or global warming or whatever madness the idiots call it. Anyone who blieves in it are plain every day STUPID! In Colorado where by June usually it is warm and sunny. The last two days have been in the 40’s! The climate will change but not due to man or actions by them. THROW that worthless female to the gutter and stand up and take back ENGLAND. You voted for BREXIT – make it happen! Get rid of the muslim mayor in LONDON and put in someone who LOVES the country. It is filled with beautiful people and is in itself a gorgeous country. The politics are as messed up there as they were here until we elected TRUMP! NOW….we think there will be certain folks who will meet justice in a big way. I bet if you check May’s bank accounts and off shore accounts you will find out she is corrupt and has been paid by those who benefit from climate change nonsense!

  12. MrGrimNasty permalink
    June 11, 2019 10:01 pm

    BBC’s Years and Years get’s worse (fiction yes, but the climate message is deliberate).

    80 days of continuous rain and floods.
    1 million displaced by coastal erosion.
    Forced rehousing in any empty bedrooms regardless of house owner’s wishes!

    • Pancho Plail permalink
      June 11, 2019 10:39 pm

      Gave up watching after episode one had Trump using a first strike nuclear weapon and the writer nailed his politics to the mast. I have seen better story lines in comics.

  13. Athelstan. permalink
    June 12, 2019 12:42 am

    ♪lets go fucking mental♫

    It used to be a football ditty, now it’s offcial government green policy.

  14. June 12, 2019 1:08 am

    Your country is going to go broke. All based on fake news and fake science.Does anyone in power not question the fake news?

  15. Robin Guenier permalink
    June 12, 2019 7:11 am

    Mrs May’s announcement of this mad policy is the main BBC story this morning:

    It seems that “if other countries followed the UK, there was a 50-50 chance of staying below the recommended 1.5C temperature rise by 2100” – i.e. no chance at all.

    But wait: “Mrs May has taken the unusual step of announcing that a group of young people will advise the government on priorities for environmental action“. Phew – that’s OK then.

    • Robin Guenier permalink
      June 12, 2019 10:02 am

      Further to this, The Times reports this morning that

      Mrs May is determined to make a bold commitment on climate change part of her legacy. Mr Hammond won one concession: Mrs May has agreed that the UK “will conduct a further assessment within five years to confirm that other countries are taking similarly ambitious action”.

      A tiny glimmer of sense?

  16. Pancho Plail permalink
    June 12, 2019 7:57 am

    Our energy minister this morning has been outlining some of the detail this morning. You will be relieved to know that fusion power is just one of the unicorns that will come galloping to our rescue. Now I remember a centre spread in my Eagle comic featuring ZETA (experimental fusion reactor) in the mid 1950s.
    Wikipedia reports now that “China’s EAST tokamak test reactor achieves a stable 101.2-second steady-state high confinement plasma, setting a world record in long-pulse H-mode operation on the night of July 3.” That was in 2017.
    So 60 years development has achieved just over a minute sustained fusion in an experimental rig, and the energy minister believes we will have national scale fusion power generation in a further 30 years.
    We are told that a no-deal Brexit will have us crashing out of the EU. The government’s energy policy looks like having us crash out of the first world.

  17. Mack permalink
    June 12, 2019 8:53 am

    ‘This climate madness has to end!’ Indeed it does, but, with the exception of Nigel Farage, there is not a single, major U.K. politician who hasn’t signed up to powering the country on pixie dust and unicorn farts. Interesting times when a prime minister adopts a scorched earth policy to the economy and society now in order to prevent the remote possibility of a scorched earth at some distant time in the future. Bonkers! I, like many here, will take no pleasure in saying ‘I told you so’ when the climate takes a natural turn to cooler times and the old, sick and most vulnerable in our society die shivering in their beds because of an absence of affordable and reliable energy supplies.

  18. June 12, 2019 12:19 pm

    Reblogged this on Climate- Science.

  19. June 13, 2019 6:10 pm

    I just had to write to the Chancellor to say it will be £1.5 trillion [it’ll go up to £2.0 trillion to decarbonise industry too]:

    £1 trillion won’t cover the CCC bill – £1.5 trillion is nearer the mark

    There are readily available, incontrovertible facts to calculate the costs of the CCC’s ‘zero-emissions’ plan, using simple arithmetic an 11-year-old can understand. There is no polite way of describing the metrics used by the energy sector lobbies, of LCOE, EROI, EROEI and %GDP, other than bullshit. Pick the inputs you want to give you the answer you seek; make the mathematics so complicated that it’s impossible for the information-overloaded brains of our elected representatives to have a chance of taking it on board.

    To generate the 340 TWh of 24/7, low[ish]-carbon electricity the UK uses each year, for 60 years, using a reasonably ‘sensible’ choice of renewables and backup – 30% onshore wind, 60% offshore wind, 10% solar-pv and 60 GW of CCGT for low-wind/low-light conditions – would have a capital cost of £527 billion. This is plain and simple data, extrapolated from present-day costs of the technologies involved.

    To decarbonise heating and hot water to building and to decarbonise transport will more than triple this bill, if the Government is railroaded along the insane route of hydrogen/CCUS being proposed. The bill for this will be over £1.5 trillion, adding more than £2,000 per UK household every year for the next 30 years.

    Lord Deben, with his family connections to the renewables industry, Chris Stark and other CCC members are demonstrably anti-nuclear and are wilfully ignoring burgeoning developments in advanced nuclear reactors. GE- Hitachi have just moved the COD for their BWRX-300 Small Modular Reactor (SMR) forward from 2030 to 2028. In 11 or 12 years-time, it will be available at a capital cost of US$2,000/kW and a build time of 4 years.

    This nuclear power plant (npp) is a uniquely simple, cost-effective design that might never be bettered in cost terms. It is under one-quarter of the cost of Hinkley, competitive to gas and passively safe. The USA’s nuclear regulator has cleared the path for SMRs to be sited close to centres of population. Operated as CHP plants, they can supply much of the heating and hot water to buildings also – twice the ‘bang for their bucks’ for investors.

    SMRs are the future of nuclear power and the BWRX-300, which could be manufactured almost in its entirety in the UK, can be the workhorse to generate our low-carbon, 24/7 electricity over design lives of 60 years. All of this starting in the early 2030s and easily capable, from both cost and production rate, of meeting zero-emissions by 2050.

    A BWRX-300 energy infrastructure could decarbonise electricity for 60 years at a capital cost of £65 billion – 1/8th of the cost of renewables/CCGTs. They could decarbonise all sectors – electricity; heating/hot water; transport – for under £200 billion.

    The reason the renewables/CCGT option is so much more costly than nuclear power is very simple: Renewables use between 17X and 27X more precious resources than nuclear power, along with fossil-fuelled energy every step of the way from mining/quarrying, through transport, processing, manufacture and installation.

    What should be just as significant to genuine environmentalist is that renewables also cost 1000X more in scenic desecration, ecosystem destruction, species wipe-out and waste mountains. It is unimaginable to think that we, in the UK, want to witness the German-ification of our landscape and near-shore seascape. Germany has really tried and spectacularly failed with policies the CCC seems hellbent on reproducing in the UK.

    If the Government follow the CCC’s recommendations, the cost will degrade family budgets and life choices; the environmental impact will be unforgiveable. If Government wilfully ignore burgeoning developments in nuclear power plants it will be the young members of all of our families who will pay the price.

    Mr Hammond, the data is simple; it is irrefutable. I have enclosed a copy of my ‘picturesque’ blog post with all of the referenced information.

    It would be good to know what you think.

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: