Skip to content

The Fightback Begins

February 10, 2020

By Paul Homewood

We are beginning to see signs of a fightback in the press against the Net Zero nonsense:

First, Madeline Grant in the Telegraph (paywalled unfortunately):



“No one voted to be poorer”, has been the Europhiles’ long-playing refrain of recent years. This slogan, though logically flawed and patronising, exposes an interesting paradox.

“No one voted to be poorer”, has been the Europhiles’ long-playing refrain of recent years. This slogan, though logically flawed and patronising, exposes an interesting paradox.

While we have hotly debated the costs and benefits of everything from Brexit to a Corbyn government to HS2, another crucial policy area – the environment – has been virtually ignored amid facile discussions and a total absence of democratic engagement.

In the dying days of the May premiership, to little fanfare, Parliament passed a binding pledge of net zero carbon emissions by 2050. The economic cost of this could make the most apocalyptic ‘No Deal’ scenarios seem small change – yet the level of detail is astonishingly slight.

In an interview last week, Environment Secretary Michael Gove dodged questions about the cost of banning petrol, diesel and hybrid cars. Ministers use carefully chosen words to describe the public cost of Net Zero, vaguely referring to “1-2 per cent of GDP by 2050”. This is because the estimates they refer to only apply to 2050, as an FOI reveals. They ignore the years 2020-2049, conveniently omitting the expense of overhauling national infrastructure in the interim.

I cannot estimate the price of dismantling every gas boiler, retrofitting some 26 million homes, building a vast network of electric car charging points, and so on. Suffice to say it will be a mind-boggling sum – and that is before negotiating the tricky politics.

Given slow progress on commercial electric flights, net zero would likely mean halting air travel for the many – with exceptions for a wealthy few, such as those attending important events like the Oscars or Davos. Though we do not share the revolutionary iconoclasm of our Gallic neighbours, the gilets jaunes protests – sparked by surging fuel prices – give a taste of the class resentment this could trigger.

Full post here.


Then we have Charles Moore:


Regardless of one’s views on climate change, one should welcome the fact that Boris Johnson removed Claire Perry O’Neill from her post as president of this year’s Conference of the Parties (COP 26), which will be held in Glasgow. He is at last trying to exercise the power of patronage. Ms Perry O’Neill is a George Osborne protegée, anti-Boris and anti-Brexit. She stood down at the end of the last parliament. She is also a keen self-publicist. Given that international climate conferences are chiefly forums in which governments strike attitudes, it was highly unwise to let her strike the Glasgow ones. She was almost bound to be disobliging to the government.

With the election out of the way, the government recognised its mistake and acted just in time. Ms Perry O’Neill accidentally showed its decision justified by going on air this week to claim that Boris had told her he did not ‘get’ climate change. Little good can come of the Glasgow COP, as David Cameron presumably recognises by refusing to replace Ms Perry O’Neill. The Prime Minister is in a trap of his own making by sucking up to David Attenborough: all the more reason why the COP president should be in tune with the government. Since the spending of something between £20-40 billion of Treasury money per year is at stake, a current minister needs to be in charge. It has taken the Tories nearly ten years in office to learn to use patronage to advance their broad policy aims, not to offer publicly funded platforms to their critics. Tony Blair understood this from his first day in office.

And finally Dominic Lawson in The Times:


Bursars tend to be robust, even tactless characters. In my school and college years they were often from a military background, which augmented the no-nonsense impression. Robust certainly describes the response of that authority the other day at St John’s College, Oxford, when slogan-shouting students occupied its 15th-century quad, declaring they wouldn’t leave until the college agreed to sell its shares in BP and Shell.

When they emailed Andrew Parker (the principal bursar) demanding a meeting to address their demands that St John’s “declares a climate emergency and immediately divests from fossil fuels”, his answer was perhaps not what they expected. “I am not able to arrange any divestment at short notice,” he wrote. “But I can arrange for the gas central heating in college to be switched off with immediate effect. Please let me know if you support this proposal.”

When a St John’s undergraduate complained he was being flippant, Parker responded that he was making a serious point: “It is all too easy to request others to do things that carry no personal cost to yourself. The question is whether you and others are prepared to make personal sacrifices to achieve the goals of environmental improvement (which I support as a goal).” This was not appreciated by the protest organiser, Fergus Green: “It’s January and it would be borderline dangerous to switch off the central heating.” Borderline hilarious, more like.

I thought of this farce, like something out of a Tom Sharpe campus novel, when the government announced a few days later that it would be bringing forward, by five years to 2035, the date by which we would no longer be allowed to purchase new cars that use fossil fuels, including hybrid vehicles. Given that currently even the smaller electric vehicles (EVs) cost about £10,000 more than their diesel or petrol equivalent, it is the government playing the part of the student demonstrators — only with real power — and the public who will be thinking as practically as any bursar.

The radio presenter Julia Hartley-Brewer represented the bursar in all of us when she questioned Michael Gove on this. Eight times she asked the immensely articulate cabinet minister how much more (than today’s petrol and diesel cars) it would cost to buy and drive electric vehicles in 15 years’ time. While he wouldn’t give any of the figures behind the government’s policy (either because they don’t exist or because if they did, they would be worthless), he insisted there would be “a net saving” for the public. More, he promised to buy “a slap-up meal at the restaurant of your choice” for Hartley-Brewer if he turned out to be wrong. Which would be nice for her, but not much consolation for the rest of us.

For far too long, eco-activists, from the BBC to Greenpeace, Parliament to the National Grid, DEFRA to the renewable lobby and climate scientists to XR, have been allowed unfettered and unchallenged coverage in the media. At times, only Christopher Booker offered any criticism.

The public have been encouraged to believe that building a few windmills and planting a few trees would be enough to cure the climate. Now that reality day is looming ever closer, it is no longer possible for the eco lobby to hide the truth any longer.

  1. Peter F Gill permalink
    February 10, 2020 5:04 pm

    What a load of sense from Madeline Grant. I thought that we had already almost run out of such journalists!

    • Alan D Tomlin permalink
      February 10, 2020 5:39 pm

      I wish she could come to Canada and spread her message here. Canadians born since the early-60’s have no idea how cold and miserable it was in most of Canada outside of cities during the winter before then. Coal burning furnaces were a luxury; then oil-fired and natural gas-fired furnaces became available in the 40’s and 50’s to help survive the cold. I had an uncle who grew up in northern Ontario in the 20’s & 30’s (as I did in the 50’s and early 60’s), and he often told me that there would be weeks on end in winter when the family was never really warm, huddled around a weak wood-burning stove, and baths would be luke-warm and shared. People now have no idea of how dependent they are on fossil fuels to keep their world going.

  2. No EU......HS2 permalink
    February 10, 2020 5:17 pm

    Forcing people to spend fortunes for any reason, must have clear justification, ie war, but to do so based off the ravings of stoned hippies, even if our current PM is shagging one, has to have a separate mandate. one only a Referendum could give.

    • Gamecock permalink
      February 11, 2020 4:11 pm


      ‘he insisted there would be “a net saving” for the public’

      As with Obama’s proposals, this requires massive capital spending by the public. Investing their money in what government forces them too, not what they want to do. That there might be a ‘net saving’ has FA to do with it.

  3. Stonyground permalink
    February 10, 2020 5:54 pm

    Talking about percentages of GDP is meaningless. There won’t be any domestic product without fossil fuels. What we will have is subsistence farming and mass starvation. Oh and lynchings, lots and lots of lynchings.

    • Gamecock permalink
      February 11, 2020 4:11 pm

      Nope. Denmark will invade.

  4. Thomas Carr permalink
    February 10, 2020 6:20 pm

    “The public have been encouraged…………. etc” . Paul, you will want to re-visit your last para above some time. Enough trees to make our food growers despair and enough windmills to surcharge our electricity bills ad infinitum should be your persistent text as the greens will overlook your ironies whenever it suits them.

  5. Mike Jackson permalink
    February 10, 2020 6:21 pm

    The point surely is that in many instances “reality day” has passed.

    Hansen, Gore, Attenborough, Prince Charles, Pachauri and several others have warned that we have until [enter relevant date here] after which it will be too late. And in many instances “relevant date” has come and gone.

    There is no “solution” to climate change because changes to the climate are neither predictable (albeit perhaps more so than they were) nor controllable. The entire climate edifice is built on myth and mendacity. The best ploy for the US and the UK would be to promise the developing world (or whatever is the current woke phrase) the money it needs to develop but on the condition that countries turn away from the climate nonsense and invest the money in efficient energy generation and efficient gas/coal usage aimed at minimising pollution.

    The Climate can look after itself as it has done for several million years. The best hope for mankind is to eliminate absolute poverty and stop listening to the Malthusian Tendency which has never been right yet and, as even the UN realises, is not right now either!

  6. Ariane permalink
    February 10, 2020 6:25 pm

    Yes, let’s have a referendum. And another about repealing the original CCAct and let’s disband the CCC.

    • charles wardrop permalink
      February 10, 2020 7:13 pm

      Problem with a referendum is mental corruption by AGW fanatics and snake oil operatives.

  7. Dave Ward permalink
    February 10, 2020 6:39 pm

    “Building a vast network of electric car charging points, and so on”

    I would like to ask Michael Gove if he knows what the term “Diversity” means in relation to electrical system design. I have no doubt he would flannel, just as he did recently on Julia Hartley-Brewers radio show.

    In simple terms, if your mains supply is fused at 60 amps there is NO WAY that the substation transformer will be able to supply 60 amps to all the connected properties simultaneously. So good luck with forcing everyone to use EV’s and have Heat Pumps…

    • It doesn't add up... permalink
      February 11, 2020 12:27 am

      I found a document the other day detailing calculations for local grid design. They allow 1-2kW depending on the size of the house, plus 1.5- 2.5kW if you have an EV charger, plus the rated capacity of electric heating by heat pump (or half the rated capacity if you have electric radiators and showers). Heat pump installations are I’m told typically 8kW. So we are talking in the order of five times as much local distribution capacity, recabling and adding transformers to cope as well for gas fired homes. They rely on the fact that fridges, freezers and kettles etc. are used intermittently and not simultaneously when you have a reasonable number of households on a cable. Cables have limited capacity, and extra cable must be run when this is exceeded.

      Click to access ESDD-02-012.pdf

      It’s going to get messy and expensive really quickly.

      • Gerry, England permalink
        February 11, 2020 1:51 pm

        No wonder the lights flicker when I fire up my plasma cutter….

  8. saparonia permalink
    February 10, 2020 6:46 pm

    A person with any sense would see the need to remove the Sellerfield waste from the pits and reopen them for mining before they need so much repair that they can’t be mined.
    When we go into the Super Grand Solar Minimum which is going to cull the population anyway, without the need for governments to commit genocide, we will be scratching at the surface coal. There will be nothing to generate electricity, the Sun will be weak and the wind turbines are a red herring. The only other option is going to be trees and people won’t coppice them, they will chop down our last life giving resource to get warm.
    Nuclear is not the answer although that’s what we are being steered towards, it’s filthy stuff that can’t be cleaned up. It’s a shame that we can’t get past the Van Allen belts to dump it on the moon, together with those who want to ruin the earth.

    • A C Osborn permalink
      February 10, 2020 8:29 pm

      Sorry, you are wrong about Nuclear Waste, it can be massively reduced by using as fuel in molten salt reactors.
      MSRs & SMRs are the way forward.

      • martinbrumby permalink
        February 10, 2020 11:16 pm

        Also wrong about nuclear waste in the ‘pits’.

        But there are now few coal mines that could realistically be re-opened. Wistow, Stillingfleet and Riccall (all part of Selby coalfield). Kellingley, possibly.

        Most others have shafts filled and workings will be flooded and collapsed.
        One or two others pits but the costs would be enormous and the risks unacceptable (especially from Methane explosion.) And then there is the little detail that most mine surfaces have been redeveloped and that there is no realistic way of getting coal out of the three Selby shaft sites without re-opening the drift tunnels to Gascoigne Wood. Good luck with that.

        Of course, new mines could be built but the expertise to design, construct and manage them (not to mention to actually mine the coal), is dwindling daily.

        Better to ignore the greenies (and ignorant politicians) and get fracking.

        Will it happen?

        Not until the people who count shiver in the dark.

      • Gamecock permalink
        February 11, 2020 4:19 pm

        “MSRs & SMRs are the way forward.”

        Where are these operating, and consuming nuclear waste?

        The “way forward” makes me smile. 60 years, now, and still nothing from “the way forward.”

        I can play, too. “Fusion is the way forward!”

  9. Broadlands permalink
    February 10, 2020 7:01 pm

    The fascinating and puzzling part of all this is that the ‘green’ goal of net-zero, even if reached by 2050, would not have lowered the CO2 already added to the atmosphere by even one ppm. Only the long-term safe burial of CO2 can do that. And the amounts required to make a difference to the Earth’s climate are in the hundreds of billions of tons. Simply out of reach, regardless of cost.

    • bobn permalink
      February 10, 2020 7:50 pm

      CO2 does not have a significant effect on climate! You can bury it all and not change the climate. All you’ll achieve is killing life on earth. However the climate will keep changing as long as the sun keeps shining.

      • Broadlands permalink
        February 10, 2020 8:14 pm

        Well not exactly all of it…the planet would freeze over. What would happen now would be the elimination of fuel for world-wide transportation. That would kill off a few living things but would not affect the climate. The carbon simply stays in the ground. The whole idea is to prevent more CO2 to be added because it is ‘settled science’ that CO2 is the ‘control knob’. Dial it back?

      • Peter F Gill permalink
        February 10, 2020 8:28 pm

        Changes in atmospheric carbon dioxide levels are generally a consequence of temperature changes, not the other way round. It is totally wrong to say that CO2 is the “control knob” of the climate and far worse to claim that it is “settled science”. Of course Broadlands does not have the monopoly of being wrong. bobn’s statement that we could bury it all is also so wrong I do not know where to begin. By the way perhaps one of you can explain the mechanisms in play when the Earth got itself out of its snowball state some 600 million years or so ago. Actually there are lots of such questions that one may ask about the Geocarb plot by Scotese and Berner. I should look it up if I were you and compare it with the dial it back approach being recommended.

    • dennisambler permalink
      February 11, 2020 12:02 am

      There can be no safe long term burial, other than that invented by nature millions of years ago to give us the packaged energy that enables modern society.

  10. February 10, 2020 8:32 pm

    great book: The Sky Dragon Slayers Victory Lap
    by climatologist Dr. Tim Ball & pals.

    • February 10, 2020 8:41 pm

      Bang up to the minute climate knowledge. Copyright 2019.
      CO2 is a net coolant, via convection.
      Besides being the basis of the food chain on Earth, in both land & ocean.
      John Doran.

  11. February 10, 2020 8:38 pm

    The BBC is fighting the fightback. “Thunberg fronts BBC climate change series”. How the BBC Studios’ Science Unit can use a person with no scientific qualifications is baffling, but is par for the BBC course (think Harrabin).

  12. trevor collins permalink
    February 10, 2020 9:17 pm

    greetings from New Zealand…I wonder if Boris has a electric blanket to keep him warm tonight?? in Auckland we can expect 26 degrees today….I think this C and not F! regards, Trevor Collins.

  13. Harry Passfield permalink
    February 10, 2020 9:30 pm

    Here’s a thought: Say that Boris is a sceptic (I get that impression) but now, as PM, he can’t antagonise the Deben-Davey-Lucas-wing of the alarmist-tendency. So, what to do to get them off his back? He finesses them; announces that gas boilers will be ripped out of the homes of the ‘people’ (those who voted for him) and that they won’t be able to buy a new ICE car in 15 years’ time. Great ploy! It immediately puts the back up of those who doubted AGW, but were unable to articulate it, and puts pressure on the believers to justify the program that they have pushed for. Result!
    Yep. I think he has played them.

    • Gas Geezer permalink
      February 10, 2020 11:40 pm

      Interesting analysis , you must be blessed with an optimistic disposition.

    • Robin Guenier permalink
      February 11, 2020 9:31 am

      It’s (just) possible that you might be right. Here’s another reason:

      Boris Johnson is calling on countries around the world to follow the UK in pledging to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050, as part of the government’s presidency of the UN’s climate talks this year. About 80 countries around the world are committed to such a target, but most are small economies with small greenhouse gas outputs … but major economies including China, the US and India show little sign of doing so.


      He must know (surely?) that there isn’t the remotest chance that any of these major economies will commit to net zero at COP26 – if ever. So, when his call is ignored in November, he’ll have the perfect reason to say that a UK net zero by 2050 commitment is not only damaging but pointless – putting even more pressure on the believers. Result!

      PS: only a handful of those ’80 countries around the world’ are really ‘committed’ to a net zero target.

    • February 11, 2020 10:08 am

      With these extreme proposals, he should at least find out if this is what the public really wants – or not – well before the next general election.

    • Gamecock permalink
      February 11, 2020 4:26 pm

      Harry, perhaps Boris is going to arrange for the gas central heating in Glasgow to be switched off when he has them all gathered together!

      H/T Carrie – Steven King

    • February 11, 2020 10:06 pm

      Everything about his prospects depend on your analysis.
      If he cannot vanquish these useless clots, Davey etal, the country is ruined, for no benefit.

  14. Stephen Lord permalink
    February 10, 2020 10:29 pm

    Its a stupid idea that would bankrupt the UK and is totally unnecessary. Maybe Boris will follow Trumps lead.

  15. Rowland P permalink
    February 10, 2020 10:42 pm

    “Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom. It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves”. William Pitt. 1783

  16. dennisambler permalink
    February 11, 2020 12:00 am

    Maybe a little resistance building amongst Conservative MP’s?

    97% of commenters do not believe that CO2 is a problem…

  17. HotScot permalink
    February 11, 2020 1:27 am

    Cost of replacing gas boilers with heat pumps and retro fitting homes.

    Try this: Conservative estimate (I got the quotes for my modest little house) £50,000 x say 25m homes in the UK.


    Then for charging stations for 40% of the nation who don’t have off street parking? Ripping up pavements to install and wire them in? Then upgrade all the sub stations for all the extra juice needed? Then allocation of ‘ownership’ of each charging point – or Boris will have to recruit an awful lot more than 20,000 Coppers to sort out the street punch ups.

    Two months into the job as PM and it’s clear, Boris must go! And if he doesn’t, he’ll be toast at the next election.

    • ianprsy permalink
      February 11, 2020 8:41 am

      £50K? I asked my Climate-Emergency-Declaring local authority what their calculation was for justifying building new houses with ASHP heating instead of conventional gas. Their reply was that a conventional system would cost £6000 to install and an ASHP system a mere £500 more! What;s not to like?

      It they must be using the same calculator as the consultants who costed HS2 at £36billion.

    • It doesn't add up... permalink
      February 11, 2020 11:52 am

      You might have thought that politicians had learned their lessons on Cash for ASH-P.

      • Gas Geezer permalink
        February 11, 2020 2:38 pm

        Hi Ian ,off the top of my head it’s not just the purchase price( see link below ) and installation costs £3000 – £11,000 that render ASHP systems a non starter for the vast majority of domestic properties.It’s also that they do not work particularly well and are known for the following disadvantages : poor performance in cold weather requiring over sized radiators for ” sufficient ” heat transfer ,very high electricity running costs , very noisy 40 to 60 decibels as both fan and compressor will be in motion , Apparently perform better with UFH,or warm air heating and we know how awful that is .

      • ianprsy permalink
        February 12, 2020 9:11 am

        Reply to Gas Geezer – thanks for the extra info. Part of a challenge to local council’s climate emergency action (= pointless posturing at taxpayers’ expense).

    • Teaef permalink
      February 11, 2020 2:39 pm

      And you would replace him with…………………….?

  18. Phoenix44 permalink
    February 11, 2020 9:25 am

    This is the point at which we have to stop arguing about the science (the “scientists” will always win with the public, politicians and media) and instead fight about the politics. In that regard we must stop the BBC pretending their political solutions are science.

    The public do not want to stop flying, do not want to stop owning cars and do not want to spend thousands retrofitting their homes. Simply to shave tenths of a degree off a global average – maybe.

    • Robin Guenier permalink
      February 11, 2020 3:31 pm

      And we should also be fighting the absurdity of the UK taking unilateral action. The ‘climate emergency’ is a Western obsession: the countries where scientists, the media and leading politicians are concerned about it are essentially all in Western Europe, North America and Australasia. Most of the world (the source of 75% of emissions – 88% if Trump is re-elected and the US is therefore included) either doesn’t care or doesn’t see the issue as a priority.

      The idea that the UK, accounting for less than 1% of emissions, can reverse all that by unilaterally promising to spend vast sums on the absurd (and hopelessly damaging) idea of getting to ‘net zero’ and thereby establishing global ‘leadership’ reflects an embarrassingly outdated Western (‘White Man’s Burden’) arrogance. That should be our target.

  19. John Hadley permalink
    February 11, 2020 10:31 am

    cure the climate should be encased in these ‘ ‘ shouldn’t it Paul?

  20. It doesn't add up... permalink
    February 11, 2020 11:48 am

    Unfortunately it’s not time to put net zero to a referendum. The propaganda campaign for doing so has dominated our media so much that it is in danger of passing and perhaps quite easily if we look at opinion polls. What it is time to do is to fight back with information on just how damaging net zero will be if we pursue it. Once that message has been absorbed it will be the ideal time to hold a referendum. However, as we know politicians pay scant attention to votes unless they lose (or are about to lose) their jobs. So really we need a new set of politicians with some common sense, instead of Common Purpose.

  21. February 11, 2020 7:36 pm

    I’d like people to ask or think more thoroughly about the two questions 1) What are the consequences if climate science has it wrong? 2) Why should we believe their data, analysis, conclusions?

    If we think how we deal with this in other important areas perhaps people (the rest of science, decision makers, MSM, us all as customers) can start to realise why and how to start asking these questions, e.g. presumably we wouldn’t board a plane today without all the improvements to the whole system from lessons learned from air crash investigations etc.

    I’m presuming their short answer to Q2 is consensus of experts and precautionary principle, but If they have it wrong doesn’t that mean we could be in a more dangerous situation not understanding longrange weather or climate, blissfully unaware of a different change about to unfold that we struggle to cope with?

    I see improvements in vehicle reliability mentioned for Q2, but is that science or engineering? Like products in engineering this comes with massive implications both if it’s right or wrong. What factors that contribute to vehicle etc reliability are at play in climate science? e.g. from aircrash investigations I think we realise disastrous mistakes happen that the apparent consensus of experts thought not possible (e.g. 737max). We have to learn the lessons and implement changes. Often the requirement for this needs to come initially from outside. In many areas of engineering there will be independent engineers checking your products, plus other independent groups auditing your procedures etc. How does climate science compare, and if it, or the wider system is not taking on board such lessons shouldn’t this be the most important, urgent issue to be raising before considering their recommendations?

    • charles wardrop permalink
      February 12, 2020 10:30 am

      What, if any exists, is an argument against “Wait and See” if the worries start to come true?

      • February 12, 2020 8:46 pm

        Thanks Charles I presume your comment was a response to my comment and if so I’m not sure if I’ve correctly understood what you mean.

        I’m concerned that if you don’t have the proper procedures and methods in place, don’t have people asking the right questions the consensus of experts may never see if their theory is wrong; finding excuses or ways to make everything fit their theory; if it’s wrong we’re wasting valuable time and resources, making bad decisions while we “wait and see”.

        Again, to use the 737max as an example; after a first crash the apparent consensus of experts in a large industry concluded, I believe, it is was other factors, not their plane at fault so it was safe to keep flying, then we had a second disastrous crash which could have been avoided.

        I think my point is that there are huge implications for us all whether it is right or wrong. In many other such situations we realise the importance of spending a bit of time following relevant procedures, even in an emergency, many of these are only realised by learning from mistakes.

  22. February 12, 2020 10:22 pm

    Everything that’s no more than a cool story finds its following – no matter how crazy or unrealistic it might get. But when people feel that their own lives will be impacted through much higher prices, taxes and maybe even blackouts, they start to look for scapegoats. And it won’t take long for them to find the culprits and put their vote to political parties that promise them that they will get rid of this madness. As soon as mainstream parties find out that ITS ON, they turn around quicker than a prima ballerina. Its ON now.

Comments are closed.

<span>%d</span> bloggers like this: