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Boris Johnson Warned That Tone Deaf Carbon Taxes Risk ‘Poll Tax’ Fiasco

July 7, 2020

By Paul Homewood



The GWPF react to a new call for crippling carbon taxes from a green lobby group:


The green lobbyists and campaigners making up the self-described “Zero Carbon Commission” [1] are proposing the immediate introduction of carbon taxation in key sectors of the economy, several of which have not previously been deeply affected by climate policies.

For example, the proposed levels of carbon tax would put about £3 billion a year on domestic gas and oil heating bills, exacerbating an already serious Fuel Poverty problem.

The electricity sector, where green subsidies to renewables already cost consumers over £10 billion a year, would see a carbon tax burden of about £2.5 billion per year, wiping out any saving made possible from leaving the EU and its Emissions Trading Scheme.

To add insult to injury, the “Commission” suggests that this carbon tax revenue should be used to pay for a resumption of subsidies to new renewable generators, incidentally giving the lie to the widely disseminated claim that renewables are now economically viable without subsidy.

Climate policies have hitherto steered clear of agriculture, but the Commission’s proposed greenhouse gas taxes would cost UK farmers approximately £300m a year, and they would also lose the fuel duty exemption on red diesel.

With staggering cynicism the “Commission” notes that all these costs and burdens on the national food supply “could be passed on to consumers, creating increased incentives to adopt lower carbon diets”.

Industry and commerce would also be affected, with SME gas consumption being hit hard for the first time. The total burden for non-energy intensive commercial users would be in the region of £2 billion a year.

Dr Benny Peiser, director of the Global Warming Policy Forum said:

Since this proposal was authored by a PR company you might have expected some political nous, but this scheme for carbon taxes puts a huge burden on households and businesses. Adopting it would be political suicide for any government, particularly Boris Johnson’s government as it struggles to restore the economy.

It probably seemed great at a dinner party in Islington; it won’t go down so well in the Red Wall constituencies.”

Notes for Editors

[1] In spite of its name the Zero Carbon Commission is not an official body. Its membership includes John Sauven, the Executive Director of Greenpeace UK, Georgia Berry the communications Director of OVO, the UK’s second largest electricity and gas retailer, Baroness Bryony Worthington the climate campaigner, Professor Fankhauser of the Grantham Institute on Climate Change, Professor Ekins of the UCL Institute for Sustainable Resources, Dr Rhian-Mari Thomas of the banking pressure group the Green Finance Institute, as well Lord Turner, former Chair of the Committee on Climate Change, and Nick Butler, a former BP Vice President under Lord Browne. The report was authored by a PR company, Public First, and is available from their website:

  1. July 7, 2020 11:51 am

    Am I being absurdly over optimistic in sensing, perhaps, just the first little pre-dawn glimmer of hope that a grain of common sense might be showing signs of creeping into this long overdue debate ? My God, I hope so, but hope and expectation are poor bedfellows.

    • ianprsy permalink
      July 7, 2020 2:25 pm


    • Phoenix44 permalink
      July 8, 2020 7:06 am

      Yes you are being over optimistic. There is no debate, never has been. I remember beginning to think about Global Warming and then suddenly a close relative of mine was off to Rio to agree huge changes to our economy! The Climate Change movement has been the most successful and far-reaching usurpation of power by a tiny clique since 1917 in Russia. Most people think it must be true because they have a strange faith in science and government, as we have seen with COVID. The chances of reversing this insanity are zero, even if we had ten years of clearly declining temperatures.

  2. Gerry, England permalink
    July 7, 2020 11:58 am

    Never misunderestimate the stupidity of Boris Johnson. Mind you I doubt he will see out 2021 the way things are going. The Tory Grandees are already restless, surprised that their hope that by becoming PM Johnson would become competent and statesmanlike hasn’t worked out. The words ‘leopard’ and ‘spots’ come to mind.

    • July 7, 2020 10:43 pm

      You have to wonder about anyone who thinks looking scruffy is a positive image for voters.

  3. bobn permalink
    July 7, 2020 12:02 pm

    Why not institute a voluntary ‘virtue’ tax. People could voluntarily sign up to pay 10% of their total wealth annually for virtue projects (overseas aid, carbon reduction projects, whatever BLM, XR advocate next week ..Etc).
    Then all these left-wing fascists could put their money where their mouths are and virtue signal with hard cash!
    How many lefties will sign-up? Count on one hand probably.

  4. Harry Passfield permalink
    July 7, 2020 12:27 pm

    “In spite of its name the Zero Carbon Commission is not an official body. Its membership includes… the usual bunch of carpet-baggers trying to enrich themselves and/or their masters and who do not have to worry about where the next meal is coming from.”

    That’s better.

  5. Athelstan. permalink
    July 7, 2020 12:31 pm

    Budgetting, costing stuff, when has the cosseted push chair to Eton to Oxford to pm ever had to any such thing? The blond buffoon bouncing round like pooh’s idiot mate Tigger and thinking everything wonderfully red painted in green. Boris, he doesn’t give a fig and what’s more it never would bother him. Bankrupting an already bankrupt country, even Mr Maduro and Venezuela’s number one fan Jeremy Corbyn’s ‘company’ would be very hard pushed to run this nation into the economic fast as the blond Tigger. And if carbon zero can achieve economic catastrophe more quiickly ‘so be it’ shouts Boris.

    Diapers dee dums for him, dire doldrums for the UK

  6. Thomas Carr permalink
    July 7, 2020 1:20 pm

    Anybody aware of the reaction from the CBI or its individual members to the surcharges that are Carbon Taxes ?
    From what I have read from the various analysts writing in “Not a lot …..” our competitive base as producers will be seriously compromised yet the heavy users of power seem strangely reticent on the subject as do the serious publications. Boris et al may have got the gist ,however.

    • It doesn't add up... permalink
      July 8, 2020 12:17 am

      Heavy users of power get an 85% exemption from the costs of Renewables Obligations and CFDs – which is instead added to the bills of the rest of us. Not sure how that would apply to this lot of proposals.

  7. Geoff B permalink
    July 7, 2020 2:10 pm

    The fly in the ointment is that the link between global warming (climate change) and increasing CO2 in the atmosphere, due to anthropogenic activities, is tenuous. The naive arguments that introducing a carbon tax on natural gas, agriculture, aviation and shipping is going to be a benefit, when the costs of doing this are almost certain to reduce the UK disposable income so much, that the economy collapses into poverty is just unbelievable. However when you look at the authors and get to the end and look at the acknowledgements we see all the usual suspects..

    With thanks to LSE & the Grantham Institute, Vivid Economics, the SCRC Centre for
    Climate Change Economics and Policy, the University of Leeds, Frontier Economics and
    Public First for their research contributions. Thanks also to the expert witnesses whose
    input has been so helpful in shaping the Commission’s recommendations to date. Last
    of all, thank you to the Zero Carbon Commissioners for their time, which has been
    extensive, and provided pro bono.

    • ianprsy permalink
      July 7, 2020 2:30 pm

      It’s only a fly in the ointment if you ignore the fact that 99% of all media and 99.9% of all politicians start from the assumption that CO2 is the problem. It’s a massive hurdle to jump.

      • July 7, 2020 10:46 pm

        But most so-called greenhouse gas is water vapour, which is probably news to most of these climate ignoramuses.

      • pochas94 permalink
        July 8, 2020 12:42 am

        Killing the fly with a sledgehammer will do lots of damage and the fly will probably escape.

      • Robin Guenier permalink
        July 8, 2020 8:16 pm

        It’s a massive hurdle to jump.

        Not if you follow the logic that, even if CO2 is the problem, a net-zero policy is pointless. See my exchanges with Broadlands, John Cullen, Rosie Langridge and David McCobb here:

  8. July 7, 2020 2:46 pm

    Send a copy to your MP.

    • ianprsy permalink
      July 7, 2020 6:31 pm

      Waste of time, unless your MP’s Graham Stringer.

  9. Nancy & John Hultquist permalink
    July 7, 2020 5:41 pm

    Insofar as there are no viable alternatives for the things they want to tax, we know:
    A: folks will be less-well off, and some will have serious financial problems;
    B: inefficient green schemes will provide new ways to transfer money from taxpayers to
    already well-to-do;
    C: world-wide CO2 in the atmosphere will continue to rise;
    D: Global temperature {aka “the climate”} won’t notice.

    Sad, but interesting.

    • Harry Passfield permalink
      July 7, 2020 6:26 pm

      C: Worldwide CO2 in the atmosphere will continue to rise…

      A taxing politicians dream. If its6still riding we’re not taxing enough. Lay on MacDuff!

  10. Mike Jackson permalink
    July 7, 2020 6:07 pm

    Can I go one step further, Geoff, and suggest “non-existent”? There is no shred of scientific evidence that I have ever seen that links increases in atmospheric CO2 concentrations to subsequent rises in temperature.

    Apart from the last 20 years of the 20th century there isn’t even a particularly good correlation and the ice core evidence is that CO2 levels lag temperature by anything up to 800 years.

    Even the theoretical linkage only calls for a 1.2°C increase for each doubling of atmospheric CO2 and the only way the scaremongers can get any traction for their ludicrous fairy tales is by inventing totally spurious “feedbacks” which, if they actually existed, would have turned the earth into a furnace several thousands of years ago.

    “Tipping points” are just that — points from which there is no return — and given that atmospheric CO2 levels have been several times higher in the past and global temperatures have been on many occasions higher than the “pre-industrial+2” that is supposedly the deadline beyond which we are all doomed, I will stick my neck out and say of it hasn’t happened yet it sure ain’t gonna happen this time either!

    But I suppose this madness is going to have to play out like all the others. At least we now have Shellenberger and Zion Lights converted to the need to switch to nuclear power rather than “unreliables” (assuming any such switch is necessary). Perhaps they could make that final leap into understanding that “caring for the environment” is something that you do when you don’t have to ravage it to be sure of tomorrow’s breakfast!

    • CheshireRed permalink
      July 7, 2020 8:49 pm


      Absolutely right on all your reasoning against ‘feedbacks’, ‘tipping points’ and the like.

      Tories will deserve any kicking that comes their way if they’re daft enough to introduce a carbon tax. Madness.

    • Geoff B permalink
      July 7, 2020 9:32 pm

      Totally agree, I tend to take low key approach to the climate loonies, so I can enter into a dialogue with them, but it seldom works!

  11. David permalink
    July 7, 2020 6:22 pm

    My MP Julie Marson is holding a Virtual Climate Lobby on the 14th at 16.00. The meeting number is 83503248697 Password 393009. I am not clear whether it can be limited to her constituents.

  12. July 7, 2020 6:59 pm

    In normal times this would be deplorable, but with the govt spraying money at anything that moves this form of taxation may make some sort of sense, as long as you regard it as just another tax, and as a means of reducing imports of oil and gas, easing the balance of payments problem.

    Everybody has to be worse off, a notion that the govt seems incapable of grasping or articulating.

    • Phoenix44 permalink
      July 8, 2020 7:12 am

      There is no balance of payments problem. The “money” is completely irrelevant: we can just print that money if we need it in our domestic economy but we don’t need to as the people who now have it have to spend it here in some form or other.

      Trade is the swapping of production. Thanks to modern, sophisticated economies that swap can are many forms but it always balances.

  13. MrGrimNasty permalink
    July 7, 2020 10:53 pm

    “For example, the proposed levels of carbon tax would put about £3 billion a year on domestic gas and oil heating bills, exacerbating an already serious Fuel Poverty problem.”

    They don’t mention that when boasting that perhaps up to 400,000 houses might ‘save’ up to £200 a year on energy bills after their insulation grant pointless gesture to the green blob, which is already getting complaints from non-homeowners as another grab from those unable to afford a house paid to those who can.

    Tricky balancing all these screaming voices.

    As for the headline, I can’t see it being a Poll Tax moment, people don’t react/make the connection like that when they are slowly rinsed from multiple directions.

    • It doesn't add up... permalink
      July 8, 2020 12:23 am

      Spend £5,000 to save £200 a year… that’s a 25 year payback period before financing costs. Or a loss making proposition by the time you factor that the savings are likely only half the forecast, and allowing for financing costs. Add in the likely costs of consequential damage to your property.

    • Vanessa Smith permalink
      July 8, 2020 2:23 pm

      I agree, people do not make the connection. I have electrical heating and no gas. My energy bills are nearly 4 x times most people’s. Be VERY careful what you wish for. People will come after the “greens” with guns if this ludicrous policy ever actually sees the light of day. The poor is unfairly targetted on this green policy.

  14. It doesn't add up... permalink
    July 8, 2020 1:56 am

    More pain is going to be coming via higher bills for renewables subsidies. Lower demand has led to higher than expected bills for constraint payments. It also leads to lower values for ROCs, as explained in this article:

    But the CFD bill is coming in above forecast as marker prices fall with reduced demand, increasing the payout per MWh. Because CFD subsidies are high (and increase the lower the marker price), buying out a CFD producer for constraint payments is usually much too expensive. There is obviously some relief from the period where intermittent marker prices remain negative for six hours plus, for which there is zero CFD payment. Nevertheless, the sums of money have to be recovered from lower demand overall, which means higher charges per kWh. Every time they trumpet high levels of renewables generation think higher bills and more subsidies. Taking the Q1 actuals (£0.6bn) and the forecasts for the balance of the year (£1.7bn), the Low Carbon Contracts Company is now suggesting a total of £2.3bn for 2020. The bills rise as more CFD financed power comes on stream.

  15. markl permalink
    July 8, 2020 4:08 am

    This can only be good that a politician in the UK even recognizes the possible down side of a carbon tax. Lets see where it goes. I’m betting the government will realize this won’t win at the polls nor the economy.

  16. Phoenix44 permalink
    July 8, 2020 7:15 am

    If we have to do something a carbon tax is by far the most efficient and least damaging thing we could do. But a carbon tax requires an equivalent reduction in tax elsewhere to work properly. It is not intended to make us more taxed but to properly price things we use.

    • MrGrimNasty permalink
      July 8, 2020 10:56 am

      You have to ignore the entirety of the history of government taxation to believe that.
      In reality it never happens, the tax burden always ratchets up (yes there’s one or two sojourns, but overall…).

  17. Iain Reid permalink
    July 8, 2020 7:45 am


    “It is not intended to make us more taxed but to properly price things we use.”

    What on earth does that statement mean?

    If you mean that it increases the price of essential commodities, which it will do, then I fail to see your logic. If you feel that you are consuming too much and need a financial incentive to reduce your consumption that is your point of view. I strongly disagree and see no need to reduce my already meagre standard of living any more by another tax. You suggest that this tax is balanced by a reduction in other taxation? Are you serious? Governments don’t work that way and should pigs fly then the financial incentive of the carbon tax disappears anyway as people still have the same disposable income.

    We have had a ‘carbon tax’ on vehicle fuel for decades and that just increases commodity prices for all of us. But what is the benefit, except to the treasury?

  18. Vernon E permalink
    July 8, 2020 10:35 am

    Yesterday Guido reported a reputable poll that put public concern over climate change the lowest out of a longish list. Not a word anywhere in the MSM. Typical.

  19. MrGrimNasty permalink
    July 8, 2020 10:58 am

    Facebook’s bouncers strike.

  20. Vanessa Smith permalink
    July 8, 2020 2:19 pm

    Boris is in the pocket of his stupid, ignorant little girlfriend who is in love with “Greens” so he wants to please her. Thank God someone has come out and told him her views will cripple this country and the world.

  21. Harry Passfield permalink
    July 8, 2020 2:21 pm

    I see that Boris took a question in PMQs about supporting a tidal barrage generator across Morecambe Bay (if I heard right) and he sounded interested. Oh dear.

  22. Curious George permalink
    July 8, 2020 4:35 pm

    [All these costs and burdens on the national food supply “could be passed on to consumers, creating increased incentives to adopt lower carbon diets”.]
    This approach has been used successfully in German concentration camps. Does Islington come next?

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