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Renewable Energy Will Not Solve The Problem Admits Harrabin

October 26, 2020

By Paul Homewood


h/t Philip Bratby



 For years we have been told that switching to renewable energy and electric cars would solve the “problem of climate change”.

Now that the government has plans to do just that, Harrabin reveals what we knew all along, that things are not that simple:


Can we trust the silver bullet of technology to fix climate change? The prime minister seems to think so.

In a speech due soon, he is expected to pledge his faith in offshore wind power, solar, carbon capture, hydrogen, clean cars, and zero-emission aviation.

Clean technologies are clearly a huge part of any solution.

But the PM is being accused of techno-optimism bias, because he does not mention other key factors in reducing emissions.

In fact, experts say, tackling climate change will need action right across society and the economy – with a host of new incentives, laws, rules, bans, appliance standards, taxes and institutional innovations.

They also warn that citizens’ behaviour must shift, with people probably driving and flying less, and eating less meat and dairy produce.

In other words, when it comes to cutting carbon emissions, there’s no silver bullet – it’s more like silver buckshot.

But Boris Johnson still seems to have a bandolero stuffed with technologies resembling silver bullets. Let’s see whether they’ll go with a bang.

Clean cars

Take cars. The prime minister is due to accelerate the transition towards battery- and hydrogen-powered vehicles.

But Professor Jillian Anable from Leeds University warns that even electric cars pose "their own problems that politicians seem reluctant to acknowledge."

“Producing electricity and hydrogen requires huge numbers of wind farms or the like, and the cars themselves need resource-hungry tyres, and batteries.

"They also need roads and parking spaces that could otherwise be used for gardens and trees that soak up carbon dioxide," she said.

“The harsh reality is that we have to find ways to limit the number of cars and the amount that we drive them”


There is widespread agreement that hydrogen will play a role in reducing climate change – but how much, and in what industrial sectors, is another matter.

A key question is whether it’s sourced from natural gas – which is expensive and, depending on the process used, can yield troublesome carbon dioxide as a by-product – or by using surplus wind energy to split water into hydrogen and oxygen. The latter process does the job cleanly but at still greater cost.

Jess Ralston, from the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit think tank, said: “Hydrogen can power cars, but electricity seems to have won that technology race. It could heat homes, but electric heat pumps are emerging as a better bet.

“Hydrogen could be really useful, though, in industries such as steelmaking and in heavy transport – including buses that we’re already seeing. But it’s no silver bullet.”


On aviation, the prime minister has launched his ambition to devise clean planes. He calls the project “jet zero”.

Industry figures appreciate his boosterish support, but critics warn "jet zero" mustn’t divert attention from the short-term need for rules and taxes to hold down aviation emissions after Covid.

Cait Hewitt from the Aviation Environment Federation told us: “No zero-carbon technology options are currently available for commercial aviation.

She explains: "Planes use masses of energy. Batteries aren’t powerful enough except for tiny planes, and we can only produce biofuels sustainably in small quantities.

“We need a major rollout of radical new technologies, and we need the capacity to remove remaining aircraft emissions from the atmosphere.

But she says that “given how far we are from delivering these things, we’ll also probably need to fly less.”


UK governments have agonised for decades about nuclear energy, but Boris Johnson recently gave it the nod.

That means he’s likely to either agree a financial package for a new station at Sizewell or for small modular reactors, or both.

But nuclear is still a divisive issue. While it "could definitely help to reduce emissions," said Professor Jim Watson, from UCL, "it’s very expensive."

“To play a major role, the cost of new nuclear plants will really need to fall, especially when the costs of other technologies like wind and solar have dropped so far.

“And nuclear developers will need to show that they can build their plants more quickly because we need all electricity to be low carbon within the next 10 years.”

He agreed that mini reactors might bring down costs – but said it was far too soon to be certain.

Capturing carbon

The prime minister has professed himself “an evangelist" for the technology that captures carbon dioxide as it is emitted from factories and power stations and either stores it in underground rocks or uses it for new chemicals.

Two decades ago it was touted as a climate saviour, but it’s very expensive and has never taken off.

The main climate authority, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), says the technology must be used to capture the emissions from trees being burned for energy.

This way, the plants suck carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere and the emissions are buried – helping to turn climate change into reverse. It’s known as Bio Energy with Carbon Capture and Storage (BECCS).

But the IPCC’s Professor Jim Skea says there are "potential problems."

He explained: "If the trees are grown on land that would otherwise be used for producing food then there are problems with food security. And if we plant acres and acres of land with the same type of tree there are implications for wildlife.”

Silver buckshot?

So much for silver bullets. But what about the silver buckshot I mentioned earlier?

Well, a long list of policies requires government attention, including: standards for new homes; green recovery; food production; planning rules; peat; heat and buildings; meat eating; infrastructure statement; road building; carbon dioxide in soil; medium-term emissions targets; tree planting; energy storage; industrial strategy; appliance standards; and the comprehensive spending review. 



The idea that renewables energy could make a significant difference on its own was always absurd, as many of us have argued over the years. Carbon dioxide emissions from power stations only account for a tenth of the UK’s total, and nobody has yet shown how the grid can be run on intermittent sources alone.

And as Jillian Anable explains, EVs are not a panacea either. They still need energy and other resources, still need roads. Above all over their lifetime they still generate massive amounts of carbon dioxide, whether here or abroad.

Then comes the admission that hydrogen is extremely expensive and still produces admissions, unless you use electrolysis which is more expensive still and could not supply at the scale required.

Zero carbon aviation remains a pipedream, and carbon capture is little better, while biomass has implications for food security and wildlife.


Which brings us to Harrabin’s shopping list, which would entail, as he points out, action right across society and the economy. This is, of course, a recognition that you cannot run a modern economy on wind and solar power alone. Want to drive your car, take a flight or have roast beef for Sunday lunch when you want? Forget it.

In Harrabin’s brave new world, we must all be coerced to follow the diktats of the Great God of Decarbonisation and amend our wasteful ways.

It is not you shopping list the public are interested in Mr Harrabin, but the bill.

  1. Jackington permalink
    October 26, 2020 3:16 pm

    This report has Lord Stern’s fingerprints all over it – what’s new?

    • October 26, 2020 5:18 pm

      What’s new, Jackington, is that the dreaded Horridbin is beginning to see that his doleful output, hitherto, might not be quite correct in every particular. We must give thanks to the Lord and to Our Wondrous Leader Paul for this, if nothing else.

  2. Broadlands permalink
    October 26, 2020 3:24 pm

    Capturing carbon…
    “The prime minister has professed himself “an evangelist” for the technology that captures carbon dioxide as it is emitted from factories and power stations and either stores it in underground rocks or uses it for new chemicals.”

    But, the problem is the technology that operates in the millions of tons annually. The Earth would need billions stored permanently to make a difference to the climate. And, there is no safe place to put CO2 under pressure. Carbonate rocks make the job even harder with calcium added to the CO2. Time for some realism?

    • spetzer86 permalink
      October 26, 2020 6:43 pm

      A bigger issue is that the carbon capture technology makes everything less efficient, ie worse. Why spend your precious resources doing something inherently stupid?

    • tom0mason permalink
      October 27, 2020 5:54 am

      The dumbest idea is CCS — from the minds of half-wits!
      It ASSUMES that the CO2 levels in the atmosphere is a separate and independent operator from the CO2 dissolved in the oceans. They are NOT separated they are linked (look-up Oceanic pCO2).
      The atmospheric CO2 levels are at the balance that Nature (not humans) have defined. And it largely depends on sea surface temperatures.
      What are they planning to do, suck all the CO2 from the oceans via the atmosphere?

      I pray “Lord help them, they know not of what they speak.”

      • Philip Foster permalink
        October 27, 2020 12:10 pm

        Henry’s Law applies here. The more you extract CO2 from the air the more the oceans will emit CO2 into the air. As the reserves of CO2 in the oceans are huge (at least 50x that in the air) it would take centuries, even millennia, of pumping to make even a small dent in atmospheric CO2 levels.

    • October 27, 2020 3:56 pm

      The prime minister has professed himself “an evangelist”

      Would you buy a used car from an evangelist, EV or not?

  3. James Neill permalink
    October 26, 2020 3:26 pm

    The way the article reads suggests that the changes, rules, taxes and controls would all be the responsibility of the state. Are they trying to get us to accept watermelon socialism via the backdoor?

    • John Cullen permalink
      October 26, 2020 4:48 pm

      I think your idea of watermelon socialism (as described by Delingpole in his book, ‘Watermelons’) is only the outer layer of the onion. Remove that layer and you reveal the rent-seeking alliance, known as the Iron Triangle in academic circles, between the various green organisations and those sections of industry that build the very expensive electrical hardware, with the whole edifice supported (mostly in the West) by government bureaucrats and government ministers – and the mainstream (i.e. corporate) media just fan the flames.

      The set up above is, in effect, not so much socialism as an incomplete form of corporatism; it is incomplete because a major component of an all encompassing corporatism would include the tax payers and electricity/fossil fuel consumers who have to pay for the whole enterprise. However, it is not in the interests of the rent-seekers to include the latter since the uneconomic rents would probably disappear very quickly if those who pay were properly consulted.

      John Cullen.

  4. JimW permalink
    October 26, 2020 3:40 pm

    As the UN/WEF etc openly state, its all about changing society, the economy and how we live our lives. The changes installed to ‘protect’ us from a virus will never be reversed, they are a step in the direction ‘required’.

    • Barbara permalink
      October 26, 2020 6:04 pm

      You are right. At every opportunity we are being ‘entreated’ to change the way we live in order to save the planet. Watching Scotland from the Air over the weekend two earnest young men informed us that we would all need to change our ways if we didn’t want coastal ancient monuments to be undermined by rising seas. These ‘entreatments’ will come at us in ever more forceful formats for sure as time moves on.

  5. Nancy & John Hultquist permalink
    October 26, 2020 3:41 pm

    All of this is silly, but the really odd one is this:

    And nuclear developers will need to show that they can build their plants more quickly because we need all electricity to be low carbon within the next 10 years.

    How can anyone show a “quick build” if the siting, permits, and law suits can’t be accomplished in under 10 years?

    _ _ _ _
    The main climate authority, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC),

    I choked on that one.

    • Micky R permalink
      October 27, 2020 1:04 pm

      Construction period for Sizewell B was eight years. The UK had the option of then building several more PWRs, with a construction cost estimate in 1992 for the twin reactor Sizewell C of £3.5 billion

      Instead, our glorious leaders went for gas. Idiots.

  6. Coeur de Lion permalink
    October 26, 2020 3:51 pm

    It must unravel. So much nonsense. U.K. ‘tackling climate change’ – we only produce 1.2% global . And CO2 will go on climbing. And make no difference. Sad

    • John Cullen permalink
      October 26, 2020 4:56 pm

      Hello CdL,
      You say, “it must unravel”. But why must it? Currently the rent-seekers have effectively captured the governmental process, probably largely through lobbying over decades, and will want to continue milkng the tax payer for subsidies and the electricity consumer with ever higher prices. What is to stop the rent-seekers, especially as they are allied with much of the behemoth of the green movement?

      I fear that, for ordinary people, matters can only get a lot worse for the foreseeable future.

      John Cullen

    • tonyb permalink
      October 26, 2020 5:20 pm

      But that 1.2% is only of the ‘human caused’ Co2 which is 4% of the total. Nature provides the remaining 96%

      It is why overall CO2 emissions have not budged despite man emitting 17% less in 2020 due to the pandemic

      If we were to rebase the 4% from humans to 100 the UK would provide 1.2% of that and China 31%. But that means that we are less than irrelevant for human caused CO2 and utterly and completely irrelevant looking at the total of man and nature.

      You do think they know this?.

  7. October 26, 2020 4:11 pm

    More chance of unicorn farts powering the world than this unfeasible wish list. Warming has slowed and carbon dioxide was never proven to be the cause of the alleged warming. Why are we trying to reduce it? It is beneficial to crop yields.

    • Geoff B permalink
      October 26, 2020 4:14 pm

      its me, finger trouble or more probably anger!!!!!

  8. Dan permalink
    October 26, 2020 4:13 pm

    Typo – fordet

    “Want to drive your car, take a flight or have roast beef for Sunday lunch when you want? Fordet it.”

  9. Harry Passfield permalink
    October 26, 2020 4:49 pm

    What an incredibly ridiculous piece from Harrabin! It was so stupid it needed ‘top and tailing’ with: ‘Once upon a Time’ and, ‘Goodnight children, Sweet Dreams’.

    One quote caught my eye: “Industry figures appreciate his boosterish support” – I thought it a typo: surely, Woosterish would have been a better fit. It’s Boris to a ‘T’ – and I’m embarrassed to think I was persuaded to vote for him.

    Finally, the wet dream that white goods can all be changed as people sign up (voluntarily or under Gov diktat) to the future. Well, I don’t know where Harrabin or Boris have been this last year but ‘the people’ will be facing a HUGE national debt for the foreseeable, meaning that they will not be able to afford new white goods: they’ll try to keep what they’ve got running as long as poss. As for transport: we shall be more like Cuba than Coventry (Oh! They don’t make cars there anymore…). The Country is BROKE!!

    Finally, finally, would some unbiased techie please tell Boris that it’s rather stupid to generate electricity – however expensively and inefficiently with wind and solar, only to use that power to create hydrogen which can be used to generate more inefficient(actually, an awful lot LESS) electricity. The mad house calls!!

    • Gerry, England permalink
      October 27, 2020 1:49 pm

      Unless you live in the Blond Buffon’s constituency or are a member of the Tory party, you can’t actually vote for the idiot Johnson so don’t feel so bad, Harry. You were voting for a Tory government but most likely only to keep out Corbyn and his Red Labour communists. You have no say in who is our Prime Minister which is one of the many defects of our system.

  10. Harry Passfield permalink
    October 26, 2020 5:02 pm

    Paul, has an earlier comment of mine disappeared? I commented on Harrabin’s thoughts that Boris was Boosterish. I thought it should be Woosterish.

    • Harry Passfield permalink
      October 26, 2020 6:29 pm

      Thank you, Paul.

  11. October 26, 2020 5:07 pm

    …and what has that tedious & devious old codger John Selwyn Bummer got to say about all this none too soon awakwening ? Anyone know ?

  12. Mad Mike permalink
    October 26, 2020 5:11 pm

    Well, there we have it. Its about a control agenda that is anti-capitalist and full of Governmental control not CC. At least it’s out in the open now. We have been softened up increasingly so that CC is mainstream with no descent in MSM, so its a fact. They have done this without ever costing the implications nor telling the public how much their lives will change. Throw in this godsend CV19 to test just how much the Government can get away with in terms of restricting and abolishing democratic freedom and they are now emboldened enough for them to reveal the truth of what they plan.

    It’ll be interesting to see what reaction we will get once the public wakes up to how they’ve been duped. I won’t hold my breath.

  13. Mad Mike permalink
    October 26, 2020 5:15 pm

    Could this be the beginning of a change? We’ve had so many false dawns.

  14. October 26, 2020 6:01 pm

    Wow! Not a single word about the real problem (holy grail, Pandora’s box, Achilles heel, can of worms…): O V E R P O P U L A T I O N !

    • October 26, 2020 6:46 pm

      Because overpopulation isn’t a problem because it doesn’t exist.

    • Harry Passfield permalink
      October 26, 2020 7:44 pm

      The paradox Ben, is that populations grew disproportionally with the access to cheap energy. If, say the third world had access to cheap, available and reliable energy then the need for large families would cease to exist. As it did in the start of the 20th C in Europe. But, the UN and GP are keeping it from them by threatening them with CC.

      • Sobaken permalink
        October 27, 2020 8:49 am

        Many “third world” countries already have fertility rates close to or below replacement rate. Only the least developed places, such as most of Subsaharan Africa and select countries in Central Asia and Middle East have birth rates of more than 3 children per woman. The entire developed world has TFRs below 1.5 if you exclude the impact of mass immigration (from the aforementioned least developed places), which is particularly visible in countries with low immigration rates such as Poland or Japan. And it’s declining further, fast, everywhere.
        It’s not really about energy access directly, but about the switch from agricultural to industrial economy, which is only enabled by access to energy of course. In a traditional society, having children is a net benefit for your family, as they help you in the fields or in your craft from a very early age, it’s an investment that pays off before they grow up and settle with families of their own. In a modern society, where child labor is banned, everyone is in organized salary employment rather than being peasants or craftsmen, and one has to go through decades of education (all while being supported by their parents) to even be able to find any work, having children became a colossal net loss, it turned from an investment to charity (which people still do, but at much smaller scales), hence the drastically reduced birthrates.
        China, India, South-East Asia, Latin America, etc all industrialized despite the best efforts of the anti-humanist globalists to hamper industrial growth. All their silly divestment schemes and climate laws couldn’t stop these “third worlders”, and it won’t stop Africa from following the same path either. There’s coal and gas and oil on every continent.
        And then, after there’s no unindustrialized societies left, the real problem of population decline would become apparent. But hopefully we’ll figure something out by then.

      • October 27, 2020 9:46 pm

        yet, it is a problem….

    • tom0mason permalink
      October 27, 2020 1:03 pm

      Yes overpopulation is the problem!
      The world has a vast overpopulation problem with the numbers of termites and cockroaches on the planet. With increasing speed these massive global populations have crept into nearly every areas of the land. Between them they wreak devastation across the biosphere as they spread illness and disease across the planet, while destroying vast acreages of plant life while emitting high volumes of atmospheric gases like methane and CO2.
      This overpopulation must be countered with UN campaigns for voluntary sterilization, and broadcasting across all major insect social channels, programs aimed at shaming and guilt tripping these greedy types into some sense of responsibility.

      • October 27, 2020 9:43 pm


      • tom0mason permalink
        October 28, 2020 4:27 pm

        Yes and I laugh at you for such twoddle!

      • tom0mason permalink
        October 28, 2020 4:26 pm

        Ben Dussan,
        Yes I laugh at you and your overpopulation ideas.
        Utter wrong minded, Malthusian tommyrot!


      • October 29, 2020 1:29 am

        the twoddle is on you. You are entitled to your Malthusian opinions. However, should you open your eyes and mind and clean your ears you may begin to understand the facts of life about overpopulation….

      • tom0mason permalink
        October 29, 2020 7:53 am

        Ben Dussan,
        HAHAHAHA! Facts ?
        You have none.
        Another empty vassal ridiculously reciting the word overpopulation with not an iota of reason, logic, or evidence.

      • October 29, 2020 3:43 pm

        you make it quite evident that you are a fanatic, and as such it is just a waste of time even to think about dialoging: so, be it BYE

      • tom0mason permalink
        October 29, 2020 4:26 pm

        You make it quite evident that you are a dangerous fanatic! You are dismissed — BYE

  15. Thomas Carr permalink
    October 26, 2020 6:11 pm

    Please remind me. What scientific training has R.Harrabin received in the field of energy generation and climate science? What analytical training in those fields, also. I mean qualifications and not a vicarious association with the subjects. The press and broadcasting media may be made up of good writers but that is not enough.

    • tom0mason permalink
      October 27, 2020 8:53 am

      “What scientific training has R.Harrabin received”
      Here is the full list of his qualifications…

      1) Janet and John books on Science,
      2) Mrs. Tilly-Winkle’s Book of Chemistry,
      3) Recently paid for degree of Douglas Adams 5 book trilogy ‘Hitchhikers Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’ — though this qualification is now in disputed it was plagiarized work from some guy called Mr. Black.


  16. John permalink
    October 26, 2020 6:12 pm

    These arrogant idiots actually believe that they can control what people actually eat. Good luck with that!!

  17. October 26, 2020 6:32 pm

    I wonder why R.Harrabin quotes sources who pronounce from outside their expertise or competence zone. For that matter why so many pressure groups assume names which might confer authority when banality is their main output. No names but you can deduce for yourself from what the BBC published above.

    • Phoenix44 permalink
      October 27, 2020 9:32 am

      It’s an old trick. Take the National Obesity Forum – nothing more than a handful of obsessed activists pushing their deranged agenda .

  18. October 26, 2020 6:42 pm

    Basically they can’t bear to agree with Boris the Tory. Shows they don’t give a damn about the environment its all about bashing capitalism and Tories

  19. mjr permalink
    October 26, 2020 6:51 pm

    Harrabin talks about silver “bullets” and “buckshot” This is where we want a portmanteau word to cover both terms ……. aha . got it “BULLSHIT ” which is what Harrabin usually writes anyway

    • October 27, 2020 4:04 pm

      Believe it or not the piece is more realistic than most of Harrabin’s climate/enviro stuff.

  20. Robert Christopher permalink
    October 26, 2020 7:36 pm

    Tesla’s Battery Supply Problem (which should be part of any Green New Deal proposal) is an invitation to be overwhelmed by Science and Industrial challenges:

  21. CheshireRed permalink
    October 26, 2020 10:01 pm

    The whole racket is a climate sh*t-show. Fraud at its finest.

  22. Ben Vorlich permalink
    October 27, 2020 6:36 am

    I try to avoid seeing Harrabin on TV, but when I do it surprises me what a snappy dresser he is, and how often he reports from the locations he’s talking about. Both seem to be unnecessary and not in the best interests of the environment.

    The article contains the phrase “reverse climate change” it is frightening to think they might want to go back to the Little Ice Age.

  23. Adam Gallon permalink
    October 27, 2020 8:10 am
    Another “renewables” scam in Northern Ireland.
    “The Northern Ireland Audit Office found that a Stormont green energy scheme far more lucrative than RHI saw Arlene Foster approve more generous subsidies than in Great Britain, but managed to get electricity customers in GB to pay for most of it — and the total bill could be £5 billion.”

  24. Phoenix44 permalink
    October 27, 2020 9:28 am

    In other words, a classic bait and switch. We get you to commit to something based on rosy claims then tell you it ctually can’t be done unless we impose all sorts of restrictions and costs on everybody.

    Driving less – how does that work? Nobody drives for pleasure these days, we do it because its necessary. So driving less means fewer visits to relatives, fewer trips for hobbies, sports, concerts, arts whatever. Fewer visits to shops so more on-line.

    All of this will have huge effects on the economy and society with people reverting to feudal restrictions where people couldn’t leave their village. It’s a dangerous fantasy propagated by the insane.

    • Mad Mike permalink
      October 27, 2020 11:56 am

      Yes, but go and ask 20 people in the high street what this all means to their way of life and I bet you that 19 of them won’t have a proper idea. Most people don’t think beyond their next holiday, Christmas or whatever. Its even worse if you talk to young people. They worry but have no idea what the facts are beyond what they have been told to think at uni or school.

  25. Peter permalink
    October 27, 2020 12:11 pm

    Someone should point out to Harrabin that according to William Happer there will be no more warming. The GHG absorption bands are saturated.

  26. Coeur de Lion permalink
    October 27, 2020 7:39 pm

    I have just complained to the BBC about a Today programme interjection by Horrorbin on Tuesday 13 Oct (also remarked in the Spectator) ending after this catalogue of unprecedented disasters “if we go on as we are it’s three degrees”. Utterly disgraceful alarmism

  27. October 28, 2020 6:41 pm

    The is not a single member of the Cabinet with a science degree or background. No mention has been made of the horrendous cost and disruption of installing enough charging points for cars, and what about large commercials? And the electricity supply is going to need to be enlarged enormously if we are to manage without fossil fuels, at enormous cost. Other than nuclear, all other electricity generation is intermittent and unreliable and there is no foreseeable possibility of storing enough to keep Birmingham going for more than five minutes, if that.
    The whole concept is ludicrous. Meanwhile, bien-pensant idiots are installing cycle lanes all over central London and other cities so traffic is belching out CO2 whilst stationary in the hold-ups they cause.

  28. yonason permalink
    November 1, 2020 9:23 pm

    How do you solve a problem that doesn’t exist?

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