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Harrabin’s Shopping List

October 28, 2020

By Paul Homewood


We looked at Roger Harrabin’s latest attack on the government the other day, when he gave us his shopping list of all the other things they should be doing:


He promised to examine some of these in future articles, but I can save him a job:

Standards for new homes

New homes already have to meet demanding standards on energy efficiency, and gas boilers will be banned from 2025.

These policies are already adding to the cost of buying a new house, at a time when we keep being told we need more affordable housing.

Harrabin’s crackpot ideas will simply push these costs even higher.

In any event, with new builds running at 170,000 a year, potential energy savings will be tiny, even over a period of a decade, in comparison with a total housing stock of some 27 million.


Green recovery

Meaningless flim flam, which will entail taxpayers’ money being used to subsidise businesses that commit to the green agenda.


Food production

Farming accounts for a tenth of greenhouse gas emissions in the UK, mainly in the form of methane and nitrogen oxides. Eliminating these will devastate the farming industry and lead to a rise in food prices.

The inevitable effect will be to increase imports of food, which will generate far greater emissions than any saved here.


Planning rules

Translation – cram more people into cities to stop them being “car-dependent”



Spend taxpayers’ money on restoring peat moors. Very worthy, I am sure, but where will the money come from?


Heat and buildings

Translation- ban gas boilers, install costly and ineffective heat pumps.


Meat eating

Another policy which will devastate the UK farming industry. And how is it to be enforced – war time style meat rationing, taxation?


Infrastructure statement

Spend hundreds of billions of pounds we have not got on hydrogen networks, carbon capture, car chargers and goodness knows what else.


Road building

Ban all new road building. How dare you want to drive your car!


Carbon dioxide in soil

Latest idea from the NFU to justify greater farming subsidies.


Medium term emissions targets

We already operate Five-Year Carbon Budgets, the latest of which runs from 2028-2032, as legislated for under the Climate Change Act. These budgets are based on the recommendations of the Committee on Climate Change, and we are well on course to meet the target for 2028-2032.

There is a very good reason why the CCC don’t set budgets beyond this time frame – because we cannot foresee the impact which future technological changes may bring.


Tree planting

Largely cosmetic.


Energy storage

Battery and other types of energy storage are useless other than for short periods of time, an hour or so. As such they have no relevance in addressing the problems of intermittency.

Instead, storage is being offered as a panacea by those making money out of renewables.

As an “Environmental Analyst”, Harrabin should know all of this.


Industrial strategy

Agree a timetable for shutting down British industry


 Appliance standards

Make consumer goods more expensive and less efficient


Comprehensive spending review

Add up what all of the above will cost taxpayers.


The public have never been given a say over climate policies, whether the Climate Change Act or the Net Zero plan. And they certainly have not been consulted over any of Harrabin’s “shopping list”, which will have a substantial impact on their lives.

This latest article by him is an all too transparent attempt to influence government policy, and is a clear breach of BBC impartiality rules.

  1. Ariane permalink
    October 28, 2020 2:06 pm

    The public had a say before the passage of the Climate Change Act 2008 when, many convinced by the Friends of the Earth campaigning that the planet would burn etc., they wrote to their MPs to vote for the CC Act and its renewables obligations. Until ‘the public’ and ‘the tax payer’ wake up and get educated about the origins of the extreme Right programme, we will continue to see impoverishment and de-industrialisation in the name of saving the planet.

    • Harry Passfield permalink
      October 28, 2020 3:04 pm

      As is often the case when reading a comment like yours, the response is, show us your citations for it.

      • Harry Passfield permalink
        October 28, 2020 3:57 pm

        Ariane, my previous comment was dashed off on a phone so I owe you some context.
        You said that the public had its say before the passage of the CC Act; that they wrote to their MPs to support the Act.
        That’s where I would like citations. How many of the public wrote? And how many were in support of the Bill? How would you know???
        Personally, I wrote to mine to say DON’T do it….fat lot of good that was.

      • Ariane permalink
        October 28, 2020 6:50 pm

        Harry, sorry, a bit late as I’ve only just opened the laptop again. Here are some links you could look at:

        I’ve just checked and none of these links are on the Internet any more but they were alive and well when I wrote an article a few years ago (and may be found my some skilled computer person. In the meanwhile, here is a quote from my article minus the links:

        ‘The following unedited quote from the South Hams Friends of the Earth site which pre-dates the passage of the UK Climate Change Act, shows their campaigning zeal, knowledge about procedures at Westminster, direct lobbying influence and ability to plan ahead:

        ‘October update on the Climate Change Bill South Hams Friends of the Earth
        Everything seems to be moving so fast on the Big Ask campaign for a climate change bill, that I thought it might be helpful to post an update of just a few of the things that have been happening…

        1) David Miliband and the Queen’s Speech.
        Quite a few major media stories in the last few weeks have strongly hinted that we are likely to get some form of Climate Change Bill in the Queen’s Speech. See below for some thoughts from Martyn Williams, the Senior Parliamentary campaigner, on what this might mean for FOE.

        2) Queen’s Speech and I Count on Nov 4th.
        The date of the Queen’s Speech is November 15, so any lobbying up until that date is still really important. In particular it’s vital that the rally in Trafalgar Square on Sat Nov 4th (a week tomorrow) is a real success, and show politicians just how many people are concerned about climate change. Please do come along to the event, and bring as many people as you can with you.

        3) The Early Day Motion 178 – breaks the 400 mark
        Although the focus of our ask over the last month has been directed on the Climate Change Bill being in the Queen’s Speech, the postcards asking MPs to sign the Early Day Motion 178 have still be flooding in. The result? A whopping 410 MPs have now signed the EDM which has broken the highly symbolic 400 barrier – only the 4th EDM ever to do so!’

        Before I myself became ‘educated’ about the issue, I was actually a volunteer for Friends of the Earth Scotland and had experience of the campaigning, standing next to my MSP haranguing her in the Scottish Parliament with a crowd of FoES staff and volunteers – to vote for the Scottish CC Act in 2009. (I’d been told at FoES that there was a ‘scientific consensus and ‘only about one scientists disagreed.’ And I believed it.

      • Ariane permalink
        October 28, 2020 7:39 pm

        The Wikipedia entry for Big Ask Campaign has 130,000 people across the country asking their MP to support a Climate Change Bill. This was a Friends of the Earth campaign. Apart from Big Ask, there was Stop Climate Chaos which had about 100 charities and voluntary sector organisations pushing for the Bill. Then there were trade unions, business, the churches, Conservative Associations….The public and tax payers were very involved, ill-informed but motivated to save the planet.

      • Harry Passfield permalink
        October 29, 2020 11:12 am

        Ariane, you’re fond of quoting the numbers – not that great a number in the scheme of things – and remarking how many were FoE. Why am I not surprised. When you consider that Bryony Worthington, without any qualification to do so, pretty much single-handedly wrote the CCA bill for the equally unqualified Ed Miliband it tends to lend credence to the argument that it was a huge waste of time and money. Unfortunately it’s impossible to figure out why only three MPs actually voted against it but looking at the quality of MPs we have, they are an ignorant load of sheep. Anyway, no matter what laws they want to enact and implement they will not over-ride the laws of nature, and they are pretty secure in their being in the same way that gravity is. Weather happens. After a while it becomes accepted as climate. It changes. Sometimes for the good, sometimes for the bad. That’s life. However many believers from FoE, XR, or GreenPeace want the climate to be otherwise it is not going to accommodate them: but what these people really want is control of people and that’s an entirely different thing altogether.

    • tonyb permalink
      October 28, 2020 4:32 pm

      Who wrote to their Mp’s to demand they vote for the Act? Do you mean members of Greenpeace, because I don’t remember any public groundswell of support. What is this ‘extreme right’ programme you mention?

    • Phoenix44 permalink
      October 29, 2020 9:01 am

      Extreme right? Its simply socialism, the control of everybody by the state for the good of a body bigger than the individual. In previous versions the state was the proxy for the People, now it’s the proxy for the Planet. We all have to do as we are directed because a handful of people believe they know best.

  2. Peter permalink
    October 28, 2020 2:20 pm

    According to Happer greenhouse gas IR absorption bands are saturated so we don’t have to bother with climate policies.

    Harrabin, you’re fired.

  3. October 28, 2020 2:22 pm

    Bring on the low power hand driers, forgetting that it takes just as much energy to dry your hands with the contraption that’s as much use as an ash tray on a motor bike as it does with a full blown 3kW job which does the job far more effectively in a fraction of the time. Harrabin’s English studies wouldn’t have taught him that.

    • tonyb permalink
      October 28, 2020 4:35 pm

      No, the low powered one machine will mean your hands will dry naturally thereby saving valuable grams of toxic CO2

    • bobn permalink
      October 28, 2020 7:52 pm

      Use a towel – its sustainable and green. Ban powered hand-driers for the sake of the planet 😉

    • Phoenix44 permalink
      October 29, 2020 9:02 am

      My favourite is low power kettles. Apparently they use less energy to boil water…

  4. October 28, 2020 2:40 pm

    Farming and meat eating predate the industrial revolution. Anthropogenic global warming is a theory about the impact of the industrial economy specifically with respect to fossil fuel emissions.

  5. David permalink
    October 28, 2020 2:41 pm

    Its the same with kettles less than 3 kW

  6. Broadlands permalink
    October 28, 2020 2:45 pm

    Road building? With PV vehicles? How will that be possible without asphalt, cement or concrete. All “dangerous” for the climate.

  7. CheshireRed permalink
    October 28, 2020 2:55 pm

    Mallen Baker (a You Tube presenter) has a video on this very subject, where he delivers a few sharp digs into Harrabin (and the BBC) for presenting an editorial Opinion piece as ‘news’. Well worth a watch.

    • Harry Passfield permalink
      October 28, 2020 4:46 pm

      Thanks for that, CheshireRed. A very professional presentation. That said, I felt it would come across stronger had a speaker like Pat Condell presented it. I was also blown away when, near the end, Mallen said he fully supports Net-Zero-2050! I was not expecting that. But overall, informative and an education in how to deconstruct climate waffle.

      • A C Osborn permalink
        October 29, 2020 9:22 am

        How could someone who sees the fallacies in the BBC and Harrabin still support NZ 2050?

  8. Phillip Bratby permalink
    October 28, 2020 3:06 pm

    It’s long past the time when Harrabin should have retired, drawn his enormous pension paid for by BBC subscribers and went to live in Antarctica, the soon-to-be only habitable continent.

  9. Mad Mike permalink
    October 28, 2020 3:48 pm

    I picked this up on another site but hardly understand a word of it apart from CO2 doesn’t cause global warming.

    If anybody works in this field they might have a go at explaining it in a Janet Nad Jon format.

    • October 28, 2020 4:35 pm

      principia….. is a rather excellent site, dedicated to truth in science, & co-founded by climatologist Dr. Tim Ball, science writer John O’Sullivan & backed by about 200 top scientists & engineers.
      Put Ball defeats Mann in search box.
      Well worth a look.
      John Doran.

      • Mad Mike permalink
        October 29, 2020 9:51 am

        Yes, but can you explain simply the workings in the article?

    • David V permalink
      October 30, 2020 7:29 pm

      Very disappointed that no one has attempted an answer…

  10. tonyb permalink
    October 28, 2020 3:52 pm

    “New homes already have to meet demanding standards on energy efficiency, and gas boilers will be banned from 2025.”

    Fortunately all new houses have very large gardens and will able to readily accommodate ground heat pumps. Failing that there is no problem with air heat pumps. Although energy efficiency will need be to be high with the elements firmly excluded by snug treble glazing, no draughts and no other way for heat to escape or cold air to enter.

    Viruses circulating in tightly sealed houses are a small price to pay for dying green

    • It doesn't add up... permalink
      October 29, 2020 12:43 am

      A front door will be an optional extra. Complete with airlocks borrowed from the ISS/Zarya.

    • Sobaken permalink
      October 29, 2020 9:13 am

      Interesting how, despite (supposedly) having problems with both affordability of housing and high energy demand, Brits still keep constructing low density low rise residential buildings.

  11. Pancho Plail permalink
    October 28, 2020 4:13 pm

    Once gas boilers start wearing out and the cost of replacing them becomes apparent, the gloss will quickly wear off.

    • Harry Passfield permalink
      October 28, 2020 4:49 pm

      You think it will be a rolling replacement as old boilers ‘wear out’, PP? That would ean having to run a natural gas network alongside a hydrogen one. Hmmmm.

      • It doesn't add up... permalink
        October 29, 2020 12:50 am

        The idea supposedly is that your boiler will need to be able to run off either fuel with a simple switch of burners. That will make it expensive, as it will probably be designed with different pipes as well.

  12. Curious George permalink
    October 28, 2020 4:49 pm

    Planning Rules. Let’s resurrect the Glorious Tradition of Five year Plans 😉

  13. ianprsy permalink
    October 28, 2020 4:56 pm

    Surely the policy of no new gas heating after 2025 can’t be supported. Even on new houses and reduced consumption due to better insulation, etc, the net cost of all-electric v/v gas + electric will be prohibitive, UNLESS there’s going to be a big reduction in the cost of electricity. What are the chances of that?

    In terms of boiler replacement for existing properties, add in the effect of smaller savings due to poorer insulation, plus the capital cost of going electric. Can’t be done.

    • It doesn't add up... permalink
      October 29, 2020 12:55 am

      The plan is to impose swingeing carbon taxes to make your gas expensive. That means that expensive things like hydrogen don’t have to be explicitly subsidised. I am not too sure how electorally popular a carbon tax that raises your gas bill by a factor of say three for SMR produced hydrogen. Green hydrogen is ten times the cost of methane.

  14. Up2snuff permalink
    October 28, 2020 5:15 pm

    I go along with Harrabin’s ‘demand’ for standards for new homes as long as they do not include the stupid Prescott Dogma on roads and do not exclude gas or coal use for cooking and heating.

    I live in a new build constructed to – I think – the standards set by John Prescott when he was SoState for the Environment and Communities.

    Not good.

  15. Joe Public permalink
    October 28, 2020 5:16 pm

    “…gas boilers will be banned from 2025.”

    Not quite correct, Paul.

    Only natural gas boilers in new-build houses.

    Replacement natural gas boilers (an 18-million / >1.2m-per-year market) and new natural gas boilers in existing homes are not (yet) banned.

    Boilers burning hydrogen, and presumably bio-methane will be permitted for new-builds. There are also Combined Heat and Power (CHP) co-generation boilers which produce both heat and electricity from a single gas appliance. The old British Gas did some development work on those 40-odd years ago. There are a few on the market today, but like all esoteric technology, they’re pricey.

    • ianprsy permalink
      October 28, 2020 5:39 pm

      Thanks Paul. Running costs in new build still an issue.

    • October 28, 2020 6:10 pm

      I can see Combined Heat and Power (CHP) co-generation boilers becoming more popular as electricity becomes more expensive and less reliable. Unintended consequences!

    • Steve permalink
      October 29, 2020 7:38 am

      My boiler man tells me that there are already boilers which are convertible from methane to hydrogen. The cost of hydrogen by volume is estimated to be three times that of methane. As the calorific value is much less, heat for heat it is likely to be five times. Is this correct?

      • Joe Public permalink
        October 29, 2020 11:31 am

        Hi Steve

        1. “My boiler man tells me that there are already boilers which are convertible from methane to hydrogen.” Yes he’s correct. Many modern boilers are (relatively easily) adaptable for burning alternative gasses – LPG/propane, natural gas, hydrogen.

        2.”The cost of hydrogen by volume is estimated to be three times that of methane. As the calorific value is much less, heat for heat it is likely to be five times. Is this correct?”

        2.1 The Gross Calorific Value of hydrogen is just 11.88 MJ/m3 (3.3kWh/m3) vs 37.5 MJ/m3 to 43.0 MJ/m3 (approx 11.1kWh/m3) for Nat Gas, so less than 30% that of Nat Gas per unit volume. [AT STP]

        2.2 ‘Heat for heat’ – it’ll be identical because we’re buying the heat/energy-content not the ‘volume’.

        2.3 The cost of hydrogen will undoubtedly be more expensive than natural gas because hydrogen has to be energy-intensively & energy inefficiently ‘manufactured’ and made transportable.

    • October 29, 2020 10:19 am

      Yes, sorry, it was only new homes that I was referring to.

  16. Ben Vorlich permalink
    October 28, 2020 8:28 pm

    “Spend taxpayers’ money on restoring peat moors. Very worthy, I am sure, but where will the money come from?”

    Over the years I’ve had arguments and discussions about this. For over half the holocene there were very few bogs in the British Isles and a lot of mixed woodland the remains of much of this is preserved at the bottom of peat bogs. The biodiversity in a peat bog isn’t that great and almost non-existant when compared to mixed woodland. Apart from the top few millimetres the several metres to the bottom of a bog is sterile, as shown by 5000 year old tree stumps and 3000 year old bog bodies. So if climate is returning to the Holocene Optimum why would you want to restore a Peat Bog? From the evidence of my own eyes you can see old sphagnum moss a fair bit below the surface still distinguishable several decades after it was a living entity.

    Why not return it to woodland? Why not bring back the missing flora and fauna? This would meet the need for more trees and rewilding of more remote areas of the country.

  17. October 28, 2020 9:54 pm

    I thought that industry had already been scrapped, what with lockdowns and sacking workment left right and centre. There must by now be a shortage of working type Men!!!!

  18. October 28, 2020 11:54 pm

    Amazing how these “conversations” bring out the issues and give them real life context. Thank you.

  19. knudgeknudge permalink
    October 29, 2020 7:31 am

    ‘Translation- ban gas boilers, install costly and ineffective heat pumps.’

    I am genuinely interested to understand why heat pumps are ‘ineffective’.
    I thought they provided a saving in electricity?

    I ask partly because the Italian gov’t has launched an ‘Ecobonus’ scheme whereby one can be installed at basically no cost to the house owner…(subject to a lot of checks etc…)
    I am considering applying for it!

    • Steve permalink
      October 29, 2020 7:45 am

      If it’s freezing cold outside, they hardly work. I have one in S. France. An efficient hp creates three to four times as much heat as the electrical energy put in. But electricity is now costing five to six times as much as gas heat for heat. The Italian government must have a lot of spare money.

      • Ariane permalink
        October 29, 2020 8:03 am

        The EU has just put a lot of new money into their anti-CO2 project:

      • knudgeknudge permalink
        October 29, 2020 8:09 am

        Intereresting. Where I am in Sicily it never freezes altho it can get down to 4c at night. I live in the countrside and can only get bottled gas which I do use sometimes in a ‘Campingaz’ mobile heater. It’s ok for short periods but produces a damp heat.

        I also have an inefficient wood stove which I should change for a real ‘slow combustion’ stove – even then wood costs a bit – I’m not sure how it compares to electricity for heating!
        I don’t like pellet stoves.
        The scheme involves tax credits which one can transfer to a bank and get credit…an attempt to relaunch building industry….but a huge amount of paperwork.One can also change windows etc.

    • A C Osborn permalink
      October 29, 2020 9:36 am

      Electric heating in all forms are more expensive than gas at the moment.
      To make it more attractive they just need to double the price of gas with more Carbon Taxes.
      Don’t think it can’t happen.

    • October 29, 2020 10:26 am

      Heat pumps are fine for providing background heat, but are of litle use in really cold weather. They also require much more insulation than most houses have to be effective.

      Although they use electricity more efficiently than say an electric fire, they still cost more to run than a gas boiler, as electricity is five times as costly as gas.

      But probably the biggest issue is that the power grid simply would not be able to cope with the peak demand in winter if all homes had heat pumps

  20. Phoenix44 permalink
    October 29, 2020 8:58 am

    Control, control, control, control, control. Everything and everybody.

    Hayek must be spinning. Government must turn us into serfs because otherwise we won’t do what is “right”.

  21. 2hmp permalink
    October 29, 2020 10:32 am

    What about Harrabin;s first Law – Zero CO2 and kill everything.

  22. Ralph Gardner permalink
    November 3, 2020 7:19 pm

    We are in a long-term ice age that started 2.6 million years ago called the Quaternary Glaciation(fifth ice age) that nobody seems to mention.

    We have been in an ice age for 2.6 million years called the Quaternary Glaciation, in a warm period called Holocene that is cooler than the last warm period 120,000 years ago called the Eemian.

    In the Eemian the tree line went up past the Arctic circle.

    By definition, the climate won’t change until there is no more natural year-round ice on the earth.

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