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Ben Pile: The public just isn’t buying the climate agenda

April 2, 2021

By Paul Homewood




This week, the UK government announced it would be scrapping the beleaguered Green Homes Grant scheme. Launched at the end of last summer, the scheme was intended to subsidise the retrofitting of homes, so as to make them energy-efficient and help the UK reduce its CO2 emissions. According to one report, bureaucratic inefficiencies have caused the scheme to be scrapped. Even the green lobbyists who campaigned for it said it was marked by ‘staggering ineptitude’ and ‘incompetent administration’, and was ‘shambolic’ and ‘botched’.

This is not the first catastrophic policy failure of this kind. And yet the climate agenda’s most powerful advocates have yet to admit to their mistakes, or to understand their failures.

Take, for example, the big claims that increasing the energy efficiency of homes could create ‘hundreds of thousands of new green jobs’, create a ‘green industrial revolution’, a ‘green economy’ and ‘lower prices’. These claims accompanied flagship policies championed by the governments of Gordon Brown, David Cameron, and Boris Johnson in the wake of the 2008 Climate Change Act, which required CO2 emissions reduction. Yet the armies of green workers never appeared. Green growth turned out to be mere mould. And the green industrial revolution has amounted to nothing more than industries relocating overseas, where energy prices are lower.

In 2009, Gordon Brown announced a ‘green new deal’, which would create 400,000 ‘green jobs’ in the new ‘environmental sector’. He claimed that by 2017 there would be 1.3million such jobs. It was welcome news in a recession-hit UK at a time when unemployment had hit two million. ‘Under the Great British Refurb we aim to have every loft and cavity wall in the country insulated by 2015 and smart meters in every home by 2020’, Brown wrote in the Guardian, in a torrent of unrealistic green technological promises. The newly formed Department for Energy and Climate Change added the detail: ‘At least seven million homes will have been offered “whole-house” upgrades with energy efficiency and micro-generation technologies by 2020, and every home by 2030 – virtually eliminating carbon emissions from our homes.’

The subsequent Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition was just as keen on pursuing Brown’s vision. At the 2010 Liberal Democrat party conference, energy and climate change minister Chris Huhne announced a ‘green deal’ (he could hardly call it a new green new deal, could he?), which would ‘create a whole new industry of up to 250,000 jobs, working on 26million homes’. ‘The green deal will be a revolution’, said Huhne, ‘the first scheme of its kind in the developed world, the most ambitious energy-saving plan ever put forward – a once and for all re-fit that will make every home in Britain ready for a low-carbon future’. Phew! ‘No more half-measures, going off at half-cock’, he promised.

But the scheme was less than a half-measure. And it went off at significantly less than half-cock. It took the coalition more than two years to get the scheme up and running, and, when it was eventually launched in January 2013, it failed to impress consumers. Not least because it allowed households to take out loans for energy-efficiency measures attached to the house, rather than to its owners. The next Conservative government shelved the scheme in July 2015. In its two-and-a-half years of existence, just 15,000 homes had taken up the offer.

This brings us to the Green Homes Grant, which has folded after just seven months. Households were offered subsidies of two thirds of the cost of retrofitting up to £5,000, which could help cover insulation, ‘low carbon heat’, such as heat pumps, draft proofing and double glazing. For all Boris Johnson’s ‘build back better’ hype, this scheme has proven to be no more enduring than Brown’s ‘building Britain’s future’. It follows the Green New Deal and the Green Deal into the recycling bin.

No doubt, an army of eco-wonks and lobbyists are working on excuses for this succession of policy failures. They will say Brown’s vision of eco-towns and millions of high-tech eco-jobs was undermined by the financial crisis, not rejected by the public at the 2010 General Election. They will say the coalition’s Green Deal failed, not because the public could see that ‘efficiency’ retrofitting is a bad deal, but because the terms of the loan weren’t right. And they will say that the Green Homes Grant has failed merely by virtue of administrative error, not because the public aren’t buying Net Zero. But they would be wrong.

Governments have been formed by all three major legacy political parties since the mid-2000s. There is a cross-party consensus in parliament on all things climate-related. There is no debate. Yet in over a decade-and-a-half of policymaking, spanned by four administrations, almost no progress has been made towards what MPs are all agreed is at the heart of climate policymaking: reducing CO2 emissions from homes. Moreover, as I have noted before on spiked, those MPs have failed to check that the public shares emissions-reduction ambitions and broader green ideology.

If they did, they would discover that the public have spoken. They did reject Brown’s eco-town Utopianism. And they did reject the coalition’s green loans. The public manifestly have not volunteered to decarbonise their homes without government incentives. And whether or not Johnson’s offer of free £5,000 subsidies failed because of mismanagement or public appetite, what it signifies all the same is the sheer inability of an incompetent Westminster to deliver on the most basic of human needs: domestic energy. It can’t even give away free money. What these things have in common is politicians’ catastrophic misjudgement, both of the public and its wishes and of their own aptitude.

The public’s willingness to meet the costs and consequences of Net Zero remains untested, and there exists no evidence of support for it. Meanwhile, there exists three policy failures in a row, with each government only building on the failures of the last. Given that politicians seem to be the last to learn from their failures, the next step will likely be a much more aggressive intervention, which will fail all the more catastrophically.

  1. richardw permalink
    April 2, 2021 10:03 am

    Let’s get back to the fundamentals:




    And, I would also add:

    Our history

  2. Coeur de Lion permalink
    April 2, 2021 10:22 am

    The next issue will be electric cars. By the way, I’ve not seen anything about IMPORTS. Are ICE imports forbidden ? What is the WTO reaction? I’m importing an ultra clean Adblu diesel Citroen for my grandson. Fuelling it is much cheaper than IONITI charging points!!

  3. Robert Christopher permalink
    April 2, 2021 10:24 am

    They left out an option:
    “F: There’s no reason to change, aka ‘all of the above'”

    (I see the BBC are in evidence!)

  4. europeanonion permalink
    April 2, 2021 10:37 am

    Jenrick is splashing the cash on town centre reformation. Narrower town roads, green spaces (which will decline through the cost of maintenance. See what the London Mayor has stirred-up in his campaign to deny car access in many districts. There will not be a person amongst us that would not applaud progress but there is so much that is contentious in this current politically concocted situation: Paul takes the edge off errant coercion and we demur because of the general ugliness and meagre attributes of the proposals, the cost and the potential disruption. Bjorn Lomborg has an interesting take on Global Warming; one of his key metrics is that Schiphol Airport is built on land that use to be a lake and is eleven feet below sea level.

    • Gerry, England permalink
      April 2, 2021 2:02 pm

      Yes, a lot councils are eager to screw up things so that businesses will find it hard to function and look at relocating if they can. With nobody expecting a full return to the offices come the summer – Nationwide and Santander have said their staff not in branches can work from home indefinitely – there will be less demand for space and thus more choice of location. Those running councils are too stupid to see this – insider knowledge here.

  5. Thomas Carr permalink
    April 2, 2021 11:34 am

    We blame the politicians for their naivete.
    Certainly they are often unable or too lazy to give time to understand the issues and the pointlessness of the climate agenda. To that extent we can understand the nonsense of Gordon Brown’s 2009 announcement.
    What is less understandable is the incomprehension of the civil service which is supposed to comprise some of the best brains in the country. The Green Homes Grant initiative suggests that the present cadre of permanent secretaries is not what is used to be.
    Meanwhile there seems to be a wilful ignorance of the CO2 generated by the whole process of replacing what we are able to rely on and afford with something speculative and unaffordable.
    Same goes for the daft electric vehicle initiative. Well, it’s good business for the motor manufacturers so why not.
    Either way the electorate is expected to be resigned to the government’s confiscation of domestic assets and their residual value. On this issue alone the Department for Energy and Climate Change will fail.

    • Lorde Late permalink
      April 2, 2021 11:56 am

      That just about sums it all up Thomas!

    • bobn permalink
      April 2, 2021 1:36 pm

      Small correction Thomas:
      Those who can do; those who cant teach – or join the civil service.
      The best brains head for the private sector!

    • Gerry, England permalink
      April 2, 2021 1:56 pm

      Tony B.Liar – who has admitted he was not up to the job of PM – politicised the Civil Service by putting scum like Alistair Campbell in charge and vastly increasing SPADs and their power that decent impartial people left or were forced out if they did not obey.

  6. April 2, 2021 12:11 pm

    Very interesting. Thanks.
    And thank you Ben Pile.

  7. Bloke down the pub permalink
    April 2, 2021 12:26 pm

    Surely, in a post Brexit world where the UK no longer has to abide by EU laws, reducing the level of VAT on DIY energy improvements would be the most cost effective way of proceeding?

    • bobn permalink
      April 2, 2021 1:40 pm

      You state a key factor – DIY. All these schemes involved using ‘approved’ contractors, you couldn’t DIY. The ‘approved’ lot garnered loads of spivs overpricing everything and harvesting Govt cash. Thats why I and many others have ignored these rip-off schemes. If there was a proper DIY option – cheaper materials and fit them yourself i’d be interested.

  8. M Fraser permalink
    April 2, 2021 1:17 pm

    The next generation are being brain washed by project climate fear, an example of which is the £24000 statue erected by Winchester University of ‘Greta’. Will some climate ‘deniers’ pull it down, oh the irony.

    • Mike permalink
      April 2, 2021 11:10 pm

      We can use it to celebrate April Fools Day.

  9. David V permalink
    April 2, 2021 2:02 pm


  10. JimW permalink
    April 2, 2021 2:14 pm

    The Green Homes Grant scheme waas useless. All it did was potentially put money in the hands of a few ‘spivs’ around the country. How these guys got on an approved government list is subject for our imagination. Reliable, skilled local guys could not qualify. So the ‘spivs’ just looked to make a quick buck by putting in stupid quotes without surveys on all the jobs they did not want. The only thing they wanted to do was a quick loft insulation. ‘Room in roof insulation, you’ve got to be joking, they had no idea what it was.
    And the civil service/government have no idea what is involved with insulating solid wall older buildings, and as for those in conservation areas or listed, just forget it.

  11. April 2, 2021 2:15 pm

    ‘No more half-measures, going off at half-cock’, he promised.

    Instead: cock-eyed schemes that won’t and don’t work.

  12. Devoncamel permalink
    April 2, 2021 3:06 pm

    What’s needed is a heavyweight media outlet that is prepared to challenge the ‘CO2 causes climate change’ narrative. It’s a tough ask arguing against the green political lobby which pervades all. GB News perhaps?

    • April 2, 2021 4:01 pm

      Absolutely GB News, DC! My main (and almost) last hope.

      • Devoncamel permalink
        April 2, 2021 5:07 pm

        Any idea when LO?

      • John Palmer permalink
        April 2, 2021 7:28 pm

        Spot-on, LO…. or let us hope that GB News lives up to its hype. Due to start broadcasting anytime now, I believe.
        We can but hope.

      • richardw permalink
        April 2, 2021 11:56 pm

        Problem is that GB News will be regulated by Ofcom, the greatest instrument of censorship available to the government. Like all govt agencies the provisions of UN Agenda 2030 are fully embedded within it.

  13. Pancho Plail permalink
    April 4, 2021 11:08 pm

    I recently enquired about installing cavity wall insulation in my 1930s house. I was told that the grant would only be paid if the house met all current building standards for ventilation and because I don’t have an extractor fan in the bathroom (have always used a window) and my double glazing needed trickle vents (I have always used windows) then I would not qualify.
    Needless to say I was unimpressed.
    It seems they are using the offer of a grant to force people to upgrade the rest of their property.

    • Pancho Plail permalink
      April 4, 2021 11:11 pm

      I should add that of two quotes, only one highlighted the requirement, the other was happy to undertake the work in the full knowledge that I would end up owing the full bill. The salesman’s
      horse and the stetson should have alerted me!

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