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Craig Mackinlay: The Government is fooling itself if it thinks it can go down the Net Zero path without electoral damage

July 17, 2021

By Paul Homewood


One by one, Conservative MPs are beginning to fight back against Theresa May’s loopy Net Zero Plan.:



The Government has launched its “greenprint” Transport Decarbonisation plan and adds to what has been trailed before with an extension of the ICE ban to new heavy goods vehicles by 2040, the decarbonisation of public transport and the goal of net zero aviation by 2050.

The ambition to ban the sale of traditional petrol and diesel cars by 2030 remains but there’s no detail as to how the small matter of the £34 billion currently levied on ICE vehicle users will be filled. This is the biggest and most costly undertaking of the British state in history and a strange throwback to the command and control regimes of old – when producing a definitive figure for the annual number of tractors to be built and so many tonnes of grain was all the rage.

We’re yet to hear more as to how the banning of domestic gas boilers will be achieved. Make no mistake, this requires a radical transformation of every part of the economy and our freedoms. Yet no one questions the enormity or cost of the project, and there are no answers to the obvious question – who pays?

Surely we cannot simply be obliged to pay any cost, however high and however painful? Other ambitions in the document, particularly regarding heavy goods vehicles have already been derided by The Road Haulage Association – “So this is blue-sky aspiration ahead of real-life reality”. Quite.

While there is no draft legislation on the table to enforce these bans, just warm words, ambitions and glossy documents, there’ll doubtless be more to come as the Government plays a game of Top Trumps with international partners at COP26 this October.

The only estimates available for the cost of Net Zero come from the Committee on Climate Change (CCC), which is supposed to provide rigorous, independent advice to parliament – and yet its output always recommends further and faster.

The CCC is a significant player in the political debate around Net Zero, often explicitly directing Government policy, while being totally unelected and unaccountable. Mainstream media regurgitates its words sagely with little space offered to those who question its assumptions.

More recently, it has come up with a new estimate for the cost of Net Zero that details £1.4 trillion of capital spending that will be required to meet it. The committee was keen not to publicise this mind-boggling number (over half of UK annual GDP or 35 times the annual defence budget for context), and so discounted it with a range of speculative benefits that may or may not materialise.

The £1.4 trillion figure has finally been brought to public attention after the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) recycled the CCC figures for its fiscal risks report. The revelation that households are each facing a £50,000 bill over the next 30 years has caused, rightly, an awakening in the press. I am worried that the true cost could be much higher still.

The shift to retro-fitted air source heat pumps, additional insulation and larger radiators to make up for their poor heat output brings with it huge cost and significant risks. An independent report put the cost of decarbonising the UK’s social housing sector alone at £103 billion, or £20,000 per household. If such costs are replicated across the entire housing stock, we are looking north of £500 billion just for residential decarbonisation.

There’s no obvious technology to elegantly replace the gas boiler and I’m yet to find a constituent who assented to pay out £20,000 just to be both colder and poorer.

The pain doesn’t stop there. The use of electric cars, which are much more expensive than their ICE equivalents and have obvious limitations of range and charging, are made more expensive if electricity prices rise to accommodate huge demand requirements and upscaling of additional offshore wind, or expanded reliance on interconnectors from the continent supplying coal produced electricity. The taxation black hole will doubtless be filled by new taxes or hairbrained road charging schemes.

There is little government planning to provide the millions of charging points, no thought as to the security or availability of supply of rare metals often mined under unspeakable conditions of human misery to make the batteries and even less thought as to the true CO2 cost of ore extraction, manufacture of the new cars, new batteries nor the nationwide upgrade to the electricity grid to supply them.

The batteries are largely unrecyclable without huge energy input and use of toxic solvents to break down the near impenetrable resins. The safety of these batteries, that can burn uncontrollably releasing a variety of noxious substances, has not been fully investigated and yet the prospect is for many square miles of grid level batteries to smooth notoriously unreliable renewable electricity supply.

This dash for electric cars has also perversely condemned the country, and particularly our congested cities, to more particulate pollution, not less. No engine manufacturer will invest further in the design and production of a better internal combustion engine offering enhanced power, better consumption, cleaner-burning and lower particulates.

The 2019 engine is as good as it’s ever going to get, which is a shame, as the 2030 engine would have been so much better across all measures. Natural market-driven technological improvements have been stopped for reasons that nobody can quantify, explain or justify.

As ever, it will be the poor who suffer most from these elite delusions. Fuel poverty, the reality of “heat or eat”, is the dilemma we are going to put them in, and yet there is somehow an overwhelming Westminster consensus that this is the right thing to do. The lack of almost any interest in the cost of these policies to ordinary people is palpable.

The Government is fooling itself if it thinks we can go down the Net Zero path without electoral damage. We will look, quite rightly, like the privileged few taking the poor back to the lifestyles of the early 20th century. The optics of jetting from one international climate conference to the next to tell other people they should not be flying, driving and eating meat, is not one that will be sustainable when these policies really start to bite.

The growth economies of China, India and Indonesia alone have more coal powered plants planned over the next ten years than the entire output of the current US electrical grid. The current UK output of global CO2, no more than a rounding error in the scheme of things at a mere one per cent, will be reduced to ½ per cent as coal powered growth proliferates globally.

I was never Theresa May’s greatest fan politically, but I’ll conclude with a statement she made on January 11 2018: “In our election manifesto last year we made an important pledge: to make ours the first generation to leave the natural environment in a better state than we found it.”

I agree wholeheartedly with that statement. There is much to be done in protecting habitats and our oceans and weaning the planet off of the scourge of plastic waste. These ambitions are achievable and rooted in common sense while this path to Net Zero is muddled, costly and impractical.

We should pause for breath, inject some rational thinking and consider the alternatives before it’s too late. I am actively discussing these issues with colleagues as we simply cannot watch a financial, societal and political disaster unfold before us.

  1. GeoffB permalink
    July 17, 2021 5:25 pm

    This is what I put on the telegraph today, I do believe the only way forward is to water down the climate change act, but can you imagine the response of the green loonies if that is done!

    The climate change act 2008 is a legal requirement to reduce CO2 emissions to 80% of 1990 level by 2050. Therese May in her final vindictive act increased this to 100%. We are actually on target on the carbon budget to achieve the plan and have reduced CO2 emissions by 42.5%.(2020).

    However we have achieved this mainly by cutting coal use, closing power stations and destroying our steel and cement making industry. The cost of electricity has risen by about 45% while not painless it has been accepted by the people. The next step is the problem, the low hanging fruit has been picked so it is going to cost a lot in money and inconvenience to the people. It is also pointless unless the rest of the world joins in, which is extremely unlikely.

    The ease with which May went from 80% to 100% should make it just as easy to go from 100% to 50%, expect greens to protest, so add a reference to increasing the limit “when world reduction reaches 50%” . We are just about at 50% and if the greens do not like it let them protest in China

    • Chilli permalink
      July 17, 2021 9:39 pm

      > It’s pointless unless the rest of the world joins in

      No, it’s pointless whether the rest of the world joins in or not – unless you consider possibly making the global average temperature a fraction of a degree colder long after we’re all dead a worthwhile endeavour.

  2. johnbillscott permalink
    July 17, 2021 5:33 pm

    The fact that these Politicians allowed the May’s “legacy” Net Zero legislation to be passed in the first place shows they cannot be trusted. This folly of Net Zero being made a law shows institutional insanity, the Foreign Aid Law debacle was clearly a sign of what not to do. I see Zero Covid is being bandied about by the so called Progressive’s. So I guess the new mantra from now on will be zero this and zero that.

  3. MrGrimNasty permalink
    July 17, 2021 5:34 pm

    Oh no, NI hottest day evah provisionally.

    31.2C (record was 30.8C in 1976 and 1983) at Ballywatticock (opened 1961).

    Looks like the nearest place MO do past 24hrs for is Belfast Airport, which only reached about 27C.

  4. MrGrimNasty permalink
    July 17, 2021 5:43 pm

    UK is still just 1% of CO2 emissions.

    • It doesn't add up... permalink
      July 18, 2021 1:28 am

      We actually dipped just below 1%. The figure is rounded up and shown to only 1 decimal. The spreadsheet cell reveals the truth – something like 0.986…% from memory, but I’ll paste the true figure when I get back to my computer.

      • MrGrimNasty permalink
        July 18, 2021 9:16 am

        Oh no, it’s better than I thought……

      • It doesn't add up... permalink
        July 18, 2021 12:48 pm

        The spreadsheet shows


        (I’m sure we can enjoy posting the pseudo accurate precision!)

    • Chaswarnertoo permalink
      July 18, 2021 5:59 am

      1% of 4% of 0.04%= 0.000064 %, not measurable.

  5. Jack permalink
    July 17, 2021 5:51 pm

    A referendum, like in switzerland would be a fair way for people to set their oriorities. France ditched its referendum after the swiss rejection. Wonder what thet are frightened of?

    • Gerry, England permalink
      July 18, 2021 10:04 am

      Now, now, Jack, you can’t just suddenly introduce democracy like that. I mean, look what happened in 2016 when the people voted to leave the EU.

  6. July 17, 2021 5:52 pm

    It’s worse than that as the government is kidding itself that Net Zero is even needed.

    Our politicians are too damn lazy and ignorant to find out the facts and challenge the supposed Green Blob consensus made up of a variety of individual, groups and organisations who all benefit from generous government handouts around the world.

    The Green Blob use alarmist tactics to keep the funds tolling in – the only trouble is not one alarmist prediction has come true in the last 50 years.

    • Chaswarnertoo permalink
      July 18, 2021 6:06 am

      You forgot stupid and greedy.

  7. Andrew Harding permalink
    July 17, 2021 6:05 pm

    I have mentioned this before but will mention it again, I cannot publish photos or graphics on NALOPKT. The NOAA have published the steady rise of atmospheric CO2 including the lockdown period from the beginning of the second quarter of 2020 up to the end of the second quarter of 2021.

    The rate at which atmospheric CO2 increases is unchanged, it is crystal clear that human activities are not responsible for the increase. The graph is still on the NOAA webpage, if someone could upload it I would be grateful.

    I have copied and pasted it on a FB posting, the lack of debate was very telling! My only criticism was from someone who said I was wrong about it being taken down from the NOAA website! If in fact it has been taken down, I have a copy of it on my PC HDD.

    • Broadlands permalink
      July 17, 2021 7:04 pm

      Andrew… “The rate at which atmospheric CO2 increases is unchanged, it is crystal clear that human activities are not responsible for the increase.”

      Back in 1987 a paper was published with the title “Carbon Dioxide and People”. The correlation between Mauna Loa CO2 and global population through 1983 was almost perfect. It still is. It is hard to deny that the sum total of all human activities is responsible. It is the lack of any meaningful long-term correlation with global mean temperature that is the problem. Add to that the impossibility of storing enough CO2 to achieve Net-zero negative emissions and one has to wonder where reality is.

    • MrGrimNasty permalink
      July 17, 2021 9:59 pm

      The reduction of 5.5% in CO2 emissions in 2020 would equate to perhaps 1/10th of a PPM, it would simply be lost in the noise.

      There is no debate to be had on the matter (the steady rise), the Covid hiccup can prove nothing either way.

      • It doesn't add up... permalink
        July 18, 2021 1:33 pm

        The BP data show a global reduction of 6.3% in 2020 (effectively an annual rate of about 8% given that there were no substantive lockdowns until March or later in most of the world), or 2,072 million tonnes of CO2, or about 0.27ppm equivalent. NOAA quote Mauna Loa levels to the nearest 0.01ppm, so it is within the range of their purported measurement accuracy.

        Their apologia claims that a 25% reduction would see measured CO2 reduce by 0.2 ppm a month, which implies that at 8% we should be seeing something like 0.07ppm a month off the trend rate of increase.

        Here is an example: If emissions are lower by as much as 25%, then we would expect the monthly mean CO2 for March at Mauna Loa to be lowered by about 0.2 ppm, and again in April by another 0.2 ppm, etc.

        Not sure that this really makes sense, as it would imply that after a year the cumulative effect would be 2.4ppm, which is more than the annual rate of increase of recent years, and a third of that for the actual decline would be 0.8ppm, compared with my rather more modest estimate of a highly measurable 0.27ppm. They appear to be bluffing with nonsense, especially when they go on to claim:

        Clearly, we cannot see a global effect like that in less than a year. In addition, the fires are producing CO2 at perhaps a similar rate as the modest lowering of emissions resulting from the pandemic. It does look like CO2 continues to increase at the same rate as in previous years, which illustrates that we need to make aggressive investments in renewable energy sources to tackle our global heating emergency.

        A series of completely unsubstantiated statements designed to appeal to the climate evangelists.

        Then again, when in doubt change your measurements:

        Applied from Feb this year.

  8. tom0mason permalink
    July 17, 2021 9:34 pm

    Maybe the Tory Party will wake from their ‘woke’ slumber and realize that with truly eye-watering debt threatening decades of penury for so many, that the key IS allowing free trade and industrialization, for it’s good for employment, good for balancing the economy, good for the nation.
    The Tory Party needs the courage to reject the nonsense policies of the idiot David Cameron, and dumb vacillating Theresa May (along with all their political cronies and bureaucratic fools!).
    With the current iteration of the Tory party the UK shall soon become a nation of the impoverished overseen by lily-livered elites commanded by their very rich and powerful crony national and international corporatists.

    • JimW permalink
      July 17, 2021 9:45 pm

      That is the plan.

  9. Phoenix44 permalink
    July 18, 2021 9:24 am

    Lifestyles of the 18th century more like, particularly if you live outside cities.

    More to the point, this will create huge unemployment, push millions into poverty and massively increase (real) inequality, as the wealthy will have cars, foreign holidays, warm and well-lit houses, lots of electrical gadgets and the rest of us will not.

    That is the electoral damage.

  10. Matt Dalby permalink
    July 18, 2021 8:59 pm

    I’m sure that the figure of £1.4trillion is a massive underestimate once the cost of batteries to supply 5 or more days worth of electricity when the wind isn’t blowing in winter and solar is providing next to no power are taken into account. We could need at least 3,000 GWH or battery backup, at a cost of maybe £50 million per 100 MWH, this alone would be £1.5 trillion if my sums are correct. If the figures from the CCC don’t include battery back then the cost of net zero has instantly doubled. This assumes that there are enough resources, e.g. cobalt and lithium for most of the Western world to get anywhere near net zero, which can be summed up in 2 words, unachieveable and unaffordable.

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