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Boris Johnson’s Net Zero goal in disarray as Rishi Sunak baulks at the £1.4trillion cost

July 26, 2021

By Paul Homewood



I have long believed that the climate agenda would soon start unravelling once the public found out how much they would have to pay for it:





As part of the net zero plan –which would decarbonise the economy by 2050 – No 10 had been expected to publish in the spring details of the strategy for moving away from gas boilers ahead of Glasgow’s COP26 climate change conference in November.

But this has been delayed until the autumn amid mounting alarm about the bill.

The Chancellor – who is already looking for ways to pay back the £400 billion cost of the Covid crisis and the £10 billion a year required to reform long-term care for the elderly – is understood to have baulked at estimates of hitting net zero at more than £1.4 trillion.

The independent Office For Budget Responsibility (OBR) calculated the cost of making buildings net zero at £400 billion, while the bill for vehicles would be £330 billion, plus £500 billion to clean up power generation and a further £46 billion for industry.

After energy savings across the economy, this would leave a £400 billion bill for the Treasury.

The OBR also warned that the Government would need to impose carbon taxes to make up for the loss of fuel duty and other taxes.

The Prime Minister is considering issuing millions of households with ‘green cheques’ worth hundreds of pounds to compensate them for the cost of becoming more energy efficient.

It is the latest claim of tensions between No 10 and No 11 over the strains on the public purse.

Full post


Previously, governments have been happy to kick the can down the road, duped by the CCC and other in-house green advisors into thinking that it would be cheap and easy.

But not for much longer.

  1. 2hmp permalink
    July 26, 2021 2:35 pm

    This is surely a simple decision as NetZero is one side of a binary argument. There is no halfway house. Yes we can try to reduce electricity costs but no one has yet found anything approaching the prices set by coal fired power stations. Car manufacturers can cut pollutants from exhaust to almost nothing with no rise in tire produced particulates. Electric cars will no doubt be common eventually but at present the cost structures from production to use are way off beam compared with IC engines.

  2. Broadlands permalink
    July 26, 2021 2:50 pm

    Does anyone know what the Net-zero carbon target actually is…in metric tons?
    Emissions can be reduced to zero but not to NET-zero. That requires negative emissions. CO2 capture and permanent storage. Is there any numerical goal, or is it all qualitative?

    • Mike Jackson permalink
      July 26, 2021 8:12 pm

      From what little I’ve read it’s not possible. The technology exists, just about, in theory. The reality doesn’t because the sites don’t exist. And it’s counter-productive because reducing the level of atmospheric CO2 is pointless. Our contribution to it, as I said recently, represents a layer about 1.2mm thick in a tank 100 metres tall. (Actually the analogy I used was two-dimensional; this version is better🤓). Even if we could do it it would hardly be cost-effective and the climate would never notice anyway!

      • July 26, 2021 9:03 pm

        What you are saying it is completely ruinous and useless for the UK to make any moves at all on decarbonization.
        We pay the policy makers to get good results for us, not engage in one which makes Don Quixote seem measured, wise and a brave pioneer!

  3. Harry Passfield permalink
    July 26, 2021 2:53 pm

    Where on earth, Boris, is your democratic mandate to FORCE the public to rip out their working, cost-effective heating systems and rip apart their homes for ridiculous insulation targets, both of which will force many into penury?
    Not one politician has the guts to go against the flow and call for a plebiscite on the program. Not one politician is telling the public the truth.

    • July 26, 2021 9:04 pm

      Sir John Redwood is starting to see the light.

    • July 26, 2021 9:36 pm

      It is time somone did, And I see no way to scrap Carbon, it does not get rid of itself and is a common material for many projects.

    • MarkR permalink
      July 27, 2021 6:34 am

      It could be argued that Boris does have a democratic mandate for his Net Zero policies as they were initially introduced by Theresa May and then the electorate voted twice (2017 and 2019) for Boris Johnson as Prime Minister with those policies still part of the Conservative policy set.

      Many people thought when they were voting for Boris was that one of the first things he would do would be to ignore or dismiss the patently insane policies left over by May but, no, the effect of NutNut and her thinkalikes (e.g. Stratton) has been to entrench the policies further.

      So, could he claim that there is a democratic mandate for Net Zero? Yes, he could. No doubt he will if challenged. He’s certainly never going to admit that it’s what his wife wants!

      But did the people who voted him into power know what they were voting for (or believe that he would actually go through with something so obviously damaging and counter-productive)? No, mostly they either didn’t know or didn’t seriously believe he’d continue with such policies.

      • July 27, 2021 9:26 am

        The trouble is the electorate never really got a choice, as all parties were committed to Net Zero

      • Harry Passfield permalink
        July 27, 2021 5:24 pm

        The reason voters went for Boris was Brexit. Everything else was secondary or even not discussed.
        If he did have a mandate oc any kind it’s only because he used the guile of accepting whatever crap the CCC put in front of him. He has allowed Greens to be part of an effectively coalition government with any recourse to the ballot box. Greens therefore weild far more power than they could ever achieve in a fair and democratic way.

  4. iananthonyharris permalink
    July 26, 2021 4:18 pm

    It is nonsense on stilts. Firstly, you have to believe the computer-generated predictions of the hypothecated rise in global temperatures, in which everyone promoting it has a vested interest. Our politicians are not scientists, but believe they are going with the flow. And so what if the earth warmed a degree or so? It has warmed and cooled many times in its evolution. Any current high or low seems matchable sometime in the last few hundred years. And why crucify ourselves to save or reduce substantially our 1% contribution to warming when huge countries China and India are building coal-fired power stations as fast as they can? And huge problems going from I/C to battery transport? Generating the electricity? Supplying hundred of thousands of charging points? What if you live in a converted flat in a terraced house? Fights over charge points in the street? Lunacy!

  5. johnbillscott permalink
    July 26, 2021 6:14 pm

    Boris as Leader, should be able to stand up in Parliament and explain what Net Zero means. I doubt he has even asked to question to his Experts like Gummer and his Ministers. All his bafflegab has no value. The whole Green Build Back Better, with the added adjectives to address his Wokness, is useless. The whole program has not been costed or evaluated for technical viability, The technology is yet to be developed for translating the hypothesis into a working model and scaling up to an industrial scale reality, As for UK leading the world he must be taking something stronger than weed and maybe its LSD talking. The Dom was right he is not fit to rule so lets get rid of him and he can achieve his desire to make real money like Blair and Cameron.

    • Harry Passfield permalink
      July 26, 2021 7:51 pm

      What it comes down to, John, is that BJ does not have a mandate for the spending of trillions of OUR money on a vanity project that will not make a blind bit of difference to the climate even if there really was a climate emergency – or, global warming, as it used to be called.
      (PS: Just on TV now as I type: Two adverts to push the climate change fantasy!!! I guess more will come…)

    • July 26, 2021 9:39 pm

      Boris is not worth listening to, his grasp of anything is slender to say the least.

  6. Jordan permalink
    July 26, 2021 7:51 pm

    “But not for much longer.”
    The Energy White Paper has a goal of final investment decision for a new nuclear power station this Parliament. That’s the end game. To make the case for this decision, HMG needs to convince us that the alternative is a lot more expensive.
    This is all a softening-up exercise for an expensive decision, when the most economical choice, including maintaining diversity of energy supply, is coal fired generation.
    We are all supposed to heave a sigh of relief as nuclear comes riding over the hill as our saviour from all these crazy ideas. But the cost of electricity will rise.

    • Ray Sanders permalink
      July 26, 2021 9:23 pm

      Jordan, the lowest price electricity generation in the UK is nuclear.

      • Jordan permalink
        July 26, 2021 10:20 pm

        That doesn’t fit with the fact that HPC could not get off the ground without serious government backing (stuck onto bill payers).
        In case you missed it, it was not the Board of a private sector company who announced the next UK nuclear power station. Whatever its costs are, they will not have been the choice of private investors who have the capacity to make other (market-based) choices. They will be nationalised industry decisions, as key liabilities will need State support.
        The new nuclear power station will most probably be built and operated by government-backed French and/or Chinese operators. That’s partly because organisations who operate nuclear reactors have to be capable of paying the fixed overheads of a small town’s worth of highly qualified (expensive) scientists and engineers. This level of cost can only exist as part of immense organisations.
        The need for a pre-existing huge organisation is one of the barriers to entry to nuclear power generation. Another is the risk and liabilities of nuclear power, which the private sector will never be able to accept. Nuclear liabilities and operational responsibilities reach forward for centuries, and the private sector is not an acceptable place for these.
        Nuclear power can only exist through nationalised liabilities and responsibilities, sitting within pre-existing large organisations. You can dream-up what ever hypothetical numbers you like about nuclear costs. Your musings will never be comparable to private sector investments on a like-for-like footing (market based choices by people who are willing and capable of underwriting the assets).

      • July 26, 2021 10:33 pm

        ..? Time to say “Come back coal” you are very useful, all is forgiven!
        After all,many nations are safely using you!
        We are fools to say no to coal and oil.

      • It doesn't add up... permalink
        July 27, 2021 12:21 pm

        I gather the government are now moving to minimise Chinese involvment in UK nuclear. Obviously they are stuck with the sweetheart financing deal for Hinkley Point. But they will not get any operating rights or Chinese technology stations.

  7. Graeme No.3 permalink
    July 27, 2021 12:27 am

    Can I get in first? Margaret Thatcher said that “The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people’s money.”

    • Duker permalink
      July 27, 2021 7:38 am

      Thatcher never rejected the welfare state and all its trappings as NHS so was happy to spend others money except on her pet hates.
      Indeed she was one of the first national politicians to get on the greenhouse gas is a problem bandwagon.

  8. Steve permalink
    July 27, 2021 11:10 am

    The cost of works to the typical British house in order to be suitable for heat pumps will be at least £40,000. A room in the roof could be that figure. Walls, floors, chimneys and roof will have to be taken apart, services altered and air exchange fitted. At roughly 25 million homes, that’s £1 trillion for starters.
    Alternatively, the French solution from fifty years ago would enable resistance storage heating. We would need about 30 new HP sized nukes. At £20 bn each, that’s £600 bn.

  9. July 27, 2021 11:49 am

    Re. ‘moving away from gas boilers’ – new date is 2040.

    And they’ve admitted today’s smart meters can’t detect hydrogen.

    • It doesn't add up... permalink
      July 27, 2021 12:25 pm

      Reality is beginning to bite. I feel that some of the campaigning aimed at politicians that I have been involved with is beginning to pay off. We must keep the pressure up.

    • It doesn't add up... permalink
      July 27, 2021 12:28 pm

      Wasn’t there supposed to be a ban on new boilers in new homes in 2025?

  10. Brian BAKER permalink
    July 27, 2021 5:22 pm

    Slightly off-topic, The Swedish steelmaker, Vattenfall has a programme to produce CO2 free steel by 2026. Their electricity demand will be 55 Terawatthrs/ year. Sweden uses (2019 figures) 138 Terawatthrs/year and there is a concerted campaign in Sweden to close their nuclear power stations by coincidently 2016, which presently produces 64 Terawatthrs. So Sweden is going to need an extra 119 Terawatthrs in 5 years time. Asked by reporters about the costs of the project, the consortium leaders said they wouldn’t be known until the early stages of development are completed, though conceded it would be expensive and requires government support. I think the government is going to need a lot of support to rescue the Swedish economy from this approaching perfect storm. Doesn’t anyone know how to do sums in Sweden?

    • Brian BAKER permalink
      July 27, 2021 5:27 pm

      2016 should be 2026.

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