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Do we truly know the cost of net zero?–Ross Clark

January 17, 2023

By Paul Homewood




It is pretty clear that support for net zero drops away rather rapidly as soon as people understand its implications
Just why is Chris Skidmore’s review into the government’s target to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050 called an ‘independent’ review? It somewhat stretches the definition of the word ‘independent’.
Skidmore was the very minister – the Energy and Clean Growth Minister – who pushed the net zero commitment through the House of Commons in the first place in 2019. He remains a Conservative MP. Putting him in charge of an ‘independent’ review on net zero is analogous to Rishi Sunak putting Boris Johnson in charge of a ‘independent’ review into Brexit. That, of course, would be laughed out of the House of Commons. But things seem to work very differently in the world of net zero.   
The legally-binding target to reduce emissions to net zero by 2050 has the most far-reaching
consequences of any piece of legislation in recent times. It is far more significant than Brexit, for example, as it requires Britain to adopt multiple new, extremely expensive and unproven technologies. And yet it was passed through the Commons without even a vote. The commitment to net zero didn’t even feature in either the Conservative or Labour manifestos in 2017, the last election before the measure was passed.
But any dissent doesn’t matter, according to Skidmore, because he has held 50 ‘round tables’. He claims, ‘We heard a clear message for businesses, organisations, individuals, and local government across the country: net zero is creating a new era of opportunity, but government, industry, and individuals need to act to make the most of the opportunities, reduce costs, and ensure we deliver successfully.’ Was it really that unanimous, Chris? And if so, who did you invite to your round tables? I guess my invitation got lost in the post.
Skidmore claims there is strong public support for net zero. This might well be the case when people are asked simply about net zero without any context, i.e. what the implications will be for them personally. Polls suggest around 60 per cent of people are generally in favour. But it is a very different matter when people are asked directly about measures which form part of the government’s net zero strategy.
Planting trees (92 per cent approval in a YouGov poll in 2021) and banning single use plastics (81 per cent) are wildly popular. So, too, it seems is ‘only using renewable energy’ (66 per cent). That is perhaps because the cost implications were not explained in the question. A majority, too, backed a frequent flyer levy (60 per cent). Banning petrol and diesel cars, however, was met with approval of 48 per cent, taxing air fares 37 per cent, increasing fuel duty 27 per cent and restricting consumption of meat and dairy 26 per cent.
It is pretty clear that support drops away rather rapidly as soon as people are allowed to understand the implications of net zero. Most support it only as an abstract idea which does not impinge on them personally.    
What we really need is a genuinely independent review of this policy which explains very clearly what some of the known costs are and also looks at the many unknown costs of decarbonising food production, industries, backing up intermittent wind and solar, and so on. As Lord Frost suggested in a tweet today, what we could do with is a Red Team review of the review, which asks the difficult questions – the ones MPs failed to ask when they nodded net zero through the Commons. And it needs to be led by someone who really is independent of government.

  1. MrGrimNasty permalink
    January 17, 2023 6:05 pm

    You don’t understand, let Kerry explain.

  2. Micky R permalink
    January 17, 2023 6:09 pm

    If cost means £££££££ then my estimate is approx £500 billion to date for the UK population; the primary result of burning through this £500 billion is monstrous domestic energy bills.

  3. John Hultquist permalink
    January 17, 2023 6:19 pm

    Skidmore: “ net zero is creating a new era of opportunity,

    Hand-made warm clothing comes to mind.
    Drying fruit and veggies in the sun – maybe.
    Making Bees wax candles for reading and work after 5 pm.

    • Gamecock permalink
      January 17, 2023 7:28 pm

      This may mess up the economists’ “buggy whip example.”

    • January 17, 2023 10:42 pm

      John, the title of Part 1 of his “review” was “Net zero is the growth opportunity of the 21st century.” Note the definite article. See also my rant about it at Cliscep:
      I think I was less coherent than usual, probably due to impotent rage.🐱‍👓

    • Malcolm Fraser permalink
      January 18, 2023 7:43 am

      Opportunities only for China and India. Its treason.

    • Phoenix44 permalink
      January 18, 2023 8:52 am

      It’s a completely nonsensical claim. Of the technologies that we would use for Net Zero are better/cheaper, we don’t need Net Zero to adopt them. If they are not, we shouldn’t adopt them. We don’t need government to create opportunity for people to come up with better products. It is simply wrong.

  4. David Tallboys permalink
    January 17, 2023 6:34 pm

    US $10 trillion a year every year worldwide according to McKinsey.

    Read the report here:

    That’s a lot of hospitals schools and roads not built.

    And no proof it will make a measurable difference to the climate.

    • Phoenix44 permalink
      January 18, 2023 8:53 am

      It’s a lot of [insert really cool things we’d love if they were invented] not produced.

  5. Ben Vorlich permalink
    January 17, 2023 6:38 pm

    Someone else writing about the joys of eMotoring.

    How easy is it to charge an electric car on a long journey and what does it cost? I found out by driving 350 miles in a Volvo C40

    The C40 only comes as an electric vehicle – indeed, it is the first Volvo nameplate in its history to do so. The other option is the single-motor 231hp Recharge version, which offers less in terms of performance – 62mph in 7.4 seconds – but does give you slightly quicker charging and better economy, on paper at least. It comes in at £47,100, while our test car is £61,950

    • Ray Sanders permalink
      January 17, 2023 10:37 pm

      From the article ” If I had done all of my charging on the 79p charger, for example, my total cost would have been even more – £130 – nearly three times the diesel price.”
      So if you do not have your own off road parking……………..

  6. catweazle666 permalink
    January 17, 2023 6:59 pm

    It’s never going to happen.

    Economist Jeff Currie of Goldman Sachs (Global Head of Commodities Research in the Global Investment Research Division): “Here’s a stat for you, as of January of this year. At the end of last year, overall, fossil fuels represented 81 percent of overall energy consumption. Ten years ago, they were at 82. So though, all of that investment in renewables, you’re talking about 3.8 trillion, let me repeat that $3.8 trillion of investment in renewables moved fossil fuel consumption from 82 to 81 percent, of the overall energy consumption. But you know, given the recent events and what’s happened with the loss of gas and replacing it with coal, that number is likely above 82.” … The net of it is clearly we haven’t made any progress.”

    Since then fossil fuel use has increased, so it is almost certainly back above 82% again.

    • Gamecock permalink
      January 17, 2023 7:31 pm

      The market has grown. 81% of current is higher than 82% of previous volume.

      • catweazle666 permalink
        January 17, 2023 10:54 pm

        And the fossil fuel market has grown even more, I think you’ll find!

      • ThinkingScientist permalink
        January 18, 2023 9:11 am

        Gamecock – yep, that’s the key point. Renewables have barely managed to match the growth in energy demand. They have made no dent whatsoever in the underlying use of fossil fuels.

  7. Broadlands permalink
    January 17, 2023 7:04 pm

    “It is pretty clear that support drops away rather rapidly as soon as people are allowed to understand the implications of net zero. Most support it only as an abstract idea which does not impinge on them personally. ”

    Even faster when one looks up the definition of Net-zero. Taking out as much CO2 as has been put in. Including the use of negative emission technologies. Costly and ineffective.

  8. January 17, 2023 7:16 pm

    Lord Monkton has worked out a cost per unit metric using the IPCC’s own data and a recent McKinsey report on probable cost.

    !t works out at £1Trilliom for each 1 millionth of a degree. You might want to ask him about it?

    WHAT IS THE CORRESPONDING BENEFIT of staying 2-3 degs below the Holocene optimum where life flourished in the warmer climate that promoted greater abundance of plant life that fuels the food chain for us…. while we hover 1.2 deg above the coldest its ever been for human civilisation, since the last interglacial ended the prior glacia phase of another ice age cycle and allowed the abundance that ended hunter gathering for productive human societies – that could now farm a surplus.

    And finally,we know that current warming is no different from previous warming cycles in the geological record with NO EXTRA AGW EXTRA APPARENT, also that the Holocene optimum was 2-3 degrees warmer than the current “warm period”, really a cold period, interglacial wise, so what’s the problem. Won’t it be better warmer anyway?

    Where is the supposed catastrophe actually happening? At present Polar bears have more than doubled since 1960, the GBR is at record coral levels, and the atmospheric temperatures have not warmed significantly above the 1998 El Nino, so for 24 years, per the global satellites atmospheric temperatures reported by UAH. OH ………. and Arctic sea ice levels have been increasing since 2012, while the Antarctic stays pretty static, thanks no doubt to the surrounding liquid heat sink of the World’s major oceans. But these are only the facts we measure, the models must be believed, not the data.

    CONCLUSION: Nothing to see here. The models are wrong, not the observations. All cost,no benefit. QED

    • Broadlands permalink
      January 17, 2023 7:41 pm

      Yes… and not to mention that while Mauna Loa CO2 makes a new record each year, the equatorial Pacific ENSO is stuck in the cold phase La-Nina mode since 2019, and there hasn’t been a warm phase El-Nino is seven years..going on eight.

  9. Gamecock permalink
    January 17, 2023 7:35 pm

    ‘What we really need is a genuinely independent review of this policy which explains very clearly what some of the known costs are and also looks at the many unknown costs’

    If talking money puts a stop to the insanity, that’s fine.

    But the implications of Net Zero dwarf cost considerations. UK – what’s left of it – will become a vassal state of Norway or Denmark. Net Zero is an existential threat.

  10. MrGrimNasty permalink
    January 17, 2023 7:56 pm

    So they told us the Ukraine war was responsible for the increase in the cost of energy.
    Notice how recently the media has been managing our expectations of any return to the prices of the past as we pursue netzero.

    • Phoenix44 permalink
      January 18, 2023 8:55 am

      Except the gas price is now getting close to its old price and oil is at an unremarkable $80.

    • ThinkingScientist permalink
      January 18, 2023 9:31 am

      All of the 27 “energy suppliers” went bust before the invasion of Ukraine.

      Note how many have socialist, eco and communist names: “social”, “Bluegreen”, “Pure Planet”, “Igloo”; “Symbio”, “Green”, “People’s”, “Green Network”.

      Bristol Energy was of course municipality owned so Bristol Corporation councillors knows how to run an energy business do they? Obviously not – it went tits up with losses of £43 million. They should be locked up.

      Portsmouth council were sensible in pulling the plug on Victory Energy early – only lost £3.5 million.

      Not on the list is Robin Hood Energy, another corporation energy company. When that belly up it had losses of £114 Million. Was supplier to Southampton’s CitiZen Energy which is loss making (on a small scale):

      “Steve Leggett, cabinet member for Green City, said: “In a highly competitive market with new tariffs being introduced almost every day, we were always very clear that CitizEn Energy might not always have the cheapest tariff on the market but was a local ethical choice, providing green electricity and reinvesting to alleviate fuel poverty in the city.

      “The Labour-led authority said CitizEn Energy had been set up to combat fuel poverty and the deficit was offset by saving tonnes of CO2 from being emitted into the atmosphere through schemes such as installing 260 LED lamps in city properties.”

      260 LED lamps? Wow! That will definitely make no difference whatsoever to the weather.

      And of course everyone claims they are supplying “100% renewable” energy. Even though that’s clearly impossible without the lights going out.

      Here in reverse date order and with the number of customers and the supplier who picked up those customers:

      Bristol Energy (18 January 2022) 176,000 TBD
      Zog Energy (1 December 2021) 11,700 EDF
      Orbit Energy (25 November) 65,000 Scottish Power
      Entice Energy (25 November) 5,400 Scottish Power
      Bulb Energy (22 November) 1,700,000 TBD
      Neon Reef (16 November) 30,000 British Gas
      Social Energy (16 November) 5,500 British Gas
      Omni Energy (2 November) 6,000 Utilita
      Zebra Power (2 November) 14,800 British Gas
      Ampower (2 November) 600 Yu Energy
      Bluegreen Energy (1 November) 5,900 British Gas
      GOTO Energy (18 October) 22,000 Shell Energy
      Daligas (14 October) 9,000 Shell Energy
      Pure Planet (13 October) 235,000 Shell Energy
      Colorado Energy (13 October) 15,000 Shell Energy
      ENSTROGA (29 September) 6,000 E.ON Next
      Igloo Energy (29 September) 179,000 E.ON Next
      Symbio Energy (29 September) 48,000 E.ON Next
      Avro Energy (22 September) 580,000 Octopus Energy
      Green (22 September) 255,000 Shell Energy
      People’s Energy (14 September) 350,000 British Gas
      Utility Point (14 September) 220,000 EDF
      PFP Energy (7 September) 82,000 British Gas
      MoneyPlus Energy (7 September) 9,000 British Gas
      Hub Energy (9 August) 6,000 E.ON Next
      Green Network Energy (27 January 2021) 360,000 EDF
      Simplicity Energy (27 January 2021) 50,000 British Gas

      • Harry Passfield permalink
        January 18, 2023 10:21 am

        I did like this part of your comment, TS, where CitizEn Energy were saying (I paraphrase):
        ” CitizEn Energy might not always have the cheapest tariff on the market but was a local ethical choice, providing green electricity … to alleviate fuel poverty in the city.”
        So…charging more for the very thing that causes the poverty…Hmm.

      • It doesn't add up... permalink
        January 18, 2023 1:09 pm

        Robin Hood was set up by Nottingham Council (unsurprisingly). It has managed to impoverish council tax payers over a number of years with its ongoing losses. They tried the Ponzi scheme of roping in other councils. They didn’t really understand what they were doing.

  11. January 17, 2023 7:59 pm

    Farage has piled into this today…
    The Tory obsession with net zero will be their undoing

    ‘I cannot think of an issue on which the Westminster class, along with their media friends, are more out of touch with the rest of the country. It is time MPs got off their high horses and listened to some common sense.’
    – – –
    We won’t hold our breath waiting for that.

    • January 17, 2023 10:18 pm

      As Ross Clark notes, the opinion polls seem to offer succour to these idiots. But the support for Net Zero is only skin deep; as an abstract idea, everyone loves it. When the cost to us personally is laid out, we are horrified.

      The question remains: how long can the powers that be carry on the pretence that our ongoing and now seemingly permanent woes are to do with other things than their Net Zero obsession?

    • It doesn't add up... permalink
      January 18, 2023 1:13 pm

      It needs to be the undoing of the Labour party, and the SNP at least, as well. Concentrating exclusively on the Tories is useless – they are already out of public favour. Letting the same policy in by voting for the Labour faction of the Uniparty doesn’t solve the problem.

  12. T Walker permalink
    January 17, 2023 8:00 pm

    This from Matt Ridley’s writings should cause any sensible person to think very carefully about our future –

    “One reason we are richer, healthier, taller, cleverer, longer-lived, and freer than ever before is that the four most basic human needs-food, clothing, fuel, and shelter-have grown markedly cheaper. Take one example: In 1800, a candle providing one hour’s light cost six hours’ work. In the 1880s, the same light from a kerosene lamp took 15 minutes’ work to pay for. In 1950, it was eight seconds. Today, it’s half a second. In these terms, we are 43,200 times better off than in 1800.”

    Lets go back to utopia.

  13. January 17, 2023 9:46 pm

    The cost of everything is dependnet on the availability of cheap plentiful energy to make it and also to empower better paid because its more productive hence profitable labour.. You cannot have a prosperous, safe, free, healthy economy /society with expensive limited energy. That’s back to the future. If that’s a reset, its levelling down. No other assertion is real. Back to the future won’t work, and its based on direct lies in the science facts. I explained this as quickly as I could in October, to a large audience who got it. Feel free to share, although many know this do you have the facts in one place to support it? Not perfect. Of you u have better lease share?

    • January 17, 2023 10:14 pm

      Thanks for your efforts Brian. This is not levelling up. It is not even levelling down. It is crushing the pleb while lifting up the elite. Without cheap and reliable energy we do not have the modern society we are used to. We have grinding poverty and a sort of neo-feudalism.

  14. Julian Flood permalink
    January 18, 2023 7:47 am

    Paul, New layout – huge sidebar list on the right, slabs of italic text without spaces – make post almost unreadable.


  15. Julian Flood permalink
    January 18, 2023 8:10 am

    Konstantin Kisin’s address to the Oxford Union debate is on YouTube
    He clearly and simply reveals the utter stupidity of expecting a world where billions are cold, malnourished or starving to follow the STEM-illiterate West in destroying their only hope.

    Only the most anti-human Green could watch that and no realise our ludicrous government is deluded, so please spread the word.


  16. Phoenix44 permalink
    January 18, 2023 8:59 am

    If you asked the public if they wanted much more expensive energy, fewer holidays and none abroad, more costly but less reliable cars, more expensive meat and dairy products and much higher unemployment, all to reduce a global average that you are not aware of and cannot measure, few would say yes. Anybody claiming otherwise is a liar.

    • Micky R permalink
      January 18, 2023 11:56 am

      ” If you asked the public if they wanted much more expensive energy, fewer holidays and none abroad, more costly but less reliable cars, more expensive meat and dairy products and much higher unemployment, all to reduce a global average that you are not aware of and cannot measure, few would say yes. Anybody claiming otherwise is a liar.”

      All the above for no proven benefit.

  17. Harry Passfield permalink
    January 18, 2023 10:31 am

    Re: Nigel Farage’s interview with Bob Ward:
    I’m still trying to get over the sheer chutzpah of the man (Ward) who, when asked by Farage what the result of Net Zero will be (if only the UK do it) he replied: “We’ll stop Climate Change!”
    Cue gob-smacked Farage who had to remind him that we alone could not do that. No sweat, says Ward, we’ll stop it when China and all the others go Net Zero as well.
    What an awful, awful piece of excrescence is this man! He comes across as a very shouty, seedy nightclub bouncer.

    • Nordisch geo-climber permalink
      January 18, 2023 2:44 pm

      That interview was sickening. He is a fraud and a loud one. Most of all he is a paid stooge by Grantham Institute and others. Paid to lie, to coerce, to promote self-interest, to propagandise and brainwash the gullible. He has not the faintest knowledge of energy economics and the environment compared to some of the expert souls on this site and elsewhere. Farage and GB News go out of their way to be inclusive and offer alternative views, but Ward has no rational philosophical or scientific base to his thinking compared to the well-versed sceptics and realists who are normally given air time. Farage should not entertain him ever again.

    • catweazle666 permalink
      January 18, 2023 3:57 pm

      That’s a severe insult to very shouty, seedy nightclub bouncers!

      Ward is the LSE’s attack dog, aggressively pig ignorant, thick as several short planks and nasty with it.

      • Harry Passfield permalink
        January 18, 2023 4:13 pm

        😀 but now you’re maligning pigs! 😉

  18. January 18, 2023 5:32 pm

    I meet him regularly in GB News interviews with Nana Akua. He has neither depth nor breadth, nitr numerate facts, just rhetoric, using his own facts made up for him by the so called fact checker Carbon Brief, which appears to have the same backers as the Grantham Institute he represents. Their pseudo science fact checking plays silly games quoting respected academic works to assert conclusions they don’t in fact support to give them undeserved credibilityActuak fraud on the observational facts from a nest of modellers.. The man himself is all veneer, without scientific merit His arguments are predictably shallow and he cannot go deeper than simplistic surface assertions, simply relying on the presumed authority of the stated source, that often the facts don’t support, whoever said it, if you check. I cannot detect any trace of scientific/numerate formation from which he can either understand or check his claims for himself. He is basically the PR guy for Grantham Institute. Their scientist, Elaine Richardson?, seems an academic of limited grasp,but I have yet to run into her, she appears to have more gush and assertion than facts. She stays well protected from serious criss examination. With good reason.

    Just for fun, my first ever TV appearance, at 80, where, due to circumstances (running in from a late taxi!) I was preceded by “Bob”. We have met twice since…. it gets better. I can add his whole bit now I have the AV tools, but I have other things to move forward if this enough. Enjoy!

    • Harry Passfield permalink
      January 18, 2023 8:03 pm

      Oh, c’mon, Brian, stop beating about the bush 😄 The man’s a Tesla – he needs charging – often.

      • January 18, 2023 9:14 pm

        I do apologise. I will try to to be more direct in future. Much of the rhetoric climate activists have they learn from burning bushes, and other voices of gods. Rarely by a grasp if the sciences. Usually no one else is around to validate the word of climate god, and to doubt the word of the prophet Bob, who appeals to the authority of his fact checking gods who must not be questioned is heresy, used to justify his denial of the inconvenient facts of observation by attacking its presenter. Worse still, the upstart scientific method of testing a definite theory by independent observation, or self evident empirical deductive logic, is heresy, of course. MOdels are not proven or provable science, by the nature of their creation. They don’t even understand that most basic truth

  19. Up2snuff permalink
    January 18, 2023 6:14 pm

    I agree with Lord Frost; could we all put Paul Homewood’s name forward to carry out a thorough review of Skidmore’s review?

  20. M E permalink
    January 19, 2023 7:05 am

    I choose to think that Jacinda Ardern has been asked to leave her post in New Zealand because of her policies on Climate Change . Net zero is impossible in a pastoral and agricultural country and wiser councils in the MMP government have prevailed against what I think of as a feminist agenda forced on us tyrannically. But I,m prejudiced.

    • January 19, 2023 5:05 pm

      Possibly. If only. Do the WEF self appointed leaders with their deranged Messiah narcissistic personalities EVER surrender power of their own free will? Especially one as far up herself as she is? A classic example of someone too stupid to know she doesn’t understand how anything real actually works, but SO SURE she does? Dunning Kruger at work.

      • catweazle666 permalink
        January 19, 2023 5:54 pm

        Did she jump or was she pushed?

  21. January 19, 2023 7:59 pm

    Sucked up into her ego
    Jacinda blew her mind
    Like a leper Messiah

    ………Continue on your own.

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