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When will the Tories realise that Net Zero is a foolish fantasy?-Ross Clark

January 19, 2023

By Paul Homewood




Their enduring commitment to these idiotic targets, regardless of circumstance, bears the imprint of a cult
Chris Skidmore helped drive the commitment to Net Zero through the House of Commons in the dying days of Theresa May’s government. Unfortunately, he seems to have spent the subsequent four years hiding beneath a large rock. His just-published review (commissioned by Liz Truss) into the Government’s target to reach Net Zero by 2050 is a triumph of messianic zeal over reality.
He writes, for example, that there is a “clean and endless supply of wind blowing across the North Sea”. Where was he in December when Britain was becalmed in a frigid mass of Arctic air, when wind farms theoretically capable of generating 28 GW of electricity were at times struggling to generate half a gigawatt? Skidmore hardly even addresses the problem of intermittent green energy, weakly suggesting that the job might be done by batteries or by generating hydrogen when wind is plentiful – without even mentioning the costs of storing energy in this way. Estimates from the Pacific National Laboratories put it at $203 per MWh for hydrogen and $336 per MWh for lithium ion batteries – respectively around four and six times the cost of generating electricity from wind in the first place.
Skidmore continues to repeat the fantasy that Britain’s Net Zero target is going to make us fabulously rich, growing GDP by two per cent and supporting 480,000 “green jobs”. Meanwhile, back in the real world, our manufacturing industry continues to drain away to Asia, not least thanks to soaring energy prices in Europe. The ONS calculates that in spite of the Government’s Net Zero initiative, Britain’s “green economy”, at £41.2 billion, is no bigger than it was a decade ago. It has actually shrunk since 2018, with most of the components for our wind and solar farms manufactured abroad.
And no, renewable energy doesn’t promise us a golden future of cheap energy. As Anders Opedal, CEO of Norwegian energy giant Equinor, warns today, Europe faces a future of higher energy costs even as wholesale oil and gas prices comes down – perhaps because of Net Zero commitments which have shattered investment in oil and gas.
Skidmore mentions in passing the hard-to-decarbonise steel and cement sectors – which face being driven abroad as they fall foul of Net Zero targets, taking jobs and wealth with them. He could also have added farming, chemicals, plastics, fertlisers – all which face going the same way. German chemicals company BASF, for example, recently announced it was going to downsize permanently in Europe thanks to high energy prices but will build a £10 billion plant in China nevertheless. When Skidmore pushed his legal commitment for Net Zero through Parliament in 2019 it was in the naïve belief that it would inspire other countries to follow suit. A few mainly European countries did emulate us, but the big emitters have shown no interest in doing so. China only has a vague ambition – not a legal commitment – to reach Net Zero by 2060 and has made it quite clear it won’t come at the cost of economic growth.
Not that any of this will rub off on Skidmore and others, whose commitment to Net Zero bears the imprint of a cult, oblivious to reason.

  1. T Walker permalink
    January 19, 2023 6:08 pm

    Given that Skidmore has already said he will not stand at the next GE – what job has he got lined up?

    • January 19, 2023 6:19 pm

      Likely gunning for the same one St. Jac has her eye on.

  2. January 19, 2023 6:14 pm

    No politician or civil servant comes out of this obsession well, perhaps because few have any grasp of actual science or engineering realities. Or budgeting. And are held to account by media ideologues now with even less grasp. It would not be so bad did they not flat out propagandise first and then censor to preserve it thereafter. The question is why? Our council piggybacked Boris’ zeal back in the day, ironically then as now in power because of a public knee jerk locally to Westminster idiocy, blowing its non-existent Green/Indy/Limp wad on rigged consultations, a Citizens’ Assembly it ignored (as the average Joe saw through the box-tick boondoggle that served no one other than the executives back patting rights), and they are about to be voted out as they are blowing millions of county ‘levelling up’ money on more eco vanity projects like moss filters that are of limited countywide interest or any use. All in the vain hope they get to COP28 to meet young Sophie of CarbonCon and the BBC climate 28Gate team.

  3. Broadlands permalink
    January 19, 2023 6:16 pm

    The answer to the question asked might be when the leadership and the general public understand what Net Zero really means…

    “Put simply, net zero refers to the balance between the amount of greenhouse gas produced and the amount removed from the atmosphere. We reach net zero when the amount we add is no more than the amount taken away.”

    We added close to 40 billion tons last year. Take that away???

  4. Stephen Lord permalink
    January 19, 2023 6:32 pm

    Perhaps the upcoming electoral massacre and five years in the wildrrness will enlighten them

    • Thomas Carr permalink
      January 19, 2023 7:18 pm

      What makes you think that the other lot understand the issues any better? Certainly Milliband appeared not to.

    • Realist permalink
      January 20, 2023 7:17 am

      The problem is the other parties are just as bad, if not worse. They might just as well merge instead of pretending to be different.
      >>electoral massacre

  5. T Walker permalink
    January 19, 2023 6:44 pm

    I came across this post earlier today from Euan Mearns of Energy Matters fame. I was clearing out files so I could see wood for trees as they say. This answer to an alarmist I think, suggesting Fossil Fuels were subsidised. Euan’s comment I will keep.

    “I never got around to the multiple layers of taxation on FF. What the population and politicians need to understand is that when they look around at their built environment that absolutely everything they see was built by FF (a little bit by nuclear and hydro) and that all the wealth and services flowing through our society comes from FF. Virtually all of it. Some of it in the way of multiple layers of taxation and the rest leveraged out of the work FFs do for us. The energy from FF is as important to our well-being as water and oxygen. The sooner society wakes up to that fact the better.”

  6. Malcolm Fraser permalink
    January 19, 2023 6:53 pm

    With the greatest respect to Ross Clark its not just the Tories!

  7. GeoffB permalink
    January 19, 2023 7:02 pm

    I just wonder what it is going to take to abandon net zero and start the u-turn back to normality. Logic and reasoned discussion is not working, so it is going to have to be something extraordinarily bad, possible a week long power cut, or maybe just general discontent with riots and looting. Something bad is certain to happen before we reach 2050, I am rather worried that I may be looking forward to it happening, it will be something of a relief to be honest.

    • January 19, 2023 9:59 pm

      The sooner the snap happens, the less severe it will be. John Constable describes what must happen as a “distressed policy correction” if memory serves. The time to correct course was 20 years ago; there is no quick and painless fix.

      I tell people to be ready for power cuts: I estimated the likelihood of more than trivial power cuts this winter at 5%*. That likelihood can only rise winter after winter until sense kicks in, until the qualities of low cost and reliability once again regain primacy over “green”. And that’s with the counter-force of demand shedding by we plebs. Cheap energy is wealth.

      *The people I warn don’t tend to believe that there is any chance at all of the lights going out. Most of us are entirely unprepared, I judge.

  8. Micky R permalink
    January 19, 2023 7:28 pm

    ” I just wonder what it is going to take to abandon net zero and start the u-turn back to normality. ”

    Monstrous domestic energy bills could be the catalyst. A pensioner phoned into TalkRadio earlier today stating that her income was about £9k per annum and that her energy supplier had estimated her future annual energy bill as £3.2k per annum.

  9. Malcolm Fraser permalink
    January 19, 2023 7:34 pm

    So Starmer is in Davos and criticising Sunak for not being there, just brilliant….. oh boy how the UK is in a bad place. If they can’t see what the WEF is about we are so so stuffed!

    • Beagle permalink
      January 20, 2023 12:00 am

      Starmer was asked, “which is the most important, Westminster or Davos”.
      He said ” Davos is more important”
      That’s a worry.

  10. Joe Public permalink
    January 19, 2023 7:45 pm

    Net Zero is the Tory Party’s suicide note.

  11. ancientpopeye permalink
    January 20, 2023 5:43 am

    The short answer is never, so long as the same halfwits are in charge of the left leaning Tory party. Those in control are the rump of the EU remainers and until they are expunged the party will be in the wilderness.

  12. Realist permalink
    January 20, 2023 7:15 am

    Perhaps when they stop pretending to be “Tories” and actually start thinking like Tories instead of control freaks

  13. iananthonyharris permalink
    January 20, 2023 2:51 pm

    The whole net zero thing is a nonsense. Firstly, there is no climate emergency. Then the measures designed to deal with this non-event are so absurd that they are unbelievable. Battery cars-where’s the electricity supply coming from in the absence of mining, fracking or nuclear. People living in flats unable to chare their cars? Inadequate, often non-working charging points? Time taken to charge if you can find one working and available?
    Ground-siurce heat pumps-having to enlarge all your radiators and it still won’t get your house warm even at incredible cost. Hydrogen-not currently feasible and the same will apply. Madness on stilts!

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