Friday, July 19, 2024
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Buried beneath Brexit: Boris’s bonkers boiler ban


NEWS emerged this weekend that the Conservative Party Conference will hear the leadership’s proposals to achieve Theresa May’s ‘legacy’ Net Zero 2050 target. According to reports, amongst the first steps on this path will be the outlawing of gas connections to any newly built home. This makes no practical, economic or political sense.

Nobody who wants this will vote Conservative. Few who want it will even thank Boris Johnson for it. And what green Tories there are will turn out to be a bigger liability for future governments, the PM and the party than the Remainers, Conservatives among them, whose parliamentary shenanigans last week were intended to humiliate him, overturn the referendum and sabotage the conference.

No doubt the country needs new homes, but onerous green legislation will make building and operating them more expensive. This is because, as anyone who has had to endure low-quality rented accommodation can attest, electric appliances are inconvenient, nasty and expensive compared with gas-fired central heating boilers and cookers. That is why people continue to choose gas over electric.

But it will not be just the occupants of new-builds who will be deprived of the freedom to choose how to heat their homes. The policy will eventually be rolled out to all existing homes, and the Net Zero agenda will impose ever more constraints on individuals and businesses to the detriment of freedom and the economy. This includes the abolition of petrol and diesel-powered transport and, it seems likely, the rationing of flights. It will require the expensive retro-fitting of existing properties to meet ‘standards’, which in the case of both new and old homes may reduce comfort, create problems such as damp, and divert cash from making homes fit for purpose towards making them fit policymakers’ bizarre green fantasies.

If the vote to leave the European Union meant anything, it meant that voters were tired of identikit parties with identikit policies, handed to them by special interest blobs, over which they had no control, all of which were manifestly indifferent to the voter’s needs and wants. If the voter wants radical climate action, it is available from the Labour, Liberal Democrat, Scottish National and Green parties. At best, then, the ‘choice’ available to the voter is only a choice between slightly different speeds towards what very many of them believe is economic suicide and deaths from cold and poverty.

Net Zero comes from exactly the same remote, ignorant and intransigent political imaginations as the European Union. It will be a far greater imposition than anything the EU has yet imposed. Any policy created under the Net Zero agenda will be created from the wrong side of the still widening, still deepening, and ever more dangerous democratic deficit. Brexit was supposed to close it, but the voter has not been given the opportunity to express a view on the most drastic, onerous and regressive policy agenda in the country’s history.

Because if you cannot vote against a thing, you cannot meaningfully vote for a thing. By failing to test the public’s appetite for removing their material freedoms, and inflicting great hardship on very many people, the (final?) Conservative government may well be remembered, not for returning the country to democratic control, but for having much blood on its hands (and much green cash stuffed into its pockets). The question will not be ‘who runs Britain’, but who ran it into the rocks.

The fact remains that very little of the Net Zero agenda has been costed or assessed for practicality, let alone democratic legitimacy. The Committee on Climate Change, which supports the government’s Net Zero fantasy (and which is stuffed with the most unregenerate anti-democratic Remainiacs) has been unable or unwilling to say how it is possible, or to show how it arrived at its estimates of cost. Meanwhile, Britain’s shale gas reserves remain unexploited – gas which would be of much better use in boilers than in the ground, but which remains there because the government is terrified of threats from Caroline Lucas and Extinction Rebellion protesters.

Crazier still . . . because of the well-understood inadequacies of renewable energy, the extra capacity needed to power new homes will come from, yes, gas-fired generators. Although total UK gas demand and gas-fired electricity generation fell between 2010 and 2014, domestic gas demand rose by nearly 5 per cent last year. Since 2014, gas demand has risen by 13 per cent, and since 2015, net gas imports have risen by 26 per cent. Banning gas boilers is unlikely to diminish gas demand. It will simply put greater dependence on the electricity grid, which will in turn require more gas generation capacity, at greater expense.

It is interesting that politicians are capable of delaying for years what the public have demanded, yet are falling over themselves to pledge to deliver policies that the public – aside from some unwashed weirdos blocking Westminster Bridge – have not demanded at all. Perhaps it would have been better if the Remainers had managed to cancel the Tory conference. Then, at least, we would be spared the spectacle of Boris chasing the votes of . . . who, exactly? Ecosocialists?

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Ben Pile
Ben Pile
Ben Pile is a researcher, writer, blogger. Sceptical of environmentalism. For science, against scientism.

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