THE BBC’s ‘environment analyst’ Roger Harrabin gives the latest advice from the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) the usual uncritical coverage.
Harrabin’s report says: ‘The UK must avoid lurching from the coronavirus crisis into a deeper climate crisis, the government’s advisers have warned.
‘They recommend that ministers ensure funds earmarked for a post-Covid-19 economic recovery go to firms that will reduce carbon emissions.’
The reason, of course, is to save the planet, as committee chairman Lord Deben explains: ‘The government must prioritise actions that reduce climate risks.’
But Britain accounts for only 1 per cent of global emissions of carbon dioxide, so whatever we do will have no effect on the world’s climate.
There is a lot of twaddle in the CCC report, but the core proposal is to pour whatever bailout money there is into ‘green’ industries, and leave the rest of the economy to fend for itself.
This logic, however, is fundamentally flawed.
The CCC talk about home insulation, tree planting and peatland restoration as examples. But these have little or no economic value. If families are struggling to put food on the table, it won’t be much consolation to know that peatlands have been restored!
Home insulation may, in theory, save a tiny amount on energy bills, but studies regularly show that the cost of installing serious insulation is far greater than any benefits accruing.
And all of these jobs have to be paid for by somebody, making the country poorer as a result. The CCC even have the nerve to suggest that jobless workers should be retrained to work in these ‘labour-intensive green industries’. Try telling a skilled, well-paid employee in, say, an oil refinery or car factory that he has to relocate to the Highlands to plant trees!
As a country, we have to import much of what we need, including food. How can we pay for that if we have no exporting industry left?
Harrabin makes a particular reference to aviation, suggesting that any bailout should include a condition that the industry shrinks. But this would simply mean that overseas airlines took up the slack, along with thousands of jobs.
Other proposals include working from home, or walking and cycling to work. It may well be that the coronavirus encourages more homeworking, as employers find their fears assuaged. But governments cannot order this. Besides, the vast majority of jobs cannot be carried out at home, and very few people live within walking or cycling distance of their work.
The CCC want to prioritise broadband over road building. But universal roll-out of full fibre broadband is already happening. That should not be allowed to prevent investment in the road network, which is vital for the nation’s productivity.
For some reason, the CCC’s letter also tackles ‘broader social themes of fairness and risk’. Quite what this has to do with the CCC is beyond me. What poorer people need are well-paid jobs and lower household bills. They will be the ones who suffer most from higher energy bills, brought about by expensive renewable energy, which is already subsidised by £12billion a year. They will also be the ones who suffer most when they find their jobs have disappeared.
The stark reality is that there are few sectors of the economy which are not struggling financially as a result of the coronavirus. Whatever bailout money is available must be used to keep these otherwise perfectly viable companies on the road, thus protecting jobs and the contribution they make to the overall economy.
To let them go to the wall and instead throw money at worthless green hogwash would be sheer madness.
This article first appeared in Not A Lot Of People Know That on May 6, 2020, and is republished by kind permission.