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How much common sense and honesty? Net Zero


IF you want to see a prime example of piffle read yesterday’s Net Zero strategy document. Its 368 pages of obfuscation can be downloaded here. ‘Building back greener’ has supplanted ‘Building back better’ in the government’s lexicon.  Anything, one suspects, to avoid having to answer the question, who broke the economy in the first place? (that’s you, Bozo).

Any sensible energy and emissions policy has to do three things: reduce emissions, keep the lights on and not break the economy. Failing on one is failing on all – no economy means no NHS, no power means no heating, both of which will have a far greater short-term impact on health than the consequences of global warming. Surely someone in the 500,000-strong civil service gets this? (I’m beyond hoping for reason from the Cabinet).

The document is dishonest: it suggests that all electricity generation will be zero carbon by 2035, largely though the oft-repeated expansion of wind to 40GW of installed capacity. But that is nowhere near enough. We’re losing nuclear plants faster than they can be built and of course the government wants cars to run on electricity (and houses too). Where’s the electricity coming from? Don’t look for an answer in this document.

Domestic heating remains a challenge. The government has no idea what it’s doing about it other than having an assessment of hydrogen completed by 2026 (i.e. after the next election). It also wants 600,000 heat pumps a year installed by 2028. (Fewer than 30,000 installed in 2019 so there’s some reskilling to be done).

There are several caveats about ‘subject to security of supply’ but no development of what it means by that. Bozo can’t make the sun shine or the wind blow (although to be fair he’s good at hot air). Patently the gas supply is not secure (it could be if they restarted fracking, but there is no mention of that – despite the fact that we have 50 years’ worth sitting under our feet and the technology to use it emission-free). We don’t mine uranium and at the moment our interconnector to France is bent and President Macron is in no hurry to fix it.

There’s lots of money being thrown around. I lost count at £1trillion. No real suggestion as to where it’s coming from (but we know that; it’s you, me, our children and grandchildren who will be paying for this). That’s the optimistic assessment. As the document says: ‘Achieving Net Zero and our finance goals requires changes from the whole economy – we need every company, bank, insurer, and investor to adjust their business models, develop credible plans for the transition and implement them.’ These plans don’t exist today and they might not be possible. While the document trumpets that ‘over 1,900 SMEs signed up to reach net zero’ it ignores the 5,998,100 who have not.

The document is also rather sinister. The government will ‘increase awareness of Net Zero and empower businesses and the public to make green choices, by building on government communications’ – that’s the propaganda machine at work and yet another Project Fear, this time dressed up as saving the planet (which this policy can’t) rather than the NHS. Indeed, later on it admits that there will be energy rationing by price. The government that wants to inject your children without your consent now wants to freeze your gran.

It’s drivel. It’s authoritarian. It’s the culmination of the state knowing best. That’s the same state that brought you an NHS incapable of preparing for a pandemic, incarcerated you for two years while it bankrupted the economy and destroyed the education of at least two cohorts, if not a generation. All to combat a disease that turns out to be no worse than a bad flu (as some of us said when it started).

I was never asked if I wanted Net Zero. Mrs May imposed it, and all the parties in the Commons adopted it. None checked if it could work. None even estimated the cost.  Debate is now impossible as the government (and international) propaganda machine conflates the argument about whether climate change exists with the simple question of ‘Where are the electrons coming from?’

I’ve had enough of this. We deserve better. I demand reform.

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Patrick Benham-Crosswell
Patrick Benham-Crosswell
Patrick Benham-Crosswell is a former Army officer who has spent the last 30 years in commerce. He is the author of Net Zero: The Challenges, Costs and Consequences of the UK's Zero Emission Ambition. He has a substack here.

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