Saturday, July 24, 2021
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Mr Net Zero and the great green smokescreen

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AS TCW reported this week, former energy minister Chris Skidmore acknowledges that the Government need to level with people about the trade-offs, the compromises and sacrifices involved in decarbonising the economy. ‘Trust the people’ was his rallying cry. 

As the man responsible for putting the Government’s barmy ‘Net Zero’ target before Parliament in 2019, Mr Skidmore should have had a good idea of the extent of the trade-offs, compromises and sacrifices that would be involved. It’s strange then that if you refer back to his utterances at the time you find total silence on all the financial pain that families will have to endure; ‘affordable’ was the description he gave the House of Commons, to the rapturous acclaim of MPs from all sides.

Two years on and it’s clear that Parliament was tricked into voting for a policy that everyone now understands will be expensive – catastrophically so – for the country. You need only to look at the cost of ‘decarbonising’ a typical home, running into tens of thousands of pounds, to see that ‘affordable’ was simply not true. We can’t be sure where this deception began, but Skidmore made it quite clear in his speech that he was accepting the word of the Climate Change Committee (CCC) that Net Zero could be done on the cheap. Did he know it was untrue? Look back over what was said at the time and you see everyone – including Skidmore – adopting the same careful form of words: it will cost ‘1 to 2 per cent of GDP in 2050’. In other words, there were no figures for the amounts that would need to be spent between 2020 and 2049. The CCC has now admitted that it had not calculated those figures at all. Reasonable people will therefore conclude that everyone involved in putting the Net Zero target in place knew the CCC’s numbers were a smokescreen.

And if should anyone doubt that it was a smokescreen, you should note the extraordinary contortions to which the CCC has gone to prevent anyone seeing the calculations underlying its ‘1 to 2 per cent of GDP’ figure. My Freedom of Information request for the numbers has been rumbling on for nearly two years now. The CCC’s costing is not the only ‘official’ estimate either. The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has apparently produced one too, and is also refusing to let anyone see the underlying calculations. Similarly, BEIS’s estimates of the future costs of electricity generation are key inputs into both of the costings. FoI requests for those have been refused too.

All of which shows that Chris Skidmore’s call for the Government to ‘trust the people’ is really just a case of him distancing himself from the policy that he helped trick Parliament into putting in place in 2019, a policy that is clearly going to destroy the economy. Now that the truth is coming out, politicians have the awkward choice of admitting the deception, or continuing with the charade. In either case, political careers are likely to be shortened quite severely.

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Andrew Montford
Andrew Montford is Deputy Director of the Global Warming Policy Forum GWPF does not accept funding from energy companies or anyone with a significant interest in an energy company.

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