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HomeClimate WatchThe Climate Change Act: Ten years of punishing the poor

The Climate Change Act: Ten years of punishing the poor


A decade has passed since MPs voted to approve the Climate Change Act in a self-congratulatory fervour. Britain, they said, was leading the world. The pompous conceit of our leading politicians is truly world-beating, but their obliviousness to consequences has allowed one of the largest ever transfers of wealth from poor to rich, and has seen efforts to eradicate fuel poverty flounder.

While the costs of the Climate Change Act are tangible, amounting to an estimated £320billion by 2030, the benefits have yet to be felt by anyone. When Peter Lilley, now Lord Lilley, pointed out that according to the Government’s own impact assessment, the Climate Change Act would have costs that were double the benefits, they simply invented a new impact assessment with greater benefits, £641billion no less. These would arise, apparently, when the rest of the world followed Britain’s glorious example.

Of course, nothing of the kind actually happened. Hundreds of coal-fired power stations are being built around the world by countries whose governments and citizens aspire to the living standards that many Westerners take for granted. And who could blame them?

Even the amelioration of emissions in this country has come to serve no purpose. Due to carbon trading in the EU, additional reductions beyond agreed burden-sharing targets mean only that other EU countries are able to emit another tonne of carbon dioxide at Britain’s expense.

That politicians were going to ‘save the planet’ was always going to be a tall order. Neil Kinnock used to know what happens with impossible promises. To bastardise his famous Bournemouth speech: You start with far-fetched resolutions. They are then pickled into a rigid dogma, a code, and you go through the years sticking to that, outdated, misplaced, irrelevant to the real needs, and you end in the grotesque chaos of a Conservative government paying for container ships to scuttle across the Atlantic transporting wood from forests in North America to burn in UK power stations. Of paying multimillionaires to heat their unused swimming pools while millions struggle in fuel poverty. And the horror of allowing hundreds of thousands of people in the developing world to die because of our policy to use food crops as ‘biofuels’.

The cruel absurdity of global efforts to reduce emissions is sadly invisible to most politicians, who characterise any opposition to this objective as a form of denialism. In doing so they are denying the suffering of the many victims of climate policy, who desperately need a voice.

There are a few iconoclastic politicians willing to stand up to overwhelming Parliamentary groupthink. Foremost among this group are the five MPs who voted against the Climate Change Act.

Three of those brave rebels: Peter Lilley, Philip Davies and Sir Christopher Chope, were there at the launch of a report by leading climate and energy policy analyst Rupert Darwall.

Entitled The Climate Change Act at Ten: History’s Most Expensive Virtue Signal, the report describes the economic and social burden the Act has had on the poorest in society. ‘Fuel poverty was to have been a thing of the past’, Darwall explains. ‘Both the Labour and Coalition governments had targets to abolish it. Thanks to the CCA and other anti-fossil-fuel policies, it lives on and is worsening.’

Despite the urgency of Darwall’s message, it is a sad reality that no Government minister will acknowledge the destructive impact of the Climate Change Act on the poor. But no one can say they were not warned. They chose not to listen.

The Climate Change Act at Ten: History’s Most Expensive Virtue Signal is published by The Global Warming Policy Foundation.

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Harry Wilkinson
Harry Wilkinson
Harry Wilkinson is Researcher to the Global Warming Policy Forum

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