IT IS a fact that politicians very rarely make U-turns once they have committed to a policy.
Boris Johnson made the huge error of enthusiastically embracing the Net Zero strategy from the start of his premiership, the poisoned chalice handed to him by his useless predecessor, itself kicked down the road by her predecessors.
However, with a new leader coming soon, this is an ideal opportunity to reverse course, away from what Allister Heath has rightly described as a hard left eco-agenda. There is no need for a new PM to cancel Net Zero, something which would not get through Parliament anyway given the loony green policies of Labour and Lib Dems. All he or she has to do is adopt this manifesto:
It is gradually dawning on the public just how ruinously expensive and suicidal the Net Zero project is going to be.
Sadly, Net Zero is embedded across all the main political parties, throughout the establishment and the media. There is therefore no realistic chance that it will be abandoned any time soon.
However there are a number of things that would put the brakes on Net Zero and help to reduce some of the costs already being incurred by the public because of climate policy.
All government actions regarding Net Zero should be consistent with two fundamental principles:
1) Policy should be affordable, both for the public and government finances;
2) Decarbonisation should not be at a faster rate than the rest of the world.
The following actions are therefore proposed:
1) All Carbon Budget targets should be suspended;
2) The proposed ban on gas boilers should be postponed until alternatives are cost competitive;
3) The proposed ban on petrol/diesel cars should also be postponed, until alternatives are cost competitive; solutions are found for the millions of drivers without off-street parking; a nationwide charging network is established, with sufficient capacity and at no cost to the public purse; the electricity grid and distribution network has been upgraded;
4) Immediately abolish carbon pricing and the UK Emissions Trading System, which is already driving up power prices;
5) Implement an Intermittency Tax for wind and solar generators, so that they bear the cost of standby and grid balancing, instead of electricity consumers;
6) Implement a Windfall Tax on all recipients of Renewable Obligation Certificates, who currently benefit from high wholesale power prices in addition to ROCs, which currently cost consumers £6bn a year. The revenue to be used to offset ROC costs currently added to electricity bills;
7) End all constraint payments to wind farms;
8) Put a stop to all new subsidies for renewable energy;
9) Fully commit to a long-term future for North Sea oil and gas, necessary to encourage development. This must include a recognition of the need for substantial amounts of natural gas in the medium term;
10) End the ban on fracking, and lift all unnecessary restrictions which were previously in place;
11) Extend the life of existing coal power plants;
12) Fast-track mini nuclear development;
13) Immediately approve the proposed Cumbria coal mine;
14) Guarantee that no new taxes will be raised, designed to ‘encourage’ consumers away from high carbon consumption. In particular, no new tax on meat or gas.
15) Put an immediate stop on plans to force landlords to meet higher energy efficiency and low-carbon standards;
16) Put an end to plans to ban mortgages for homes which don’t meet energy efficiency and low-carbon standards;
17) Immediately abolish all subsidies for electric cars, and ensure that electric car drivers pay their full share of road taxes, including fuel duties.
Many of the above actions could be speedily introduced and would have an immediate impact on energy bills, with potential annual savings of £400 per household.
Back to reality!
SADLY, there is little likelihood of any of this seeing the light of day. There is a widespread delusion that all of this government’s green agenda is some sort of fantasy dreamt up by Boris and Carrie Johnson.
This ignores the reality that it has been Conservative policy for many years, going back to Cameron’s time. It was Theresa May who pushed through the suicidal Net Zero Act. Her policies, including massively increasing offshore wind power and banning the sale of petrol/diesel cars, differed very little from Johnson’s. It must also be remembered that everything he has done since the election with regard to climate was clearly laid out for all to see in the 2019 Conservative Manifesto. The fact that Labour and Lib Dem climate policies are much more extreme is of little consolation.
Why Sri Lanka’s economy imploded
AT COP26 last November, Sri Lanka’s President Rajapaksa earned the plaudits of the international community with his speech outlining how his country would help fight climate change. He announced this would include cutting back on imports of chemical fertilisers:
‘As we are all aware, climate change is one of the greatest crises the world currently faces. The leaders of nearly all countries are meeting over the next two days to discuss and hopefully commit to actions that will start leading us out of it. In doing so, one of the key issues that Sri Lanka and some other countries will rightfully draw attention to is that of sustainable nitrogen management.
‘In October 2019, fourteen nations joined the Colombo Declaration on Sustainable Management. This important declaration encourages nations to develop national roadmaps for sustainable nitrogen management, with a view to reducing nitrogen waste in half by 2030.
‘Nitrogen is an abundant element that is essential to the sustenance of all living things. However, reactive nitrogen generated by human activity and released into ecosystems worsens climate change. It is in this context that my Government took firm steps to reduce imports of chemical fertilizer, and strongly encourage organic agriculture.’
The full speech can be read here.
As a result of this policy, which effectively banned the import of chemical fertilisers in April 2021, crop yields were drastically reduced and Sri Lanka’s trade balance was damaged. Food shortages grew to alarming proportions and food prices rocketed, along with general inflation, as the currency collapsed. The country literally ran out of fuel, because it had no money to pay for imports, and Sri Lanka now faces its worst economic crisis in decades.
Unsurprisingly the upshot is that, following massive public protests, the President has been forced to resign.
Politicians like Rajapaksa love to grandstand on the world stage. But it is always their people who pay the price.