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HomeClimate WatchThe climate scaremongers: Are mid-20C temperatures in May unusual?

The climate scaremongers: Are mid-20C temperatures in May unusual?


THIS was the question the Met Office asked a couple of weeks ago in a post on their blog: ‘The UK’s hottest day of 2022 so far was recorded at Heathrow with 27.5°C today (17 May 2022), leading to interest in how often we record these kinds of temperatures in the UK during May. Mike Kendon, from the Met Office National Climate Information Centre, puts this latest temperature recording into context.’ 

Yes, they manage to mention Heathrow and still keep a straight face!

Naturally the Met Office goes on to claim that these temperatures are now more common because of global warming. In reality, their own data does not support this contention.

The question is, in any case, inane. Temperatures in the mid-20s may be common in the South East, but would be rare in Cromarty. Trying to compare data from different stations is like comparing chalk and cheese.

According to the official European Climate Assessment & Dataset (ECA&D), the number of days of over 25C has changed little over the years in Central England. The chart below runs only to 2020, but no days have got anywhere near 25C in the last two Mays, with the highest only reaching 22.8C:

If we look at the highest May temperatures each year, there has been nothing remarkable at all happening in recent years. The highest temperatures were set in the 1940s and 50s. What is noticeable, however, is that we don’t seem to get the exceptionally cold days any more. In other words, the climate in May is more benign and less extreme than in the past.

A classic example of this was May 1944, when the record UK temperature for the month of 32.8C was set:

United Kingdom: Highest daily maximum temperature records in May

Notably, however, May 1944 as a whole was close to average temperatures, with two extremely cold spells and heavy frost. Temperatures dropped to just 22F in England, an astonishingly low figure by any account, as the Met Office weather report of the time highlighted:

Met Office Archives

This was extreme weather in anybody’s books. And you will no doubt recall that just a week after that heatwave, the weather became extremely stormy as D-Day came and went.

Nowadays the Met Office would rather discuss temperatures next to the runway at Heathrow!

Does the UK subsidise fossil fuels?

THERE has been a lot of hot air generated about the Chancellor’s windfall tax on North Sea oil and gas producers. In reality, there has been an excess profits tax on North Sea oil since its early days. Most recently, George Osborne increased the profit levy by 12 per cent 11 years ago, though it was reversed five years later.

The latest windfall tax reminds us just how much revenue is raised from oil and gas production.

Whenever the topic of subsidies for renewable energy is raised, there is always someone who says ‘what about all of the subsidies paid out for fossil fuel?’ One commenter recently claimed: ‘More recently the UK has given £9.9billion to the oil and gas industry between 2016 to 2020 in tax reliefs for new exploration and production and £3.7 billion in payments towards decommissioning cost.’

The claims came from an OECD report, and are needless to say fake.

So let’s just recap what the UK oil and gas industry pay in tax. This is what Deloitte state: ‘Currently, the oil and gas sector is subject to two principal taxes on profits: the 30 per cent Ring Fence Corporation Tax and 10 per cent Supplementary Charge which combine to give a 40 per cent headline rate tax. The [new Rishi Sunak] Levy will be an additional 25 per cent tax on UK oil and gas profits, yielding a total headline rate of 65 per cent.’

These taxes apply to the profits of oil and gas companies operating in the UK and the UK continental shelf.

All other companies, of course, pay corporation tax of 20 per cent of profits, so already oil and gas producers have been paying effectively double that rate. The new levy will mean it will be more than triple. It is evident therefore that oil and gas companies are not ‘subsidised’ as the renewable lobby claims. (And that is before we get into the debate about fuel duties paid by motorists, which are close to £30billion a year).

So where do the OECD propaganda claims come from?

Their latest report lists four items for the UK – the values reflect the costs in 2020:

•       Red Diesel – £2.1billion – This has been around for decades, and allows diesel used for agricultural purposes to be duty free. This may be interpreted as a subsidy for farmers, but certainly is not a subsidy for fossil fuels in any shape or form.

•       Tied Oils – £1.2bn – Often oils are used for non-energy purposes, such as lubrication. These are exempt from normal fuel duties for obvious reasons. Again, this is not subsidising the fossil fuel industry, as is claimed by the OECD.

•       Tax Reliefs for Decommissioning – £0.6billion

•       Tax Reliefs for Capital Investment – £1.5billion.

To claim that the UK ‘gives money to the oil and gas industry’ in respect of the latter two cases shows a total ignorance of how the corporation tax system works.

Tax reliefs are not subsidies in any shape or form. All companies pay corporation tax on profits, and profits are of course income minus expenditure. Both capital investment and decommissioning costs are legitimate expenses to book against profit. The tax reliefs referred to merely determine when these expenses can be offset.

In short then, oil companies cannot offset decommissioning costs until they are actually incurred, by which time of course production has stopped and there is no income to offset them against. Therefore they are allowed to offset them against tax already paid. Over the life of the asset, the correct amount of tax is paid. This arrangement is actually detrimental to the oil companies, because they have overpaid tax in previous years. (The government is naturally delighted, as it has extra tax revenue – which is probably why they set up the system this way!) A normal accounting policy would be to provide for these decommissioning costs each year during the life of the asset.

It is a similar situation with capital allowances. Companies can offset the full capital costs upfront, rather than on a depreciation write-down basis. Again, the correct amount of tax is paid over the life of the asset.

There is one other so-called subsidy for fossil fuels, which is regularly wheeled out, and that is the reduced rate of VAT on domestic supplies of electricity and gas, which are charged at 5 per cent, instead of 20 per cent. But to regard this as a subsidy is absurd. After all, food is zero-rated, but nobody in their right mind would claim that food is subsidised by the government.

This year alone, the offshore oil and gas sector is expected to pay £8.8billion in tax to the Treasury, and that does not include the latest windfall tax. Over the years, the industry has paid tens of billions in excess tax.

These are the inconvenient truths which the renewables lobby does not want you to hear.

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Paul Homewood
Paul Homewood
Paul Homewood is a former accountant who blogs about climate change at Not a Lot of People Know That

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