SADLY, at the time of writing, five people are believed to have died as a result of Storm Babet last week. The climate porn merchants immediately jumped in to claim that climate change was responsible.
Sky News led the charge with an article headlined ‘Why Storm Babet brought so much rain – and why we’re likely to see more storms like it’. It said: ‘So why did Babet bring so much rain? It has a lot to do with the unusually warm seas it crossed as it tracked up from Portugal and the Bay of Biscay to the UK. It meant more water evaporated into the atmosphere. And because the air is relatively warm too, all that moisture got transported with the storm system to fall as rain over Britain.
‘It’s exactly what scientists predict from climate change, particularly over winter. The UK will have to prepare for more floods, even in areas that are normally much drier.’
But was Babet really so exceptional?
According to the Met Office, the wettest place in the UK on Friday the 20th, the main day of the storm, was Sheffield with 84.0mm of rain, about 3.3inches.
The record daily rainfall in Sheffield stands much higher at 119.2mm (4.4in), set in July 1973. That was a summer storm, so how does Babet compare with other autumn and winter storms?
Let’s take a look back at the 1960s. In those days, the Met Office published an annual British Rainfall volume, packed with facts, maps and data. (See here). In their 1960 edition, they included this table:
Clearly many locations recorded more than 5 inches in a day, especially during the autumn and winter months. The Met Office monthly weather report highlighted some of the extremes in October 1960:
And British Rainfall summarised the month:
They also listed the heaviest falls of rain, which is too long to print, but there is an example below for October 8. During the month there were six days when at least one location topped 3 inches of rain.
It was another extremely wet October seven years later:
British Rainfall listed many locations with more than 70mm of rain on the 16th, across all of South Wales, Lancashire, the Midlands and Yorkshire, including one site in Glamorgan, Beacon Reservoir, which had 139.2 mm. A small sample is shown below:
If you believed the headlines over the last week or so, you would think half the country was under water. It is always a disaster for anybody affected by flooding, but fortunately on this occasion the number of properties reported to be flooded is actually very small: 1,250 in England according to the Environment Agency. Their data shows that the average in the last two decades has been around 5,000 a year.
The harsh reality is that storms like Babet hit the UK most years. They always have, and they always will. And many in the past have been much worse. Maybe Sky News should focus on the facts instead of trying to make political capital out of bad weather.
Net Zero could easily add up to £2trillion
BIT by bit, we are learning the truly horrifying cost of Net Zero. Successive governments as well as the Committee on Climate Change have tried to pull the wool over our eyes, avoiding specifics and instead talking in generalities about green jobs and economic growth.
The first chink appeared in 2019 when Philip Hammond’s Treasury team put an estimate of £1.2trillion on it, a figure which the government at the time did its best to hide and discredit.
Since then various independent estimates have suggested the costs might be even greater. The National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) has just published its Second National Infrastructure Assessment, and it includes a detailed analysis of the projected costs of Net Zero. It backs up what the Treasury feared four years ago.
• Up to £35billion per year between 2025 and 2050 of investment in renewable generation capacity and flexible sources of generation, electricity grids, and hydrogen and carbon capture and storage networks;
• £2.5billion per year between 2024 and 2050 to decarbonise public sector buildings by deploying heat pumps, heat networks and energy efficiency;
• £12billion per year to cover the extra costs of replacing gas boilers with heat pumps, most of which will be financed by the government rather than homeowners;
• 300,000 EV chargers – no cost is given, but it is likely to be in the region of £30 billion;
• £74billion for decommissioning the gas network.
This is all spending over and above what we would normally need to invest without Net Zero.
Add that lot up, and we are looking at more than £1.3trillion. And all of these investments are superfluous. We already have plenty of gas generating capacity, most of which should still be in working order in 2040. We also have a working grid that has no need of extra storage, and is capable of handling existing demands. We also have efficient heating systems and motor vehicles.
But that is only the start. The NIC calculations assume that EVs achieve price parity with ICE cars by 2030. They currently cost at least £10K more, and there is no evidence that this will change significantly in the foreseeable future. If we assume this price difference lasts until 2040, the extra cost would amount to £230 billion in the 2030s alone.
By the nature of the beast, a lot of these costs are front-loaded in the next decade or so. So although cost pressures might ease after 2040, costs will be particularly heavy until then. Hence the NIC’s suggestion that the government should provide zero interest loans for household heat pumps, the idea being that homeowners can pay them off in instalments, in the hope that they don’t notice them!
Providing interest-free finance is merely one more hidden cost that the government must bear, adding yet more debt servicing costs to an already unsustainable public deficit. Worse still, the money that they will need to borrow will drain resources from more productive investments.
There is one more glaring underestimate. The NIC claim that annual household energy bills will be £1,000 lower eventually, thanks to ‘wonderfully cheap renewables’. But the report’s small print tells us that all their energy costings are based on the government’s latest Electricity Generation Costs report, published in August this year.
Lo and behold, this tells us that the levelised cost of offshore wind is £44/MWh at 2021 prices. The recent CfD auction of course failed to get any offshore wind bids at a higher price than that. And studies of the real costs of construction indicate that the true cost is double this assumed cost. Worse still, the report also states that the cost of combined-cycle gas turbine (CCGT) generation is only £54/MWh, after the fictitious cost of carbon is taken out.
In short, our electricity bills will increase and not decline. Not only that, but a doubling of offshore wind costs will add hundreds of billions more to that investment bill. There is no recognition either in the NIC report of the fact that heat pump running costs are higher than a gas boiler.
So when we add all these extra costs, as well as the cost of interest and the tendency for official estimates to be too low, we could easily be looking at a total bill of £2trillion and more.
But even that £1.3trillion works out at £48 billion a year, and that’s £1700 for every household in the country every year till 2050. And all for nothing as the rest of the world carries on emitting more and more carbon dioxide year after year.