A REVIEW of Net Zero has recommended that sales of gas boilers must be banned within ten years at the latest. The supposedly ‘independent’ review was commissioned by Liz Truss in her short spell as PM, and was written by Tory MP Chris Skidmore, who as Energy Minister signed the Net Zero Act into law in 2019.
The reality is that virtually nobody who owns a gas boiler is remotely interested in replacing it with a heat pump. Sales of heat pumps in the UK are running at around 35,000 a year, despite generous government subsidies, a long way short of the government target of 600,000 a year.
The reason is obvious. Installing a heat pump, with the new radiators, pipework and extra insulation required, will probably cost upwards of £20,000 for a typical home. Worse, despite the currently high cost of gas, running costs for a heat pump are still higher than a gas boiler.
In practice, a ban on gas boilers would force most people into buying conventional electrical heaters, such as storage heaters. These are cheaper to buy but hugely expensive to run; annual heating costs for a typical home are about £1,500 for a gas boiler, but would rise to £5,000 for electrical heating.
This is not the only mad policy suggestion in Skidmore’s review. He also wants all houses sold to meet EPC C by 2033. EPC is the Energy Performance Certificate, when it is estimated that only 40 per cent of houses meet this standard at the moment. Skidmore’s bright idea will force millions of homeowners and landlords to spend thousands on improving insulation against their will.
Of course, this ‘independent’ review is nothing of the sort. Skidmore, MP for Kingswood, is one of the bunch of extremist green Tories; he even opposed Truss’s attempts to reinstate fracking. It was inevitable that he would rubber-stamp the Net Zero agenda. A truly independent review would have critically assessed all the assumptions, costings and projections for this appalling piece of legislation. Instead we have got a report that might as well have been written by Gummer’s Committee on Climate Change. We get all the same platitudes that we have read many times before in CCC handouts – how cheap renewable energy is, millions of green jobs, how we will all be better off by 2050 (we have to take Skidmore’s word for this), how we must not fall behind the rest of the world in the race for Net Zero.
I have searched the report comprehensively, and cannot find a single reference to the costs which will have to be borne in the medium term by the public, things like heat pumps, insulation and electric cars. These costs will be unaffordable for most households, and will act as a brake on economic growth in the same way as high energy prices are doing now. Nobody cares about how well off they may be in 30 years’ time, and certainly won’t believe anybody who tells them he does know. But people do know that current policies will be extremely expensive.
Neither is there any quantification of the massive costs which will be incurred for upgrading electricity grids and distribution networks, and building hydrogen storage and infrastructure. Or the reliance on unproven carbon capture.
Nor is there any critical assessment as to how the country can run predominantly on intermittent wind and solar power, albeit backed up by nuclear power. Instead Skidmore seems simply to accept the pie-in-the-sky projections of the National Grid, calling for more wind and solar power.
The report does mention CCC estimates of the need to spend £50billion to 60billion a year by the early 2030s. As it points out, most of this will come from private sector investors, who will want high returns. Skidmore does not mention that it will be the poor old consumer who will end up paying for all this. It is no surprise that big business is queuing up for its share of the money pot.
Since its very inception, the Net Zero Act was enacted as a ‘good idea’, without any plan as to how it could be carried out, or a clearly costed budget. This review should have been an ideal opportunity to row back, putting the whole thing on the back burner while these fundamental issues were addressed. Sadly it is a chance missed.
Is climate change killing off the puffins?
ANOTHER go-to scare story for climate alarmists is that Atlantic puffins are at risk from global warming. It is a story that comes around every year as regular as clockwork.
According to a recent report in the Telegraph, 70 per cent of Europe’s puffins could be lost in the next 80 years, because of ‘stormy weather caused by climate change’. Naturally no evidence is presented to prove that stormy weather is increasing, probably because it isn’t!
Far from dying out, puffins have been thriving off the Pembrokeshire coast on the islands of Skomer and Skokholm. There are more puffins there now than at any time since the 1940s, when numbers peaked before the population crashed.
Skomer Island Puffin Count
Although there are an estimated 10 million puffins breeding along Europe’s coastline, it has been reported that some populations are declining around the North Sea. But the cause of this is not climate change, but something much more basic – the industrial fishing of sand eels, which make up most of the diet of puffins during their breeding season. If climate change was a factor, we would be seeing the same decline on Skomer.
Less fish available for adult puffins means underfed pufflins, which are less likely to make it to adulthood.
In 2020, 238,000 tons of sand eel were harvested by fishing vessels in the North Sea, all of which goes to Danish oil and fishmeal processing factories. Danish vessels have the largest share of the fishing quota, landing 72 per cent of the catch. Both the EU and Denmark claim that fishing quotas are adequate to maintain the sand eel population. But as is always the case with the EU, vested interests trump any other considerations.
The link between sand eel fishing and seabird populations is well established. A study in 2014 found that ‘the UK’s internationally important seabird populations are being affected by fishing activities in the North Sea. Levels of seabird breeding failure were higher in years when a greater proportion of the North Sea’s sand eels, important prey for seabirds, was commercially fished’. It also noted that seabirds breeding on the UK’s western colonies are faring better than those on the North Sea coast.
But don’t expect the EU to shut down Denmark’s fishmeal industry. It’s much easier to blame climate change!