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Who pays for these crazy carbon cuts? The poor old householder, of course


The Committee on Climate Change (CCC) – which advises the UK government and advocates revising and increasing the ambitions of the Climate Change Act – has recommended a Net Zero emissions target by 2050. Last week in TCW, Dr Benny Peiser, Director of the Global Warming Policy Foundation, explained why this would be economically hazardous and could cripple our economy. Today Paul Homewood explores the impact the Net Zero policy would have on individual households, particularly from the ‘outlawing’ of gas.

THE UK already has legally binding targets to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 80 per cent from 1990 levels by 2050. Desperate to virtue-signal, last year the government asked the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) for advice on how to strengthen this commitment to eliminate emissions completely by 2050.

The CCC has now responded with a detailed proposal which is likely to be highly damaging to the UK’s economy, yet has garnered very little critical attention in the press.

It must also be said that most of what the CCC is now proposing will be needed to hit the existing 80 per cent target anyway.

Britain’s emissions of CO2 are of course tiny in global terms, just 1 per cent. Since the Climate Change Act in 2008, UK emissions have fallen by 162 MtCO2 per year, yet globally emissions have risen by 3,063 MtCO2 to 33,444 MtCO2. And this reduction has come at a huge cost, estimated by the Office for Budget Responsibility at £66billion over the next five years.

At the EU level, Germany, Italy and Poland have already made it clear that they are not prepared to back drastic emission cuts.

Much has been written about the Paris Agreement and its commitment to hold warming to 2C. Paris is often presented as everybody agreeing to cut emissions, and therefore we have to do our bit. But China, India and the rest of the developing world will in fact carry on increasing their emissions up to 2030, the period covered by the Agreement. And the Agreement specifically states that, even if all of the national pledges are met, global emissions would actually have risen by 12 per cent come 2030, making any UK cuts meaningless.

So what do these new proposals hold in store for us?

Let’s start with the cost, which the CCC puts at £50billion a year by 2050. This equates to more than £1,800 per household, based on current population.

A large chunk of this cost will impact households directly as natural gas is phased out, and replaced by much more expensive low carbon alternatives. These fall into three categories:

1) Electrical resistance heating (basically conventional electric fires and radiators). Electricity is approximately four times as expensive as natural gas in terms of units of energy. As well as paying much higher energy bills, householders will need to buy new appliances.

2) Heat pumps are more energy efficient than resistance heating, but are still estimated to double heating bills. Moreover, they cost in the region of £10,000 to install.

3) Hydrogen, which is produced from natural gas by steam reforming. As the process produces CO2, this would need to be captured and stored. It is estimated that using hydrogen will double gas bills. In addition, gas networks and household appliances will need to be modified at a cost of tens of billions.

The CCC estimates that overall household energy bills will increase by £500 pa on average, as a result of the shift away from gas.

Demand for power is forecast to double as heating and transport are electrified. But peak demand for electricity will certainly more than double, because heating demands are mainly in winter. This will entail not just a massive increase in generating capacity, but also strengthening of transmission and local networks, for which the CCC does not appear to have budgeted.

Even with the planned massive increase in renewable capacity planned, it may come as a surprise to learn that there is still a need for gas generation, to provide standby capacity. Indeed, generation from gas is projected to be greater in 2050 than it is now.

On top of that, large amounts of natural gas will be needed to produce all of that hydrogen mentioned above. So what happens to the emissions of CO2? The CCC is relying on using carbon capture and storage (CCS) for both power generation and hydrogen production, even though the process is still unproven on a commercial scale.

All new cars and vans must be pure electric by 2030, according to the CCC’s plan. Note that this excludes hybrids, for which development by car manufacturers would probably cease overnight. The CCC offers no strategy for what the 44 per cent of motorists, nearly half, who have no off-street parking are supposed to do when they need to recharge.

Nor does it explain how the National Grid can cope with the massive increase in demand for electricity, which local networks do not have capacity for.

Such a rapid move to electric vehicles (EVs) would pose an existential risk to car manufacturers, with low-cost Asian factories poised to take business away. Already Honda’s new EV, the Urban, is being made in Asia.

Industry in general stands to take a big hit as well from the CCC’s proposals, which they estimate at £10billion a year. Thousands of jobs could be put at risk in sectors especially vulnerable, such as oil refineries, chemicals and steel. Not to mention all those central heating engineers!

To top it all, the CCC wants a fifth of productive farmland to be taken out for reforestation and biomass production, which will surely lead to greater imports of food.

Given that some emissions cannot be entirely eliminated, the CCC has had the bright idea of using technology to remove CO2 directly from the atmosphere, at the mind-boggling cost of £20billion a year.

Voters were never consulted when the climate change legislation was originally introduced, and will probably get no say about this latest utterly mad proposal, even though they are the ones who will pay through the nose for it.

Meanwhile there appears to be a conspiracy in the media to hide the real costs from the public.

We deserve better.

This article originally appeared in Not a Lot of People Know That on May 7, 2019, and is republished by kind permission.

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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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