Treasury leak reveals rift between Johnson and Sunak over costs of zero-carbon economy. With weeks to go before the Cop26 climate summit, documents show PM being warned about the risks of damage to the UK from green investment. Confidential documents leaked to the Observer reveal an extraordinary rift between Boris Johnson and his chancellor, Rishi Sunak, over the potential economic effects of moving towards a zero-carbon economy, with just weeks to go before the crucial Cop26 climate summit. As Johnson prepares to position the UK at the head of global efforts to combat climate change and curb greenhouse gas emissions as host of the Glasgow Cop26 meeting, the documents show the Treasury is warning of serious economic damage to the UK economy and future tax rises if the UK overspends on, or misdirects, green investment. Green experts said the “half-baked” and “one-sided” Treasury net-zero review presented only the costs of action on emissions, rather than the benefits, such as green jobs, lower energy bills and avoiding the disastrous impact of global heating. They said the review could be “weaponised” by climate-change deniers around the world before Cop26, undermining Johnson’s attempts at climate leadership on the global stage.
Observer 16th Oct 2021 read more »
At first glance, the government’s much-delayed bid to break Britain’s decades-long addiction to gas heating is well timed, as the nation braces itself for a winter energy crisis. Within months, the gas supply crunch is expected to plunge hundreds of thousands of homes into fuel poverty for the first time, lead to scores of energy suppliers going bust, bring factories to a standstill, and rip through the economy as the UK attempts to mount a post-pandemic recovery. As one energy industry leader put it last month: “There really is no part of the current energy crisis which would not be better if we were less reliant on fossil fuels.” So it comes as welcome news that as soon as this week, ministers may unveil plans for a scheme that will pay households to scrap their gas boilers in favour of a low-carbon alternative, as part of its long-awaited “heat and buildings” climate strategy. The scheme, which reports suggest could offer £5,000 to households ready to shrug off their fossil fuel dependency, may prove to be a tempting prospect for homes currently facing one of the steepest increases in energy bills on record this winter because of record gas market highs across the globe.
Observer 17th Oct 2021 read more »
Recently, the Times said ‘Contrary to the wrong turning made by the environmental movement a generation ago, there is no viable strategy for achieving a target of net-zero carbon emissions without exploiting nuclear energy’. A problem with that view is that major expansion of nuclear could deflect money that would arguably be better spent on renewables and energy efficiency- delivering more carbon savings faster and at less cost. Certainly not everyone in the policy establishment backs nuclear. For example, Lord Adair Turner, who was the first chair of the Climate Change Committee, and Director General of the CBI, has backtracked on his support for new nuclear, saying that he no longer thinks the UK needs it. The basic overall energy options now seem clear, with at one pole, renewables backed up by storage and energy saving, at the other nuclear and gas, including shale gas. The polarisation may not be complete. For example, as a concession to climate concerns, some see gas plus carbon capture and storage as a middle ground interim option. But otherwise, as illustrated by the output from Net Zero Watch, the GWPF’s new incarnation, the battle lines do seem clear.
Renew Extra 16th Oct 2021 read more »
Janet Daley: Let me say from the start that I am not qualified to make scientific judgements about the empirical facts of this matter. (Nor, of course, are some of the prominent exponents of the most extreme version of the climate campaign: Greta Thunberg does not have a degree in any scientific subject and famously withdrew from formal education to pursue her public mission.) It is perfectly possible, so far as I know, that the most cataclysmic predictions and the inevitability of the worst prognoses are objectively correct. And yet there is something about this movement that is so suspiciously imitative of an extreme religious cult that it is very hard to see how it could be compatible with the spirit of scientific endeavour. Climate campaigning, at least in its most well-publicised form, embodies everything that one would expect to see in a movement of fanatical fundamentalist fervour: the concept of original sin (industrialisation) that requires an acceptance of universal guilt which can only be expiated through self-denial and penance (sacrificing personal prosperity and freedoms).
Telegraph 16th Oct 2021 read more »
Dominic Lawson: Enough royal lectures on eco catastrophe. Prince Charles’s doomsaying is contributing to a fatalism among the young.
Times 17th Oct 2021 read more »
Johnson’s foe is mustering for the first skirmish of the net zero war. Labour will not vote against the government on green matters, so MPs on the Tory right are forming their own opposition. n London, the apocryphal saying goes, you are never more than six feet from a rat. Similarly, in Westminster you are never more than six minutes away from the foundation of a snappily abbreviated group of Tory MPs with an axe to grind. Step forward, the NZSG (Net Zero Scrutiny Group), the newest horse in a stable that includes the ERG (European Research Group), not to be confused with the CRG (China Research Group) or indeed the other CRG (Covid Recovery Group) and countless others. Unlike some of its alphabet-soup brothers, the Net Zero Scrutiny Group does what it says on the tin. Its aim is to scrutinise the government’s attempts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050. Dismiss its members as climate deniers at your peril: there are some serious political operators involved, and the group could be a real thorn in the side of Boris Johnson’s government. The serial rebel MP Steve Baker, who set up the group, worries that some of the government’s policies “seem designed to make the country poorer and colder” and wants it to change tack. He worries that the government’s proposed ban on gas boilers will be prohibitively expensive for homeowners and is concerned that our energy supply will be unreliable if the government prioritises renewables over nuclear.
Times 17th Oct 2021 read more »