The United Kingdom is – or, at least, is supposed to be – a representative democracy. That is, we don’t resort to referendums in the way that, say, the Swiss do. The idea is that we vote for MPs, and they represent us. In principle, we elect people who broadly represent the mood of their constituents, and then when new issues arise, we trust them to exercise their judgement on our behalf.

Growing up in the 1960s and 1970s, and as a young adult in the 1980s, I lived through an era when – whether or not one was happy with the outcome of general elections – representative democracy seemed to be functioning as it should. The Conservative and Labour Parties stood for different views of society (very different, when Margaret Thatcher was the Conservative Party leader and Michael Foot was the Labour Party leader), and for those who felt that the main parties offered options that were too far to the right or to the left, there was a meaningful alternative available – not just the Liberal Party, but also the SDP which, with the Gang of Four at the helm, seemed to offer a very real option to some, myself included. In those days, the Labour Party even opposed UK membership of what was then still the EEC.

Resort wasn’t really had to referendums. We did have a referendum (the first UK-wide one) in 1975 about the UK’s membership of the EEC, which it had recently joined. The UK had joined the EEC thanks to Ted Heath’s Conservative government which, interestingly, made no great play of applying for EEC membership in its manifesto before the 1970 general electioni. Perhaps the UK’s membership of the EEC has always been the issue that conflicts with the concept of representative democracy.

Over the years, referendums seemed to be seen by politicians as a means by which they could solve their own political difficulties. The 1975 referendum over continuing EEC membership was arguably held only because Harold Wilson saw it as a means of resolving the huge divisions in the Labour Party on that subject at the time. To date, the UK has seen a grand total of eleven referendums heldii. Mostly they have been about devolution or EEC/EU membership, though in 1973 a local referendum was held on the subject of whether Northern Ireland should remain part of the UK or join the Republic of Ireland, and in 2011, as part of the coalition deal between the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats, a referendum was held on whether to change the voting system for Parliament from first-past-the-post to alternative vote.

EU Membership

Whatever one’s views on the UK membership of the EU and the rights and wrongs of Brexit, I think it is fair to say that this is the first issue where it became apparent that the electorate’s representatives in Parliament were substantially out of sympathy with, and unrepresentative of, the views of a substantial proportion of the electorate (arguably, of 52% of them, as things turned out).

Following that referendum held on 23rd June 2016 , it quickly became apparent that a substantial proportion of MPs (and also of members of the House of Lords – that unrepresentative and undemocratic part of the UK constitution) disagreed with the result of the vote. And although many said they would “respect” the result of the vote, it soon became clear that they didn’t. Relentless campaigning took place for a second vote, for a “people’s vote” (I thought that’s what the referendum had been) and obstacle after obstacle was placed in the way of the Prime Minister – who was by then Theresa May, following David Cameron’s departure on the failure of his tactic to lance the Brexit boil in his party.

Elections to the European Parliament took place, which demonstrated that whatever the precise split in the UK electorate (whether narrowly in favour of continuing EU membership or narrowly in favour of Brexit) they were not, as Parliamentarians were, overwhelmingly in view of remaining in the EU. Still the deadlock in Parliament continued. It couldn’t readily be broken due to the provisions of an Act of Parliament pushed through by the Lib Dem/Conservative coalition, the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011iii. It required a majority among MPs representing more than two thirds of all seats (including vacant seats) in the House of Commons. That was for a long time too high a hurdle, as the anti-Brexit opposition parties and the anti-Brexit MPs in the Conservative Party refused to vote for an early general election that they must have known would have resulted in many of them losing their seats and the Brexit they opposed becoming a reality. Eventually, when the stalemate was crippling the country, even the recalcitrant MPs in Parliament gave in, the necessary majority under the Act of 2011 was obtained, and a general election took place in December 2019. That resulted in Boris Johnson becoming Prime Minister, many anti-Brexit MPs losing their seats, just as they must have feared, and Brexit happening. In the end, it was a belated vindication of representative democracy (although many people are understandably unhappy with the outcome).

The problem is that many in the establishment, who don’t share the views of much of the electorate, seem to have learned a lesson to the effect that the electorate must never again be allowed to thwart the views and wishes of the great and the good who believe that they know what’s best for us.

Net Zero

As everyone knows by now, the current Conservative government under the Premiership of Boris Johnson, seeks to accelerate the “net zero” plans unilaterally decided on by his predecessor, Theresa May. May’s plans (to go “net zero” by 2050) were pushed through by statutory instrument (the The Climate Change Act 2008 (2050 Target Amendment) Order 2019iv) , thus ensuring minimal Parliamentary scrutiny. And in Scotland, the aim is to achieve “net zero” by 2045 – the Climate Change (Emissions Reduction Targets) (Scotland) Act 2019v.

In the context of representative democracy, the whole climate change and “net zero” consensus causes the same sort of problems as did the Parliamentary consensus opposed to Brexit. Basically, the consensus means that the public is denied a choice, denied a voice, denied any say at all. The public is simply told what is going to happen, whether they like it or not, because the elites think – or claim to think – that its in the public interest, and after the Brexit referendum they are pretty sure that the public can’t be trusted to choose for the best.

And so, instead, they try to dress it all up in the language of democracy, a democracy that in reality is denied. Rather than allowing us to vote for alternatives to the Climate Change Act and to the net zero plans, they set up a charade which they called the Climate Assembly UKvi, which they also call the citizens’ assembly (which sounds so very democratic, but isn’t). The grand total of 106 people were brought together to suffer interminable lectures on subjects pre-selected by the authorities (after all, they couldn’t be trusted to select the subjects for discussion themselves); and the people lecturing them were also self-selecting, and guaranteed to lead them in the direction the authorities wanted them to take.

And then, at the end of this perversion of democracy, they have the nerve to claimvii:

The work of Climate Assembly UK is designed to strengthen and support the UK’s parliamentary democracy by ensuring politicians and policy makers have the best possible evidence available to them about public preferences on reaching the net zero target.

Rather than put up with all this, is there any political party who will offer the electorate a meaningful choice? The short answer is “no”, other than for some fringe parties with minimal support. A quick survey of the manifestos from the 2019 election makes that clear enough. For instance, the Conservative Party Manifestoviii (page 55):

But today, the climate emergency means that the challenges we face stretch far beyond our borders. Thanks to the efforts of successive Governments, the UK has cut carbon emissions by more than any similar developed country. We are now the world’s leader in offshore wind – a fantastic success story of Government and the private sector working hand in hand to cut costs and deliver ever more electricity at plummeting costs [sic]…

Yet we recognise that there is far more that needs to be done. We will lead the global fight against climate change by delivering on our world-leading target of Net Zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, as advised by the independent Committee on Climate Change. We have doubled International Climate Finance. And we will use our position hosting the UN Climate Change Summit in Glasgow in 2020 [sic] to ask our global partners to match our ambition.

And much more in similar vein. What of the Labour Party? Well, according to its 2019 manifestoix:

The climate crisis ties us all into a common fate. This election is our best hope to protect future generations from an uninhabitable planet. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has said we need to cut global emissions in half by 2030 to have a chance of keeping global heating within safe limits – that means acting now, and acting decisively. The Tories wasted a decade serving the interests of big polluters. Labour will use the crucial next decade to act. The Tories slashed support for renewable energy while pushing through dangerous fracking [sic].

Now Britain is decades off course on vital emissions targets. That’s why Labour will kick-start a Green Industrial Revolution that will create one million jobs in the UK to transform our industry, energy, transport, agriculture and our buildings, while restoring nature. Our Green New Deal aims to achieve the substantial majority of our emissions reductions by 2030 in a way that is evidence-based, just and that delivers an economy that serves the interests of the many, not the few.

And much more in similar vein (a word search for “green” produced 37 hits, while a word search for “climate” produced 60, of which six included references to “climate crisis”). So far, so predictable. What of the Liberal Democrats? I’ll be brief on this, as there would be just too much to share here. Suffice it to say that the Liberal Democrat manifesto for 2019x has as its leading section:

Tackle the climate emergency by generating 80% of our electricity from renewables by 2030 and insulating all low-income homes by 2025.

Ironically, given their desire to blight our green and pleasant lands with thousands of acres of wind turbines, their manifesto has a section called Saving Nature and the Countryside in which they claim they will “protect the natural environment and reverse biodiversity loss with a Nature Act”. However, given substantial sections with headings like “Climate action now” and “Renewable energy,” their claim to be concerned about nature and the countryside is one I take with a pinch of salt, given the damage to peat, wildlife and biodiversity that would be caused by all the solar panels and wind turbines they would like to see built.

Well, what if I live in Scotland or Wales? Surely the nationalist parties will give me an alternative to the consensus? Er, no – not to that consensus. The Scottish National Party (SNP) manifesto for 2019xi says this in brief (there’s a more detailed version beyond the summary):

The climate emergency – Scotland has the world’s most ambitious emissions reductions targets in law, but we can only end our contribution to climate change if the UK Government plays its part and meets its targets. SNP MPs will demand the UK matches Scotland’s ambition, meets its Paris Climate Agreement responsibilities and sticks to future EU emission standards – regardless of our position within the EU. We will propose a Green Energy Deal that will ensure green energy schemes get the long-term certainty needed to support investment and that a UK Government plays its part in delivering a Green New Deal for Scotland.

And, as has been widely reported in the mediaxii this week:

A consultation on the Scottish Government’s plans to more than double Scotland’s onshore wind capacity by 2030 has been launched ahead of COP26 in Glasgow.

The proposals were first outlined in the co-operation agreement between the Scottish Government and the Scottish Green Party, and have now been set out in a draft Onshore Wind Policy Statement.

The plans would see an additional 8-12 gigawatts (GW) of installed onshore wind capacity deployed by 2030, potentially more than double the 8.4 GW installed at present.

Scotland is already home to more than half the UK’s total onshore capacity of 14.1 GW.

Enough said. What of Plaid Cymru? Their 2019 manifestoxiii says this (and much else in similar vein besides):

We understand that climate change, together with the global collapse of biodiversity, is the defining challenge of our time. The climate crisis, destruction of nature and overuse of natural resources threaten the foundations of humanity’s well-being. With declining biodiversity, polluted air and accelerating climate crisis, the time to act is now. Wales has the natural resources to become a world leader in renewable technology and address the biggest global challenge of our time. If we are serious about tackling climate change, we need to start investing in the green economy and building the workforce we need to make it a success by investing in our people. That is why Plaid Cymru will implement a Green Jobs Revolution which will ensure that Wales makes the transition to becoming 100% self-sufficient in renewable energy by 2030. Our Renewables Revolution will create tens of thousands of highly skilled jobs in Wales over the next ten years [sic].

And what of the Social Democratic Party, the rump that remains from the heady days of the 1980s? Well, at least they’re not obsessed, but even they sayxiv this:

We believe the UK must lead by example in being at the forefront of global action to combat climate change

I suppose the most that can be said is that they seem to be lukewarm on the topic, but even they feel they have to comply with the demands of the political consensus.

I haven’t mentioned Northern Ireland – after all, in the Northern Ireland Assembly, they’re currently bickering over which of two Climate Change Bills to enact. As for the Green Party, well, let’s be honest, it doesn’t matter who you vote for, you end up with the Green Party in power by default.

Yes, I suppose there is always UKIP, the Reform Party etc., but realistically, they are never going to form a government or even hold the balance of power. In addition, many people who might like their policies on net zero and climate change might not wish to vote for them because of a dislike of their other policies. In other words, effectively, the sceptical mass of the UK public has been disenfranchised by an elite consensus.


And so we travel full circle. The questions of climate change and the whole net zero agenda are undoubtedly of massive importance. Whether you believe we’re all doomed unless we commit to “net zero” and massive changes to our lifestyles; or whether you believe that going “net zero” is futile in view of the failures of many of the biggest emitters to join the party, and thus you take the view that the “net zero” programme is an elite folly, dangerously expensive and damaging to lifestyles, wealth, happiness and success; whatever your view, there can be no doubting the critical importance of what we do in these areas. Whichever side of the debate you are on, the policy response will undoubtedly impinge hugely on all our lives.

And yet we are given no choice. I have never been a believer in referendums as an appropriate way to answer difficult political questions in the UK. I believe the Brexit referendum was a mistake. I believe that MPs are paid to represent us. And yet, as the Proclaimers once askedxv (in a rather different context), “What do you do when Democracy fails you?...What do you do When Democracy’s all through What do you do When minority means you? ”. Except that I suspect that on this subject people who think as we do are not a minority – and of course that is exactly what those in power fear.

Maybe – just maybe – then, we should have a referendum on this fundamental question. I’m undecided, and I leave you to draw you own conclusions. However, if you think there should be a referendum, then I will close by drawing your attention to the fact that there is a petitionxvi on Parliament’s website calling for signatures, and at the time of writing it has around 3,000. The lack of support is no doubt down to the fact that it is receiving precious little attention from a media who are about as keen on a referendum on net zero as they were on Brexit.


i *

If we can negotiate the right terms, we believe that it would be in the long-term interest of the British people for Britain to join the European Economic Community, and that it would make a major contribution to both the prosperity and the security of our country. The opportunities are immense. Economic growth and a higher standard of living would result from having a larger market.

But we must also recognise the obstacles. There would be short-term disadvantages in Britain going into the European Economic Community which must be weighed against the long-term benefits. Obviously there is a price we would not be prepared to pay. Only when we negotiate will it be possible to determine whether the balance is a fair one, and in the interests of Britain.

Our sole commitment is to negotiate; no more, no less. [My emphasis]. As the negotiations proceed we will report regularly through Parliament to the country.

A Conservative Government would not be prepared to recommend to Parliament, nor would Members of Parliament approve, a settlement which was unequal or unfair. In making this judgement, Ministers and Members will listen to the views of their constituents and have in mind, as is natural and legitimate, primarily the effect of entry upon the standard of living of the individual citizens whom they represent.”











xii Inter alia



xv “What do you do” from the album “Sunshine on Leith”.



  1. Joshua Mitchell writes at City Journal in an American context, but his words echo the thrust of your post>

    “The American regime, founded on the idea of limited government, presumed that citizens were competent and largely capable of taking care of themselves.

    Our competence was developed, Alexis de Tocqueville wrote in Democracy in America, through the mediating institutions of family, church, civic associations, and municipal government. No citizen competence, no limited government. That was Tocqueville’s formula—the American formula.

    The first phase of the American regime, characterized by citizen competence, lasted for more than a century. Supplanting it was the second, progressive, phase of the American regime, in which expert competence purportedly replaced citizen competence. The Biden administration came to power claiming the mantle of expert competence. “The adults are back in charge,” our legacy media jubilantly proclaimed.

    The failings of the so-called adults in the Biden administration are a consequence of a shift to a third phase of the American regime, a shift so large that it would be more accurate to say it is the end of one type of regime and its replacement by another. The American fixation on the politics of competence, whether citizen or expert, is being replaced by the politics of innocence.

    In this new politics, what matters most is your standing as an innocent victim. If you are not an innocent victim, you are anonymous or, more likely, a threat.”

    Washington Capital Overthrowing the United States

    Liked by 1 person

    Early American history, for an Englishman, is like a concentrated essence of Englishness. Reading a biography of John Adams, or Benjamin Franklin’s autobiography, one has the impression that running a country is something any reasonably competent person could do in his spare time, given goodwill and a common goal, as easily as building a cabin in the woods or catching a whale.
    Our politicians have the same kind of “gifted amateur” can-do attitude, with the big difference that they’re drawn from a restricted class of society. Within that class it doesn’t matter if you’re a jokey journalist, the 26 year old son of a prime minister or a Jewish novelist. Outside that class, your role is limited to voting for your betters.
    Joining Europe was meant to cure us of our class prejudices, by adopting the European tradition, including referenda – a tradition owing more to Napoleon than to the French Revolution. No-one seems to have stopped to consider whether the fact that we’ve never been part of that tradition might be a problem.


  3. Thanks for the comments. One area I might have explored, but didn’t, is the rise of scientists. Now we are told we have to follow “the science”, and when politicians make independent judgement calls which scientists disagree with, such as the UK government’s decision to open up society on 19th July 2021 (already delayed by a month) many in the media pillory them. “You’re not following the science!” they scream, apparently with no recognition that:

    1. “Scientists” (especially when they’re really computer modellers) can be wrong;
    2. The decisions are political, inasmuch as they involve judgement calls about issues beyond those modelled on computers; and
    3. Nobody elected the computer modellers.

    I do think our democracy is in a fragile place.


  4. Another theme I should perhaps have developed, is what happens when elites all agree on a subject, and don’t allow the expression (via an effective vote at the ballot box) of a dissenting view by the electorate.

    In the case of Brexit (whatever the rights and wrongs of that emotive and divisive subject), most politicians in all the main political parties agreed that the UK should continue its membership of the EU, and also agreed with the nature of the ongoing EU project. Arguably, the time to hold a referendum (if one was to be held) was at the time of the Lisbon Agreement, which profoundly changed the nature of the EU’s relationship with its member states, and profoundly changed the EU constitution. The acquiescence of the UK in these changes was quietly agreed upon by our masters, and the electorate was given no say in the matter.

    There seems to me to be an obvious parallel with climate change and the adoption of net zero, another area where our masters have decided, and the public is not allowed to dissent. That policy backfired on them over Brexit, and led to the (brief)rise of UKIP, though it was never really a force in national politics, being more a lightning conductor by which people expressed dissent in EU and local elections. However, might the undemocratic imposition of net zero on the British people see a more sustained form of electoral dissent and the rise of another protest party, one which might change the face of national elections? If it does, it’s the Tories who will suffer the consequences.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Mark: “However, might the undemocratic imposition of net zero on the British people see a more sustained form of electoral dissent and the rise of another protest party, one which might change the face of national elections? If it does, it’s the Tories who will suffer the consequences.”

    I doubt there will be a more sustained form of dissent, because NZ/CC is still likely to be viewed, indeed like Brexit, as a ‘single issue’, not a generic philosophy which would sustain a mainstream party indefinitely. However, this doesn’t preclude a protest party that like UKIP could be powerful enough for long enough to force the other parties to change, then dissipating once the back of NZ was broken. I’d be happy to see that. Given there’s nothing in the mainstream science that requires a crash NZ from the whole of civilization, not to mention that for both humanity and the environment it’s likely to be far worse than the problem, then such a protest party would have sound grounds to campaign on even without mentioning any sceptical science at all.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Andy: “However, this doesn’t preclude a protest party that like UKIP could be powerful enough for long enough to force the other parties to change, then dissipating once the back of NZ was broken. I’d be happy to see that. ”

    Me too!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Just woke up and read your 11,47 piece (still feel somewhat unwell ever since my booster shot a week ago). Had to really think about why the back of New Zealand had to be broken, but then remembered that England’s women are to play the Black Ferns later today. Going back to sleep until the kick off. Glad to sort out that little puzzle.

    Liked by 3 people

  8. Interesting comments here as “Boris has somehow fallen 6 points behind to Labour”

    This electoral threat to the Tories will surely give more power to the Steve Baker anti-NetZero crowd. (Hope it’s ok to post this here but it perhaps underlines that even without a referendum, after the COP absurdities there could be some movement in the logjam.)


  9. Richard, I’m very happy for you to post it here. My purpose in writing the article was to try to stimulate a debate about the lack of democracy around net zero in particular, but also generally, in the UK, and I suppose as a by-product the implications for politics generally. All observations are welcome!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. “Boris Johnson urged to set up net-zero initiative across government
    Businesses, unions and green groups say ministers must ensure all policies are compatible with climate targets”

    “Boris Johnson should set up a new cross-government initiative on reaching net-zero emissions, and subject all government policies to tests to ensure they are compatible with the climate target, businesses, unions and green campaigners have said.

    Ministers should review current policies in the next few months and use the result to present a new national plan on the climate crisis before the next UN climate meeting in November 2022, the leaders urged. The UK retains the presidency of the UN climate talks until then, having hosted the Cop26 climate summit last month.

    In a letter to the prime minister and Rishi Sunak, the chancellor of the exchequer, the chiefs of the CBI, the TUC and several of the UK’s leading environmental groups urged the government to examine how industry could be supported to reduce greenhouse gas emissions further, and to give greater powers and funding to local authorities to help them cut emissions in transport and housing.

    Consumers must be given the right incentives, and “just transition” plans are needed to help workers in high-carbon industries retrain for low-carbon jobs, the letter said.”

    Businesses, unions and green groups – they all get to have a say. It seems everyone is entitled to express an opinion on “net zero” except the electorate.


  11. When there just aren’t enough political parties committed to net zero et al:

    “Centre-right Climate party launches to oust Tory MPs opposing climate action
    Ed Gemmell wants to offer Conservative voters climate-conscious, business-friendly alternative”

    “A new political party committed to solving the climate crisis plans to challenge the Tories in more than 100 seats at the next election, targeting climate-denying Tory backbenchers.

    Launched as a centre-right, single-issue party, the Climate party aims to provide Conservative voters with a business-friendly, climate-serious alternative to the Tories, whose leadership candidates have been reticent over the party’s net zero commitments as Britain buckled under 40C heat for the first time on record.

    “That’s not leadership,” said Ed Gemmell, the founder of the Climate party. “That’s self-interest.”

    Gemmell, a former army officer and city lawyer, registered the Climate party with the electoral commission on Britain’s hottest day last week. Unlike his Tory counterparts, he has spent years working on the climate crisis and believes climate-conscious Conservative voters do not feel respected and feel ignored by the party’s leadership. He hopes the Climate party will provide them with an alternative that will protect the economy, people and the climate.

    “We’ve got one election left to save the planet,” he said.

    The Climate party plans to challenge the Conservatives in 110 marginal seats in the next election where the Conservatives are only winning by up to 7,000 votes.”

    Where to start in criticising that?

    Committed to solving the climate crisis are they? Are they a global party?

    One election left to save the planet? Make a not of that. After the next election, there’ll still be another election left to save the planet.

    And the Climate Party will provide voters with an alternative? No, an alternative – a meaningful alternative – would be a new party committed to reversing the net zero madness.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. It seems this isn’t getting much traction, so the Guardian/Observer is giving it another push:

    “The Tories have failed to ‘get climate done’ – so I’ve launched a new centre-right party
    Ed Gemmell
    My Climate party will take on 110 Conservatives in the next election: Britain can win when it comes to the environment”

    “…The Conservative party as a whole, along with the other mainstream parties, has miserably failed Britain on climate, displaying a nonchalant attitude to the danger and a lack of commitment to action. Leadership has been so lacking on this issue that my co-founders and I felt compelled to create a new single-issue, centre-right party to champion these concerns: the Climate party.

    Likened to the inept Dad’s Army by the chairman of the Climate Change Committee, the Conservative government is not even on track to its meet own target to hit net zero by 2050 – a target considered by many scientists to be too late to avoid dangerous and increasingly lethal climate chaos.

    The Climate party is advocating the earlier date of 2030 for decarbonisation – a target much more likely to keep us safe. And it’s not just about avoiding catastrophe: Britain has a chance to grip this immense commercial opportunity, or else let it slip through faltering hands and allow others to lead (and profit from) this urgent transition.

    When Britain reaches this target, decarbonising every aspect of its economy by 2030, then we will have first mover advantage. Britain’s decarbonised businesses will be global leaders. A decade or more of British prosperity would ensue….”.

    Utterly deluded at every level, so far as I can see.

    So far as I can see, they don’t have a website. I clicked on what I thought looked like a link to a website in the latest Guardian article, only to find it was a link to the earlier Guardian article…


  13. My mind is a blank, so just what was the Monster Raving Loony policy on climate change? Were parts of it adopted by Labour or the Tories? I wouldn’t be at all surprised. Perhaps it might have been an improvement.


  14. “Reinstate climate change minister role, says green Tory Chris Skidmore
    MP and head of party’s Net Zero Support Group spends much of his time campaigning on climate emergency”

    “The next prime minister needs to reinstate the role of minister for climate change, according to the head of the influential Conservative Net Zero Support Group.

    Chris Skidmore has become one of the leading voices in the Tory green movement. Along with Zac Goldsmith and Alok Sharma, he is part of a significant number of conservatives who are pressing hard for climate action, and who despair at the opinions of a small number of Tories, such as the Net Zero Scrutiny Group (NZSG) who oppose swift action on climate breakdown….”.


  15. “The truth about Extinction Rebellion
    Does XR really want to ‘let the people decide’?”

    …establishing a ‘Citizens’ Assembly on Climate and Ecological Justice’ would suggest that the destination is settled and all we need to decide on is the route. We got a flavour for what this might look like with the 2020 Climate Assembly UK, commissioned by six select committees of the House of Commons. This brought together 108 British citizens to address the question, ‘How should the UK meet its target of net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050?’, with the help of handpicked experts. Whether or not we should be pursuing ‘net zero’ or ‘climate and ecological justice’ seemingly isn’t up for debate. Then there is the question of who selects the experts and materials to be put before the assembly members, and on what basis the members are selected.

    Now, parliament has hardly covered itself in glory on the climate issue. But contrary to Extinction Rebellion’s warped view, of a House of Commons stuffed with fossil-fuel lobbyists dragging their feet on the ‘climate emergency’, MPs have embraced alarmist and costly climate policies with very little debate or scrutiny. The net zero by 2050 pledge sailed into law via an amendment to the Climate Change Act in the final days of Theresa May’s government. This unprecedented commitment, entailing the total overhaul of our energy system at enormous expense, was nodded through with no formal vote after 90 minutes of backslapping ‘debate’.

    If Extinction Rebellion want to let ordinary people have their say on climate policy, why not push for a referendum on net zero? Or why not kickstart a proper democratic debate about energy policy beyond the narrow terms set by some expert-led ‘citizens’ assembly’? The reason, I dare say, is that they fear what the answers would be. Even more so now that the cost-of-living crisis has reminded us all of the crucial importance of cheap and reliable energy, after years of climate policy that focused myopically on expensive and unreliable ‘green’ energy….

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Democracy? Forget it!

    “I hope King Charles will push for action on climate change, says John Kerry”

    President Biden’s climate envoy has told the BBC he hopes King Charles will continue his work on global warming.

    John Kerry told Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg he would welcome the King’s involvement because he “has the ability… to leverage the kind of action we need now on a global basis”.

    He said the monarch had “indicated” he wanted to maintain his passion for the environment “in the appropriate way”.

    And Mr Kerry said he hoped the King would visit the next UN climate summit….


  17. “Scottish Government accused of ‘riding roughshod over local democracy’ after overturning councillors’ refusal of Dufftown windfarm”

    A Speyside councillor has accused the Scottish Government of “riding roughshod over local democracy” after overturning councillors’ refusal of a seven turbine wind farm application near Dufftown.

    …Councillors rejected Garbet wind farm, around 3.5 miles south-east of Dufftown, last November.

    Members of the planning committee voted against the seven-turbine wind farm application by eight to three at a meeting. There were also two abstentions….

    …Councillors stressed that the visual and environmental impact of the 623ft turbines and associated infrastructure were too great.

    At the time, councillor Frank Brown said: ” I think there is always a balance to be had, but my view is the cumulative impact of all the significant adverse impacts. When we add them together it makes this an unacceptable departure.”

    However, now the Scottish Government has upheld an appeal from Energiekontor, and granted planning permission.

    Independent councillor for Speyside Glenlivet, Derek Ross has criticised the decision.

    He said: “It is a complete utter waste of money all of this, if the Scottish Government are going to approve every wind farm.

    “There is no point taking us in for a meeting and wasting our time and money.

    “They have rejected the considered decision we made and it is an affront to local democracy.

    “These decisions should be left to people who know the area best, not a reporter in Edinburgh or Glasgow. This just rides roughshod over local democracy.

    “What’s the point in having local councillors and wasting local communities’ time?”

    He is worried about the continued negative impact of wind farms on Moray.

    He added: “We’re moving from a landscape with turbines to turbines with a landscape.


  18. “London last summer was the trailer for a climate disaster movie. Here’s how to stop that coming true
    Sadiq Khan and Chris Skidmore
    Cross-party cooperation is the key to facing down the doubters and delayers”

    As politicians from different political parties, we want to set an example of what’s possible. We want to work together to remind investors that net zero is a huge opportunity, and that London is always open to it. We want to work together to inspire other politicians, at home and abroad, to follow our lead by putting tribal politics to one side. We want to work together so that we don’t let down younger generations who are, rightly, demanding faster action. And we want to work together to prove to our fellow citizens and colleagues that a better way is possible – and that the long-term health of our people and planet can come ahead of short-term politics.

    The obvious inference is that they don’t believe the public should be given a choice. “Working together” sounds so much better than “denying you a choice”, after all.


  19. Larry Elliott is one of the few writers at the Guardian whose opinions I respect, and he’s right, IMO in much that he says here. However, apart from a brief mention of battery factories, the glaring omission in his description of cross-party consensus is the net zero stitch-up:

    “Brexit, the environment, energy bills … it’s hard to tell Labour and Tory policies apart
    Larry Elliott
    Cross-party consensus was once called Butskellism. What do we call it when even Rachel Reeves and Jeremy Hunt agree?”


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