The Guardian appears to have developed an obsession this month with the Net Zero Scrutiny Group. Obsession doesn’t seem to be too strong a word, given the number of articles (nine including a podcast, by my calculation) that have appeared on that newspaper’s website in the last few weeks apparently seeking to discredit the Group.

A new Tory faction is ‘scrutinising’ net zero – with tactics learned from Brexit – The Net Zero Scrutiny Group is blaming the cost-of-living crisis on green policies. Its potential influence shouldn’t be ignored

The eariesti of the articles I have noticed appeared on the first of the month, bearing the above headline. Written by Eleanor Salter, the last words of the headline are really the bedrock of the article – “Its [i.e. the Net Zero Scrutiny Group’s] potential influence shouldn’t be ignored”. The Guardian has identified what it sees as a threat to the agenda it has been pushing so relentlessly for so long:

We underestimate the Net Zero Scrutiny Group at our peril. These seemingly small configurations can hugely influence policy. Tiny cracks of “climate scepticism” have the ability to activate huge rifts in attempts to limit temperature rises to 2C.

Worse still (from the Guardian’s point of view):

This is all compounded by the current fragility of Boris Johnson’s position. The prime minister’s perceived proximity to the net-zero strategy could mean MPs (such as those in the 100-strong Conservative Environment Network) are nervous to come out and make a strong case for net zero, lest it appear to be a vote of confidence in Johnson at this febrile time.

A week later, on 8th Februaryii, the ante was very definitely upped, as the Guardian sought in a single headline to invoke the spirit of opposition to Brexit, culture wars and fears for the UK’s green agenda. Quite a heady mix for the average Guardian reader, I imagine:

Tories fighting net zero plans are dragging climate into new culture war, experts say

More than half members of Net Zero Scrutiny Group were also in group that promoted Brexit vote, as fears grow for UK’s green agenda

The headline should have caught readers’ interest (and shock and horror). The article really went for it, even bringing Michael Mann in to the fray:

A group of Conservative politicians and their allies are on the “frontline” of a new climate war and are attempting to derail the government’s green agenda, according to claims by leading climate scientists…

…Michael Mann, one of the world’s leading authorities on the climate and author of The New Climate War, said the group appeared to be attempting to drag climate policies into a culture war, which he described as a “dangerous new tactic being used by those opposed to addressing the ecological emergency”.

This is where the frontline of the battle is now, and yes, we do have to push back fiercely on this sort of pernicious disinformation,” he told the Guardian.

Speaking of disinformation, the article also contained this:

Two leading members have links to an organisation, often described as “climate-sceptic”, that was founded by the long-term climate denier Nigel Lawson.

I have read Nigel Lawson’s book “An Appeal to Reason: A Cool Look at Global Warming” and have watched him on TV and listened to him on BBC Radio (before he was banned at the behest of the climate concerned) and consider the labelling of him as a “climate denier” (whatever one of those is – who denies climate?) to be tawdry and risible. However, it is an indication of the level of concern at the Guardian that so early in this month’s campaign, they resorted to such tactics.

On the same day, another articleiii apeared under the following headline:

It’s all a bit cynical’: the politicians behind the Tory attack on net zero agenda

Amid fears about the cost of living crisis, those opposed to government’s climate agenda appear to have sensed an opportunity

Struggling for anything new to say, perhaps, but apparently determined to continue the work of denigrating the campaign of the Net Zero Scrutiny Group, the article again brought up connections to Nigel Lawson:

Baker is a trustee of the Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF), a prominent publisher of material questioning the consensus on climate science in the UK since it was launched by the former cabinet minister and long-time climate denier Nigel Lawson in 2009.

The GWPF is characterised by opponents as a source of climate science denial – a claim it denies.

During the Cop26 climate summit last year, Lord Lawson wrote an article arguing that “global warming is not a problem”, defended burning fossil fuels, and said carbon dioxide’s “principal effect” is the growth of plants.

Clearly, in the eyes of the Guardian, connection with the GWPF and Lord Lawson (again bizarrely castigated by the meaningless phrase “climate denier”) has put this organisation and all associated with it beyond the pale. How dare Lord Lawson tell some home truths, anyway!

Again, we find laid bare what lies at the heart of this attack by the Guardian:

There are tentative signs that the attack on the net zero agenda appears to be taking root. Members of the group have regularly surfaced across the media over the past few weeks to question the government’s plans.

By the next day, having set the scene with the three earlier articles, it was apparently time to go on the offensive and attempt to downplay the Net Zero Scrutiny Group by seeking to reinforce the view that there is pretty much complete consensus about net zero across all political parties, incluing the Conservative Party. I imagine that is why the next articleiv appeared with the following headline:

Most Conservative MPs support net zero, says Tory environment group

Body representing MPs and peers insists vast majority support climate plans despite vocal backbenchers

The article started as the Guardian meant to go on:

The “vast majority” of Conservative MPs support the government’s net zero climate plans despite increasingly vocal opposition from a small number of backbenchers, according to a Tory environment group…

…the Conservative Environment Network (CEN), which represents 123 MPs and 15 Tory peers, insisted the party’s rank and file remained committed to the government’s climate agenda.

Other than seeking to bolster morale among Guardianistas worried that Boris might go cold over the net zero agenda, it’s difficult to see what the point of yet another article was, especially given its repetitive nature:

More than half of its [Net Zero Scrutiny Group] members were involved in the European Research Group (ERG), which successfully pushed for the Brexit referendum inside the Tory party. This has led to fears of a similar “culture war” campaign around net zero and the end of the cross-party consensus on the need for climate action.

Yes, yes – you’ve already told us that. Anyway, the vital message was reiterated at the end of the article, and the usual suspects were brought on board to reinforce it:

Greenpeace’s head of politics, Rebecca Newsom, said the government should ignore the “small minority of misinformed” backbenchers.

The vast majority of the country, young and old, Labour and Conservative, gets that the climate crisis is an existential threat and supports the idea of acting fast if we want to avoid the worst … Any government that’s committed to protecting people from extreme weather, creating jobs and a thriving economy should have no time for this nonsense. [sic]”

One might have thought that the job was, by now, well and truly done, but no! Two days later, on 11th February, the need to reiterate the last message was obviously just too much for the denizens of King’s Place. Thus, another day, another articlev, and another headline:

Tory group fighting net zero ‘a small minority’, say parliamentarians

Chairs of eight all-party parliamentary groups pledge to support the UK’s green agenda

Support had by now been gained by the great and the good of green politics, and Guardian readers needed to know:

MPs not fully behind net zero are “a small minority” and the government should stay committed to its goal, a cross-party group of parliamentarians has said.

Chairs of eight all-party parliamentary groups, including on climate change, net zero, clean air and fuel poverty, have written a letter to the Guardian , vowing they will “continue to support and promote ambitious environmental leadership in parliament”. …

…The signatories to the letter, which include the Conservative MP for South Cambridgeshire, Anthony Browne, chair of the Environment APPG; the leader of the Liberal Democrats, Ed Davey, chair of the Sustainable Finance APPG; and the crossbench peer Lady Hayman, co-chair of Peers for the Planet, write that they hope to “reassure your readers and the public that parliamentarians who are not fully behind net zero are a small minority”…

In case that wasn’t enough, the article also continued with fairly lengthy quotes from Ed Miliband and Caroline Lucas.

Speaking of Caroline Lucas, on 16th February an articlevi written by her appeared at the Guardian under this headline:

Tory MPs fear that net zero is hurting poor people. Ignore their crocodile tears

Crocodile tears – who knows? I happen to agree with them, and I am certainly not shedding crocodile tears. I am angry that politicans (who claim to be left-wing) can write stuff like this:

There is something deeply confused about the Baker-Mackinlay attack on green levies as a burden on poorer people, when those levies have played a significant part in keeping energy bills down [sic]. Wind and solar generators in the last quarter of 2021, far from being a charge on bills, actually contributed £160m to lowering them[sic]. Furthermore, the MPs’ supposed concern for the least well-off in society didn’t stop them voting this month for a new “green” levy to finance nuclear power stations that will put bills up.

In any case, as has frequently been pointed out by energy experts, global gas prices are overwhelmingly responsible for the spike in energy bills, not green levies [sic]. Baker and Mackinlay and their ilk are paying more attention to energy lobbyists than the markets. Why else would they be arguing for more fracking or further North Sea gas investment, supposedly to drive bills down, when they know that any gas produced would sell at today’s global gas prices and simply feed windfall profits?

Anyway, the reason for the ongoing written onslaught again becomes apparent:

But there is a growing risk that in his efforts to keep his job the prime minister will be tempted to add green levies or Britain’s climate targets to the “red meat” being thrown to the Baker-Mackinlay groupuscule, to the concern of the climate diplomats such as the architect of the Paris agreement, Laurence Tubiana.

After all, obviously British energy policy should be dictated by foreign climate diplomats rather than by duly elected British MPs.

On the same day, yet another articlevii appeared, under the following headline:

Constituents set up ‘Steve Baker Watch’ over MP’s climate stance

Campaigners say Tory MP for Wycombe is trying to ‘wreck’ government plans for environment

By now, I couldn’t help feeling that I was detecting a whiff of desperation regarding this ongoing campaign. What followed was desperately thin gruel:

Constituents of Steve Baker MP who are concerned about his environmental position have set up a “Steve Baker Watch” group and are launching a crowdfunding page to raise money. The constituents in Baker’s constituency of Wycombe in the rolling Chiltern Hills believe that Baker is trying to “wreck the government plans to improve the environment”…

…Last week the Guardian reported on fears that the group was trying to derail the government’s green agenda, linking it to the cost-of-living crisis and leading to fears of a “culture war” campaign around net zero. [Yes, we know, you already told us].

The campaigners told the Guardian: “Steve’s Net Zero Watch campaign will make people’s lives in Wycombe miserable. He wants to stop us getting cheaper [sic] clean energy, insulating our homes and creating a better future for our children. We’ve had enough!”

They plan to “educate” local people about their MP’s views on climate action, including doing leaflet drops, holding vigils outside his office and setting up a website.

We aren’t told who they are, whether they are members of XR and the like, nor are we even told how many people they are (given that we aren’t told, presumably not very many). All of which rather makes the implicit attempt to minimise the significance of Steve Baker and his fellow MPs rather smack of double standards:

The NZSG group, which has gained widespread media coverage in the past month despite being small in number…

The following day, and clearly the Guardian’s work was not yet done. Another day, another articleviii, another headline:

Staff from climate sceptic group recruited by Tory MP behind net zero attacks

Further links emerge between Craig Mackinlay’s Net Zero Scrutiny Group and Global Warming Policy Foundation

This really strikes me as a non-story, given that so far as I am aware the links between Steve Baker, Craig Mackinlay, NZWG and the GWPF have never been hidden or denied. It does get the Guardian very excited, however:

A Tory MP who leads a group which campaigns against the government’s net zero measures has recruited two members of staff from a controversial organisation that questions climate science.

Those last words included an embedded link. I thought I should check it out, as I was interested in the Guardian’s evidence for its claims that the GWPF is a controversial organisation that questions climate science. It turned out to be a link to an earlier Guardian articleix with quotes from the likes of DeSmog UK and Bob Ward. However, back to February 2022:

After the Guardian revealed links between members of the Net Zero Scrutiny Group, run by the MP Craig Mackinlay, and the Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF), further ties between the two organisations have been found.

Politico reported that Mackinlay, an outspoken critic of the government’s net zero policies, has taken on Harry Wilkinson, the head of policy at GWPF’s campaigning arm, Net Zero Watch, in addition to Ruth Lea, a former trustee of the arm, to work in his parliamentary office.

It appears that the involvement of Wilkinson, and his connections with Nigel Lawson, are just about the final straw for the Guardian:

Wilkinson is a critic of consensus on global heating, and has tweeted: “The ‘climate crisis’ is a religious belief, nothing to do with science.” He previously worked for Nigel Lawson, who founded the GWPF and makes claims such as: “I think that climate change is not a threat, it is happening very gently at a fraction of a degree per decade which is something we can perfectly well live with.”

I can’t say I have a problem with Nigel Lawson’s quoted “claim”.

And finally (for now) on 18th February 2022x:

The Tories attacking the UK’s net zero plans

The Net Zero Scrutiny Group insists it accepts the facts of the climate emergency. But as the cost of living crisis deepens, they see an opportunity to push back against the government’s climate agenda.

This time we are treated to a podcast of 24 minutes and 15 seconds duration. I confess I haven’t listened to it. I’ve read enough already.

Conclusion

It seems the Net Zero Scrutiny Group is achieving a great deal of publicity and traction, as will be obvious from a perusal of newspapers and media sites this year. That traction is likely to increase when massive energy price rises start affecting people in a couple of months’ time, and as it becomes apparent that as regards Ukraine and Russia, the west in general and the UK in particular have spectacularly check-mated themselves.

The fact that the Guardian has been sufficiently concerned as to run such a concentrated campaign this month suggests that the net zero advocates are severely concerned by this development. Long may they have cause for concern.

Endnotes

i https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2022/feb/01/tory-faction-net-zero-brexit-green-policies

ii https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2022/feb/08/tories-fighting-net-zero-plans-are-dragging-climate-into-new-culture-war-experts-say

iii https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/feb/08/its-all-a-bit-cynical-the-politicians-behind-the-tory-attack-on-net-zero-agenda

iv https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/feb/09/most-conservative-mps-support-net-zero-says-tory-environment-network

v https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/feb/11/tory-group-fighting-net-zero-a-small-minority-say-parliamentarians

vi https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2022/feb/16/tory-mps-high-energy-bills-net-zero-scrutiny-group

vii https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/feb/16/constituents-set-up-steve-baker-watch-over-mps-climate-stance

viii https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/feb/17/staff-from-climate-sceptic-group-recruited-by-tory-mp-behind-net-zero-attacks

ix https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/sep/02/nigel-lawson-climate-sceptic-organisation-funders

x https://www.theguardian.com/environment/audio/2022/feb/18/the-tories-attacking-the-uks-net-zero-plans

21 Comments

  1. Surprise, surprise, where the Guardian leads, the BBC follows:

    “Climate change: Can the UK afford its net zero policies?”

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-60489328

    “With the cost of living rising, are Britain’s plans to cut greenhouse gas emissions too expensive?

    A small but vocal group of Conservative MPs are arguing that with energy prices soaring, the government should rethink how it reaches what’s known as ‘net zero’ by 2050….

    …The Net Zero Scrutiny Group is made up of about 20 Conservative MPs and peers and was set up last summer by prominent Eurosceptics Craig Mackinlay and Steve Baker.

    In a letter published in the Telegraph in January the group argued that while the rise in the global cost of gas was contributing to the crisis, the UK government was causing energy prices to increase “faster than any other competitive country” through “taxation and environmental levies”.

    In the weeks that have followed there have been a steady flow of articles in sympathetic newspapers, questioning the logic behind the net zero strategy….

    …The NZSG says it doesn’t question the science of climate change.

    But some of its members have close links to think tanks that have long queried the scientific consensus on global warming, and the necessity and cost of doing something about it….”

    Their follows “Analysis from Carbon Brief ” without any explanation of who Carbon Brief are.

    It’s more balanced and subtle than the Guardian onslaught, but the objective seems to be the same – to dismiss the NZSG and its claims, and to reiterate that doing nothing will be more costly than net zero.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. “Not questioning the science” is not what it seems – or at least it could mean lots of things. It does not mean subscribing to every nonsense in the Guardian/BBC. What they should make absolutely clear – which is something every sceptic already knows – is that the anti-science is coming from one direction, at least as far as the media is concerned, and it ain’t from climate deniers.

    Net Zero is dead already – it just hasn’t fallen over yet. There is no way this country will be Net Zero by 2050, or anywhere near it. That should be their angle. Instead they tread a fine line between outright scepticism and complete compliance via alternative pathways. This is the wrong approach.

    It should be to say that Net Zero is impossible and if it was possible it would not improve our climate. It would make us poorer and vulnerable to extreme weather (like innocuous still days).

    Propaganda will only take you so far. There will be a pushback.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I don’t understand why the UK has “green levies” on energy bills to support renewable energy. They keep saying that renewable energy is cheaper than alternatives so why the need for incentives?

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  4. potentilla, the subsidies mostly relate to projects that have already been built, which agreed inflated prices for the electricity they were to deliver. The most ridiculous of the agreements happened thanks to the inane Ed Davey.

    The claim that renewables are now the cheapest form of electricity is a little wriggly. The strike prices the new projects have agreed may not be the prices they end up earning, if they are banking on high electricity prices in the future and simply exit their contract. On the other hand they also overlook the intermittency costs, the network costs, and the “carbon costs” of competing generators.

    And the dead birds.

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  5. I do like the description “small but vocal”. Do they perhaps mean small and persuasive? Anyway, all good. Thanks, as John says, for taking a bathe in the slime so we remain pristine.

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  6. Always my pleasure, gents. 😉

    It seems the campaign is ongoing. Here’s the latest:

    “To Tory MPs seeking to derail the green agenda, I say watch out – we’re coming for you
    Gemma Rogers”

    https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2022/feb/23/tory-mps-derail-green-agenda-steve-baker-net-zero-scrutiny-group

    “Steve Baker and the group of MPs and peers who make up the Net Zero Scrutiny Group are risking not only my future but that of my children. That may sound over-dramatic, but it’s what I firmly believe to be true – and it’s why I have set my heart on making Baker either change his climate stance or change his job of MP for Wycombe.

    How did I get here? Since I had my children, my climate anxieties have rocketed. I have read enough climate science to know that food shortages, flooded cities and millions dying, especially in the global south, are down the line if we don’t act now. I can’t bear the idea of my children living in that future.

    Because of these fears, a group of environmentally minded constituents from High Wycombe, including myself, organised a Zoom meeting with Baker, our MP in October 2020 to try to persuade him to become active on the environmental issue. He had just finished work on Brexit, and shown that he could go against the political flow. In my dreams I imagined he might turn his talents towards supporting the climate agenda.

    Baker listened courteously to us and promised to look into it. But soon after Baker became a trustee of the Global Warming Policy Foundation (recently rebranded as Net Zero Watch), a lobby group that has been accused of denying climate science. When I found that out, I felt angry and powerless….

    …Our aim is simple: Baker needs to engage with our concerns or step down as an MP. He has claimed that those associated with Steve Baker Watch are from opposition parties in the constituency. But we are not party political. For me, it would be just as much a result if he were deselected and replaced by a Tory from the Conservative Environmental Network as if Labour or the Lib Dems were to take the seat.

    We are proud of what we are doing in Wycombe. And we won’t stop here. To those MPs who are lethargic on the environmental issue, we are issuing a warning. This campaign will be coming to their constituencies soon. Change your mind or change your job.

    Gemma Rogers is an occupational therapist and a member of Steve Baker Watch”

    Liked by 1 person

  7. By the way, there is a Steve Baker Watch website:

    https://www.stevebakerwatch.com/

    The only problem is that you can’t access it (well, I couldn’t) without a password.

    You can, however, readily access their crowdfunding page:

    https://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/p/steve-baker-watch-1

    “…Now he’s getting worse. He’s joined up with some climate denying cronies to try and wreck the government plans to improve the environment. Steve’s ‘NetZeroWatch’ campaign will make people’s lives in Wycombe miserable. He wants to stop us getting cheaper clean energy, insulating our homes and creating a better future for our children. We’ve had enough! …

    …We’re a group of concerned citizens who care about climate change and the lives of ordinary people. We don’t represent any political party. Nor are we from any one religion. Please join us or support us in uniting against Baker and his dirty politics. Every penny you donate will go towards helping us get the word out. Steve Baker should be representing US but his record shows he seems to be ALL ABOUT STEVE. We deserve better.”

    Other than saying:

    “a group of concerned citizens who care about climate change and the lives of ordinary people. We don’t represent any political party”, they don’t tell us who they are. Why not?

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  8. Mark – thanks for the link.
    liked how an elected MP Is described –

    “Is Steve Baker the nastiest MP in the UK? He must come close. Though Wycombe has some of the most deprived communities in the country*, Baker votes time and time again in Parliament to make his constituents poorer**. During COVID lockdown, he even had a Twitter argument with Marcus Rashford against extending meals for school kids.”

    vote him out if he’s that nasty.

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  9. At last, some sitting political representation. It’s the only way things will change. Very long way to go though; the articles are right that even in the Conservative party, this is still a very minority thing at the moment. However, the major reality-check of war in Europe and a threat to the West, which due to the entanglement of same with energy is going to hugely exacerbate energy shocks that were already occurring, will be a body-blow to cultural support of climate catastrophism and NZ, which can only increase both public and political clamour to reign NZ in.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. There’s no let-up in the Guardian campaign, which now seems to be settling down to an attack on Steve Baker – I’m guessing it’s because they’ve identified him as key, though of course I don’t know:

    “Christians in MP Steve Baker’s seat pray for him to quit role on climate thinktank
    High Wycombe vigil implores senior Tory, who has questioned cost of net zero, to quit as trustee of Global Warming Policy Foundation”

    https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/feb/25/christians-in-mp-steve-bakers-seat-pray-for-him-to-quit-role-on-climate-thinktank

    “Protesters gathered in High Wycombe on Friday to implore their MP, Steve Baker, to quit as a trustee of the Global Warming Policy Foundation, a thinktank that has been accused of being one of the UK’s leading sources of climate scepticism.

    Christians from the MP’s constituency prayed and sang Amazing Grace outside the constituency office, holding signs reading “Praying 4 Steve Baker”, “The Earth is what we all have in common”, “… And God created science”. Baker is an evangelical Christian.

    Ruth Jarman, from Christian climate action group Operation Noah, led those assembled in prayer. She said: “I didn’t realise there was a connection between my faith and my environmentalism until I was in my 30s. I was walking down the street and suddenly remembered the first line of the Bible that states ‘in the beginning, God created the Earth.’

    “We are knowingly trashing what God has made. That’s a hugely terrifying thought, really. I understand why some people have not made that connection, I’m here praying that Steve Baker makes that connection.”…”.

    Perhaps she should read “Saving the Planet By Trashing It”.

    And perhaps, if she wants to pray, she should pray for the people of Ukraine, who are facing a rather bigger problem than climate change just now, through no fault of their own.

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  11. Thanks Mark. One question one can ask these Christians and others like them: did Jesus value people or money? In which case, what do you make of the improvement of the people-centric metric of extreme weather events since 1920? Why do Christians like Rachel Hayhoe not even mention this amazing good news, only the (very arguably) bad news about losses of money? Does this really express the values of Jesus?

    Of course it doesn’t.

    (This is not to say that only Christians can make the right value judgment here. Anyone with any humane sense will do so.)

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  12. The BBC has joined the Guardian’s campaign:

    “Net zero: Tory faction tests Johnson support for climate target”

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-60572049

    “Can Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s commitment to climate action survive soaring energy prices and the war in Ukraine? A band of Conservative MPs is pushing for a rethink.

    As the government of former Prime Minister Theresa May buckled under the strains of Brexit, MPs briefly put their quarrels aside to partake in a unanimous cheer of “aye”.

    On 24 June 2019, without a single objection, MPs passed legislation that committed the UK to a legally binding target of net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

    It was a rare display of parliamentary unity that the government said would set a benchmark for the world to follow.

    But now that consensus is being tested.

    A small but increasingly vocal band of Conservative MPs and peers known as the Net Zero Scrutiny Group (NZSG) are pushing for the 2050 target to be rethought.

    They insist they do not dispute the science on climate change. Instead, they say they are primarily concerned about the cost to consumers of meeting the target.

    In an echo of the push for Brexit, which some of the group’s key members were involved in, they are warning of a shock at the ballot box should the UK stand by its net zero policy….

    …The net zero rebels are, at the moment, a smaller and more informal faction than the European Research Group (ERG), who hastened Mrs May’s exit by organising a no-confidence vote over her Brexit deal.

    One-time ERG chairman, former Brexit minister Steve Baker, is among the self-styled “libertarian” Conservatives to have signed up to the new group, which is thought to number about 19 MPs. Former ministers Esther McVey and Robert Halfon are also members.

    Ironically, the COP26 climate conference last October was a catalyst for the group’s formation….”.

    Like

  13. Is this a (partial?) victory for the Net Zero Watch group of Tory back-bench MPs?

    Boris Johnson promises energy strategy as Russia gas concerns grow”

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-60646124

    “Prime Minister Boris Johnson has promised to set out an “energy supply strategy” as his climate policies and UK gas production come under scrutiny during the Ukraine crisis.

    He said he would outline how energy needs would be met as concern grows over western reliance on Russian oil and gas.

    Mr Johnson said the UK was looking at using more domestic energy resources.

    The UK’s vow to reduce carbon emissions would not be abandoned, he said.

    “But you’ve got to reflect on the reality that there is a crunch on at the moment,” Mr Johnson said.

    “We need to intensify our self-reliance as a transition with more hydrocarbons.”

    He added that the UK needed to invest in more nuclear and renewable sources to boost energy supplies.

    The PM made comments at a Downing Street news conference on Monday after Tory MPs urged him to increase UK gas production and rethink his climate policies over energy cost and supply fears….”.

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  14. Meanwhile, in a parallel universe:

    “Don’t let high energy prices derail UK green agenda, say climate experts
    Analysis: Ukraine war may increase short-term need for North Sea oil and gas, but fossil fuels no solution to Britain’s energy woes”

    https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/mar/07/dont-let-high-energy-prices-derail-uk-green-agenda-say-climate-experts

    “Ramping up production from the UK’s oil and gas fields in the North Sea could help ease the pain of high fuel prices in the short term but should not be seen as a long-term solution to Britain’s energy woes, experts have warned.

    Lord Adair Turner, former CBI chief and former chair of the Committee on Climate Change, now chair of the Energy Transitions Commission thinktank, said the prime minister’s plan to produce more oil and gas now marked a sensible move, but he cautioned against those who saw a continued future in increased production.

    “You have to distinguish between the short term – more gas from existing fields – and the long term,” said Turner. “You would have to be a very furious climate campaigner to say in the middle of a war you could not take measures like that.

    “So we will probably have to take these short-term measures, like squeezing more from existing fields or importing more LNG [liquefied natural gas, by tanker], but fundamentally we want no new oil and gas [exploration] from the North Sea. The future of the North Sea should be windmills, not oil and gas.”

    The returns from a push to expand production were likely to be limited, and so the focus should also be on renewable energy, added Bob Ward, policy director of the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change at the London School of Economics….”.

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  15. Apologies if this has already been pointed to on Open Mic but The Spectator’s leading article in its (paper) edition dated tomorrow is called It’s time to drop the net zero agenda:

    For years British energy policy has been an exercise in wishful thinking. We’ve been living in a fantasy world in which Britain can somehow achieve ‘net zero’ by 2050 without paying any serious economic price, and with no one significantly poorer as a result. ‘Not a hair-shirt in sight,’ said the Prime Minister, though most independent assessments said net zero would cost between £36,000 and £50,000 per household.

    Reality, now, is biting. Reducing emissions is important but security of supply is vital, and Europe has been forced to come to terms with its dependence on Russian oil and gas. The dependence is so entrenched that it is possible Vladimir Putin thought that Europe would rather leave Ukraine undefended than impose sanctions. If this was Putin’s thinking, it was a miscalculation. Europe has collectively chosen pain. The question is now to ameliorate it.

    And eight paragraphs in the same vein after that. But, good and timely though the full article is, I want to question this:

    Reducing emissions is important

    Why is it important? I’m in the Freeman Dyson camp on this. Science (ie careful observation) is telling us that our CO2 emissions are ‘overwhelmingly beneficial’ in causing increased greening of the earth:

    If you look at the non climate effects of carbon dioxide, there is evidence they are very strong. They are easy to observe, easy to measure. They are overwhelmingly beneficial.

    What of the effects on climate?

    In the case of the climate effects. This is a very complicated set of problems. We don’t understand climate, climate is very complicated and we are only beginning to understand what the effects of carbon dioxide may be. They’re maybe good or they’re maybe bad. But it’s not clear.

    Given a certain overwhelming benefit and a very complicated picture that means it’s as likely that the effect on climate is net positive as it is net negative, it is quite wrong to parrot that “reducing emissions is important”.

    I understand why people, even on the right, say it. But it’s wrong.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Thanks for the link to “Nils Pratley” piece.

    1st link goes to “another Guardian page”

    then (Guardian’s fearless journalism) just have to bring in a new conspiracy – “As UK wholesale gas prices reach unheard-of levels, a well-resourced fracking lobby has reassembled”

    then he says “fracking. The gas would take a decade to arrive in volume even if the moratorium were lifted tomorrow”

    wonder when racking was stopped – quick search – “When will fracking start in the UK?
    A report by the National Audit Office has found that getting fracking up and running in England has been slower than expected. In 2016, the government forecast up to 20 wells would be fracked by mid-2020, but only three have been so far.”

    and then stopped & told to concrete the wells (The Lancashire wells have not been used since 2019 after test drilling was suspended due to earth tremors and the government halted shale gas extraction in England.
    The Oil and Gas Authority (OGA) ordered that they now be plugged with concrete.
    The site’s owners, energy firm Cuadrilla, said the decision was “ridiculous” amid rising gas prices)

    wonder how much concrete that will take)

    Like

  17. I thought the Guardian campaign against Net Zero Watch had ended, but it appears they’re still sniping (and presumably therefore still worried). Their old Brexit hate figure is now back as an anti-net zero hate figure, for good measure:

    “Nigel Farage’s hard-right faction won Brexit. Now net zero is in its sights”

    https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2022/mar/13/nigel-farage-hard-right-faction-brexit-net-zero-tory

    “A small group of rightwing MPs are jangling Tory nerves and using questions about living costs to undermine climate action”

    Like

  18. I mentioned this briefly at Open Mic, but it’s relevant here:

    “Tory MP Steve Baker shares paper denying climate crisis
    Green Alliance says ‘mask has slipped’ as member of Net Zero Scrutiny Group shares scientist’s paper on Twitter”

    https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2022/apr/15/tory-mp-steve-baker-shares-paper-denying-climate-crisis

    Oh boy, Steve Baker and the Net Zero Watch crew have the Guardian rattled. They’re certainly gunning for him/them. I struggle to see how any objective person could have a problem with this:

    “A Conservative MP has shared a paper that says the climate emergency is not happening.

    Steve Baker, the MP for Wycombe and a leading member of the Net Zero Scrutiny Group, shared the report, produced by the Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF), on his Twitter feed.

    He and the Net Zero Scrutiny Group, comprising about 20 Tory MPs, have previously said they do not deny the science around climate change but merely disagree with the costs involved in some of the methods proposed to reach net zero.

    When asked if he agreed with the report, Baker said: “I am clear that questions of climate science should be handled scientifically. The last thing we need is politicians and activists twisting the science to their particular ends.””

    But the Guardian does object, most stridently. Let’s get in a quote from Green Alliance:

    “Joe Tetlow, a senior political adviser for the Green Alliance, a charity and thinktank, said: “The mask has slipped. Promoting climate denial from GWPF is not scrutiny of policies but denying the basis for action. Dangerous and wrong.””

    Like

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