If the announcement of a Net Zero review during Liz Truss’s brief tenure in Number 10 raised sceptics’ hopes, they were rather rapidly dashed when the review’s Chair was named: Chris Skidmore.
Skidmore could never be described as a disinterested party (see Mark’s piece from September for some choice cuts). Any potential drawbacks to the UK’s Net Zero suicide mission were never going to see the light of day. To summarise my expectations of the Skidmore Review’s conclusions, they would be:
- Net Zero is necessary;
- Net Zero will bring enormous benefits to the UK;
- Net Zero will have trivial costs;
- The faster we go, the sooner we will reap the benefits of Net Zero;
- No-one worth listening to opposes the UK’s goal of Net Zero;
- It is vital for our international standing that we lead on Net Zero…
- Etc, etc.
I expected any negatives of our “transition” to be invisible to the Review, and any positives to be fairy stories. Well, the Review has duly been delivered, so what has it concluded?
I have to admit that my heart did sink a bit when I downloaded the pdf. I wanted to read the Review before commenting on it – but at 340 pages, that has proven impossible. In truth, I’ve only skimmed it. How many people will actually read it all? Unclear. The Executive Summary is longer than some reports one has occasion to read.
The length was one thing slowing me down. But I’m afraid I found myself staring just at the contents page for about half an hour, occasionally pinching myself to check whether or not I was dreaming. The term “Orwellian” is overused, as is Orwellian language (including in what follows here). But, Dear Reader, I present to you the contents listing for Part 1 of the Review:
Net Zero is the growth opportunity of the 21st century?
One might as well say that a boot stamping on a human face forever is the growth opportunity of the 21st century. There are opportunities in Net Zero, but not for all of us. The opportunities are for those who would sell us goods that are inferior to our existing goods, but which carry the green imprimatur. Such opportunities only exist where there are subsidies or regulations that mean the existing product cannot win. Either option means that ordinary citizens are disadvantaged.
Net Zero in the UK, one might say, is an excellent opportunity for a country like – oh, I don’t know, let’s pick one at random – China, which knows that we won’t be able to manufacture our own Net Zero stuff because our energy costs are too high because we are obsessed by Net Zero. We can’t mine things, and we can’t refine things, and we can’t manufacture things.
Everything in the Review is backwards. EVs are cheaper to run than ICE cars: so we need to ban ICE cars. How curious! If EVs are cheaper than ICE cars, it is because of their several tax advantages. But even then they can’t win unless we ban the opposition, because the opposition is a better product.
If we ensure gas is more expensive than electricity, people will install heat pumps. Or burn more wood.
In the short-term, government should ensure there is a clear price signal in favour of technologies that use electricity rather than fossil fuels.
Why would we do that? The “green” option is already cheaper, except it isn’t, is it? Figures like this…
… pretend that they are, but if that was true, why would you need to so firmly tilt the playing field in favour of these already superior and cheaper options? Note the impartial source from which the Review is taking this figure?
The downsides are dressed up as benefits, as here where rationing is rebranded as an opportunity for punters to save money:
Will Skidmore be thinking about whether or not to boil his kettle at 5pm? I somehow doubt that. The Review is full of obvious lies. An example:
Calling these “lies” might be extreme, but how else can they be characterised? Of course these are arbitrary targets. Everyone knows that. The Earth does not know what a degree is, or half a degree. Nor does it know what year it is. In any case, if the targets were not arbitrary, the year would not end in a zero, and the temperature limit would not be such a nice clean number (it was formerly 2 degrees, you will recall). Another paragraph with only a passing acquaintance with the truth:
According to section 1.4.3 the UK has a competitive advantage. Really? What are we going to be exporting to other countries?
Improving operational energy and reducing embodied carbon in corporate buildings can also become a competitive advantage for the UK
Dude, what are you smoking? We can outcompete the Chinese by “reducing embodied carbon in corporate buildings”? The only other thing I saw a hint of us exporting was “green finance.” Actually, more than a hint. The document is full of rubbish about how the UK is a leader in green finance. A joke. Green finance is a mirage based on the assumption that people, companies and countries will act against their own best interests over long periods of time. Take Britishvolt for an example. Investment in this is based on the idea that the UK government is going to trap UK companies into only building EVs, and forcing its people into only buying EVs. That means that a battery factory, no matter how expensive to build and how expensive its products, will still be ultimately profitable.
Unless we buy our batteries from China?
This would be tragic if it wasn’t so bloody obvious. Does anyone in the UK seriously picture a future in which Britishvolt might be, I dunno, let’s just all have a laugh, a future in which Britishvolt is exporting batteries to Chinese car manufacturers?
In our green future, we will be lucky if we can supply ourselves with anything, let alone export anything. Meanwhile, we’ll figure out how to keep the plebs from putting heads on sticks:
No doubt we will be “nudged” into a sort of green twilight of mute acceptance. By careful early conditioning, by games and cold water, by the rubbish that will be dinned into them at school, the young will be our strongest supporters. The game of this cult is to make Net Zero a fait accompli, to turn itself into a Borg collective against which resistance is futile. Ultimately the Net Zero fantasy will collide with bitter reality. But it should be resisted now. We can’t just wait for reality to catch up with Net Zero, because the longer we wait, the harder the fall will be.
As to how to resist, I have no clue. The picture this Review gives is of an elite that are, exemplified by its Chair, zombies insulated from reality by green winding cloths. We know that the hysteria is growing in the young. We know that as the Net Zero damage piles up, it will be blamed on “volatile fossil fuel prices,” the war in Ukraine, or our own selfishness. If the incumbent government get voted out, their replacements are likely to be of deeper green hue. A small hope is the growing number of public voices who are beginning to speak up against the madness, even if they do not get the coverage they deserve.
The least we can do is put on record our opposition to Net Zero, and our rejection of the lie that it and its fruits represent anything “green”, and that this is one race we do not want to win:
The Review can be found here. Its title is, appropriately enough, “Mission Zero.”