From NOT A LOT OF PEOPLE KNOW THAT
Their enduring commitment to these idiotic targets, regardless of circumstance, bears the imprint of a cult
Chris Skidmore helped drive the commitment to Net Zero through the House of Commons in the dying days of Theresa May’s government. Unfortunately, he seems to have spent the subsequent four years hiding beneath a large rock.
His just-published review (commissioned by Liz Truss) into the Government’s target to reach Net Zero by 2050 is a triumph of messianic zeal over reality.
He writes, for example, that there is a “clean and endless supply of wind blowing across the North Sea”.
Where was he in December when Britain was becalmed in a frigid mass of Arctic air, when wind farms theoretically capable of generating 28 GW of electricity were at times struggling to generate half a gigawatt?
Skidmore hardly even addresses the problem of intermittent green energy, weakly suggesting that the job might be done by batteries or by generating hydrogen when wind is plentiful – without even mentioning the costs of storing energy in this way.
Estimates from the Pacific National Laboratories put it at $203 per MWh for hydrogen and $336 per MWh for lithium ion batteries – respectively around four and six times the cost of generating electricity from wind in the first place.
Skidmore continues to repeat the fantasy that Britain’s Net Zero target is going to make us fabulously rich, growing GDP by two per cent and supporting 480,000 “green jobs”.
Meanwhile, back in the real world, our manufacturing industry continues to drain away to Asia, not least thanks to soaring energy prices in Europe.
The ONS calculates that in spite of the Government’s Net Zero initiative, Britain’s “green economy”, at £41.2 billion, is no bigger than it was a decade ago. It has actually shrunk since 2018, with most of the components for our wind and solar farms manufactured abroad.
And no, renewable energy doesn’t promise us a golden future of cheap energy. As Anders Opedal, CEO of Norwegian energy giant Equinor, warns today, Europe faces a future of higher energy costs even as wholesale oil and gas prices comes down – perhaps because of Net Zero commitments which have shattered investment in oil and gas.
Skidmore mentions in passing the hard-to-decarbonise steel and cement sectors – which face being driven abroad as they fall foul of Net Zero targets, taking jobs and wealth with them.
He could also have added farming, chemicals, plastics, fertlisers – all which face going the same way. German chemicals company BASF, for example, recently announced it was going to downsize permanently in Europe thanks to high energy prices but will build a £10 billion plant in China nevertheless.
When Skidmore pushed his legal commitment for Net Zero through Parliament in 2019 it was in the naïve belief that it would inspire other countries to follow suit. A few mainly European countries did emulate us, but the big emitters have shown no interest in doing so.
China only has a vague ambition – not a legal commitment – to reach Net Zero by 2060 and has made it quite clear it won’t come at the cost of economic growth.
Not that any of this will rub off on Skidmore and others, whose commitment to Net Zero bears the imprint of a cult, oblivious to reason.