The UK’s Net Zero Policy

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From Climate Scepticism


1. It’s unachievable. Many vehicles and machines (used for example in agriculture, heavy transportation, emergencies, commercial shipping, aviation, the military, mining and construction) and products (for example concrete, steel, plastics, fertiliser, pharmaceuticals, anaesthetics, lubricants, paints, adhesives, tyres and asphalt) essential to our lives and wellbeing require the combustion of fossil fuels or are made from oil derivatives; there are no easily deployable, commercially viable alternatives. Then (a) the complex engineering and cost challenges of establishing a reliable net zerogrid by 2035 (2030 for a Labour government) – not least the need for a huge increase in grid capacity – and (b) the vast scale of what’s involved (immense amounts of space and increasingly expensive material are required because the ‘energy density’ of wind and sun is so low) make it unlikely that the UK will be able to generate sufficient renewable electricity for current needs let alone the mandated electric vehicles and heat pumps. In any case, the UK doesn’t have enough technical managers, engineers, electricians, plumbers, mechanics and other tradespeople (probably about a million) to do the many tasks that would be essential to achieve net zero.

2. It would be socially and economically disastrous. That’s especially so because the Government’s all-renewable energy project doesn’t include a fully costed (or indeed any) engineering plan for the provision of comprehensive grid-scale back-up when there’s little or no wind or sun – meaning electricity blackouts that would cause damaging problems for millions of people, including serious health consequences affecting in particular the poor and vulnerable, and tip the UK’s economy even deeper into decline, further blighting our already weakened industries. Moreover: (a) as China essentially controls the supply of key materials (in particular so-called rare earths) needed for renewables, the UK would increase its already dangerous dependence on it, putting its energy and overall security at serious risk; and (b) the vast mining and mineral processing operations required for renewables are already causing appalling environmental damage and dreadful human suffering, affecting in particular fragile, unspoilt ecosystems and many of the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people; the continued pursuit of net zero would make all this far worse.

3. Above all, it’s pointless. Most major non-Western countries – the source of over 75% of CO2 emissions and home to 84% of humanity – don’t regard emission reduction as a priority and, either exempt from or ignoring any obligation to reduce their emissions, are focused instead on economic and social development, poverty eradication and energy security. As a result, global emissions are increasing and are set to continue to increase for the foreseeable future whatever the UK (the source of less than 1% of global emissions) may or may not do. It therefore makes absolutely no sense for Britain to pursue this unachievable and disastrous policy.

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