Desperate to leave a ‘legacy’ for her disastrous premiership, Theresa May has decided to bring in a legally binding Net Zero climate target, which forces the UK to eliminate all emissions of carbon dioxide by 2050.
Currently, the Climate Change Act already commits us to reduce emissions to 20 per cent of 1990 levels by 2050.
According to her own Chancellor, Philip Hammond, her plan will cost £1 trillion. The Committee on Climate Change (CCC), who drafted the plan last month, put the annual cost at £50bn by 2050, equivalent to £1,800 for every household in the country, so the real cost could turn out to be even more.
To many people, such large numbers have little meaning, and 2050 seems a long way away.
But what will May’s plans actually mean for ordinary people in practical terms?
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The Climate Change Act has, of course, already imposed massive costs on us since it was introduced in 2008. Subsidies for renewable energy will cost £12.2bn this year, according to official figures from the Office for Budget Responsibility. This equates to £450 per household.
These subsidies will remorselessly increase in years to come, as more renewable projects come on stream, not to mention the new nuclear power station at Hinkley Point.
But the electricity sector only accounts for a fifth of total emissions. Natural gas used in homes for heating and cooking also accounts for another fifth. To eliminate these, the CCC want us to scrap our central heating boilers and replace them with extremely expensive heat pump systems, which run on electricity.
Heat pumps can cost well over £10,000 to install, as well as costing more to run than conventional gas systems. The CCC doesn’t say how ordinary householders will be expected to afford such enormous sums.
Worse still, heat pumps are ineffective in really cold weather and would also put impossible demands on the electricity grid at peak periods in winter. To address this problem, they propose that we also burn hydrogen instead of gas.
To do this though, the CCC estimates that it will cost up to £4,000 per household to convert appliances and upgrade pipework for hydrogen.
The hydrogen will be produced by steam reforming, which uses natural gas as a feedstock, but also produces carbon dioxide in the process, which then needs to be captured and stored. (Yes, I know, you couldn’t make it up!).
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As a result of all of this unnecessary processing, the resulting hydrogen will cost twice as much as the gas used at the outset, in terms of units of energy.
All in all, the CCC reckon that the replacement of gas with heat pumps and hydrogen will cost households £28bn a year, more than £1,000 each. To meet their 2050 targets, the CCC expects all of this to have started well before 2030.
Transport accounts for another third of emissions, so the CCC wants all new car sales to be pure electric after 2030. Note that even hybrids won’t be allowed. This demonisation of petrol and diesel cars is already having an effect on the UK car industry, with Honda pulling out completely.
The CCC doesn’t offer any advice on what they are supposed to do to the eight million drivers who don’t have off-street parking and therefore cannot charge up at home at night. In addition, 200,000 new public chargers will have to be installed for use away from home.
Electric cars will place huge new demands on the electricity grid, with peak demand expected to rise by 40 GW as a result, nearly doubling current demand. This is the equivalent of thirteen extra Hinkley Points. And it is not only more generating capacity that will be needed, as transmission and local distributions must be upgraded to cope with the extra power.
Industry won’t get away scot-free either. Higher energy costs and the obligation to eradicate all emissions will impose substantial cost burdens, which even the CCC accept could lead to offshoring of industry to countries abroad, rather making the whole idea pointless.
And all of this for what? The UK only accounts for 1% of the world’s emissions, which last year alone rose by 2%. No other country is going down this path, and the Paris Agreement actually allows developing countries, such as China and India, to carry on massively increasing emissions.
The dreadful May is keen to display her green credentials and kowtow to anti-capitalist eco-extremists. But if she wants to go down that route, she should at least have the courage to tell the public just how much her deluded dreams are going to cost us all.