Going carbon-neutral is massive waste of money

Theresa May’s ‘Net Zero’ carbon policy is bad for Britain, especially its poorer communities.

Paddy Hannam


In the depressing days when she was still our prime minister, Theresa May pushed through a commitment to going carbon-neutral by 2050. Philip Hammond, then still chancellor, predicted the move would cost a trillion quid.

The body which recommended the ‘Net Zero’ target, the Committee on Climate Change, disputes this figure. It says the cost will be between one and two per cent of GDP each year until 2050. By my calculations, based on current GDP figures, this equates to somewhere between £700 billion and £1.4 trillion (Spreadsheet Phil’s estimate is roughly in the middle). If we assume the economy is going to grow in the next 30 years, the cost will rise even further, since the same percentage of GDP will equate to a larger raw figure. At this rate, our ex-chancellor’s prediction doesn’t seem so far-fetched. Even if we accept the claims put forward by those making the case for going green, we’re still looking at an absolutely enormous sum.

Folk like Hammond were naturally concerned by this level of state spending, but May ploughed on regardless. Along with Michael Gove she has gone wholeheartedly for the green case, concerned that her party is out of touch with young people. To be fair to her, it is. But trying to address this by throwing money at the climate is ill-advised. From a purely strategic party point-of-view, the Tories will struggle to wrest the mantle of environmental politics from all the other green parties, so it’s a waste of time and money in that regard. This suggests May and Gove might actually believe this expenditure is not only justifiable, but absolutely necessary to save the planet.

Cases like this are particularly revealing when we consider the Conservatives’ usual approach to spending. The same people who’ve spent years telling us we can’t afford to give more money to the NHS or build more houses are now prepared to commit to spending a mammoth sum on going green. The Tories are promising the kind of cash injection that a big-state socialist could only dream of.

The other parties are also looking both ways on the economy. Labour, Lib Dem and Green figures tell us we must oppose a No Deal Brexit because of the dire economic consequences they foresee. But in the same breath, they tell us that we need to catapult hundreds of billions of pounds at climate change, and dismiss any suggestion that environmental restrictions might negatively impact on the economy. Manufacturing will be hit severely by the Net Zero target and could simply move overseas.

The cross-party embrace of Net Zero is all the more remarkable when you consider the simple fact that the UK going green alone will do very little to alter global emissions. Campaigners think Britain can lead the world in reducing CO2 output, and that other countries will follow suit. The CCC’s Net Zero report says Britain can show ‘leadership by example’ and ‘shape political conditions in other countries’. As if China is going to see a strategic rival pour money down a bottomless pit and say, ‘Hey, why didn’t we think of that?’. China would be delighted to see us voluntarily bankrupt ourselves. Ironically, it is the same political class that believes Britain is too weak to stand on its own two feet, and that it desperately needs the life-support system of the EU to survive, which argues that we have enough global influence to make infinitely bigger economies do as we do. Odd.

On the left, in particular, these contradictions reveal how shallow and skin deep the ‘radicalism’ of many climate activists can be. Traditional markers of the left are less important nowadays. Being left-wing used to mean standing up for the working man and woman. But rather than looking out for the poor, many of these activists are quite happy to throw the worst-off under the bus. They are happy to allow all the money we have and more to be spent on green energy, leaving very little left to help those at the bottom. On top of that, the inevitable increase in energy prices that decarbonisation would bring would hit the poorest hardest.

But issues like these are not not a concern for climate activists. Environmentalists are generally not poor themselves. This allows them to be dogmatic. They can afford to pay the green levies, to buy organically farmed beef, to get an electric car, or to use private services if those provided by the state are not up to scratch. So they don’t think about what green policy means for those who can’t – those for whom the priority is getting by, not sacrificing everything in the vain hope Xi Jinping cares, or even notices our efforts.

Paddy Hannam is a history student based in London.

Picture by: Getty.

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Andrew Clitheroe

27th September 2019 at 4:36 pm

“Well, it’s like this, son: we decided we shouldn’t invest in becoming carbon neutral because other countries probably wouldn’t. And then they all looked at US doing nothing and decided the same thing. So there was really nothing anyone could have done.”
“But daddy, couldn’t you have set an example of what was possible and then made bank exporting your technological and business process innovations across the globe, leveraging the high-tide of public concern and interest?”
“Maybe, but then we wouldn’t have a super-fast rail link from London to the Isle of Manchester, would we?”

Bri -an

22nd August 2019 at 6:42 am

“Philip Hammond, then still chancellor, predicted the move would cost a trillion quid.”
Enough for a postage stamp if current financing policy is continued.

Stef Steer

16th August 2019 at 12:28 pm

If we take it that the globalists/remainers see the possibility of their favoured economic status being less if a No deal Brexit happens then it would make sense as they are the elite in power to have an insurance policy. Net zero is that insurance policy for their continued prosperity. So higher taxes to dissuade carbon will be used for jobs and subsidys for the boys (or more likely girls or actually any of 70 genders. The point is redistribution of taxpayer money to remainer/globalist coffers)

James Knight

15th August 2019 at 6:47 pm

I might not even mind that expense if we were going to get thorium nuclear power stations instead of a load more windmills.

Philip Humphrey

15th August 2019 at 4:21 pm

It’s also a big con as well, you can’t indefinitely cancel out CO2 emissions simply by planting trees. Young trees absorb CO2 as they grow, but as the mature and start to die they emit CO2 as well. A mature forest is generally carbon neutral, emitting as much as it absorbs. So at some point you’d either have to start planting a forest elsewhere (until you run out of land), or you’d have to cut down and bury the mature forest deep underground, before planting more trees on the same site. Realistically we can only become properly carbon neutral when we perfect nuclear fusion and have an endless supply of energy to fix CO2 from the atmosphere as well as to make and do everything we need.

Bri -an

22nd August 2019 at 6:48 am

“. So at some point you’d either have to start planting a forest elsewhere (until you run out of land), or you’d have to cut down and bury the mature forest deep underground”
Follow your own logic.
If is a lot easier to bury trees than CO2 gas.
After a (long) while, the trees will become coal again, so you can dig it up for fuel.
Much better than windmills!

Bri -an

22nd August 2019 at 6:53 am

” an endless supply of energy to fix CO2 from the atmosphere”
And when you have done that, will you be surprised when alll life disappears from planet Earth?

PS You will, of course, along with everybody else, be dead.
Just be careful what you ask for!

Hana Jinks

15th August 2019 at 3:34 pm

There is a big difference between environmental pollution and the climate-hoax. They don’t actually have any relationship. Corporations that are prepared to desecrate our environment in the name of profit should be fined out of existence.

Climate-hoaxers need stringing up.

Ven Oods

15th August 2019 at 2:20 pm

“Along with Michael Gove she has gone wholeheartedly…”
I’m not sure about Gove and wholeheartedness. He seems as stable as a storm-tossed coracle being paddled fitfully in the direction of the main chance.
(Couldn’t back BoJo’s previous leadership bid, but now happy to take his forgiving largesse.)

Ven Oods

15th August 2019 at 2:24 pm

Admittedly I did omit to factor in that he’s a politician, so no surprises, really.

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