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Net Zero Leaves U.K. Paying Five Times More for Electricity Than China

The United Nations established the Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change in 1988 and in 1995 the first climate change Conference of Parties (COP1) was held in Berlin. There has been a COP meeting every year since then, apart from 2020 when covid intervened. Last year COP28 was held in the United Arab Emirates and was attended by 84,000 delegates who flew in from all around the world to lecture the rest of us about the importance of reducing our carbon footprint.

In the nearly 30 years since COP conferences began, the U.K. has halved its CO2 emissions so that we now account for a mere 1% of the global total. But in this same time interval the developing world has massively increased its CO2 emissions. For example, China’s CO2 emissions have quadrupled and now account for 29% of the global total. India’s have tripled and now account for 7% of the global total. Both countries are still increasing their CO2 emissions.

The problem is that ‘green’ technologies are not very good. Electric cars and renewable energy are more expensive and inferior in performance to their fossil fuel equivalents. So as the developing world industrialises it is using fossil fuel technology to keep its costs down. Is it right for the privileged people of the First World to tell the poorest people in the Third World that they now have to stop operating gas and coal-fired power stations and stop driving petrol cars because of worries that in 50 years time the planet will be warmer? Climate modelling is so complex and uncertain that we don’t know how much warmer and we don’t know the consequences of that warming. Quite understandably the priority for the leaders of the developing world is to improve the lives of people now rather than worry about what may or may not happen in 50 years time.

Despite the fact that we only produce 1% of global CO2 emissions, our Government has decided we must press on with being world leaders in Net Zero. Because our ‘carbon footprint’ is already so small, reducing it further will have no measurable impact on global temperatures, but it will further impoverish British people. For example, we are repeatedly told by the green lobby (which these days occupies influential positions in politics, the media, universities and business) that renewables are now the cheapest form of energy generation and we should build ever more wind farms and solar farms. Since the U.K. is already a world leader in offshore wind it follows that we should have some of the lowest electricity prices in the world. In fact the opposite is true, the U.K. has some of the highest electricity prices in the world. Typically people in this country pay more than twice as much for electricity as they do in the USA, where shale gas has transformed the energy market, and more than five times as much as in China, where they are still building coal-fired power stations. The reason the U.K.’s electricity prices are so high is because there is a massive hidden cost in renewables which its supporters gloss over or never mention, namely the need to have back-up energy generation for when the wind doesn’t blow and the sun doesn’t shine.

The sales growth of electric vehicles in this country has stalled as people realise just what poor value they are. They are expensive to buy and inconvenient to drive because of the long charge times and the scarcity of public charging points. There is also the issue of how green electric vehicles actually are after taking into account the environmental impact of mining the rare earth metals and manufacturing the batteries. Yet our Government is blithely carrying on with its plan to ban petrol cars.

If the world is going to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, the best way forward is to encourage research and development so that we improve green technologies. Imagine for a moment a time in the future when ‘green’ technologies might be cheaper and better than their fossil fuel equivalents. If this were to happen then people would want to buy green technology and the world’s CO2 emissions would fall quickly and naturally. In the meantime we have the Conservative, Labour and Lib Dem parties all wanting to inflict more of this junk green technology on us. Only Reform offers any sanctuary for the Net Zero sceptic.

Dr. John Fernley is a retired scientist.