In the aftermath of the release of the Lockdown Files, the public is slowly coming to terms with some fairly shocking facts: that the Government was willing to lie and mislead, and to scaremonger and manipulate the media, in order to achieve its Covid policy objectives (or even just to garner a few headlines). The news is still sinking in, but a day of reckoning for those involved looks likely.
For those of us bearing the scars of long engagement in the climate and energy wars, however, none of this was a surprise. It has long been clear that the inhabitants of the Westminster village were happy to hype up fears of climate purgatory and to fib about the road to redemption – renewables – and the cost of taking it. Once the public understand the depth and extent of the deception, and the damage done to the economy and the prospects for our children, the trickery over Covid is going to look decidedly peripheral.
The latest report from the Climate Change Committee (CCC) is a case in point. On the surface it’s a roadmap to a decarbonised electricity grid, but in reality it’s merely a sales document, full of tricks, evasions and outright falsehoods that would make even the most cynical used car salesman blush.
For example, in a number of places, it says that decarbonisation of the grid will be ‘cost-effective’, but you will find next to no information on what it will cost. The game that is being played becomes a bit clearer when you read the reference to ‘carbon prices’. In normal usage, the carbon price is the estimate of the damage done by a ton of carbon dioxide, but in the CCC’s parlance it is an estimate of what it will cost to decarbonise. So, while it gives you the impression it has done a cost-benefit analysis and is going to be saving you money, in reality it is only saying that the bill to be paid will be the same as previously advised. It’s a trick.
Another trick is to assume that wind power costs will be only a quarter of what they actually are. For years, the industry has been pushing claims that they have brought about a cost-reduction revolution. The problem is that windfarms’ own financial accounts show that it isn’t true. And with new windfarms now saying they will not come on stream without further subsidies, the deception has been exposed.
I’m picking on the CCC here, simply because it is in the news today. But it’s not just the CCC. None of the bodies whom the public expect to tell the truth about the Net Zero project will do so: the Royal Academy of Engineering is silent. The Royal Society likewise. National Grid pretends the task is a cinch. The National Infrastructure Commission just repeats the Government line verbatim. Parliament asks how soon the job can be done, not whether it can be done or how much it will cost. Everywhere the tricks go unchallenged and the lies are swept under the carpet.
Such deceptions mean that we are storing up catastrophic harms for our economy, and for our children and grandchildren. Energy that was said to be as cheap as gas is actually going to cost three or four times as much. The costs of ensuring supply when the wind doesn’t blow are an order of magnitude larger.
And whether it was delivered on the back of a lie or not, you are going to have to pay for it. A huge pipeline of wind projects is in place already, each eligible for an astonishing array of hidden subsidies – the list is too long to give here. Once built, they will suck wealth from our economy and hope from our society. They will be hard, if not impossible, to close down – they have been made exempt from windfall taxes and the Government cannot simply switch them off without destroying investor confidence in the economy as a whole. If we do not reverse course soon, our children will never know the wealth we have enjoyed until now, just poverty and rationing and hardship. And all because everyone is too scared to challenge the lies. Just like Covid.
Andrew Montford is Deputy Director of Net Zero Watch.