The collectivist Net Zero political project is starting to come apart before our very eyes. Making everyone poor, cold, hungry and confined to small living territories was always a tall political ask, but decades of green virtue-signalling, backed by a ‘settled’ version of science that cannot be debated in polite society, has kept the show on the road. Writing in the Daily Telegraph last Wednesday, Sherelle Jacobs said there comes a time when the sacred mythology that underpins an orthodoxy simply crumbles. She was writing about liberalism in general, and the pieties behind mass illegal migration, but she could easily have been referring to Net Zero.
The recent decision by the European Union to allow the sale of internal combustion cars after 2035 was a small sign that reality is starting to intrude on those overseeing the destruction of Europe’s industrial base. There was a fig leaf in the announcement to hide the blushes suggesting that the cars must be run on carbon captured from the air and mixed with hydrogen produced from ‘green’ energy. As always with such hypothetical green technologies, one is inclined to discount those based on pure wishful thinking. The U.K. is still committed to banning the sale of internal combustion cars after 2030, but developments in Europe may produce a rethink.
The hard politics behind this decision is that Germany has enjoyed 70 years of unprecedented prosperity based on heavy industry reliant on cheap energy, recently secured from Russia. Its car industry is one of the most innovative and competitive in the world, and faces near destruction in the move to battery cars. This fate of course is likely to be shared by most European countries including the U.K., with China monopolising both the production of electric cars and the refining of vital minerals.
Writing recently in the Daily Sceptic, Andrew Montford, the Deputy Director of Net Zero Watch, said that inhabitants of the Westminster Village were happy to hype up fears of climate purgatory and fib about the cost of the renewable road to redemption. “Once the public understands 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,” he added.
There have been few more egregious Net Zero deceptions than the suggestion that wind and solar power is far cheaper than fossil fuel. This canard has finally been put to bed with the recent news that Net Zero Watch has established through a Freedom of Information (FOI) request that Contract for Difference (CfD) instruments are little more than taxpayer-funded guarantees that no matter the price of electricity, wind farms will always win.
Recent auctions have seen wind farms drive down the price at which they say they will supply electricity to the grid. This price is then guaranteed with a CfD under which the taxpayer picks up the tab if the wholesale electricity price drops lower. If the price rises past the guarantee, the wind farm pays the excess back to the taxpayer. That is the theory, and it is the basis of countless headlines in mainstream media and academia. “Offshore wind is now so cheap it could pay back money to consumers,” reported Imperial College in 2019. The reality, of course, is different.
Net Zero Watch says its recent Energy Department FOI “revealed that offshore wind farms and other generators are under no obligation whatsoever to take up their CfD options”. The Government has no power to enforce them. When electricity prices soar, as numerous restrictions on fossil fuels make likely, the wind farms ignore their options, and sell their power on the open market. While this racket continues, the British taxpayer pays total annual renewable subsidies of around £13 billion for a power source that still only accounts for barely 5% of total U.K. energy needs. Meanwhile, huge costs are incurred in providing energy back-up to compensate for the irregular nature of renewables. As more renewables come on stream, the more costly back-up is required.
Elections are always tricky when attempting mass collectivisation projects like Net Zero. The science can be settled and admirable ecological objectives can be hijacked, but when the electorate twigs that it is their holiday, their car and their beef steak that is under threat, they can cut up rough. Last Sunday’s ‘Berlin Climate Neutrality by 2030’ referendum failed to secure the 608,000 votes to pass, despite a massive and well-funded campaign by media, celebrities and activists. Reporting on the results, the German website No Tricks Zone noted that Berliners had been harassed for months by activists blocking traffic. Berliners were said to have seen the folly of the initiative, “and the high costs it would entail politically and financially”.
The German online publication Pleiteticker noted that members of the upper middle classes had declared war on the lower middle classes with their destructive climate measures. For years, these groups have been spreading their ideas “in a self-righteous, arrogant and sometimes aggressive manner”. It suggested that outside the Berlin political bubble and other urban feel-good oases, there is not much support for these causes.
Certainly there doesn’t seem to be much support for giving up food. Over in the Netherlands, recent farming protests were translated into spectacular electoral gains in the upper Senate for the farmer’s citizen movement (BBB). The Dutch Government plans to reduce nitrogen emissions by massively cutting livestock farming and buying up thousands of farms. The Netherlands is a massive food exporter, the industry being worth a reported £80 billion. Green activists are increasingly targeting food production, using the argument that nitrogen fertiliser is emitting nitrous oxide into the atmosphere.
David Legates is a Professor of Climatology at the University of Delaware, and he notes that if you want to stop N2O in the atmosphere, you have to stop agriculture. In the atmosphere, the gas is just 334 parts per billion. Because of margin of error considerations, Legates observes, climate models do not actually calculate any warming effect.
Guardian activist George Monbiot recently called for an end to animal farming. It is difficult to know when this madness will end. The academic economist Ralph Schoellhammer recently noted in an article in Newsweek that climate activism isn’t about the planet – it’s about the boredom of the bourgeoisie. It might be argued that pampered and indulged elites have had it easy for so long that they have lost all track of understanding how food, warmth, shelter and security from the ravages of nature are both produced and secured.
Chris Morrison is the Daily Sceptic’s Environment Editor.