Boris must have the courage to spell out the true cost of ‘net zero’. After being sacked as the chairman of the COP26, the UN climate conference which is to take place in Glasgow later this year, Claire Perry O’Neill did not lose any time in settling scores. Boris Johnson, she said, does not ‘get’ climate change. In a sense she is right — but not in the way she thinks. The once-sceptical Prime Minister has been acting with the zeal of the converted on climate change and is all set to achieve ‘net zero’ UK climate emissions by 2050. Whether he ‘gets’ what this promise will require is another matter. If the Prime Minister intends to position Britain as a global leader in a ‘net zero’ project, using the chairmanship of the COP26 to rally others, then he ought to have the courage to spell out the implications. Does he agree with cost estimates? He won’t say. If he’s serious about the 2035 electric car target, how does he plan to equip Britain with enough charging points? Are there plans in place to build an energy grid large enough to power the nation’s electric cars? There is no answer. Perhaps this is because, as Emmanuel Macron has found, the answers do not always go down very well. Problems arise for politicians when they position themselves as environmentalists without preparing people for the steps needed to achieve their aim. Stunning advances in green tech — especially in solar and wind power — mean that it is rational to hope for the emergence of even more powerful tools than we have today. But as a recent study from Imperial College London pointed out, this will not prevent the need for big lifestyle changes.
Spectator 8th Feb 2020 read more »