In the clamour to reach net zero by 2050, the UK and countries all across Europe are enforcing ever-more extreme ‘green’ policies that are making basic amenities such as food, heat and transport increasingly unaffordable for the average working person.
For example, Germany has approved draft legislation to force homeowners to switch from gas and oil to heat pumps from next year. The drawback? It will cost each homeowner an estimated £15,000 to £40,000 for the privilege of making the transition, even though house values in the poorer areas of Germany often don’t exceed £80,000!
One has to question the logic of any policy that aims to ‘save the planet’ by forcing hard-working people into a state of near poverty. And the German people certainly are, with controversy over the bill sparking furious protests and fierce opposition from the public, which has already led to a partial climbdown from the German government and more compromises looking set to follow.
However, some may argue that we have no choice but to take drastic action, given that change must happen now if we are to protect the environment for future generations. The question is, is this the right course of action, and will these extreme ‘green’ policies really make any difference?
The Hidden Cost of a Flawed Plan
Let’s take for example, Labour’s plan to meet the demands of Just Stop Oil by blocking new North Sea oil developments and all new domestic hydrocarbon exploration. Now, in theory, this might sound like a good idea (and it remains to be seen whether Keir Starmer will stick to his pledge in the face of strong criticism from industry bosses and trade unions). But the simple fact is that three quarters of our energy supply comes from these sources, and we still rely on oil for a vast range of products that are considered essential for modern life. So, where would the oil come from?
Well, unfortunately, as teleportation is yet to be invented, we’d have no choice but to use huge diesel-powered ships to import it from the USA and the Middle East, which would of course, result in producing significantly higher emissions than before. So why bother making such a decision in the first place if it’s actually going to be of greater detriment to the environment?
Unsurprisingly, the answer has little to do with protecting the planet and everything to do with preserving the UK’s (thoroughly undeserved) reputation as a world leader in climate policy. Because the sad truth is that a lot of ‘creative accounting’ goes on in the carbon world. And the UK is, by far, the worst culprit
By importing our gas and oil and offshoring our manufacturing to countries like China, we’re essentially shifting the UK’s carbon cost onto another country’s balance sheet. So, we look like we’re making great progress towards fulfilling our pledge to meet net zero by 2050, when the reality is that global emissions are actually increasing.
And why? Because countries such as China that aren’t bound by the same stringent climate policies as the UK and Europe are having to accelerate their oil and coal capacity in order to meet the sudden increase in international demand!
Creative Carbon Accounting
And it doesn’t stop there. Let’s take the UK’s decision to funnel £6 billion of subsidies to Drax, a wood chip-burning power plant based in Yorkshire. This is considered a carbon neutral industry due to the fact that of the 27 million trees Drax burns in a single year, each is replaced by newly planted ones that will absorb the CO2 emissions that this resource-intensive process inevitably produces.
But what they don’t like to publicise is that of these 27 million trees, not a single one is grown in Britain. Once again, they’re shipped on massive diesel-powered vessels from the USA and Canada, and the carbon cost is simply added to the exporting country’s carbon balance sheet.
Even better, not only does burning wood emit more CO2 than even coal production, it would take 44-104 years for each newly planted tree to offset the emissions produced by just one of the many millions of trees that are burnt every year!
Now, my retreading factory in Grantham achieved an overall emissions saving of 17,097 tonnes by recycling 6,760 tonnes of waste tyres in 2022 alone. And yet, retreading gets nothing in the way of government subsidies or recognition because avoided emissions aren’t taken into consideration by industry regulators. So, when you consider that retreading is essentially being penalised, even though it’s one of the few genuinely sustainable industries, it leaves you questioning whether much of the UK and EU’s net zero ‘strategy’ is worth the non-recyclable paper it’s written on.