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Families face huge bill to go green: Tackling climate change could cost a fortune

Tackling climate change will cost families more, ministers admitted yesterday.

But not acting will cost even more in the long term, they warned.

Asked about the expense of going green, Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said the Government wants to try to ‘help people make that transition’.

Boris Johnson has committed to achieving ‘net zero’ carbon emissions by 2050 – a target that could cost £1.4trillion.

Tackling climate change will cost families more, ministers admitted yesterday. But not acting will cost even more in the long term, they warned. Pictured: A woman on the island of Evia in Greece reacts as wildfire approaches her home on August 8, 2021

Families will shoulder much of this expense – up to £400 a year per household – through having to replace their gas boilers and switch to electric cars, among other things.

The pledge has caused fury in Tory circles, with MPs warning that the additional costs will hit lower earners in the Conservative-voting Red Wall. It has also reportedly led to clashes between the Prime Minister and his Chancellor Rishi Sunak.

Mr Kwarteng said he wanted to see the Government help people to go green. He was concerned about the £20billion hole that switching to electric cars will leave when motorists no longer pay fuel duty – and raised the possibility it could be met by a new carbon tax.

On the rollout of electric vehicle charging points, he said: ‘We need to accelerate that. The next car I buy will be almost certainly an electric vehicle.’

Mr Kwarteng said he wanted to see the Government help people to go green. He was concerned about the £20billion hole that switching to electric cars will leave when motorists no longer pay fuel duty – and raised the possibility it could be met by a new carbon tax

Mr Kwarteng said he wanted to see the Government help people to go green. He was concerned about the £20billion hole that switching to electric cars will leave when motorists no longer pay fuel duty – and raised the possibility it could be met by a new carbon tax

Climate tsar Alok Sharma, president of the forthcoming Cop26 conference, warned that the cost of not acting on climate change could be ‘far greater’ than the expense of transition.

Last month the Office for Budget Responsibility estimated the total cost to the UK of reaching net zero by 2050 could reach £1.4trillion. A report by the National Infrastructure Commission says the poorest tenth of households will pay an extra £80 a year in bills by 2050, the richest tenth an extra £400.

A Government spokesman said: ‘We’re leading the world in building back better and greener from the pandemic. We were the first major economy to commit to net zero by 2050 and one of the first to phase out petrol and diesel car sales by 2030, and just last week we announced more ambitious carbon emissions targets.

‘But this is about policies not just targets, which is why the Prime Minister has outlined an ambitious ten-point plan.’

What can YOU do to save the planet? 

The Panel on Climate Change suggests:

  • Eat less beef, lamb and dairy
  • Set thermostats no higher than 19C and water temperature in heating systems no higher than 55C
  • Minimise flying, especially long-haul
  • Make your next car an electric one
  • Improve your home’s energy efficiency with draught-proofing and better insulation
  • Choose LED light bulbs and appliances with high efficiency ratings
  • Consider switching to a low-carbon heating system such as a heat pump
  • Install water and smart energy meters to manage their use
  • Use peat-free compost
  • Share rather than buy items such as power tools that you don’t use frequently

When will they tell the truth about how much ‘net zero’ will really cost us?

Commentary by Ross Clark for the Daily Mail

Catastrophic’ was how Alok Sharma described the findings in yesterday’s report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). ‘I don’t think there is any other word,’ he said.

But however gloomy the message from the ex-business secretary – who is in charge of this autumn’s COP26 climate conference in Glasgow – Mr Sharma also knows that his Government has another serious problem.

How on earth will it meet its commitment to reach ‘net-zero’ carbon emissions by 2050? Be in no doubt: The Earth’s atmosphere is warming, and this has powerful consequences.

Average temperatures on the Earth’s surface, according to the IPCC, are up by between 0.8 and 1.3 Celsius since 1850. Sea levels have risen by an average of between 15 and 25cm (six to ten inches) since 1901. There is every reason to wean ourselves off fossil fuels and cut our carbon emissions.

A huge shift to electric cars (stock image) is planned, with new petrol and diesel vehicles banned from 2030

A huge shift to electric cars (stock image) is planned, with new petrol and diesel vehicles banned from 2030

The trouble, however, is that the Government’s unilateral and legally binding commitment to net zero comes without any real idea of how it will be achieved or paid for.

A Treasury review of the costs of this immense undertaking has been delayed since the spring.

But, clearly, the move to decarbonise the economy of the first country in the world to carbonise in the first place will involve a social and economic shift unseen in our lifetimes – and it is ordinary people who are most at risk of being impoverished by it.

So what do we know? A huge shift to electric cars is planned, with new petrol and diesel vehicles banned from 2030. Polluting gas boilers are to be ripped out and replaced, in many cases, with electric heat pumps.

The country will also ramp up renewable energy, such as wind, and invest heavily in other technologies such as hydrogen power.

All these schemes come at huge expense. Electric cars typically cost about 50 per cent more than their petrol equivalents – while their often-limited range makes them impractical for longer journeys.

Polluting gas boilers are to be ripped out and replaced, in many cases, with electric heat pumps (pictured)

Polluting gas boilers are to be ripped out and replaced, in many cases, with electric heat pumps (pictured)

If they are adopted wholesale, electric cars will create a £20billion ‘hole’ in the public finances caused by the loss of fuel duty on petrol models. The Government, we can be sure, will want to plug this gap by taxing us in other areas.

Heat pumps can easily cost £10,000 to install; they cost far more to run than gas boilers and are also less effective at actually heating your home, particularly if your property is older.

Renewables, meanwhile, are hugely subsidised, causing fuel bills to rise. According to the energy regulator Ofgem, 23 per cent of British electricity bills now go on ‘environmental and social costs’.

To make all these matters worse, the Government is even considering plans to make it difficult to sell your home unless it is retrofitted with insulation – this alone can cost tens of thousands to install.

And those are just technologies we know about. John Kerry, Alok Sharma’s American equivalent, recently suggested that half the technology needed to reach net zero has yet to be invented.

We still have no idea whether it will be possible to fly long distances by some zero-emission plane that has yet to be designed. And if it isn’t, in a net-zero world that probably spells the end of cheap foreign travel for ordinary people. Heating our homes with hydrogen boilers, meanwhile, will work only if the hydrogen can be produced without causing carbon emissions.

The Government’s ‘heat and buildings strategy’, which was supposed to tell us how and when our gas boilers would be scrapped, has also been put off until the autumn. Pictured: 'World's first' hydrogen-powered domestic boiler

The Government’s ‘heat and buildings strategy’, which was supposed to tell us how and when our gas boilers would be scrapped, has also been put off until the autumn. Pictured: ‘World’s first’ hydrogen-powered domestic boiler

It might one day be possible to do this commercially with electrolysis (using electricity to split water into oxygen and hydrogen atoms), but at present most hydrogen is produced from fossil fuels, which defeats the object. It all paints a deeply depressing picture – and it is not a conversation that our boosterish Prime Minister, who is never happier than when spending other people’s money, is prepared to have with us.

Ministers are said to be working on plans to achieve net zero without disproportionately hitting poorer families – not least because Boris Johnson is reliant for his majority on the so-called ‘Red Wall’ of northern seats.

But the Treasury has still not published its analysis of the costs of reaching net zero: An analysis we were promised in the spring.

The Government’s ‘heat and buildings strategy’, which was supposed to tell us how and when our gas boilers would be scrapped, has also been put off until the autumn. That we don’t yet have the technology to get to net zero explains why neither the US nor many other countries have so far followed Britain’s example and set themselves a legally binding target.

The Prime Minister is partly pinning his hopes on Britain becoming a leading manufacturer of heat pumps, leading to a ‘green jobs benefit to the UK’. But the idea that ending our use of fossil fuels is going to make us all richer is absurd.

The cheap, concentrated energy provided by coal – followed by gas and oil – was the basis of both the industrial revolution itself and the world’s resulting prosperity.

It is no use celebrating the creation of ‘green jobs’ in a wind-farm factory if we simultaneously lose many more jobs in manufacturing thanks to the higher cost of power.

So if Alok Sharma believes he can sweet-talk the rest of the world into legally committing itself to a path that is inevitably going to make people poorer, he is sure to be disappointed.

China, which accounts for 28 per cent of global carbon emissions and which has hundreds of gigawatts of coal-powered generating capacity, is not going to hamper its economy, whatever platitudes it might spout in November.

While Britain will phase out coal power by 2024, last year China alone brought 38 gigawatts of new coal power onstream, more than three times the amount built elsewhere around the world – and it has another 247 gigawatts in the planning.

So long as China is expanding its coal industry, anything Britain does to cut its global carbon emissions will be a proverbial puff of smoke, given we account for just 1 per cent of the planet’s total.

In any case, Britain is not nearly so far down the road of cutting emissions as the Government tries to make out.

'Catastrophic’ was how Alok Sharma (pictured) described the findings in yesterday’s report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). ‘I don’t think there is any other word,’ he said

‘Catastrophic’ was how Alok Sharma (pictured) described the findings in yesterday’s report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). ‘I don’t think there is any other word,’ he said

Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng claimed yesterday that Britain has cut its carbon emissions by 45 per cent compared with 1990 levels.

Yet that is only because the Government counts just ‘territorial emissions’ – ie those physically spewed out in Britain.

It ignores aviation, shipping and carbon emissions produced elsewhere in the world in growing food and making consumer goods for UK consumers.

Our emissions have fallen partly because we have exported a lot of our manufacturing industry – not least to China.

It is a fine ambition to try to persuade the world to slash its carbon emissions. But, in most countries – especially those, such as China and India, with huge and rapidly expanding middle classes – such a message will fall on deaf ears if it comes with a serious fall in living standards.

To reach net zero is an admirable goal, but on current technology will require enormous and very painful sacrifices. And despite the apocalyptic warnings of the IPCC, there is scant sign that the public, in Britain or elsewhere, is yet prepared to make them.

Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng (pictured) claimed yesterday that Britain has cut its carbon emissions by 45 per cent compared with 1990 levels

Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng (pictured) claimed yesterday that Britain has cut its carbon emissions by 45 per cent compared with 1990 levels

Plastic knives and forks may join straws on the banned list

Political Correspondent for the Daily Mail

Throwaway knives, forks and plates could soon be banned in an attempt to phase out single-use plastics.

Straws, stirrers and cotton buds are already outlawed but takeaways and shop-bought meals often come with non-recyclable cutlery and packaging.

Environment Secretary George Eustice is set to announce a consultation on extending the ban to cover these products.

Throwaway knives, forks and plates could soon be banned in an attempt to phase out single-use plastics (stock image)

Throwaway knives, forks and plates could soon be banned in an attempt to phase out single-use plastics (stock image)

It would force manufacturers to use compostable or easily recyclable items. The EU banned all plastic disposable cutlery and polystyrene containers last month. The UK currently uses five million tons of plastic every year – nearly half of it packaging.

There are fears that Covid has worsened the situation as many now prefer single-use items. 

From spring, plastic packaging must be made from at least one-third recycled material or producers will have to pay a tax. The Government is also considering whether to force coffee shop chains to collect thousands of their cups to recycle.

Anchovies and herring ‘facing extinction’ as oceans heat up

By Daily Mail reporter

Fish used for food, including anchovies, herring and pilchard, could face extinction due to warming oceans, a study warned.

They are expected to struggle to keep pace with climate change as warmer waters reduce their size.

Study co-author Professor Chris Venditti, of Reading University, said: ‘Warming waters are a double whammy for fish as they not only cause them to evolve to a smaller size, but also reduce their ability to move to more suitable environments.’ 

Fish used for food, including anchovies (stock image), herring and pilchard, could face extinction due to warming oceans, a study warned

Fish used for food, including anchovies (stock image), herring and pilchard, could face extinction due to warming oceans, a study warned

The joint study, with scientists in Chile, focused on Clupeiformes – a group which includes anchovies, Atlantic herring and Japanese pilchard – but researchers said the findings had implications for all fish.

Until now, fish have had to deal with a maximum average ocean temperature rise of only 0.8C (1.44F) per millennium – far lower than the 0.18C (0.32F) per decade reported by experts since 1981.


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