Nigel Farage has launched a campaign for a referendum on the government’s commitment to net zero carbon emissions by 2050.
In an article written in the Mail on Sunday, Farage stated his justification making a series of bold claims. Experts helped The Independent verify some of these claims.
Here are the claims, followed by what the experts have said:
Net Zero could cost £1 trillion
Farage quotes former Chancellor Philip Hammond as saying the project could cost £1 trillion.
This is based on Financial Times report in 2019 in which the newspaper said it saw a letter from Hammond warning then Prime Minister Theresa May of the potential costs of her plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050.
At the time, Downing Street shot down claims that building a net zero-carbon economy would cost no more than the UK’s existing plans to cut greenhouse gas emissions.
Last week, however, the Public Accounts Committee said the government had “no reliable estimate” of what net zero is likely to cost UK consumers, households, businesses or the government itself.
The UK’s independent committee on climate change says low-carbon investments need to reach £50 billion every year from 2030 to 2050 to reach net zero. However, he indicates that this investment generates substantial fuel savings and, in the long term, these completely cancel out the investment costs.
Neil Grant, a postgraduate student at the Grantham Institute – Climate Change and Environment at Imperial College London, said the estimate that the transition to net zero could cost £1 trillion would be a ” useless” and “inaccurate” assertion.
While net zero will require large-scale investment to install low-carbon technologies, retrofit buildings and build a green industrial base, this investment will create jobs and boost the economy, creating new tax revenue, a- he declared.
“This means that reaching net zero could actually stimulate economic activity relative to inaction,” he said. “There is no economic justification for slowing climate action.”
“It is much more environmentally friendly to use our own shale gas than to import natural gas from abroad”
Farage says there are reserves of shale gas in Lancashire and Yorkshire, yet even as gas prices rise the government prefers to import natural gas instead. Importing gas in tankers creates a lot more C02, he adds.
Rob Gross, director of the UK Energy Research Centre, a consortium of 20 universities across the UK, said it was true that transporting gas in liquefied form on tankers is likely to use more energy than hydraulic fracturing .
However, he said most of the gas we use in the UK comes from North Sea pipelines, either from Norway or from our own reserves. Liquefied natural gas imports accounted for around 20% of the UK’s gas supply in 2020.
“So it’s not a particularly useful comparison to make,” he said.
Hydraulic fracturing also has wider local environmental impacts, he added.
“This treasure trove of shale beneath our feet belongs to all of us, with a value of billions of pounds. We can reduce our energy bills and create a sovereign wealth fund for future generations.
Whether or not we could extract enough shale gas to have a significant impact on our gas supplies is debatable, said Gross, who is also a professor of energy policy at Imperial College.
“It’s not really a question of geology but a question of competing land uses,” he said, adding that the United States, where there has been a lot of investment in fracking, have less than 100 people per square mile compared to the United Kingdom which has more than 700.
Furthermore, he said shale gas extraction is unlikely to drive down gas prices, as they are set by international markets.
“The shale gas that we had produced in this country would not be gas that we could just store,” he said. “It would make no sense to produce shale gas and not sell it at the prevailing market price.”
“The UK needs to become energy self-sufficient. Not only is this achievable with Britain’s own resources, but it will provide tens of thousands of well-paying jobs in the north of England.
Gross said it is neither realistic nor necessarily attractive for the UK to be energy independent.
“The key question is how we can ensure the system is resilient,” he said. “Increased domestic sourcing is one way to achieve this, but so is a diverse range of sourcing from other countries and perhaps more emphasis on long-term contracts for the to supply.”
The development of offshore wind also has the potential to reduce our dependence on imports and create well-paying jobs in the north of England, he added.
Many people cannot afford electric cars and heat pumps which represent ‘an idealistic dream’ which bears no relation to the harsh realities of life for the majority
Bob Ward, director of policy and communications at the Grantham Institute, said it was true that the upfront costs of electric vehicles and heat pumps may be more expensive than their fossil fuel equivalent at the moment, and said said the government should help bridge the gap. , especially for low-income people.
However, he said electric vehicles and heat pumps are much more efficient than their fossil fuel equivalents, which means households generally save money in the longer term, especially with the very high price of fuel. natural gas and gasoline right now.
“Prices for electric vehicles and heat pumps are falling as these industries grow and benefit from economies of scale,” he said.
“Under Net Zero, older people will die colder, poorer, and sooner. It is not fair that young people are burdened with higher costs, fewer jobs and less money.
Grant, the postgraduate researcher, said that was also an “inaccurate” claim.
“As we reach net zero by insulating homes and installing renewable energy, we will be able to lift people out of energy poverty,” he said.
“If we had continued to install renewables and insulate homes at the rate we were doing before 2013, energy bills would be [nearly] £2.5bn less today than they are today,” he added. “Older people who run out of fuel could have warmer homes and lower bills in an energy-efficient, renewable future.”
At the same time, net zero has the potential to create millions of new jobs, creating huge opportunities for young people who want to contribute to a greener future, he said.
“It is the abandonment of net zero that would impose costs on young people – the costs of climate degradation, which far exceed the effort required to reduce our emissions.”
UK citizens should vote on net zero
Finally, Jim Watson, director of the UCL Institute for Sustainable Resources, points out that the public has already voted for net zero.
The implementation of a net zero target for 2050 featured prominently in the Conservative Party manifesto during the last election, and has been one of the six key commitments.
The Independent has contacted Farage for comment.