Sunday, November 22, 2020

GWPF Newsletter: Boris Johnson's road to green poverty is paved with green intentions


One in three motorists cannot afford even the cheapest electric car, experts warn

In this newsletter:

1) One in three motorists cannot afford even the cheapest electric car, experts warn
Daily Mail, 21 November 2020
2) Electric car push set to drive energy bills higher
The Daily Telegraph, 19 November 2020

3) China sticks two fingers at Boris's climate agenda
Reuters, 19 November 2020 

4) Andrew Montford: Johnson’s green industrial plan is a recipe for soaring prices, new consumer costs – and more pain for taxpayers
Conservative Home, 20 November 2020 
5) Charles Moore: The lack of opposition to Boris Johnson’s Green Crusade is a sure sign of trouble
The Daily Telegraph, 21 November 2020
6) Matt Ridley: Working class sacrifice at altar of green
Reasoned, 20 November 2020
7) Banning the sale of petrol cars is ‘a colossal error’
GWPF, 18 November 2020
8) Millions in Africa are being sacrificed to extreme poverty, premature death on the altar of ‘green energy’
Gregory Wrightstone, 17 November 2020

Full details:

1) One in three motorists cannot afford even the cheapest electric car, experts warn
Daily Mail, 21 November 2020

A third of motorists are unable to afford even the cheapest electric car, experts warn.


The figure – equivalent to ten million households – highlights how many ordinary families will struggle to finance the switch from petrol and diesel cars being pushed by ministers.

Even middle-earning households will have difficulty paying for one of the cheapest leased electric vehicles – the £170-a-month Skoda Citigo.

The analysis by the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR) shows drivers need to be spending at least £2,100 a year on their current car, including fuel, to comfortably afford an electric vehicle.

Households that spend around £1,800 could afford a plug-in car at a squeeze, butthose who spend around £1,400 will have difficulty. Drivers who spend up to that will find it impossible to afford.

CEBR economists said the research proves that ‘access to an electric vehicle is a pipe dream for a third of the population’.

The findings are a blow to Government plans to ban sales of new petrol and diesel cars by 2030. Motor groups have described the £12billion plan as ‘incredibly ambitious’ when plug-ins account for just 0.3 per cent of vehicles.

High up-front costs and a lack of road chargers have been blamed for stagnating demand.

Entry-level electric vehicles are around £5,000 more expensive than equivalent fuel models.

Although electric cars have a higher up-front cost, the average lifetime running expense – including purchase – is £52,100, against £53,600 for petrol.

One in six English councils has failed to install chargers on residential roads, even though 2.8million will be needed.

Howard Cox, founder of the FairFuelUK pressure group, said the plans risk ‘demonising’ petrol and diesel drivers unable to afford the switch to electric.

He added: ‘Has the Government asked low income households, families and hard-pressed small businesses if they have signed up to their inequitable green revolution?’

Full story
2) Electric car push set to drive energy bills higher
The Daily Telegraph, 19 November 2020
Former Ofgem boss Dermot Nolan warns consumers will face higher energy bills over next decade to fund vital upgrades to the electricity grid

Millions of consumers could be stung with higher electricity bills to fund a massive power network overhaul before petrol cars are banned in 2030, Britain's former top energy regulator has warned.

Dermot Nolan, who stepped down as head of Ofgem earlier this year, said that a £2.4bn Government funding package "isn’t going to cut it” as the grid is retooled to cope with surging demand from millions of drivers charging up their vehicles.

He said that bill-paying households are likely to be forced to fill the gap.

It came as Vauxhall’s boss suggested that subsidies could be needed to persuade consumers to switch to more expensive electric cars, and former Chancellor Nigel Lawson dismissed the Government's proposals as an economic disaster.

Ministers have announced a £12bn raft of measures to make the UK a leader in green energy, from developing mini nuclear reactors to using hydrogen gas for heating homes.

The scheme includes a ban on petrol and diesel cars in 2030, followed by hybrids five years later, forcing the country to embrace more environmentally friendly electric alternatives. But Mr Nolan said the £2.4bn set aside for this part of the scheme is nowhere near enough.

He said: “To be blunt, there's going to be a lot more than £2bn involved over the next 10 years - a lot, lot more."

Car bosses are also worried that consumers may resist pressure to switch to electric vehicles that are more expensive to buy than traditional cars.

Stephen Norman, Vauxhall managing director, called for “clear long-term fiscal incentives to provide customers certainty in their purchasing decisions and ensuring that low emission vehicles are affordable for all”.

Vauxhall’s Corsa E electric car costs £26,400, some £10,000 more than its cheapest petrol model.

The Prime Minister announced £12bn of funding for the wider green energy scheme, but only £2.4bn of this is directed towards the automotive industry.

Ministers are providing £1.3bn to accelerate building a charging infrastructure, £582m for subsidies to make electric vehicles cheaper and almost £500m on developing and scaling up production batteries for vehicles.

The spending pledge led former Chancellor and noted climate change sceptic Lord Lawson to accuse Boris Johnson of being “economically illiterate.”

He said: “If the Government were trying to damage the economy they couldn’t be doing it better.

“A programme to erect statues of Boris in every town and village in the land would also ‘create jobs’ but that doesn’t make it a sensible thing to do.”

Millions of charging points will be needed by 2030 as Britons ditch petrol, and this will require huge upgrades to the power network as a whole so it can handle changing patterns of energy use.

This overhaul of the country’s energy infrastructure will result in bill increases that will force Brits to pay for electric car infrastructure while still using their petrol vehicles, Mr Nolan said.

The former watchdog, who now works at consultant Fingleton, said: “The question for Ofgem is how much are consumers prepared to pay? That is going to drive bill changes over time.
Full story
3) China sticks two fingers at Boris's climate agenda
Reuters, 19 November 2020

SHANGHAI (Reuters) - China’s plan to build more coal-fired power “contradicts” its pledge to go carbon neutral by 2060 and risks creating 2 trillion yuan ($303.60 billion) in stranded assets, according to new research published on Friday.

President Xi Jinping promised in September that China would bring climate-warming greenhouse gas emissions to a peak before 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality 30 years later, committing the country to an accelerated transition to renewable energy.

But Beijing’s willingness to build new coal-fired capacity is a key litmus test that will determine whether the targets can be reached, said the Beijing-based consultancy Draworld Environment Research Center and the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air (CREA) in Helsinki.

Industry groups say China needs 1,300 GW of coal-fired capacity to meet growing demand, up from around 1,100 GW now. Around 250 GW is currently being planned.

Full story
4) Andrew Montford: Johnson’s green industrial plan is a recipe for soaring prices, new consumer costs – and more pain for taxpayers
Conservative Home, 20 November 2020

Andrew Montford is the deputy director of the Global Warming Policy Forum.

According to Claire Perry, the Government’s former Climate Czar, Dominic Cummings doesn’t “get” the green stuff, seeing it as an obsession of southern posh boys that is of little interest to key voters in the Red Wall seats. One of those posh boys is undoubtedly the Prime Minister, whose plan for a “Green Industrial Revolution” was launched this week.

While long on vision, the presentation was very short on detail, but there was plenty to make the humble taxpayer very nervous indeed. For example, item one on the agenda of Boris Johnson’s revolution will be to bring about a quadrupling of offshore windfarm capacity. To call this a major blunder would be to take British understatement to an extreme.

Let me explain why. For the last 20 years, offshore windfarm developers have been moving to sites further and further offshore, in search of more reliable winds, and they have been building bigger and bigger turbines, seeking to extract more power from them.

Unfortunately, the payback has been very disappointing, and the overall cost of a megawatt hour of wind energy has steadily risen, so that now it is perhaps four times that from a gas turbine. To this must be added the cost of dealing with the intermittency of wind power, so the true ratio may be more like five or six times as much.

Worryingly, recent data from Denmark suggests that offshore windfarms are ageing much faster than previously thought, which means that their useful lives are shorter and their costs commensurately higher.

Nevertheless, windfarm advocates argue that a fundamental change in the industry is in the offing, and that costs are about to fall through the floor. In their support, they point to recent bids to supply energy to the grid, which have been at a fraction of any price seen before. If the advocates are correct, then the Prime Minister’s revolution might bring about a mere doubling of electricity prices. This will still be devastating for the UK’s remaining manufacturing base, but it is nothing compared the carnage if he is wrong.

And unfortunately, he is indeed wrong. When they have got all their funding in place, windfarm developers announce the details to the financial markets, so we have a good idea of how much money is being borrowed to build these allegedly super-cheap windfarms. We can already see that there has been no change in the capital costs. Wind power is expensive, and will remain so.

How can we explain the low bids to supply power to the grid then? What the windfarm advocates never explain is that these “contracts” are not actually binding at all. Given what we know about the high and rising bill for running a windfarm, it seems most likely that operators are simply gambling on future market prices being much higher. When the time comes, they will simply tear the “contract” up and walk away.

If that turns out to be the case, what will the impact on electricity prices be? A tripling? Worse? The industrial and commercial carnage is unimaginable. It would be an economic disaster of historic proportions. And don’t forget that the manifesto commitment to decarbonise the economy involves the electrification of pretty much the whole economy.

In other words, the price of everything is going to rocket. So Johnson can speak airily of the transition to electric vehicles (Item Four of the Revolution), but that doesn’t look like an easy sell on the doorsteps of Red Wall seats if the price of power is going to triple – never mind the premium to buy the vehicle or the cost of replacing the batteries.

Decarbonising housing (Item Seven) doesn’t look like a vote-winner either; not when you have taken into account the cost of retrofitting insulation (£65,000 per property to decarbonise by 50 per cent is a rough rule of thumb for a modest dwelling), installing a heat pump (£10-12,000), and upgrading the household wiring and the distribution grid. Oh yes, and you’ll probably need to pay for a secondary source of heat for cold days, when heat pumps tend not to deliver.

There are no silver linings either. While the cost of decarbonising the economy will certainly be many trillions of pounds, the Prime Minister conjures up the prospect of hundreds of thousands of green jobs as some sort of compensation. However, Nigel Lawson has pointed out that such claims are an example of a common piece of economic illiteracy known as the “broken windows fallacy”. In reality, far more jobs will be destroyed by the resulting energy price rises than will ever be created. The gross employment effect of green policies may be positive, but the net effect will be horrifically negative.

Net zero is a fork in the road for the Conservative Party. The economy has suffered grievous damage over the last year and the national debt has surged to levels that were previously unimaginable. The gloss has well and truly been taken off the party’s reputation for economic competence.

That being the case, it’s difficult to understand why the party of Thatcher and Lawson would even contemplate spending taxpayers’ money on the scale envisaged by Johnson’s team – and to do so without even having imagined some of the technological solutions that would be required, let alone put a cost on them. This is a degree of economic irresponsibility that the public wouldn’t even expect from the more eccentric parts of the Labour Party.

No doubt Nigel Farage is watching the government’s developing green obsession with considerable interest. So while Cummings might wonder how well environmentalism plays in Red Wall seats, the reality is that keeping the country on board the net zero ship, and the resultant loss of any semblance of competence, will mean that seats up north will become the least of the party’s concerns.
5) Charles Moore: The lack of opposition to Boris Johnson’s Green Crusade is a sure sign of trouble
The Daily Telegraph, 21 November 2020

Westminster groupthink is a recipe for poor policies that will harm consumers and do little for the planet

This week, Boris Johnson promised a Green Industrial Revolution and an end to new petrol cars by 2030. He is not the first. In the Labour manifesto at the last election, on which his party went crashing to defeat, Jeremy Corbyn promised a “Green Industrial Revolution” and an end to new petrol cars by 2030.

In current mainstream politics, everyone is Green, with the Left setting the pace. The only competition is to be Greener than thou. Obviously, this is a better situation than if all parties agreed they couldn’t care less about the future of the planet, but not as much of an improvement as you might imagine. The problem when all parties agree is that they stop thinking. The public suffers.

I am just old enough to remember this happening about inflation, which took off in Britain in the late Sixties. Both parties decided that inflation could be defeated only by “prices-and-incomes policies”. This meant the Government settling with trade unions and employers what people should be paid and what things should cost. The consequences were lower productivity and more strikes, as union leaders used their industrial muscle to win higher pay settlements. Inflation kept jerking upwards. The whole thing collapsed in the Winter of Discontent in 1979, helping bring Margaret Thatcher to power, which she held until she announced her resignation 30 years ago on Saturday.

About 90 per cent of the political class agreed with prices-and-incomes control at the time, but the policy did not survive contact with reality. Hardly anyone supports it now.

Obviously climate change will not similarly vanish. It is a huge issue, probably a growing one. But it is also one framed by politicians of all parties in the language of emergency and catastrophe. This drives a bad policy consensus.

Even firm believers in the dangers of climate change admit they cannot know what will happen. A global increase of 1.5 degrees Celsius over pre-industrial temperatures by the end of the century would be manageable – even, in some respects, benign – whereas one of 4 degrees Celsius would be extremely perilous. They cannot say which it will be, yet they act as if they know disaster is on its way.

So our over-excited leaders have a timetable which they constantly try to bring forward. Announcing his 10-point-plan, Boris invoked the COP26 conference which Britain is hosting in Glasgow next year as a reason for hurrying. But that meeting and timetable (delayed because of Covid) are mere by-products of another date arbitrarily chosen – Net Zero greenhouse gases by 2050.

Such plans and announcements also have political motivations unrelated to what is allegedly happening to the climate. “Although this year has taken a very different path to the one we expected,” says Boris, for once deploying an understatement, “I haven’t lost sight of our ambitious plans to level up across the country”.

He is careful to remind people that the main places where the new “Green jobs” will be found are in the North East, Yorkshire, Humber, the West Midlands, Scotland and Wales – the “Red Wall” and what people used to call the Celtic fringe. It is understandable that politicians wish to protect their parliamentary majorities, but it is nothing whatever to do with the future of the planet.

Such political calculation also operates on a completely different timescale. Boris is currently 56 years old. So he will be 86 when we do (or don’t) achieve Net Zero. It is even highly unlikely that he will still be Prime Minister in 2030, so he will be gone when it turns out that the promised quadrupling of offshore wind capacity has proved punitively expensive, or has not worked, or both. (At present, according to Andrew Montford of the Global Warming Policy Foundation, “the overall cost of a megawatt hour of wind energy has steadily risen, so that now it is perhaps four times that from a gas turbine.”) Boris talks of the future of the earth for 30 years and far beyond, but he thinks of the 2024 general election.

If you challenge the need for the rush and the truly vast financial outlays the Government is demanding, the zealots’ answer is to invoke the “precautionary principle”. The perils are so great, they say, that we must err on the safe side with technology that avoids fossil fuels. Yet no such precautionary principle is applied to the economic effects of the drastic policies proposed in the 10-point-plan.

Critics have already observed that the compulsory switch to electric cars will be an expensive purchase for the consumer and a physical problem for the millions of motorists who lack the space to install a convenient charging point where they live. It will also vastly increase the demand for electricity. In recent years, energy prices have not shot up, because shale has reduced the price of oil and gas. If those options are phased out, green energy becomes nakedly expensive, and consumers have no way out of it. Fuel poverty is one of the great political horrors that politicians seek to avoid. We now have policies which will impose it.

I inhabit an old, detached house in the country with elderly gas boilers. I am consulting our wise boiler expert, Jeremy, about what we should do to replace them.

Well, he says, we could buy air-source heat pumps, but they cost four or more times replacement boilers (between £10,000 and £20,000). They do not produce nearly such high temperatures as gas. The pieces of kit have to be located outside the dwelling. Air-source heat pumps demand so much more electricity that we might need a new feed of supply from the road. Jeremy adds that Britain is anyway in “an electricity-impoverished state”, so the supply might not even be there in ten years.

Or we could install ground-source heat pumps, but they have even lower temperature yield than air-source ones. To put the required underfloor heating in a house like ours would create “carnage”, or we could “grossly oversize” all the radiators.

There is also a looming doubt about what will actually happen when an entire country fairly quickly discards gas boilers. There is currently gas central heating in more than 22 million homes. Can we believe that a Government-inspired replacement technology will be available for all when we all need it – or will it be “world-beating”, like Test and Trace?

None of the above impugns the need to search for low-carbon energy. The problem is Government, urged on by pseudo-religious fanaticism. In the Middle Ages, it was common for rulers to summon up crusades to the Holy Land to prove their piety. Always these were bloody and time-consuming. (Richard the Lionheart spent more of his reign fighting them than ruling in England.) Frequently they were futile. But they could raise a king’s reputation. Climate change is the 21st-century equivalent, and so Boris wants, as reporters put it, to “burnish his Green credentials”. Given that two thirds of the world are not even trying to follow the rules towards Net Zero, his sacrifice of our money is futile.

This is governmental vanity. The Prime Minister wants a Green Industrial Revolution. Look at the real Industrial Revolution – the one which made Britain rich. It was not started by a politician in 1760 or thereabouts saying, “Let’s have an industrial revolution” and taxing everyone to make it happen. It started for almost the opposite reason – that inventive people were free to get on inventing, and Government kept its distance.
6) Matt Ridley: Working class sacrifice at altar of green
Reasoned, 20 November 2020

Boris Johnson has decided that his government shall worship at the altar of green, putting in place a petrol car ban by 2030 and a ten point green industrial strategy. Is this a mistake? Best-selling author Matt Ridley thinks so.
Click on image to watch the interview
7) Banning the sale of petrol cars is ‘a colossal error’
GWPF, 18 November 2020

In a recent paper published by the Global Warming Policy Foundation Professor Gautam Kalghatgi, an eminent engineer reveals the major flaw in UK Govt’s electric car plans.

According to Professor Kalghatgi, because most vehicles will still run on fossil fuels in ten years’ time, banning the sale of new ones would prevent any improvement in the efficiency of most of the vehicle fleet.

As Professor Kalghatgi explains:

"Even with an improbable hundred-fold increase to 10 million in battery electric vehicle numbers in 2030, 75% of cars will still run on petrol and diesel”, says Professor Kalghatgi.

"But no manufacturer is going to invest in more advanced cars if they are banned from selling them”.

And Professor Kalghatgi says those advances could bring about significant improvements in efficiency:

"If a battery car delivers a 25% saving in greenhouse gas emissions on a life cycle basis, the overall reduction for the UK would be less than 4% by 2030. A larger reduction emissions could be delivered with a 5% improvement in fuel consumption of petrol and diesel vehicles.”

"Banning the sale of new petrol and diesel cars simply means abandoning the possibility of future emissions reductions in this sector by freezing the technology of a vast majority of vehicles running U.K. transport for decades to come “.
Gautam Kalghatgi: The Battery Car Delusion (pdf)

8) Millions in Africa are being sacrificed to extreme poverty, premature death on the altar of ‘green energy’
Gregory Wrightstone, 17 November 2020

Obama-era policies that favor so-called green energy over coal-fired electricity are dooming millions of Africans to lives of extreme poverty, environmental degradation, and increased risk of early death, according to a new analysis by the CO2 Coalition.
The study by the Arlington, Virginia-based coalition of 60 climate scientists and energy engineers contends that inadequate access to electricity is one of the key reasons for Africa’s grinding poverty.
Economic growth in a competitive, global market requires reliable, universal electrification. Without sufficient electricity for heating and cooking, Africans are exposed to high levels of indoor pollution from dirty fuels, the world’s greatest environmental health risk, according to the World Health Organization.
Globally, the WHO estimates that 3 billion people still cook and heat and illuminate their homes with solid fuels—wood, charcoal, and dried animal dung.
The poisons and particulate matter from burning solid fuels kill almost 4 million people a year from pneumonia, heart disease, pulmonary disease, stroke, lung cancer, and a variety of impaired immunities. Half of pneumonia deaths in children under age 5 are from soot in the house.
UNICEF estimates that the African share of those 4 million untimely deaths is 400,000.
Dangerous levels of indoor air pollution are almost guaranteed for families without access to electricity.
They also report that 352 million African children live in homes with solid-fuel cooking. Millions of women and children continue to walk many miles a day to gather not just water, but also wood for indoor burning, adding to deforestation.
The illnesses, deaths, and misery that are the result of energy poverty in Africa are improving only slowly compared with the rest of the world.
Full post

The London-based Global Warming Policy Forum is a world leading think tank on global warming policy issues. The GWPF newsletter is prepared by Director Dr Benny Peiser - for more information, please visit the website at

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