Climate targets are bureaucratic nonsense! Finally we're starting to listen to the British people, says Dame Andrea Jenkyns

Rishi Sunak

Rishi Sunak announced changes to climate change targets today

Andrea Jenkyns

By Andrea Jenkyns

Published: 20/09/2023

- 17:09

Updated: 20/09/2023

- 17:33

Dame Andrea Jenkyns MP gives her reaction to Rishi Sunak's speech on net zero

Like many Conservatives I welcome news that Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is to relax some of the targets relating to Carbon Dioxide reduction.

I am concerned that the various Climate-related targets, rules, taxes and subsidies that have accumulated since 2008 are having a substantial, negative impact on the finances of working people.

Climate policy to date has been characterised by harvesting low-hanging fruit, such as replacing coal-derived energy with much cleaner natural gas, and an element of intermittent energy sources such as wind and solar.

Now, however, the policies are set to really bite. Working families in constituencies like my own cannot afford to spend thousands of pounds on heat pumps and the housing modifications that they necessitate.

Nor can working people spend £20,000 and more on Electric Vehicles.
Moreover, the cost of green products is not restricted to heavy financial bills.

Take electric vehicles as an example. The batteries require minerals sometimes deriving from child labour, in a supply chain dominated by China.

Closer to home, there are concerns about the de facto enforced move to public transport. How can a mother with three children, and shopping to collect, take the children to see their grandparents if it requires two bus changes and groceries to pick up?

“Behavioural change” is a green code phrase for “reduced living standards”.

In reality, Climate Alarmists focus on the alleged “social costs” of fossil fuels, but rarely give a realistic – or even honest – assessment of the social costs of green products or lifestyle changes.

Regarding the financial impact, we are talking huge sums for worse products. We know they are worse because the products require backing from subsidies, mandates, and the like.

When cars replaced the horse and cart they did so naturally, not by State diktat. We should leave it to the market and free enterprise to drive progress and efficiency, not desk-bound bureaucrats picking deadlines out of the air.

Be in no doubt that the climate targets and deadlines are bureaucratic, not scientific.

The UK’s original carbon reduction target was to reduce emissions by 80 per cent against a somewhat arbitrary baseline. This was changed to 100 per cent - “Net Zero” – despite no change in the science and with little debate.

The targets seem to be a device to chivvy the population into compliance, rather than a rational consideration of an evolving body of scientific knowledge.

To add insult to injury, the proposed relaxation of deadlines would have an impact on the global climate that is so small it cannot be measured, if indeed it exists. Large carbon-dixode emitters elsewhere around the world continue to invest in fossil fuel-derived energy. We cannot fine-tune the global climate by marginal adjustments in the UK’s relatively small emissions. Meanwhile, climate variability is not “running away”, but remains modest.

Carbon dioxide is not pollution; it is a naturally occurring trace gas essential to life on Earth. It is only one of many factors that might have an impact on the climate. Many leading scientists, including Nobel Laureate (Physics, 2022) Dr John Clauser, have cast informed doubt on the concept of a “climate crisis”. The legacy media such as the BBC cannot continue to pretend that this debate does not exist.

When I speak to my constituents it is clear that they are not adversely impacted by climate change. They are adversely affected by policies designed to micro-manage the climate, such as green levies on energy bills.

The crux of the problem to date is that too many politicians think that change equals deterioration. The Government has acted on the “Precautionary Principle” (essentially, “if human action has a potentially negative impact, it should not be allowed.”) This is flawed. As former Chancellor the late Lord Lawson said: “Be careful” is sensible, “you cannot be too careful” is nonsense. That is especially true if the bill potentially comes to trillions of dollars per decade globally.

I want to see a move to Cost-Benefit Analysis (“What are the benefits of the proposed human activity, how does this compare with the supposed costs of more carbon, “and” how does the cost of carbon abatement compare with the cost of adaptation?”)

The Government seems to be moving in the direction by changing the targets on mandating EVs and the like. That is more realistic in terms of responding to climate variability, and good news for the standard of living of my constituents.

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