Stop lying about net zero costs, Boris Johnson – Bill Carmichael

BORIS Johnson pledges that we can reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050 “without so much as a hair shirt in sight”.

Boris Johnson is preparing to chair the COP26 climate change summit - but is he being honest with taxpayers about the cost of his net zero plans?

His Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng meanwhile was issuing an emphatic denial that ordinary people will have to pay more to adopt a greener way of living.

Pull the other one guys, it’s got bells on!

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Boris Johnson is preparing to chair the COP26 climate change summit - but is he being honest with taxpayers about the cost of his net zero plans?

Forgive my scepticism, but it is grounded on a very authoritative source – the UK government itself!

That’s right, while the Prime Minister and his team were promising an entirely pain-free transition to a green economy this week, another arm of government – the UK Treasury no less – was painting a very different and, dare I say it, much more realistic picture.

Boris Johnson is preparing to chair the COP26 climate change summit - but is he being honest with taxpayers about the cost of his net zero plans?

The Treasury Net Zero report warned there was likely to be massive tax rises – on top of the hefty increases already imposed – to pay for decarbonisation.

For example, the move to electric vehicles will leave a £37bn hole in government revenues from fuel duty and vehicle excise duty.

The Treasury warned that new taxes would be needed to plug this enormous gap. And who do you think is going to pay? Take a look in the mirror if you want the answer to that one.

But it gets worse.

The Treasury report warned the burden of extra costs could end up falling on the poorest in society.

No surprise there. Past experience tells us environmental initiatives to “save the planet” invariably involve the poor paying more to assuage the “green guilt” of the rich.

Who can forget, to take just one example, the “feed in tariff” scandal of a few years ago, where poor pensioners were forced to pay “green taxes” to subsidise Mick Jagger and Gary Neville to install solar panels on the roofs of their mansions?

This time round it is no different. The much trumpeted grants to replace gas boilers with heat pumps are little more than a £5,000 bung to the 
already well off – paid for by people who can’t afford to heat their own homes properly.

Who else other than the wealthy are likely to be able to afford the £15,000 to £20,000 cost of installing a new heat pump?

And if you can afford this kind of money, why are you holding out the begging bowl to people less well off than yourself?

Exactly the same could be said of electric vehicles. If you can afford the higher cost of buying an electric car, then fine, go ahead, pat yourself on the back, you’ve saved the planet. But don’t expect to be subsidised for your choice.

You don’t need to take my word for it. The Treasury warning on this is stark. Policies to support the adoption of electric vehicles “may disproportionately benefit” richer people, it says, with those on lower incomes bearing the brunt of increased costs.

Look, I have nothing against moves 
to be more environmentally responsible. I am from a generation that was “green” a long time before it was fashionable.

My parents, who experienced real biting poverty in the 1930s, drilled into me from an early age that to waste anything was a terrible sin.

So I spend much of my time turning down the thermostat and turning lights off. If I find a piece of mouldy cheese in the back of the fridge, I hack off the green bits and eat the rest.

Unlike Dame Emma Thompson, I very rarely fly and I commute by public transport, using the buses and trains so despised by the self-righteous posh kids of Extinction Rebellion.

My carbon footprint is a fraction of the protesters who insist on giving me finger-wagging lectures on why I am destroying the planet.

So I am all for cutting down on waste and careful stewardship of the Earth’s resources for future generations.

But I simply ask for two things.

Firstly, stop lying to us. The move to net zero will not be pain-free. Decarbonising our economy is going to cost an eye-watering amount – more 
than £1 trillion by some estimates. 
The future is going to be poorer and colder and we will have to pay more for 
it.

Secondly, instead of constantly subsidising the rich to make choices they would have made anyway, we start to protect the elderly, vulnerable and poor, most urgently by mitigating the big increases in energy prices we are facing this winter.

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