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Net zero: a great fraud begins to unravel

Sign at an anti-ULEZ demonstration, London, September 2023. Photo Loredana Sangiuliano/shutterstock.com.

The drive to net zero is creating problems without solving them. Changes demanded for vehicles, domestic heating and farming are impractical. It’s time to expose the falsity in the casual idealism of government and policy makers…

When a legal deadline was set for Britain to achieve net zero in 2019, car manufacturers among many others were enthusiastic. Of course, some had diversified, even specialised in electric vehicles (EVs) already. But the prospect of an outright ban on diesel or petrol-fuelled internal combustion engines led them to foresee many more sales.

The same phenomenon could be seen across Europe and in North America. The same adherence to a carbon free future, with its inbuilt aversion to the use of fossil fuels, was driving policy.

But the far higher cost of EVs, along with inadequate infrastructure and the limited range of most models, meant that an initial surge in sales peaked once the more affluent enthusiasts had acquired their model.


Millions of ordinary motorists, who depend on their vehicle for long journeys or for work, figured out the costs for themselves and turned away. Now manufacturers faced a dilemma: their customers, in the main, did not want the electric option. And fleet operators are questioning the move to EVs.

A case in point is Addison Lee, London’s biggest taxi company. In response to the requirement announced by Transport for London in 2021 that all private hire vehicles would face stricter emission standards by 2023, Addison Lee opted to invest millions in a new fleet of electric cars and ordered 1,000 Volkswagen ID4s.

‘An initial surge in electric vehicles peaked once the more affluent enthusiasts had acquired their model…’

But their drivers – many still self-employed despite a court battle – were not convinced. The significantly higher prices and rapid depreciation, coupled with only 20 per cent of them having home charging facilities, was a huge deterrent. This prompted an about turn by the company.

Chief executive Liam Griffin, writing in the Daily Telegraph on 22 January, said, “We were very enthusiastic about the benefits of going fully electric….We were promised that the infrastructure would come on stream and facilitate the growing number of cars that were being added by the day, Unfortunately the experience didn’t quite match the vision.”

The dramatic fall in value of used EVs is a huge deterrent for ordinary motorists as well as for private rental companies. According to trade magazine Autotrader, the annual depreciation of electric cars is 23 per cent compared with less than 5 per cent for petrol and diesel cars. At those rates, most motorists who value longevity in their vehicles will have their minds made up for them.


In the USA, Forbes magazine reported on 9 February that car hire company Hertz plans to sell off 20,000 EVs and replace them with diesel or petrol vehicles. And Uber concedes it is struggling to get drivers to adopt EVs in the numbers it expected.

In Europe, VW has cut its EV production levels and cancelled plans for a new $2 billion factory in Wolfsburg, Germany. The New York Post reported in January that Ford in America are doing the same.

The reality is that the demand for EV hasn’t materialised – no amount of pleading, cajoling, or unfounded guarantees can alter that. Promises of a brighter, greener future have proved baseless too.

In Britain, those promises were reinforced by the government’s Climate Change Committee (CCC). Its recommendations have been accepted by policy makers without question, but have been shown to be misleading.

Their calculation of the real costs of net zero only estimated the cost of maintaining the net zero policy once it was achieved, not the cost of getting there. The costs of new boilers, new cars, less travel and so on were not factored in.

And now it emerges that CCC’s assumptions about the extent to which the UK could rely on wind and solar power were based on wholly inadequate data.

Chris Llewellyn-Smith, an emeritus professor of physics and former director of energy research at Oxford University, has accused the CCC of only looking at the data from one year when assessing how much energy storage Britain would need to guarantee a constant supply of electricity.

On 24 January the Daily Telegraph revealed that the CCC had estimated that by 2050 there would be only 7 days in a year when wind turbines would produce less than 10 per cent of their potential output.

The actual data says otherwise: for example there were 30 such days in 2020, 33 in 2019 and 56 in 2018. The CCC grossly overestimated wind’s contribution to the energy mix, and so underestimates the energy storage required as backup.


The Royal Society study into this storage requirement, led by Professor Llewellyn-Smith, looked at 37 years of data. The study concluded that a vast network of hydrogen filled caves would be needed to guard against the risk of blackouts, due to the volatility of wind and solar generation.

The political establishment cannot continue to be indifferent to what people think. In a pre-election period, if at no other time, politicians must at least give the appearance of heeding popular concerns. Some evidence of a change is beginning to emerge.

Prime minister Rishi Sunak’s move last year to postpone the moratorium on internal combustion engines and gas boilers was a belated recognition that people, voters, are not enchanted with this vision of a cold and stationary future. Also he decided to re-open the window for gas and oil drilling applications in the North Sea.

‘The much vaunted “green jobs” boost has not materialised…’

The Labour Party, keen to appear even more zealous about net zero than the Conservatives, have pledged to curtail such exploration if they are elected. When Rachel Reeves declared at the 2021 Labour Party conference that she was going to be Britain’s first “green chancellor”, she was roundly applauded. Now, the Labour promise to spend £28 billion a year until 2030 on green investment has been withdrawn.

The enthusiasm of business to pursue green policies begins to falter as inducements start to fade away. Last September the government reopened bidding for offshore wind farms, with reduced subsidies. There was not a single taker.

Nor has the much vaunted “green jobs” boost materialised. The anger of people whose livelihoods and lives are blighted by this industrial destruction in the name of decarbonisation is growing.

The fury of Dutch and French farmers at the EU-imposed curtailment of agriculture in the interests of lowering emissions cannot be dismissed. And that has spread to most of the EU member states. The slogan “No farm, no food, no future” is widespread.

Farmers staged a slow tractor protest at Dover in early February on the same issues. Farmers in Wales and Scotland have demonstrated as well.

Britain is no longer required to adhere to the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy. But our farmers still suffer under a government that does not invest in or appreciate the value of homegrown food. Instead it pays subsidies to solar farms and prefers the import of cheaper food from countries with lower horticultural and animal welfare standards.

All the parliamentary political parties agree on the drive to net zero. This raises a fundamental question: wouldn’t it be so much better if workers were in control of the policies that shape their lives?