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Britain’s Climate Change Act: The Pottiest And Costliest Mistake Of Our Times

Christopher Booker, Daily Mail

One astonishing fact not getting a mention in this bizarrely unreal election campaign is that Ed Miliband can already claim to have been by far the most expensive politician in Britain’s history.

This is because it was he more than anyone else who in 2008 was responsible for pushing through the final version of the Climate Change Act — on official figures easily the most costly law passed by Parliament.

Thanks entirely to a last-minute amendment by Miliband, this Act commits us within 35 years to cutting Britain’s emissions of carbon dioxide, or CO2, by a staggering 80 per cent — to a level so low it hadn’t been seen since the early 19th century.

Even on figures sneaked out by the Government a few months later, the cost of this law was then estimated as high as £734 billion, or £18 billion every year until 2050.
But more recent estimates made by the EU and the International Energy Agency suggest that the cost of meeting Mr Miliband’s target will be even higher, at £1.3 trillion — almost equivalent to our entire current national debt, or more than £50,000 for every household in the country.

The story behind how this unprecedentedly far-reaching law came to be passed almost unanimously is itself one of the weirdest political episodes in our history.

The idea for it originated with a young climate activist, Bryony Worthington, when she was the campaign director on climate change for the green lobby group Friends Of The Earth.

In 2007, when hysteria over global warming was at its height — thanks not least to Al Gore’s Oscar-winning film An Inconvenient Truth — Ms Worthington was co-opted by then-Environment Secretary David Miliband to join his department’s staff.

As she described in a talk which can still be seen by googling ‘Bryony Worthington YouTube’, she was put in charge of a small group tasked with drafting a Bill to make Britain the only country in the world committed by law to slashing its ‘carbon emissions’ by 60 per cent.

But in 2008, when the Bill was already well on its way through Parliament, David Miliband was promoted by Gordon Brown to become Foreign Secretary. A new ministry was created, the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC), to be headed by his brother, Ed. It was Ed Miliband who decided, following pressure from green lobby groups, to up the emissions reduction target from 60 per cent to an even more mind-boggling 80 per cent. This alone, on his department’s figures, nearly doubled its cost.

That seems barely credible, if one reads through the lengthy debates in Parliament on this Bill, is that scarcely a single MP showed the slightest interest in how the new target could in practice be met — any more than did Mr Miliband himself.

The CO2 emitted by fossil fuels, such as coal, gas, oil and petrol, is inseparable from pretty well every activity which keeps our economy functioning, from the way we make 70 per cent of our electricity to virtually our entire transport system.

As for electricity alone, we no longer use this just for lighting, heating and refrigeration, as we did in those far-off ‘three-day week’ days of the Seventies.

In the age of the computer, we are now dependent on it for everything from our work and mobile phones to shop and supermarket tills, the cashpoints where we collect our money and the signalling and traffic lights which keep our trains and roads running.

Yet thanks to Mr Miliband, and those MPs who mindlessly voted for his Bill, we are committed to cutting back on what currently makes this possible by such a colossal amount, it is impossible to see how it could be realistically achieved without closing down virtually all our economy.

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