Last night, Peers rebuked the Government for committing the UK to a Net Zero emissions target with little scrutiny and no plan for how it might be achieved.
The Chancellor has warned that the cost of reducing net greenhouse emissions to zero by 2050 could be well in excess of £1 trillion. The sum would fund the salaries of 314,000 nurses for a century.
On Monday, MPs were happy to nod through the measure in less than 90 minutes. As a Statutory Instrument, it only required minimal scrutiny and no impact assessment had to be prepared.
The net zero emissions target is likely to do enormous harm to the poorest people in society, who will be asked to pay relatively more for their energy and could be priced out of activities such as driving cars and flying abroad. Not a single MP spoke out against the proposal, instead they all congratulated themselves on how Britain was ‘leading the world’.
Earlier in the week, Lord Lawson had warned Peers in a letter that they risked committing Britain to ‘astronomical costs’ by voting for Net Zero.
The debate in the Lords was much more rigorous than in the Commons, with a number of peers warning that the measure had not been properly thought through.
As Viscount Ridley explained, the figures provided to the House by the Committee on Climate Change on the cost of Net Zero were vague and opaque:
He [Lord Deben] has referred to a statement that gives 1.3% of GDP as an estimate of the sum of the resource cost, yet there is no breakdown of the resource cost. My noble friend Lord Deben says that it is all set out in detail. In fact, it is not: it is impossible to get at how this calculation was arrived at.
The impact it may have on the poorest in society was an issue taken up by Lord Donoughue, the Chairman of the Global Warming Policy Foundation, who asked:
Will it be, as is the case with the £15 billion in current climate costs, that the working people of this country carry the main burden, relative to their incomes, through paying significantly higher energy costs and green taxes to subside renewables?
Peers then voted for an amendment which expressed regret that Her Majesty’s Government had “given little detail of how the emissions target will be met” and “made a substantial change in policy without the full and proper scrutiny that such a change deserves.”
The new emissions target will still go through, but the move will be seen as a rebuke to the Prime Minister for pushing through such an expensive measure without the checks and balances that Parliament is supposed to provide.