The cost of Net Zero and its likely failure

14 September 2023 , categories: Climate Change, Manchester, NetZero

Dr Benny Peiser, Director of the Global Warming Policy Foundation, discussed the cost of Net Zero and why the policy is likely to fail.


On Thursday 14th September 2023, we were joined by our guest speaker, Dr Benny Peiser, Director of the Global Warming Policy Foundation and an active member of its campaigning arm, NetZero Watch.

Benny has written extensively on domestic and international climate policy. In 1997 he founded CCNet, the world’s leading climate policy network. A 10km-wide asteroid, Minor Planet (7107) Peiser, was named in his honour by the International Astronomical Union!

Origins of GWPF

The GWPF was launched by Lord Nigel Lawson and Dr. Peiser on 23 November 2009 in the House of Lords – in the run-up to the Copenhagen Climate Summit. Prior to that, Lord Lawson knew little about climate change but he was becoming increasingly concerned about the likely cost of the international environmental polices, targets and agreements that UK ministers were signing up to.

From experience of serving as the chancellor for six years in the 1980s, Lawson knew that the Treasury was also unaware of the costs. He commissioned a House of Lords enquiry into the economics of climate change in order to uncover its financial implications.

After publishing his book, An Appeal to Reason: A Cool Look at Global Warming, Lawson joined forces with Dr. Peiser to set up the Global Warming Policy Foundation to aid policy makers and the general public.

GWPF’s mission statements

The Global Warming Policy Foundation is a non-partisan think tank and a registered educational charity that focuses on climate and energy policy.

We are deeply concerned about the impact of climate change policies: that they may be doing more harm than good, both to the world’s poorest people and the environment. Our aim is to provide robust and reliable analysis of climate and energy issues, based on rigorous research, for policy makers and the general public.

People are naturally concerned about the environment, and want to see policies that enhance human wellbeing and protect the environment; policies that don’t hurt, but help.

The Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF) is committed to providing a platform for educational research and informed debates on these important issues.

No room for debate…

For a long time, nobody was interested in what the GWPF had to say in spite of its distinguished board. In fact, GWPF received so much opposition it was obliged by the Charities Commission to set up a separate campaigning arm. Net Zero Watch was born and its non-charity status enables it to make the political points that GWPF can’t.

Main stream media outlets like the BBC would not give airtime to any scepticism of the international response to climate change: the consensus was that the science was ‘settled’ and therefore there was no room, or need, for debate. Sceptics who dared to speak out against the quasi-religious faith in Net Zero risked (or experienced) cancel culture. Incurious columnists in newspapers allowed themselves to become brainwashed by the green agenda and, instead of investigating the science upon which it was based, extolled the virtues sold by politicians i.e. the growth in green jobs, cheap clean anergy, and wider benefits for the environment and humankind.

…but now the mood is shifting

However, Benny has noticed that in the last 12-18 months, talk of Net Zero matters has begun to change dramatically. News coverage in media like The Sun, Daily Mail, Telegraph and Daily Express is becoming more sceptical about Net Zero.

Columnists are beginning to question the cost of Net Zero policies relating to electric cars and home heating systems. They are highlighting the harm so-called ‘green’ policies will do to people’s living standards. The mood is shifting for the first time in twenty years – there is growing concern about where Net Zero is heading and some in main stream media are openly acknowledging that that it will end in tears.

The biggest irony

The biggest irony of the whole agenda occurred yesterday in Brussels when the EU publicly acknowledged that its own ‘green’ policies risk destroying the massive car industries of its member states. The EU has been one of the main custodians of ‘green’ laws, seeing huge trade opportunities for itself in forcing industry to manufacture ‘green’ products like electric vehicles (EVs), heat pumps, solar panels and wind turbines for sale to the rest of the world.

The rapid phasing out of petrol and diesel vehicles, gas boilers and coal power stations was expected to create a new highly lucrative phase of industrialisation for European countries. However, the EU’s vision has been disturbed by China which is also preparing to flood the European market with ‘green’ products but with one key difference: the price tags. ‘Green’ products made in China are considerably cheaper than European ones. Chinese EVs retail from £10,000 compared to Europe EVs which cost upwards of £30,000. For many consumers the choice of whether to buy European or Chinese will be a no-brainer. The protectionist penny finally dropped in Brussels on Tuesday. Amid talk of imposing tariffs on Chinese EVs (which would make the switch to EVs much more expensive for consumers and undermine the climate emergency narrative), the EU hypocritically called for an investigation into the level of Chinese government subsidies made to its EV industry:

When did climate change become a climate emergency?

Benny explained how the climate change narrative became more alarmist following the Paris Agreement at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in 2015. The international community agreed the aim of limiting global warming to well below 2 degrees C (but ideally 1.5 degrees C) above pre-industrialisation temperatures but their ‘promises’ were not binding agreements. The UN gave the task of researching how to limit global warming to the InterGovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

According to the IPCC’s 2018 report at current levels of CO2 emissions, global warming will increase by 1.5 degrees C by 2030 with apocalyptic consequences. This ‘end of the world’ narrative triggered the subsequent hue and cry of ‘climate emergency’ reiterated loudly by groups like Extinction Rebellion and by Greta Thunberg speaking in the UK Parliament and can be traced back to that conference in Paris, amplified by the IPCC report.

Self-imposed pressure

The IPCC calculates that we have six years of our carbon budget left i.e. the amount of CO2 we can emit before the 1.5C threshold – and global disaster – are reached. How will these calculations turn out? We are currently in an El Nino year which results in temperature spikes. To achieve the 1.5 degree limit, CO2 emissions must drop by 45% by 2030 without any additional emissions.

The Net Zero timeframe of 2050 is unrealistic and Utopian – and it is impossible for Europe, parts of the USA, Australia and others to achieve when the rest of the world has no Net Zero targets. China is building two coal power stations a week. India says it is in favour of Net Zero but would need a trillion dollars in aid to play its part. Africa would need 300 billion dollars a year. The developing world is shrewdly exploiting the developed world’s self-imposed pressure of climate emergency targets and alarmist agenda to demand pledges of vast sums of money.

Growing unrest

However, the scare-mongering and perceived detachment from reality is beginning to backfire and there are signs of an impending rebellion. Public opposition is growing as more people realise that renewable energy is expensive, unreliable and causes wholly avoidable damage to their living standards. Governments elsewhere in Europe are beginning to fall over this issue.

Sweden, which is widely regarded as a ‘green’ nation has abandoned the idea of having only renewable sources of energy – which are unreliable – in favour of nuclear power. Holland’s ‘green’ assault on its own farmers has resulted in a huge rise in popularity of the Farmer Citizen Movement (BBB) (see Similar unrest is occurring in Italy and Finland. In Germany there is a growing rebellion against the expense and irrationality of ‘green’ policies on heat pumps and the banning of conventional heating.

The war in Ukraine and over-reliance upon Russian fossil fuels is beginning to turn public opinion towards nuclear energy as a good option for achieving energy security.

In the UK, the recent Uxbridge by-election is a good example – narrowly won by the Conservatives and widely regarded as a rejection of Labour Metro Mayor Saddiq Khan’s UltraLow Emission Zone extension. However, Benny believes it is unlikely that this government will change its Net Zero position in spite of its majority[#]. The Conservative Party is deeply split over this issue – there is scepticism and a realisation that Net Zero policies are very damaging to constituents but there is a deep seated desire to be ‘green’ and for the Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to be green too.

Getting worse before it gets better

Benny believes it will take a long time for anything to change. The Net Zero doctrine is so ingrained into the political fabric, institutional culture and educational establishments there is little room for its believers to manoeuvre themselves off the religious hook. The situation is likely to get worse before it gets better. The good news is that the first paragraph of the UK’s Climate Change Act allows the Secretary of State to change the Act with a majority in Parliament if (a) the science has changed or (b) the international climate change policy has changed.

Politics in Pubs hopes that British politicians wake up in time to make good use of the little wriggle room they have left themselves.

GWPF’s campaigning arm Net Zero Watch highlights the serious implications of expensive and poorly considered climate change policies. To sign up for the Net Zero Watch newsletter please visit

# Stop Press – The government has just announced (20th Sep 2023) that it is delaying the banning of sales of new ICE cars and the installation of new gas boilers until 2035. This is welcome news and hopefully the start of a return to sanity.


There are many petitions signed by the public demanding changes to the Climate Change Act 2008.

There seems to be a lot of bad engineering in the ‘green’ industry which is not always feasible or sustainable, e.g. wind farms, electric batteries, lithium.

Sweden is less sustainable than the UK – it causes much pollution with micro-plastics.  They are switching back to oil because renewables are not reliable, e.g. solar.

The internet will consume an exponential amount of energy by 2040.

Fusion energy may be an option for the future but is not something we can count on until proven at scale.

Pollution from diesel fumes should be fixed.

Benny commented that even dissenting eminent dons from the Royal Academy of Engineering trying to open up a proper discussion about what works in reality have been shut down.

Why has Net Zero acquired the status of a mass religious cult?

Benny commented that it may have taken the place of organised religion or other mass movements like Marxism which left a void when they collapsed.  He quoted G.K.Chesterton:

When men choose not to believe in God, they do not thereafter believe in nothing, they then become capable of believing in anything.

He also cited a key difference – socialists and communists believe in fighting for a better life but Net Zero will make our lives poorer, colder and hungrier – with a diet of bugs instead of meat.

Net Zero and Covid are both about money and power.  In the USA, the Republicans and Democrats are divided on Net Zero – Trump took America out of the Paris Agreement.  The forthcoming US election will determine its future direction.

Benny commented that Net Zero and the climate change agenda accounts for the biggest transfer of wealth from poor to rich in the world.  Trillions of dollars are shifting from the poor in subsidies to those selling ‘green’ products.  Landowners make millions from having wind turbines on their land – £10 billion in subsidies funded by us the taxpayer (£200 per energy bill).  Wind power is a multi-million pound industry which is enriching a small number of people, like Al Gore, via subsidies paid by governments using our money. This also opens the door to building on farmland.

How do you persuade people to question what they are being told about the necessity for Net Zero?

Benny commented that in the general public, 10-15% will be dogmatically convinced that Net Zero is the right way.  Another 10-15% will be dogmatically sceptical.  50-60% are undecided and this is the audience to target by introducing doubts about the IPCC’s six year countdown to climate catastrophe and the rising cost of energy bills in spite of ‘cheap’ renewables.  In general, people won’t change their view of the climate but they may respond to scepticism about how much ‘green’ policies are costing them.

If the world was truly going to end, then any sacrifice would be justified. China and India are still producing carbon emissions and should be allowed to carry on developing using fossil fuels like the West did.  Scientists’ climate predictions have been wrong for the last fifty years.

Governments have been making non-sensical decisions for decades.  Mining has been going on for centuries. We should be tackling pollution.  Renewables are not bad per se but nuclear and fossil fuels are needed to deal with spikes in energy demand.  Nuclear is cheap but waste disposal is an issue. Re: heat pumps – houses are designed to be heated – why don’t we design houses which don’t need to be heated?  Fossil fuels will eventually run out and there are rising costs associated with extraction.  The costs of green energy versus fossil fuels needs to be compared including subsidies.

Benny commented that there is a renaissance in interest in nuclear energy but it is not cheap to produce and it is over-regulated – in the UK it takes 20 years to build a nuclear power station but only five years elsewhere.  Extraction of fossil fuels may become more expensive but the technology to do this has improved a great deal.  Every country should use the cheapest energy which is why China and India are using coal.

Benny continued: each country should choose the best option for its economy and its people’s living standards, development and prosperity.  Renewables may be part of the answer but the solution must make sense i.e.  the UK will not benefit hugely from solar panels because of its typical weather patterns.  Technology will change the way we harness energy e.g. shale gas extraction in the US.  But Net Zero serves to take the choice away from individual countries, even though we can reduce pollution and the air is the cleanest it has been for 500 years.  Life expectancy is growing.  A certain standard of living is required before people are able to look after the environment e.g. Africans banned from using coal are compelled to burn wood instead.  There is no single answer – the priority should be to help people with their lives.

Fossil fuels will run out eventually – politicians should care about that and be planning for the future, but they are doing neither.

Benny commented: Communists appear not to be dogmatic about Net Zero.  The only other left wing group showing signs of being sceptical is the GMB Union because they are beginning to see the cost implications.  All political parties are signed up to Net Zero.

We seem to be turning a corner but huge work will be required to tidy up the Net Zero mess, at a huge cost.  We have wasted millions when we could have been looking for alternatives, e.g. fusion.

Benny commented: the cost of rectifying Net Zero will be very damaging for decades to come.

Engineers always look at carbon usage from cradle to grave but politicians don’t always want that.  Countries are still buying carbon credits.  Nuclear waste is an issue but so is the graveyard of old solar panels and turbine blades which are costly to recycle.  Sensible comparison of options are needed, not just fiddled to fit the Net Zero narrative.

Producers of green goods are holding consumers to ransom.

Everyone wants to be green but Net Zero has been unjustly associated with being good for the environment.  How do we counter this using hard science rather than emotion – where do we start the revolution?

What would your wish for GWPF be?

Benny: to see a Parliament with realistic politicians willing to unilaterally abandon Net Zero policies, focus on climate change adaptation and growth.

Politics in Pubs would like to thank Dr. Peiser for a fascinating, thought-provoking presentation. As always, thank you also to our wonderful hosts at the Welcome Inn. Cheers all!

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