Political column – October 23

Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who is the greenest of them all?

And please don't make me look a liar, By saying there's no cost to the taxpayer.

According to the Government's much-trumpeted communique this week in which it unveiled its strategy to reach net zero emissions by 2050, its commitments "will unlock up to £90 billion of private investment by 2030, and support 440,000 well-paid jobs in green industries in 2030."

Sure about that? That's in only nine years' time.

And Kwasi Kwarteng, the business secretary, has assured us that saving the Earth won't cost the Earth for ordinary Britons.

Tell it to the Marines.

This week's announcement led to the inevitable political auction, with the other major parties saying it "did not go far enough" and they would "do more."

Yes, we could do more, lots more, depending on how committed we are, and how many votes politicians are prepared to lose in promoting the new theology.

One thing we could do is immediately stop Britons travelling to take part in all international sports competitions, including the World Cup and the Olympics, to send a signal that we are really serious about cutting global emissions. Our absence would be heroic and shame other nations. We could fool ourselves to think that.

Put up the price of fuel. Yes, it's gone up, but that's just tinkering given the scale of what is required to cut emissions.

Put up the price of gas. See above.

Ouch, it's hurting. But if it isn't hurting, it isn't working.

We had free movement with the EU. Maybe it's time to negotiate free movement with Iceland, which has plenty of space and plenty of geo-thermal energy just waiting to be tapped by an incoming population of fish-loving British settlers.

The Treasury says of the transition to greener ways that "ultimately the costs and benefits... will pass through to households through the labour market, prices and asset values."

Having sold the save-the-planet message, we're now moving into the hard yards, and if we are not careful a greener Britain will be a more divided and unfair Britain.

You can get a discount on the price of brand new low-emission vehicles – that is, electric cars – thanks to a grant the Government gives to vehicle dealerships and manufacturers.

But even with it electric cars are expensive and beyond the means of most car buyers. So the people who buy them are better off people, who enjoy a keener price thanks to a taxpayers' subsidy.

Ground source heat pumps are the new big thing being pushed by the Government, again with grants from the taxpayers. To have a ground source heat pump you need some ground. Which means that working people too poor to be able to live in houses with gardens will, through their taxes, be subsidising the costs of better off people who can afford houses with gardens big enough to install a ground source heat pump.

As installing a ground source heat pump runs into five figures – and what they don't tell you is that you'll probably need new radiators on top of everything else – it is not an affordable option for the less well off even with the subsidy, and even if the unit price comes down substantially.

Those on the theological extremities seem to have self-justified the more apocalyptic visions of the future on the grounds that things are so serious that people need to be woken from their stupor.

A little while ago Extinction Rebellion's co-founder claimed that six billion people would die this century as a result of climate change, without satisfactorily explaining exactly how and why.

Put on the spot in a television interview, XR spokeswoman Zion Lights said that "unfortunately alarmist language works," although to be fair she is a serious environmental campaigner who subsequently quit the organisation, saying Extinction Rebellion "peddle messages of doomsday gloom that alienate."

Global warming? Concept successfully sold. Now comes the tricky bit – persuading Britons to pay the personal price of doing something about it when China and India are continuing to use vast amounts of coal and, while it is not kidnapping and dismembering journalists, Saudi Arabia is trying to rewrite the playbook to play down the need to move away from the fossil fuels on which that country's vast wealth depends.

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