It has long been my view that the whole climate scare thing will fade away and disappear once the costs and risks of the insane zero carbon agenda become clear to the voting public. As much as I’ve been deeply involved in efforts to expose the fake “science” behind the scare, the science arguments so far have had very little success in convincing anyone, particularly anyone (and this is most people) who is subject to appeals to fear. But now, over in the UK, the costs and risks of pursuing an aggressive “climate” agenda are starting to hit home. And with the selection of a new Prime Minister now getting started, we can see the first glimmerings of political impact.
You might think that, since I am on the board of an organization that is an affiliate of a group based in the UK, I might have some special insights on where the PM race is going. In fact, what my UK contacts tell me is that the PM race is wide open, and anything could happen. But there is one remarkable thing, which is that suddenly it is no longer disqualifying to express skepticism about green orthodoxy. As of this writing, an actual overt skeptic — at least, a skeptic as to fossil fuel suppression — might even win; and whoever wins is likely at the minimum to start a quiet retreat from the existing Net Zero program.
Here in the U.S., we have had climate skepticism in the Republican Party for a good while, although only in the last several years — really, since the election of Trump in 2016 — has opposition to fossil fuel suppression become near universal among Republicans. (Recall that the Republican presidential candidates in both 2008, McCain, and 2012, Romney, were on board with fossil fuel suppression to “save the planet.”).
But in Europe, including the UK, it has been different. Even today, there is no major political party anywhere in Europe taking an avowedly skeptical position on anything relating to the climate alarm movement. This is true not just as to questioning the underlying “science,” such as it is, but also as to questioning the demanded mitigation measures of suppressing fossil fuels and building wind turbines and solar panels everywhere. There has been something as close to political unanimity on the issue as one ever sees.
In the UK, the push for Net Zero has been backed by all political parties. The first targets for greenhouse gas reductions were set by the Climate Change Act of 2008, when a Labor government was in power; but significantly more ambitious targets, including a legally-binding net zero commitment by 2050, were then adopted by amendments to that Act in June 2019, during a Conservative government led by Theresa May. According to the BBC here, the amendments passed in Parliament on June 24, 2019 “without a single objection”:
It was a rare display of parliamentary unity that the government said would set a benchmark for the world to follow.
Boris Johnson then became Prime Minister the next month, July 2019, and, along with his cabinet, he has enthusiastically and aggressively pushed forward with the Net Zero agenda ever since, without significant opposition.
The ground really only began to shift in the latter part of 2021, as prices for fossil fuels including oil and natural gas began an increase that has continued since. The UN COP 26 climate conference in Glasgow in October was the catalyst for the first steps to form a Parliamentary group to question the aggressive Net Zero program. Then on January 1, 2022 five members of Parliament came into the open with a letter to the Telegraph newspaper (behind paywall) calling for action in light of impending massive increases in household energy bills. In a piece on March 3, 2022, the BBC interviewed Conservative MP Craig Mackinlay on the subject of how the group came to be formed:
Mr Mackinlay and the net zero rebels were alarmed by "some of the more outlandish and unachievable proposals" being put forward. "There were so many daft policies being proposed that would make Britain colder and poorer," he said. "We thought it was time to have a proper debate about these things."
As of March, the BBC said that there were approximately 19 MPs in the group, which had taken the name Net Zero Scrutiny Group. At that time, the war in Ukraine had just begun, accompanied by an additional large spike in energy prices, to which the UK had been left completely vulnerable by, among other things, a total ban drilling for oil or natural gas by means of fracking. Energy prices to consumers, which had been suppressed by price controls for several months, then were allowed to approximately double in April, and further large increases are expected later in the year, which will take energy prices to consumers to triple or more where they were at the start of 2022. There are currently approximately 50 or more members of the Net Zero Scrutiny Group in Parliament.
And now on to the race for Prime Minister. Since the Conservatives hold a majority of seats in the Parliament, the race is held within the Conservative party on rules that it sets internally. The rules call for multiple preliminary rounds, where the voters are the Conservative MPs. In each round, a higher number of votes is required to make it to the next round, until finally the number of candidates is reduced to two. The final two will then go to a vote of the full “membership” of the Conservative party, something of which we do not have an analog here in the U.S. I understand that there are around 180,000 “members” of the Party.
As of today, after two rounds of voting have been completed, and several candidates eliminated, here are the remaining contenders:
Rishi Sunak, until a week ago Chancellor of the Exchequer. (He resigned just before Johnson resigned.)
Liz Truss, current Foreign Secretary.
Penny Mordaunt, former Defense Secretary under Theresa May who has since held lower-level cabinet positions.
Kemi Badenoch, former “Equalities Minister” (yes, they have such a thing).
Tom Tugendhat, a back-bench member considered a “moderate.”
Of the five, Badenoch has given strong signals that she is not on board with the Net Zero program, primarily because of its cost. Launching her campaign, she gave an interview with the Telegraph, quoted here in Business Green,:
Badenoch insisted she was "not someone who doesn't believe in climate change", but she argued it was "wrong of us to set a target without having a clear plan of the cost and knowing what it would entail. . . . "Setting an arbitrary target like that is the wrong way to go… There is a better way of going about these things," she added.
Badenoch is also running as the “anti-woke” candidate. She was born in London of Nigerian parents, and grew up mostly in Nigeria. She was initially considered an outsider and total long-shot, but has survived two rounds of balloting so far. Here is a picture:
Meanwhile, the other candidates have been much quieter on their positions as to Net Zero. But Mordaunt and Truss have been talking up tax cut proposals, which one might say are inconsistent with massive government spending to promote Net Zero. And according to the BBC March 3 piece, Sunak has “pushed for six new North Sea oil and gas fields to be given licenses this year.”
Reality takes hold ever so slowly. I would suggest to my Conservative friends in the UK that the abandonment of Net Zero is inevitable, and they need a leader who can take them through that process without being embarrassed about it, and who can proudly stand up and accuse the other side of seeking to impoverish the middle class.
Meanwhile, Badenoch is my candidate.