Doing a Nelson with net zero

8th Apr 2024


The expression turning a blind eye is associated with Nelson and the battle of Copenhagen. Faced with a military order he disagreed with, he put his telescope to his blind eye and claimed he couldn’t see any such order.

Since then, turning a blind eye is to deliberately ignore something despite knowing the truth.

Despite Nelson being the hero of the story and the person giving the order being replaced, turning a blind eye is now seen as an indulgence; an act that is damaging. But I fear this is exactly what may be happening with our current politicians and policymakers. They are turning a blind eye to what deep down they know is wrong, but the cause of net zero trumps their inner convictions.

I’ve recently been looking in detail at the so-called Boiler Upgrade Scheme. It seems it isn’t limited to upgrading boilers because self-build homes also qualify. One in six grants paid actually go to newly built homes where no boiler is actually replaced. All paid for by the taxpayer. But it’s OK because it’s net zero.

There are also questions to be asked over how fairly this scheme distributes cash. Should it be OK for holiday homes to receive taxpayers’ subsidised heat pumps? There’s nothing in the rules against it but what about the ethics? Should a subsidy scheme for heating systems only be available if the beneficiaries can stump up nearly £6000 towards the cost, when it is taxpayers of all incomes and none who are funding the subsidy?

It would serve us all well if those who advocate for change also acknowledge the shortcomings in some policy areas. Together, that way we can make the changes need to create better policy. Blindly following a course of action because we can’t acknowledge weakness is a recipe for disaster. So that’s my challenge to politicians, be brave, it is your duty to ask those difficult questions because getting those answers is what the public deserve.