Is it too early to say, “told you so”?
31st Jul 2023
Well who would have guessed a by-election in Boris Johnson’s old constituency would cause the current Prime Minister to signal a rowing back from the targets set by the former?
Well actually, I suspect most of us have thought it would happen in time, perhaps not last week though.
What will now happen, and this is the raw politics from that by-election, is that the official Opposition will also shift their attitude towards some of the net zero targets to avoid being portrayed as out of touch with the voters. Out of hand, this could be a race to the bottom, in which the climate loses. And all because too many zealots were carried away; too many opportunists saw the pound signs lighting up and too few were brave enough to ask some basic questions, such as “are those targets realistic?”
When the Prime Minister talks about avoiding costs and disruption being faced by consumers, what could he possibly mean? Could it possibly be the average installation cost of a heat pump being £13,000, money consumers simply do not have? When mortgage rates are rocketing; when consumer confidence is falling and businesses brace for an economic downturn, is it any wonder households are tightening their purse strings? There could not be a worse time to try to convince them to spend that amount of cash, for little or no financial benefit (half of households in the government trial are worse off). I’m not criticising the technology, just the unrealistic ambition given our current circumstances. As Chair of Affordable Warmth Solutions, I can confirm we have difficulty giving away these low carbon heating solutions.
Until last week, I would have said it was brave of a Minister to suggest lowering their targets, now they are scrambling to find the most targets to cut. Let’s not forget this is not just a UK phenomenon. Germany has encountered “boilergeddon”; farmers in the Netherlands are revolting against changes to agriculture. In the UK it’s boilers and cars. As the general election date looms large, politicians become ultra-sensitive to anything controversial that risks their re-election. As night follows day, it was always thus.