Listen to ‘The Guv’nor’
11th Sep 2023
Over the weekend, Lord King (aka Mervyn King, the former Governor of the Bank of England) gave a long interview to one of the broadsheets that generated the headline “Net Zero obsession has fuelled inflation”.
Now I’m not going to pick a fight with a fellow supporter of The Pears, but this intervention is another in a growing list urging caution on the UK’s approach to net zero. The following day, the Prime Minister at the G20, stated that the UK would not follow a “hair shirt” approach to achieving its net zero ambition.
Lord King referenced in his interview the absurd idea to ban gas boilers by 2035 (off gas grid by 2026). This and the allied 600,000 a year heat pump installations are a classic example of a ‘politicians plan’. To normal people, this is a target figure – set a level and see how we match up to it. But all too often politicians, when they want to, conflate a ‘target’ with a ‘plan’. The 600,000 figure quoted is certainly not a plan.
Where are the details of the resources required to achieve this ‘plan’? What is the economic impact? How are the implications going to be managed? Who will pay and how? These are just a few questions that need to be addressed in a proper ‘plan’.
All we have from the government is a figure quoted of the number of installers needed to meet the target. And the funniest thing about that is, it is wrong. Not by the odd one or two, but five-fold. To protect themselves, officials have very cleverly laid the blame at the heat pump industry, by referencing them as the source of the number. They couldn’t be bothered to sense check the number or ask others, it was a convenient answer to their question, so it gets used.
The end result, the so-called ‘plan’, will soon start to be referenced as an ‘ambition’, merely a number to help stimulate industry and the supply chain. As the actual numbers fall well short, the government will respond by throwing money at the solution initially, (fuelling inflation Lord King) and then slowly adjust their wording in the hope nobody notices.