Net zero sceptics love to point out just how small the UK’s contribution to carbon emissions are in a global context. The inference is that we are destroying our economy in order to have a negligible impact on climate change.
I’m sorry, but I just don’t buy the argument. Perhaps it’s because of my belief that morality and the right thing to do have nothing to do with what other people are doing, nor what the government mandates.
It’s people’s individual responsibility to distinguish right from wrong. Just because the rest of the world isn’t cutting carbon emissions to avoid the end of the world doesn’t mean we shouldn’t…
Indeed, if you could convince me that carbon is the threat which governments claim it is, I’d be willing to make significant sacrifices to bring down my own emissions. But good luck trying to convince me – especially after a government campaign to force the issue and politicians’ behaviour during the pandemic.
The very fact that the government has to get involved in cutting carbon reveals it’s probably the wrong thing to do. If it were the right thing, we’d just go about doing it ourselves as individuals.
Instead, we see climate campaigners jetting about all over the place to discuss just how bad emissions are and how this justifies coercing everyone else to take the train…
I suspect my belief about individual responsibility also comes from having lived in about ten different countries. The definitions of morality and the right thing to do vary, surprisingly.
In Germany, jaywalking will trigger an onslaught of German grannies bashing you with their handbags, screaming “child murder!” because of the bad example it sets to children.
But those same grannies will then hop in their car and drive 90 miles an hour down the autobahn – an act that will result in far worse consequences than being attacked by grandmothers if you do it outside of Germany.
The laws and the standards of behaviour are worlds apart around the world. Your behaviour should be guided by your own understanding of the right thing to do, not some politician’s judgement or your neighbour’s behaviour.
If you believe that carbon is a crucial part of the ecosystem and the best way to grow biodiversity, you should emit more!
If you believe carbon is dangerous, emit less.
But if the government told you to jump off a cliff…?
Laws don’t define what’s right. You need to come up with a better definition of how to behave. And misbehaving just because everyone else is doesn’t sit well with that way of thinking.
Can you imagine how my children would behave if I accepted their co-conspirators’ behaviour as a licence to behave likewise?
But today isn’t about moral philosophy. It’s about the economic implications of the West going for broke on the energy transition while the rest of the world watches on in amusement and horror.
You see, while many governments may have committed to net zero, this appears to be one of those political promises nobody ever intended to actually keep.
It’s like the war on poverty or homelessness – a marketing campaign without a product.
And so, as we looked into yesterday, despite the government’s best efforts, and impressive compliance on the part of big business, coal is booming like never before.
It turns out that pressuring financial institutions to divest from coal has just created an excellent investment opportunity for the rest of us. One which will repeat in certain other fossil fuels that you’ll be hearing more about tomorrow.
Investment in the future of fossil fuels is also booming, with vast amounts of fossil fuel-based infrastructure and power plants planned around the world. This doesn’t gel too well with the lack of investment in producing those fossil fuels. I wonder what’ll happen to their prices…
But consider the divergence between countries. Is the science different in China? Or don’t they care about causing the end of the world?
As Konstantin Kisin explained from within the belly of the beast, the developed world just isn’t going to be sold on the idea of sacrificing their future prosperity to cut carbon emissions, especially given the way the West achieved that prosperity. The question is: will the West sacrifice its current prosperity to do likewise?
So far, in the West, the virtue signalling persists with bizarre attempts to electrify the economy, offset carbon and produce more green energy. Each day I read another analysis of how all of this only increases carbon emissions, but that doesn’t stop anyone.
We’re seeing the consequences. Europe’s energy crises, which began in 2021, preceding the invasion of Ukraine, have led to poor economic growth and now a recession in the eurozone.
More importantly, outside of voting, people’s actual behaviour just isn’t matching the level of hysteria which is guiding policy. If it did, we wouldn’t need the policy.
Then again, political dissatisfaction is growing fast, too. It’s one thing to save the planet, quite another to pay for it.
When the bill comes due, even Germany’s Green politicians go for coal and gas. A reckoning that’s building into quite an investment opportunity in other forms of fossil fuels, which we hope to reveal tomorrow.
One thing I’ve learned researching all of this is that the question of how something is counted defines the outcome. It’s like the old Stalin quote, “It’s not the people who vote that count, it’s the people who count the votes.”
The best, but by no means only, example of this is the idea of territorial emissions. A nation’s emissions are counted based on the emitting activity that occurs in its territory.
This means that, under the government’s net zero commitments, there is a perverse incentive for Britain to send its economy overseas, where that industry’s carbon emissions don’t count to the government’s net zero sum total, but does still pollute. Quite possibly it’ll pollute more overseas in places with poor environmental standards, where production is therefore cheaper.
Indeed, according to Michael Kelly’s 2019 address to the Global Warming Policy Foundation, progress on emissions since the introduction of the UK’s Climate Change Act has not come from reducing them, but from moving them overseas.
Instead of making and consuming things in the UK, using energy in the UK, we have shifted production and energy use to places like China. Where, of course, energy pollutes at a higher intensity.
How ironic that supposedly well-intentioned government net zero policies would in effect increase global carbon emissions.
But most ridiculous of all, we then go on to blame the Chinese for this pollution – pollution in producing what we consume, but refuse to produce for ourselves because of concerns about emissions which would show up on our ledger instead of China’s…
Can you imagine how hypocritical we look to those doing the actual work to make our standard of living possible? They’re considered the emitters, while we celebrate the loss of our territorial carbon emissions from importing.
And, by the way, the renewable energy industry is a prime example of this process in action. China dominates the renewables supply chain, after all. Which means a lot of emissions go into creating our renewable energy in the first place. If we had to mine, refine and manufacture renewable energy infrastructure in the UK, our emissions story would look very different.
Indeed, a fair comparison of all forms of energy based on painful experience could trigger a rude awakening. It could radically shift the energy mix we expect from the next 20 years. Tomorrow, we reveal how.
Until next time,
Editor, Fortune & Freedom