The Speaker
Thursday, 13 June 2024 – 08:56
Photo Credit: Simon Walker / No 10 Downing Street (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Why the green dogma, which Prime Minister Sunak is signed up to, is not ‘pragmatic’

NOTE: This is an opinion article – any views expressed in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Speaker or any members of its team.

The politically awake would have flinched at Prime Minister Sunak’s shift in tone on climate change.

Ever since the 1992 Earth Summit, the first major international, sustainability-oriented convergence of member states, there has been one tolerable, commanding narrative on anthropogenic climate change.
Mr Sunak’s decision to grant 100 new oil and gas licences has sparked outrage from the Just Stop Oil crusade who are horrified with the so-called ‘pragmatic’ pathway to Net Zero.

Though, one might question what was meant by ‘pragmatic’. Will there be a review on the decision, for example, to ban new petrol and diesel cars by 2030, or perhaps a rethink of the estimated £321bn cost of Net Zero?

Of course, all of these questions can be answered by the simple fact that Britain remains committed to international climate treaties such as the Paris Agreement – in which Britain sheepishly follows to the decrees issued by high orders, limiting national sovereignty.

Ultimately, there are inconceivable pressures on governments worldwide to advance the cause of Net Zero, whether we like it or not. Therefore, the idea of pragmatism comes across rather like an illusion than reality. The ban on fracking for shale gas, and equal resistance to coal power plants (most of which have been blown up) have hindered energy diversity. As of 2020, we import close to 30% of energy; which includes crude oil from Norway, Liquified Natural Gas mostly from Qatar (which makes up 42% of UK gas), petroleum products from the Netherlands, and gas from Norway (which accounts for 55% UK gas). Meanwhile, renewables equate to around 5% of the energy used to meet our electricity needs.

Why is it then pragmatic to grant North Sea Oil licences amidst an energy crisis, part of which is caused by headwinds such as the war in Ukraine, when the alternative involves blackouts and frozen homes?
The green dogma is why. Don’t worry though, Mr Sunak will introduce a carbon capture initiative with a target of removing 20-30 million tonnes of CO2 by 2030. But like most green gobbledegook, its ostensible appeal is outweighed by empirical wisdom.

The IEEFA’s (Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis) Strategic Energy Finance Adviser, Grant Hauber, exclaimed that the apparent success of the initiative, in the Norwegian Sleipner and Snohvit fields, was much down to the country’s idiosyncratic (individual) geology. Interestingly, whilst carbon capture technology was the most experimental of Rishi’s two policies, the media would have you believe otherwise. Disproportionate negative coverage of the North Sea drilling is textbook deception by a media possessed by dogmatic climate hysteria. The new religion of climate alarmists, whereby anyone who deviates from its Net Zero scriptures is blacklisted from polite society, remains rife in all our cultural institutions. A cynic would question Sunak’s tiresome insistence of the pursuit for unreliable wind farms without any leeway for a nuance or compromise.

The pledge of pragmatism is made redundant by the mere fact that the Tories remain committed to Net Zero – despite uncertainty on matters such as the Ultra Low Emission Zones (ULEZ) scheme and alliances with traditional energy sources. The Tories are preparing for the next election with full knowledge that its voter-base are reluctant when it comes to green policies. Therefore, just as the former PM, Liz Truss, did pre-election, they will roll-out the usual read meat policies despite having no intention on delivering them. The Net Zero target was interestingly adopted by Theresa May’s government without Parliamentary debate – this is despite it arguably being the most life-changing of policies in post-industrial British history. This has added to the intolerance that festers in debate amongst modern environmentalists who set a strict, predetermined boundary for acceptable discussion on the climate.

Surely it is important to embrace and discuss all opposing perspectives in a true democracy, with a willingness to review and challenge conventional wisdom, however well-established. For instance, a proper public debate on the environmental friendliness of wind farms. Tens of thousands of old turbines are dumped in a landfill after use and will contribute to an estimated 40+ million tonnes of blade waste by 2050. Also, the steel used in the production of wind turbines requires unclean combustion using blast furnaces, whilst its construction causes a mammoth carbon footprint from global imports.

The dismal reality of wind farms was demonstrated in 2020, when the Renewable Energy Foundation reported 3.7TWh of wind energy – enough to heat every home in Wales in a year – was squandered after the national grid was unable to store it. Pragmatic thinking would lead you to conclude that, rather than investing in ambitious, arbitrary targets, we should invest to improve Britain’s outdated 1950s-style, hydroelectric pumped storage system, Even Europe is not the bastion of renewable energy it claims to be. 70% of France’s energy derives from a nuclear source which acts as a scaffold, in support of the more temperamental wind and solar. It is therefore pertinent for Britain to invest in nuclear, coal and gas – otherwise we await cold winters and bleak blackouts. It beggars belief as to why Britain has committed to all electricity being generated by low-carbon sources by 2030 despite no real, viable alternative to imported gas (which we supposedly prefer to create the false paradise that Britain is some zero-carbon paradise).

The should be a change in direction on environment policy which should seek to patriotically steward our beautiful countryside and its glorious, green characteristics – not preach and fetishise over CO2.
The true source of this pragmatism lies in the intellect of the late environmentalist and botanist, David Bellemy. Once on par career-wise with the now prestigious Sir David Attenborough, Mr Bellamy became synonymous with his eccentric lectures on the subject of beauty and nature. He was admired by green fanatics on both sides of the political divide, with his talent acknowledged by the BBC in 1967. Thereafter, he became a regular fixture presenting over 400 series and shows across the globe. Despite all this unassailable success, you probably have never heard of him. This is because David had the gall to oppose the dogmatic and idealist traits of the post-modern environmentalists. Ambivalent about climate science during an intergovernmental policy committee in 1992 and then on wind farms in 1996, he applied meticulous scepticism and research in his climate studies. He was later ostracised by his constituency, the media and conservation groups, who now resent him, even though they had previously idolised him for his articulate monologues on nature. The persecution of Bellamy, carried out by rabid ecologists, led to his sacking as president of Wildlife Trusts in 2005, and then dropped by the BBC.

For the most part, Sunak was correct to raise the need to be pragmatic on climate change, but until he disassociates with the religion of climate alarmism and its dogmatic net zero scriptures, the electorate should not be lured by his feeble red meat.

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