IEA - A “Zero Growth Mission”: Energy Expert Responds to the Skidmore review
Andy Mayer, Energy Analyst at the Institute of Economic Affairs Responds to the government’s Net Zero Review
“The basic logic of this report is flawed. It simultaneously claims that the economic case is self-evident – and that massive government action is required. If Net Zero is the ‘economic opportunity of the 21st century’ as author Chris Skidmore suggests, then investors will invest and taxpayers won’t need to foot the bill.
“The global economy will at some point achieve the important goal of net zero greenhouse gas emissions. But it will do so on an unpredictable timeline, based on millions of innovations, thousands of supply chains and hundreds of industries.
“Net zero cannot successfully be imposed by government diktats, let alone by the government of one country. Any effort to do so will likely lead to the misallocation of investment and resources at our expense.
“Yet the report seeks to pick winners. It includes ten ‘missions’ which are mostly shopping lists for commercial and vested interests. Often, these involve contradictions that deny trade-offs – such as relaxing planning while protecting nature.
“The report promotes an expansion of net zero bureaucracy through a ‘forum’ or regulator of regulators. Additional layers of regulation will only intensify the burden on businesses, further threatening our energy security and affordability.
“Worryingly, ‘Mission Zero’ appears to ignore the failures of the past decade, by seeking to go harder and faster with product bans by fixed dates. These have been shown to hit the poorest hardest and risk worsening environmental outcomes as investment is withdrawn from certain technologies.
“The report seeks to undermine free trade, joining in a global race to overpay for the low carbon transition through subsidy schemes, investor guarantees that amount to state aid, and putting Net Zero conditions on future trade agreements.
“The report is right to challenge the British planning system for obstructing development with needless regulation. But this issue is not specific to low carbon projects.
“Ultimately, ‘Mission Zero’ is a promotional leaflet for a larger state, higher taxes and more regulation. At no point does it consider adaptation as a possible alternative to mitigation, and it believes that assumptions about climate damage when compared with the cost of action makes a cost-benefit case.
“It would be better described as a zero growth mission, rather than a net zero one.”
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