“This is not about complicated issues of cryptocurrency,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Nicolas Roos declared
in the Sam Bankman-Fried trial, after accusing the defendant of building FTX on a “pyramid of deceit.” Much the same can be said about the foundations of Britain’s net-zero experiment. Energy is complicated, and electricity is essential to modern society and our quality of life, but as with FTX, the underlying story is straightforward: Wind power and net zero are built on a pyramid of deceit.
Net zero was sold to Parliament and the British people on claims that wind-power costs were low and falling. This was untrue: Wind-power costs are high and have been rising. In the net-zero version of “crypto will make you rich,” official analyses produced by the Treasury and the Office for Budget Responsibility rely on the falsehood that wind power is cheap, that net zero would have minimal costs, and that it could boost productivity and economic growth. None of these has any basis in reality.
The push for net zero began in 2019, when the UK’s Climate Change Committee produced a report urging the government to adopt the policy. Part of the justification was historic climate guilt. In the words
of committee chair Lord Deben, Britain had been “one of the largest historical contributors to climate change.” But the key economic justification for raising Britain’s decarbonization from 80 percent to 100 percent by 2050—i.e., net zero—was “rapid cost reductions during mass deployment for key technologies,” notably in offshore wind. These illusory cost reductions, the committee claimed, “have made tighter emission reduction targets achievable at the same costs as previous looser targets.” It was green snake oil.
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