Will Johnson ’ s renewables revolution unravel in the “ greenwash ”?
Last year , British prime minister Boris Johnson announced a 10-point plan for a “ green industrial revolution ”, pledging carbon neutrality by 2050 but experts have questioned the feasibility and the cost behind the typically hyperbolic words . An editorial in The Times thundered , “ Who is going to pay ?”
Take just one aspect of this brave new world , the humble heat pump , which gives an idea of the eyewatering investment facing the average homeowner . The government plans to ban gas boilers from newbuild homes by 2025 and outlaw them completely by the middle of the next decade , since they have pumped out more emissions than cars over the last 10 years . In 2018 the carbon footprint of almost every sector of the economy fell , yet emissions from “ residential combustion ” rose 4 %. However , while a new boiler may cost as little as GBP 1,000 to install , it is estimated the bill for a heat pump could total more than GBP 10,000 , though a report by the Energy Utilities Alliance found “ up to 54 %” of homes could not accommodate such a system .
Not only is the feasibility of this revolution questionable and the costs prohibitive , with the Institute for Government think tank pegging the bill for carbon neutrality at GBP 50bn year , companies are also profiting from appearing green – so-called greenwashing . Take the pledge by some UK energy firms to provide 100 % green tariffs to consumers , which The Times ’ money editor James Coney has described as an “ absolute racket ”. Regulator Ofgem allows companies to rubber-stamp green energy tariffs via a guarantee of origin certificate , even if they produce no energy themselves and even if that power comes from an overseas power station . How is that helping the country achieve net zero ?
Behind all the noise of the government ’ s pledges to lead the way ahead of it hosting November ’ s UN climate summit – COP 26 in Glasgow – are stark concerns . The Institute for Government believes the country is “ not on track to meet its previous , less ambitious , target of 80 % emissions reductions by 2050 ”. It remains to be seen therefore whether Johnson will turn all that hot air into something carbon free .