Has any bill ever been as reckless as Ed Miliband's 2008 climate act?

LEO MCKINSTRY: Has any bill ever been as reckless as Ed Miliband’s 2008 climate act?

Rishi Sunak’s pragmatic new approach to reaching net zero by 2050 was met with fury by the green lobby this week, and their rage illustrated perfectly how eco-zealots are used to getting their own way.

C S Lewis once wrote: ‘It would be better to live under robber barons than omnipotent moral busybodies.’

That phrase perfectly describes the vast phalanx of unelected green bureaucrats, campaigners and ‘experts’ who, in the name of saving the planet, exert ever more influence over our lives.

Much of the green lobby’s power stems from the 2008 Climate Change Act – masterminded by Labour’s Ed Miliband during Gordon Brown’s premiership.

The Act originally proposed that the Government should adopt a legally binding target to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 60 per cent below 1990 levels by the year 2050. With David Cameron’s Tory opposition giving its support, there was overwhelming political consensus in its favour.

‘Much of the green lobby’s power stems from the 2008 Climate Change Act – masterminded by Labour’s Ed Miliband (pictured at the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games) during Gordon Brown’s premiership’

Ed Milliband wins the Labour Party Leadership contest at the Labour Party Conference in Manchester, September 25, 2010

During the passage of the Bill through Parliament, MPs and peers became so keen to parade their green credentials that the target was raised to 80 per cent. And then, during the premiership of Theresa May, the deadline was made even tougher – a 100 per cent cut in emissions by 2050: net zero.

Britain was the first nation in the world to go down such a demanding legislative route, something that appealed to the vanity of many politicians.

READ MORE: Rishi Sunak challenges Keir Starmer over Labour’s climate change plans as he defends his decision to ditch or delay green policies

Over the subsequent 15 years, tremendous harm has been inflicted by the 2008 Act.

One official estimate suggests that it could ultimately cost between £324 billion and £404 billion.

In 2019, then Chancellor Philip Hammond warned that the total bill for the net zero plan could reach a staggering £1 trillion.

Importantly, the Act created a quasi-judicial framework to enforce its targets. This included a ‘National Adaption Programme’ and a series of interim ‘carbon budgets’ which set shorter-term five-year targets in addition to net zero by 2050. According to their advocates, these ‘carbon budgets’ – which must be set 12 years in advance to give individuals and businesses enough time to prepare for their impact – are designed ‘as a cost-effective way of achieving the UK’s long-term climate change objectives’.

In fact, energy prices have soared under the budgets. Regardless, it is through this mechanism that the Left will now seek to force the Prime Minister into restoring the carbon-reduction targets set by his predecessors.

Already, green activists and their political bedfellows are calling their lawyers, limbering up to launch judicial reviews, hoping to bend a sympathetic legal system to reshape public policy as they would prefer it.

The prospect of an entrenched legal battle, horribly reminiscent of the Brexit wars under the Remainer activist Gina Miller, is all too real.

The 2008 Act also established a Climate Change Committee, an extraordinarily powerful quango that advises the Government on targets and assesses progress.

The chief executive is Chris Stark, an experienced public administrator who heads a staff of 60, has a budget of £4.9 million and enjoyed a pay package last year of up to £185,000.

Rishi Sunak’s pragmatic new approach to reaching net zero by 2050 was met with fury by the green lobby this week. Pictured: Sunak shares the plans at Downing St on September 20

Inevitably, the Climate Change Committee adheres to the fashionable groupthink that prevails across the public sector, sending its staff on courses in ‘unconscious bias training’, appointing ‘well-being champions’ to ‘manage stress’, and ‘developing appropriate indicators to track progress against our diversity and inclusion aims’.

Similarly, the committee is accused of putting too much faith in unreliable renewables and not doing enough to promote nuclear power, a failure that has left Britain more vulnerable to energy price hikes and blackouts.

The hope is that, after the Prime Minister’s politically seismic speech, the influence of these dogmatic bureaucrats might at last be on the wane.

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