Net zero has been adopted as religious dogma by the BBC, says Andrea Jenkyns

Climate change is a religion for the BBC

Climate change is a religion for the BBC (Image: Getty)

The political spats over energy policy this week could represent a pivotal moment in Britain’s post-war history. We might at last be starting to row back on the net zero climate and energy policy, which has been our nation’s biggest mistake since nationalisation.

It is clear that the Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, with access to the most detailed data available, is rightly starting to have second thoughts about the punishing timetable to reduce the United Kingdom’s reliance on oil and gas.

The outcome of this debate will have a direct and substantial impact on the living standards of you and your family.

Net zero is based on the belief that humanity can adjust the global climate by actively managing carbon dioxide levels.

Readers will know that — sadly — all our major political parties support reducing our carbon dioxide emissions, deriving from our use of oil and gas to net zero by 2050.

What is less well known is that this target has been driven not by science but by politics and that much of the technology that will supposedly deliver this target is either not yet developed at sufficient scale or is crazily expensive.

First, the science.

Carbon dioxide in our atmosphere is necessary for life on Earth. Together with water and sunlight, it provides food for plants. That is why the Earth is becoming greener. But it is also one of many factors that contribute to variation in our climate.

Such variation is why Governments are correct to monitor the climate and to ensure we have the resilience to cope with extreme weather — a constant feature of life on Earth.

But in recent years, an extreme phobia about carbon dioxide has taken hold.

Rather than seeing the gas as one factor among many that might have a climate impact, political activists mistakenly see carbon dioxide as a “control knob” for the global temperature, and they deem higher temperatures as an unequivocally bad thing, even though it is cold, not warmth, that is the bigger threat to life.

As a consequence, spurred on by excitable academics and investors in green energy, our political class has acted against oil and gas.

You see plastic products everywhere.

Your communications equipment, your anorak, your furniture and more.

Modern, affordable plastics derive from fossil fuels.

Other uses include food packaging, spectacles, sports goods, and medical equipment.

We are simply not in a position to do away with oil and gas-derived products overnight. Even reducing our usage would require substantial investment and quite a number of new inventions.

If that means that we must manage climate variability rather than seek to stop it totally, then that must be our policy.

That is why I am so encouraged to see Rishi Sunak seek to establish a more realistic timetable for changes to our energy mix.

There are plans to phase out petrol cars and gas central heating. The green alternatives are much less convenient or effective, which is why they require subsidies and compulsion.

But the damage of net zero goes much further than that. Look around your house.

In recognising that energy policy should be based on engineering reality, not misguided scaremongering, Sunak is correcting a policy mistake of historic importance.

But the news is not all good. The UK has invested a fortune in wind and solar power.

There is a place for these as an energy source, but this should not be on a comprehensive scale, as neither sun nor wind can be relied upon 24-7, and the cost of battery backup is immense.

Worse, Putin’s invasion of Ukraine has shown us that relying on overseas oil and gas has its own dangers.

Even shipping gas from friendly sources such as the USA and Qatar brings with it costs.

We have oil and gas under our feet and below our waves.

The UK should not be importing huge amounts of energy when we could be harvesting our own resources, thereby creating jobs, receiving revenue and ensuring the security of supply.

I would like to see more drilling for resources in the North Sea and a hardheaded, rational evaluation of the case for fracking.

We already use fracked resources, but we import them from elsewhere rather than reaping the benefits ourselves. We need to be more self-sufficient.

Yes, my opinions go against the zeitgeist created by Whitehall and the BBC.

But there are signs at last from Downing Street that common sense and British interests are starting to reassert themselves.