Poor Justin Rowlatt! Spare a thought for the BBC’s climate editor. He appeared to be having conniptions on News at Ten and that was before the Prime Minister confirmed the rumour that the Government would be rowing back on some of its net zero targets. Justin was nowhere to be seen on Wednesday’s programme after Rishi Sunak had fleshed out the new plan, saying he would delay the ban on new petrol and diesel car sales from 2030 to 2035 and not coerce people into buying one of those unloved heat pumps.
Where was Justin? Had he, like Krook in Bleak House, self-combusted on hearing of this heretical act against the green religion of which he is a high priest? Was he now, indeed, a heap of smouldering ash under the desk at Sophie Raworth’s feet? Perhaps the climate editor has legged it to Mount Ararat where he can gather in the animals two by two, preparing for the Biblical flood that will result from permitting Britons to hang onto their oil and gas boilers until 2035.
In his Tuesday report, Rowlatt seemed to be seething with anger, so entirely lacking in perspective (he failed to mention that pushing back the electric-vehicle target five years merely brings the UK into line with the EU) that I scribbled “Ofcom?” on my pad. Forget the balanced reporting the regulator requires of broadcasters, the climate editor of the publicly-funded BBC is allowed to carry on like a poundshop Nostradamus, furiously brandishing his “The End is Nigh” placard to terrorise viewers.
Over our dismal summer, Rowlatt flew off in search of “heat storms” and “wildfires” which he claimed were directly caused by climate change while the local Spanish arsonist smirked just off-camera with his box of X-long matches and can of petrol. Sorry, but Rowlatt is an activist not a journalist.
That is the kind of blind intransigence Sunak is up against as he dares to challenge the wishful-thinking of the EV evangelists, an establishment chock full of eco-zealots who have never had to put a price on their fantasies. In the boldest speech of his premiership, the PM pointed out, quite reasonably, that the plans to meet net zero will only succeed “if public support is maintained or we risk losing the agenda altogether”.
The man in the street has been way ahead of politicians and the media, refusing to adopt costly or plain stupid measures that don’t make any sense unless you are a member of the powerful Climate Change Committee or have your sticky fingers in a few renewables pies.
Look at Wales. I was supposed to be driving there today to see my mother and sister, but with a reduction in the speed limit from 30mph to 20mph in many areas, my estimated arrival time in Tenby is March 2025. A petition opposing dopey Druid Drakeford’s nonsensical net zero initiative has already attracted over 340,000 signatures – around 22 per cent of the total number of people who voted in Wales in the last general election. A much-mocked video shows Lee Waters, the Labour Senedd member responsible, explaining how an “economic climate catastrophe” will be averted by making Welsh motorists slower than your average dog-walker. His scientific ignorance is sadly ubiquitous.
On ITV, not hiding his displeasure at the PM’s reforms, political editor Robert Peston casually linked global warming with extreme temperatures, proving he doesn’t know the difference between weather and climate.
And with what glee did all mainstream channels report the business backlash against Sunak’s welcome pragmatism. They highlighted critical comments made by the Ford motor company, but somehow failed to mention statements by Toyota and Jaguar Land Rover who said they were actually in favour of a delay. Channel 4 News blew a gasket, of course. The tone of its almost comically partisan coverage was easily gauged from a backdrop that bellowed: Emergency on Planet Earth.
Guests who supported Sunak’s plans on all the channels were few and far between, and when someone was briefly allowed to challenge the green groupthink they were subjected to a much tougher grilling. On Radio 4, Ed Miliband was allowed to get away with saying the delay will “add billions in cost to families”. How? Even if that were true (it so isn’t), it’s a case of billions schmillions compared to the trillions net zero will actually cost the ordinary men and women of this country.
Labour’s shadow climate change alarmist, Ed is so deluded he claims unreliable renewables will provide enough energy “because the wind is always blowing somewhere”. Well, I am reliably informed by a Cambridge professor that the UK could need an impossible number of wind turbines even to begin to provide enough power for all those EVs no one wants to buy. But don’t worry, Ed! Your windmills can carpet over this blessed isle and the 65 million humans can move to the Outer Hebrides. I’m sure it’ll be fine if we all budge up.
As for Boris Johnson lashing out at his successor’s shrewd rethink – Britain “cannot afford to falter now or in any way lose our ambition for this country” – do bear in mind it was dear Boris who made up that unattainable 2030 EV target on the fly to show off to his mates at COP26. Details, details! The fact is we have all been lied to on an unimaginable scale about net zero and its likely cost and consequences. “But we are miles ahead of any other country,” wailed one of the outraged eco-zealots yesterday. Funny that no other country wants to join the UK in a race to impoverish itself, isn’t it? What Kemi Badenoch witheringly called “unilateral economic disarmament”. Would we had more of Kemi’s steely kind. “But net zero will create thousands of high-quality green jobs”, say the zealots. “Yes, in China,’ quipped a Telegraph reader under my column. Spot on, Sir! Don’t let the b------- take you in.
What the past 24 hours of toddler tantrums from Westminster, business and the media (poor Justin Rowlatt crooning green mantras to himself in a darkened room!) have revealed is how much wiser is the common man than the supposed elite. A YouGov poll found that some 44 per cent of the public support delaying or dropping some of our net zero commitments against 38 per cent who say the Government should stick with its current climate change plans. See how woefully disconnected our leaders are from actual public opinion. They need to get out more, although not to Wales where the fastest form of transport is currently the pit pony.
Personally, I think the Climate Change Act should be repealed, and Britons freed from its crazy, punitive legal targets. But that’s for another time. Rishi Sunak has made an excellent start. Carry on, Prime Minister. We’re right behind you.