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The Climate Change Committee’s suspiciously opaque report

15 December 2011

3:30 PM

15 December 2011

3:30 PM

The Climate Change Committee, a quango set up to advise the Government on its emissions
targets, make a big claim in their report today. They have, they suggest, disproved the argument that climate policy is set to
drive substantial increases in energy bills by 2020. They say that ‘policies to achieve a low-carbon economy will add a further £110 to bills in 2020, almost entirely due to support for
investments in low-carbon power generation’, less than other estimates. And so the Guardian have used that as a
to let climate attack dog Bob Ward accuse the TaxPayers’ Alliance and Nigel Lawson’s Global Warming Policy Foundation of an attempt to ‘confuse and misinform the
public with blatantly inflated figures’. Is that what we’ve done?
No. The figures I often quote come from Citigroup analysis that warns of an ‘affordability crisis’
for energy policy.  Their latest research argued that having to invest around £200 billion to meet environmental targets would drive up electricity prices by over 50 per cent, and dual
fuel bills by more than a third, adjusted for inflation — even with improvements in energy efficiency. Things might have changed a bit since they did their calculations, but there is still
going to be a big bill to pay for the huge investment needed to meet, in particular, Britain’s draconian EU renewable energy target.
The Committee on Climate Change claim to refute that, but their report doesn’t provide many of the critical figures that are needed to test its assumptions against other, higher estimates of
climate policy costs, including: estimated generation output (TWh) required to hit the targets; breakdown of investment required to hit the targets by asset type; cost estimate for each asset type;
cost of capital estimate for each asset type; funding structure for each asset type. It isn’t even clear whether their results are adjusted for inflation, or what their adjustment for
lifecycle costs constitutes.
What we can see isn’t encouraging. Their report suggests that 12GW of new off-shore wind capacity will cost £30 billion — i.e. £2.5 million per MW. Current costs are coming
in at £3.3 million and show few signs of falling. Phase 3 is in deeper water and so, while production efficiencies could lower the cost, the higher construction costs associated with building
in deeper water are likely to more than offset that. It is unclear whether they are including the 3GW already under construction. And it is implausible that all the off-shore wind connections and
transmission upgrades related to renewables can be built for £5 billion.
So this morning’s report is meaningless until the full background calculations are published, so that independent experts can scrutinise the Committee’s work.  One analyst I spoke
to said that their ‘lawyers would never let us publish something like this’.
When a Parliamentary Select Committee releases a report they will normally issue an embargoed copy to the media in advance, who can then ask other analysts to look at the findings and whether they
are credible. Other organisations, such as the Office for National Statistics, don’t do that on the premise that no-one should have advanced notice, and simply release the figures in the
morning, putting us all in the same race to work out what they mean.
In this case, the Climate Change Committee put out a press release about their figures, but not the actual report. The best they offered, when I called yesterday, was that we could go over to their
offices and talk about it, which is both impractical and inadequate — we need to look over their figures and compare them with other data. Putting out a press release without a report may
have been effective press management on their part, but is it really right that taxpayers are expected to fund that kind of thing with £4.2 million a year of grant-in-aid from the Department
of Energy and Climate Change, and £0.9 million a year in other payments from universities, departments and other public bodies? Should we have to pay £5.1 million a year for
environmentalist spin?

Matthew Sinclair is director of the TaxPayers’ Alliance.

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Show comments
  • Maddy1

    Notice how the sort of free press that hangs out with the warmists in Durban is effectivley in cahoots with them as well . They serve us poorly. Surely the amazing fact that Canada along with other key countries were pulling out was known before the bland announcement by the BBC. Notice how the criticism of Canada by China is akin to a pock marked whore talking to a young nun about morality! 5000 years of Chinese environmental pollution and over population goes unoticed. We are the only society, Atlantis excepted, that has not suffered environmental armageddon, parts of China and many other like India have suffered this catastrophe many times. Why do we have to put up with these charlatans? The Indian environmmental minister asks how she can sell the idea of legal enforcement to over a billion indians!!! Surely the apparent demise of these huge unsustainable populations if CC. is a reality is enough to convince. Why is our press with exceptions, so lack lustre letting these people strut their stuff with impunity.

  • JohnBUK

    Good lord a climate change body not publishing it’s figures! If nothing else they are consistent.

  • WIlliam Blakes Ghost

    SO in reality its another case of enviro fascists evade scrutiny over report which is likely a complete lie. Go figure. When will the Freakshow stop treating the elecotrate like fools.

    If anything the outrageous and scandalous nature of the Energy policy is the one that will most likely bring down this Government.

    It is the most putrid and corrupt of policies.

  • oldtimer

    You were right to smell a rat when they declined to release their report…
    “In this case, the Climate Change Committee put out a press release about their figures, but not the actual report.”

  • john gerard


    “You have to wonder just what is the motives of the Guardian in ushering the nation to bankruptcy”

    You don’t have to wonder at all. I’m surprised you’ve even articulated that. The answer is immediately obvious.

  • Sir Everard Digby

    Panto season yet again. Many of their recommendations centre on technology which does not exist or those which are inefficient(wind)There is a recommendation to make a massive switch to electric vehicles.

    30% of houses using heat pumps

    Funding and policies to support the development of CCS for power generation and industry, electric cars and vans, and electric heat pumps

    Much of this is pure pie in the sky. I note the word ‘funding’ crops up regularly. I wonder who will be ‘funding’ this?

    Carbon capture storage increases the costs of energy generation by a power plant. The Guesstimate is by 21-90%. i.e. they do not have a clue. Who is covering that cost

    In other words, they cannot possibly make any statements with any certainty about energy bill costs. Much of what they suggest needs a huge effort to deliver and seems to have made little or no progress so far.

  • Major Plonquer 1

    I agree with Daniel Marris 100%. Higher taxes solve everything. Then we can all hold hands and sing.

  • fergus pickering

    A variety of reasons, eh Daniel. One will do.I suggest a levy on the media of, oh I dunno, 3%, rising to 6% if your organ espouses green energy. This would extend to the journos personally. You should be proud to pay.

  • daniel maris

    I support green energy for a variety of reasons.

    The way to pay for it is to have a Housing Energy Levy, similar to stamp duty – at perhaps 3%. The money will pay for solar power installation and/or insulation at the
    property being bought. That will REDUCE bills, not increase them and people will have a capital asset. The surpluses from the levy can go into wind power and installations in the rented sector. The country will then benefit from the lower OPERATING costs of green energy (much cheaper than coal and nuclear once the capital costs have been paid for). It will be a nice way of giving our industry a competitive boost. The installation work will provide much need jobs in our economy.

  • Cynic

    @TrevorsDenYou have to wonder just what is the motives of the Guardian in ushering the nation to bankruptcy.” The Guardian and its devoted readership do not in general like the UK (with the possible exception of the celtic fringe). They are internationalists, seeing more in common with workers abroad. Of course, now the Guardianistas’ worst fears have been realised and the Tories are in power (having not been elected and having no mandate, of course). The problems of the last 13 years were all caused by Thatcher and it’s a lie to blame Labour for the economic mess that we’re in. That was all caused by the nasty bankers, aided of course, by Maggie. I do so love reading the Guardian. It’s like being Margaret Mead.

  • Cynic

    … there is still going to be a big bill to pay for the huge investment needed to meet, in particular, Britain’s draconian EU renewable energy target.” When is there not a huge bill for all the EU lunacy? I refuse to take out a mortgage to buy a new camper so I can meet draconian EU IV emissions regs to go back to Kenley and Biggin without being fined £500 for using roads I’ve already paid for in fuel tax and VED. I await the coming of the next ice age.

  • It doesn’t add up…

    This quango should be abolished. It makes transparently stupid statements in support of transparently stupid policy – rather like the NHPAU and the Barker Housing review. At least it would knock sixpence off everyone’s energy bill if thy eased producing hot air.

  • TrevorsDen

    The absurdities of climate change loons knows no bounds.

    You have to wonder just what is the motives of the Guardian in ushering the nation to bankruptcy

  • whyme

    I don’t know who is worse – the climate zealots or the Tax Dodgers Alliance. Both as bad as ezch other, I reckon.

  • Bickers

    Implementing the Climate Change Act will destroy this country’s economy. Anyone who rationally researches the claims of the IPCC and the AGW community, that C02 produced by mankind is warming the planet to a dangerous degree, will conclude that the claims are over hyped (and possibly just plain wrong).

    We need to cut back on wind generation and run as fast as we can to build new nuclear capacity and drill for shale gas.

  • Nicholas Hallam

    Transparency just doesn’t seem to go with the climate change business.

    I think that they are riding for a fall. Already the German solar panel industry is on the verge of bankruptcy, and every year that passes without the predicted sharp increase in global temperatures leads more sane people to question whether there really is a need for a “low carbon economy”.

  • Rhoda Klapp

    Bob Ward is a paid PR for the Grantham Institute, and that outfit has just as extreme a position on climare as any sceptic. It is the height of dissimulation to claim this report as in any way neutral. Like pretty much all reports, the conclusion was reached before the report was written to justify it. All it shows is where to dig.

  • Dennis Churchill

    Energy costs make us less efficient as do the mass of regulations but the political class still seem baffled by why we find it so difficult to get the economy moving.
    Nothing will happen until the power cuts in a few years’ time.

  • whatawaste

    There is also the very real danger that as nuclear power stations are decommissioned, that their replacements will not be ready in time. The previous government dithered for 13 years over this and Huhne is far from a safe pair of hands.

    Another issue for electricity generation is the presence of big consumers or not as is the case now. Iron and steel smelters consume vast amounts of energy and so make vast profits for the electricity firms. Too many have closed or been mothballed recently.

    I do not understand the coalition’s aggressive stance on dismissing solar power, tidal power etc in favour of wind power which is expensive and produces little electricity anyway. The German’s have invested heavily in a solar power farm in Greece: such farms have also been mooted in Morroco.

  • jheath

    The Committee is also asking the wrong question. How much higher will our electricity prices be compared with the rest of the world?

    It is reasonably certain that the windpower cpaital and bcak up costs have been understated compared with any estimates I have seen, and that the energy efficiency assumptions are in excess of anything achieved by demand side management and other energy efficiency programmes.

    But, even worse, the rest of the world is looking at substantially LOWER energy costs thanks to increased supplies of gas and, in the developing world, increasing use of lower cost coal. One country that I work in is looking to HALVE its electricity cost by 2020. The US is already on the way:

    Ask the wrong question and you get the wrong answer.

  • Augustus

    The wind-power industry is heavily subsidized and is turning out to be a vast pit of wasted funding that also raises the cost of electricity. It is another environmental pipe dream and one intended to enrich those who go into this dubious business. Not only uneconomical, it utterly fails to produce sufficient electrical energy to meet demand. Wind power generation requires 100% backup to maintain electrical grid capacity. Thus, it is generation by other means that ensures a reliable supply of electricity to consumers. This means that the backup facility must have twice the real rated capacity of the wind farm. The result is more capital is required to ensure this, along with operating and maintenance costs when a traditional power company is forced to include wind power in its inventory.

  • salieri

    The Climate Change Committee. Hmm. Now I wonder who appointed its members and what their terms of reference might be. The name sort of gives it away, n’est-ce pas? If you set up a Moonbeams out of Cucumbers Committee, would you expect anyone sane or rational to be on it?

  • Swiss Bob

    Bob Ward’s a raving loon so anything he says hasn’t much credibility.

    Now where’s that video I uploaded of him losing his rag with Fraser?