THE UK Government announcements on achieving net zero CO2 emissions by 2050 have been welcomed by climate change activists and the mainstream media. The big question remains as to how much this will all cost; how the plans will be implemented and most concerning, who is going to pay for the raft of proposals.

The answer lies in the latest (July 2021) Fiscal Risks Report published by the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) The short answer is the UK tax-payer but beyond that, every UK household and family member. Every household, property-owner and businesses up and down the country will be required to meet costs that will run into billions.

What has to be reconciled – certainly as far as the UK funder is concerned – is the OBR report states the UK only contributes one per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions. Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, the UK had the world’s fifth largest economy. Not bad for a country the size of Oregon.

UK greenhouse gas emissions have decreased by 44 per cent since the 1990s – partly due to the reduction in fossil fuel usage such as coal burning for heating and coal-fired power stations. Consumption emissions, based upon what the UK buys and uses have fallen by 29 per cent. Meanwhile, China contributes 27per cent of global CO2 emissions.

The OBR has drawn on data from the Climate Change Committee (and the Bank of England) to assess the costs of meeting net zero emissions by 2050. The figure is astronomical and will add 21 per cent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to public sector net debt; valued at £469bn at today’s prices. Reassuringly, if that is possible, the OBR states the figure is “somewhat smaller” than the debt-increase from the recent pandemic.

By starting earlier, the OBR claims (according to the Bank of England) the cost will be more in the short-term rather than the long-term alternative. In a delayed action scenario, debt would be 44 per cent of GDP higher, compared to 21 per cent of GDP – an increase of 23 percentage points. The theory being the sooner the UK starts the process of net zero carbon emissions, the less we pay.

Announcements on diesel and petrol car and lorry emissions are not yet fully forthcoming. More than 70 per cent of vehicle fuel tax cost goes to the Exchequer and provides immense revenues. Without fuel taxation and road tax, a huge financial dent will hit the revenue as drivers switch to electric vehicles. The OBR “offers” that if a form of road taxation burden was maintained, this would result in 24 per cent GDP lower than is expected by 2050.

However, it may be doubtful that large electrical-powered haulage juggernauts; 200-horse-power tractors and combine harvesters be able to undertake “normal” or long-hour field operating procedures within the next ten to 15 years. Furthermore, every new house built after 2025 will require a £10,000 heat-pump. And likewise, a new heat-pump plus additional costs, when your old gas boiler needs replacing.