National governments are gradually backing away from tough pledges to wean their economies off fossil fuels, a report says. new report. Since the 2010s, the failure of green technologies to become economically viable has prompted countries to dilute or postpone established environmental goals, says British journalist Ross Clark in The Retreat from Net Zero, commissioned by the research group Net Zero Watch.
Noting that non-Western governments are moving away from decarbonization policies in order to protect their economies (and, one might guess, their positions of power), the report also highlights the importance of asserting national interests in a geopolitical arena. which is no longer the same. unipolar. Even the EU faces an agrarian backlash against its destructive environmental regulations.
Scathingly, Clark predicts other political fallouts for supporters of the green transition:
They spent so much political capital on this and created so many client jobs, quangos [semi-public administrative bodies receiving government funding]agencies, etc. involved in the fight towards net zero, that no one will be able to come forward in the near future and say that we have made a big mistake.
Alongside numerous questionable investments in low-energy infrastructure and unnecessary administration, authorities around the world are heavily invested in this policy vision and are unlikely to want to admit their mistakes without a fight.
The Clarks report contrasts the misplaced enthusiasm of Western governments with the growing indifference of petrostates on green issues, as seen at the recent COP summit. The underperformance of green revolutions is demonstrated through its multiple case studies. Hydrogen production requires fossil fuels, which means it fails to reduce emissions. Boris Johnson promised to make the UK the Saudi Arabia of the wind, but that turned out to be nothing more than wind.
Sales of electric cars, which plateaued after an initial burst of enthusiasm from early adopters and a reduction in subsidies, are typical of the dysfunction of the new green economy. Sales of new electric vehicles in the UK fell 17% in 2022, despite an overall increase of 9.5% in car sales, a parallel trend across the EU. Meanwhile, heat pumps and solar panels face financial hurdles despite significant government subsidies.
Although the green transition has led governments and investment companies to promise jobs and financial rewards, the reality is that this model is fundamentally unrealistic. External factors such as the risk of supply chain disruption in the Red Sea or tariff wars involving the US, EU and China cannot excuse the catastrophic human and economic impact of the shift to an economy green.
According to Clark,
[Last week’s] Farmers' protests in Europe set the tone. Governments have been mistaken in thinking that there is massive popular support for net zero emissions, on the basis that opinion polls show general support. But when it comes to the real effects on people's lives and wealth, support quickly runs out and we even get massive anger.
The report concludes that 2024 marks a challenging year for the green transition as the financial implications of a net zero emissions strategy for ordinary households become clearer, with the recent surge in energy prices compounded by the invasion of Ukraine by Russia, rapidly undermining Germany's political and economic stability.
Clark's observations are confirmed by the information that the entire European solar panel industry faces erasure due to high costs and competition from China, while Brussels' carbon tariffs threaten to to separate the WTO trade order in a dispute with the countries of the South.
Even as the many failures of the green transition exposed in the report become more evident by the day, it remains unclear whether Western elites are ready to abandon their policies.
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