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Climate

Britain’s Disastrous Path To Net Zero A Warning To America


At last year’s U.N. climate conference in Dubai, the Biden administration agreed to triple the world’s renewable-energy capacity by 2030.

It also joined the Powering Past Coal Alliance, pledging to eliminate coal-powered generation. This is all part of President Biden’s goal to completely decarbonize the U.S. electrical grid by 2035 and achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. [emphasis, links added]

Britain has been going down this path since 2008, when Parliament wrote an 80 percent decarbonization target into law, which it raised to 100 percent, or net zero, in 2019.

This luxury net-zero policy, which only the rich can afford, has been devastating for both businesses and ordinary Britons just trying to heat their homes and get to work.

A new report for the RealClear Foundation by Rupert Darwall is a timely and much-needed warning to America. It shows what would happen if Democrats and progressives get their way and inflict net-zero climate policies on the country.

British politicians boast of cutting greenhouse gas emissions faster than any other major economy but ignore the unfortunate fact that Britain’s economy has been performing poorly since 2008.

In 2020, even before the recent surge in energy costs, everyday Britons were paying about 75 percent more for electricity than Americans, the result of a double whammy — cap-and-trade policies on the one hand and renewable subsidies on the other.

And then came the Ukraine shock. During the 2022 energy crisis, electricity rates for British businesses were more than double the average paid by U.S. businesses.

In Britain, the impact of cap-and-trade on the cost of fuel to generate electricity is massive.

In 2022, government-imposed carbon costs averaged $128 per megawatt-hour (MWh) for coal-generated electricity and $51 per MWh for natural gas.

Those costs are on top of actual fuel costs, which averaged $150 per MWh for electricity generated from coal and $160 per MWh for natural gas.

These mean that it costs $278 to generate one MWh of electricity from coal and $211 from natural gas.

In the United States, electricity prices were significantly lower for two reasons.

First, no cap-and-trade policies. Second, for coal, British power stations were old and operated at much lower thermal efficiencies than in the U.S. (the U.K. has nearly phased out all coal-powered stations — although some had to be brought back during a 2023 cold snap); and, for natural gas, it is much cheaper piped (as it is in the U.S.) than liquified and shipped (as it is in Europe).

So in the U.S., the fuel cost per MWh of electricity generated from coal was $27 per MWh (versus $278 in Britain) and $61 per MWh for natural gas (versus $211 in Britain).

Britons also have to pay the cost of subsidizing politically favored wind and solar.

Analysis of the renewable portfolios of Britain’s Big Six energy companies shows that the average price for wind- and solar-generated electricity between 2009 and 2020 was well over £100 per MWh, whereas the price for reliable electricity from gas- and coal-fired power stations fell from £60 per MWh in 2013 to less than £50 per MWh in 2020.

Read rest at NRO

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