Office for Budget Responsibility Reveals the Crippling Cost of Net Zero


By Paul Homewood

It’s amazing the things you find when you’re not looking for them!

I found this gem hidden away in one of the OBR’s spreadsheets for the October 2021 Economic & Fiscal Outlook:

Over the full period of 2020 to 2050, the total public spend on Net Zero is as high as £573.1 bn. The Low /High Share scenarios simply reflect what proportion of the cost the government will pay as opposed to the public. It does not alter what we will have to pay in total terms, whether via tax or private spending.

Just focussing on the next few years, the High Share comes to a frightening £138.8 billion by 2030, on top of what we have all paid out up to now.

And this public spending is only the tip of the iceberg, as the next OBR page shows.

By 2050 the impact of Net Zero public spending is projected to increase public sector debt by 11.8% of GDP. But on top of this will come an extra 22.4% of debt resulting from indirect effects and debt interest.

In other words, that figure of £573 bn above is probably only a third of the true cost to the public sector. Meanwhile, as already noted, the private sector will also have to pay out much more in the quest for Net Zero.

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Bryan A
November 25, 2022 10:05 am

I was under the impression that TOTAL cost to NUT ZERO would be in the Tens to Hundreds of TRILLIONS

Reply to  Bryan A
November 25, 2022 10:19 am

Those numbers are either for the USA or the entire world. The UK could probably get by with two trillion. I get that from the numbers in the article, tripled as it suggests, then padded as anything related to the govt should be 🙂

Not that it will accomplish anything of value.

Last edited 2 months ago by JonasM
Bill Toland
Reply to  JonasM
November 25, 2022 11:22 am

The cost of net zero to New Zealand has been independently costed at 5 trillion dollars. The equivalent cost to Britain is 50 trillion pounds.

Joseph Zorzin
Reply to  Bill Toland
November 25, 2022 11:43 am

Of course all big government projects cost much more than the estimates. What’s the next biggest number after a trillion? A gazillion? We need to start talking about how many gazillions it’ll cost.

Bill Toland
Reply to  Joseph Zorzin
November 25, 2022 12:15 pm

The reason why the OBR’s estimate of the cost of net zero is far too low is that they have only costed the existing and proposed climate policies of Britain. These policies will never get Britain to net zero or anywhere close to it.

Sweet Old Bob
Reply to  Bill Toland
November 25, 2022 1:46 pm

“These policies will never get Britain to net zero or anywhere close to it.”

The true “net zero” is what they want our economies to become ….

Reply to  Joseph Zorzin
November 25, 2022 12:59 pm

I remember when the first (at least first publicly admitted) billionaire was written about. That was a big deal in terms of something not before contemplated. It wasn’t all that long ago.

Now ‘earnings’ of 10 of billions per year for an individual are casually mentioned in passing. How long before the first trillionaire is ‘celebrated’ in the press?

Rich Davis
Reply to  Joseph Zorzin
November 25, 2022 1:17 pm

With the dollar becoming worthless, it’s only a matter of time before we’re talking about quadrillions, quintillions, and sextillions. McDonald’s ads to include the catch phrase “change back from your billion”

Reply to  Joseph Zorzin
November 25, 2022 2:19 pm

I believe the next number after a trillion is a quadrillion.

Reply to  JonasM
November 25, 2022 12:51 pm

Not that it will accomplish anything of value.

Money spent (or paid) goes from somewhere to somewhere. There will be some on the ‘to’ side who will benefit greatly. That will be very beneficial to them

Rich Davis
Reply to  AndyHce
November 25, 2022 1:20 pm

Which of course is the true hidden reason that any of this is happening.

B Zipperer
Reply to  Bryan A
November 26, 2022 7:26 pm

Here is the McKinsey 2020 report which calculated ~$270 Trillion USD for NetZero by 2050 for the entire world:

And as I have mentioned previously on WUWT, the end of the report lists some sobering limits..
Some of which include:
1) The roughly $9T/year x 30 years actually needs to be front-loaded in the early years so as to have adequate time to work
2) Requires nearly all nations to work together; no free-riders!
3) All the stuff we do or build has to be a) on-time, b) on-budget, and c) work exactly as predicted. Even the stuff that doesn’t currently exist (needs to be invented) or only exists as a small demonstration project (I’m talking about you, Direct Air Capture of CO2).
4) Even McKinsey is realistic enough to realize there is no political will in the 1st world countries to fund this endeavour.

I’ll add to the list:
5) NetZero by 2050 will be the largest graft & corruption mechanism the world has ever seen.
[The USA has “invested” ~$2Trillion in Africa since the 1960’s: what % of that ever filtered down to the average citizen?]
6) The environmental lobby will never allow the scale of mining all the necessary minerals that would be required

Tom Halla
November 25, 2022 10:05 am

A billion here, a billion there, pretty soon you are talking about real money.

Reply to  Tom Halla
November 25, 2022 10:36 am

They’ll make it up on volume.

Reply to  Tom Halla
November 25, 2022 11:42 am

Uh, it’s a trillion here…a trillion there now. Just saw a video interview of Elon Musk and he sez solar power is awesome….mentioned some no. of square miles of solar pnels would supply all USA energy needs…who knew? Musk knows his audience.

Bryan A
Reply to  antigtiff
November 25, 2022 5:40 pm

Yep just a tiny amount…about 4.6 – 5.2 million mi² of panels
Problem is the U.S. only covers 3.797 million mi²
Keep in mind you need to produce ALL the energy that the U.S. uses in a 24 hour period and do it from 10am til 2pm. After that the sun is ineffective…oh and all that excess needs to be stored until it gets used.

November 25, 2022 10:54 am

As the Saintly Attenborough might say, “Cheap as chips”.

Peta of Newark
Reply to  strativarius
November 25, 2022 12:34 pm

and once you understand how Roundup works and that almost all UK potatoes are full of the stuff, Twice as Toxic

As far as UK Gov guesstimates go, Smart Meters area nice example.
They were forecast (8 or 9 yrs ago) to cost £341 each and to save the average punter many hundreds of pounds annually.

The last I saw published, maybe 3 years ago now, British Gas had set aside £11 Billion in order to install 11million of the things, so £1,000 each and inside 5 years the cost had tripled.
While folks like Homewood worked out and Gov concurred, the hideous contraptions *might* save Mr & Mrs Average only 2 or 3 quid per year.
Some folks (about half the people in the UK) despise them and some have asked for them to be removed – at a quoted cost of £350+

Anyway, there’s our benchmark.
They say 500 Billion now but really mean 1,500 billion and ‘the private sector’ to cough up what? 3,000 Billion on top of that…..

So we have £4,500 Billion and it triples every 5 years between now and 2050..

Last edited 2 months ago by Peta of Newark
Reply to  Peta of Newark
November 25, 2022 4:12 pm

The U.S. Government officially requested the data and methods used by EU and WHO to reach their conclusions.
Both refused to share any serious details.

November 25, 2022 11:46 am

By 2050 the impact of Net Zero public spending is projected to increase public sector debt by 11.8% of GDP. But on top of this will come an extra 22.4% of debt resulting from indirect effects and debt interest.

Well since those are relative number, but absolute costs, I am guessing this assumes some healthy economy and can change if the economic climate turns colder.

Reply to  morfu03
November 25, 2022 6:49 pm

But morfu,
Surely an economy where energy costs rise every Tuesday and Thursday [and one Sunday in three], might not meet your – or my – definition of a healthy economy.

But – hey – it’s only money.
Invest in land, and sheep [meat, manure, and wool – what’s not to like?]


November 25, 2022 12:31 pm

Not my problem, I’m of an age that this will not overly affect me. If young people believe in this Net Zero nonsense, it’s only right they pick up the tab. If they choose not to listen to the wisdom of their elders, it’s their problem.
If the next generation wants a life with the quality and opportunities of my generation, they need to accept we need fossil fuels, not windmills.
Ye sow, so shall ye reap.

Reply to  Jackdaw
November 25, 2022 1:20 pm

I can see your perspective, Jack, since I am probably of your age, however I have children and grandchildren who have been raised as conservatives and will be stuck with the lunacy of the left.

I am not wealthy, but am attempting to build some intergenerational wealth (rental properties, etc.) to benefit my grandchildren when the tax burdens of the future attempt to crush what is left of the middle class.

Reply to  Drake
November 26, 2022 3:23 am

You make a valid point, not all young people will swallow this guff hook, line and sinker, and there are older people that do believe it.
I hope for your kids’ sake, good sense will eventually prevail.

Reply to  Jackdaw
November 25, 2022 9:54 pm

Young people only believe in the NutZero cult because the older generations are indoctrinating them 24/7 and no one has the balls or the decency to point out the lies.

Reply to  PCman999
November 26, 2022 3:15 am

If kids, or anyone else of any age, are dumb enough to be indoctrinated and not do their own research, they deserve what they get. I believed a lot of this tosh several years ago, but started reading and listening to alternative arguments and have now changed my mind.

Chris Nisbet
November 25, 2022 12:36 pm

So much money, and so little impact on the thing it’s allegedly meant to ‘fix’ (the climate).
Imagine if all that money was spent on something useful instead.

Rich Davis
Reply to  Chris Nisbet
November 25, 2022 1:24 pm

No worries. Just as soon as communism is in place, all the money will go to the party leaders.

David Wojick
November 25, 2022 12:37 pm

The “power” costs shown are ridiculously small. To make renewables reliable at net zero requires well over a trillion pounds alone.

Reply to  David Wojick
November 28, 2022 1:14 am

And another couple of £Trillion in the UK to increase the grid, and dig up every road to make the cables bigger! Invest in copper now, it will go much higher in price as every country does this, and the supplies run out.. could be quite soon. Aluminium will become very scarce too as there won’t be any electricity to refine the quantity needed! Chicken and egg situation!

Chris Hanley
November 25, 2022 12:38 pm

UK government debt has jumped to ~100% of GDP up from ~30% in 2000, productivity growth has stalled the inflation rate is 11% while the GDP growth has slipped into the negative.
Meanwhile chancellor Hunt has the impudence to tell the public to ‘change their behaviour’ — instead of the reverse.
Mad government, mad monarch, “whom the gods would destroy they first make mad” (ancient adage).

Last edited 2 months ago by Chris Hanley
John in Oz
November 25, 2022 2:12 pm

Do these estimates include the costs to replace almost all of the ruinables every 10 years for batteries and 25 years for solar and wind generators?

Reply to  John in Oz
November 25, 2022 2:30 pm

No hell no. The truth will not allow them to keep you in chains.

November 25, 2022 4:05 pm

“In other words, that figure of £573 bn above is probably only a third of the true cost to the public sector. Meanwhile, as already noted, the private sector will also have to pay out much more in the quest for Net Zero.”

I saw buildings mentioned, but not a word about land. Land is expensive. Eastern wind and solar farms will be shoehorned everywhere now considered green land in urban and suburban zones.

  • Both wind farms and solar arrays are extremely land intensive.
  • Land that is no longer cropland after the turbines are emplaced.
  • Land that is no longer residential lands. Rural properties are ignored, meaning wind turbine afflicted land suffer.
November 25, 2022 5:09 pm

Anyone seriously estimating the cost of Nut Zero is incompetent. It is a fool’s errand.

The best analogy is a donkey chasing a carrot on a stick attached to its back. The donkey can never get the carrot. With Nut Zero, the stick is constantly getting longer.

It costs USA nothing to create USD. But it does not matter how many USDs are created, the goal of Nut Zero can never be reached. Because it takes more energy to make the stuff needed than that same stuff can ever produce. So creating more USDs becomes highly inflationary on a global scale up to the point where USD remains the global currency. Before there is any significant distance into the Nut Zero journey, China will have long stopped accepting USD denominated debt for stuff made in China.

USA will need to borrow CNY to pay for all that useless stuff. Basically China will own USA and will have the armed forces to recover the loans should USA hint at defaulting. And the only way they will be able to repay current loans will be to borrow more CNY.

China will be finding coal hard to come by on its own land this century. There will be growing urgency for China to hold more of the coal wealth globally. USA, Indonesia, Africa and Australia are good targets in that regard.

Civilisation as we now know it was literally built from coal. Coal is still the true wealth creator of modern times.China is the 21st century testament to that fact.

Kevin Kilty
Reply to  RickWill
November 26, 2022 7:44 am

It costs USA nothing to create USD. 

Of course this is not so. Perhaps it doesn’t cost the U.S. Federal government, but everyone else pays via the resulting inflation this creation of dollars produces. If I have a pension with a nominal value of $500,000 USD that I have built over 40 years; then consumer price inflation of 6-8% per year is costing me, through reduced purchasing power, $30,000-$40,000 per year. It will be realized after I retire. One simply cannot keep up in the present environment.

Producers are in a much worse predicament because they have to purchase consumables, the price of which is inflating, and then figure out how to replace capital assets at some future point, and raise the wages of employees made cranky by consumer inflation. Unless they are very careful about finding a way to fund these additional replacement costs they can convey themselves right out of business.

It goes without saying that almost no one fully comprehends this, and the young, who have no savings are only indirectly affected.

November 27, 2022 7:18 am

The report is interesting, but is nonsense.
For one thing – the UK is spending 150 billion GBP to subsidize consumer and business energy bills just for the next year or two. Clearly 577 billion GBP or even 1.5 trillion GBP is a massive underestimate given the above baseline government energy spending.
Europe overall is spending something like 300 billion to 350 billion euros – or double the entire Energiewende cost – just to subsidize European energy bills for one year.
Or put another way: the costs to build out solar PV/wind turns out to not even be the largest cost of energy transition. The cost of energy bills due to bad fossil fuel policies, to consumers and businesses, is even higher.

ERic Harpham
November 27, 2022 8:13 am

All UK residents should google “operation earthquake”.
This is a campaign by the Motorcycle Action Group, Fiar Fuel UK, Alliance of Britsish Drivers and others to send letters to their MPs asking if they support the repeal of the Net Zero target for no more new ICE vehicles after 2030. Then they will only vote for candidates at the next general election who will repeal this nasty piece of legislation.

As an aside I do wish we had a voting slot on our ballot papers in the UK, like some of your states, for “None of the above”.

November 27, 2022 8:41 am

Over the full period of 2020 to 2050, the total public spendING on Net Zero is as high as £573.1 bn.
And why use euro bank notes to illustrate an article about money in the UK? Even when the UK was a member of the European Union it did not belong to the Eurozone.

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