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May 15, 2020
By John Constable

Trying to reach Net Zero carbon dioxide emissions would be economically and socially devastating, trying to push a net zero goal in Coronavirus relief legislation is likely exacerbate the economic downturn.

In 2019, the GWPF examined the impact the goal of Net Zero carbon dioxide emissions would have in a post-Brexit, U.K. and European economies.

The Net Zero commitment cannot now be considered independently of the situation created by the restrictions imposed to address Covid-19, and measures to recover, not from the virus, but from those restrictions.

Trying to hit a Net Zero goal in a more or less intact economy was to begin with because it would have slowed or retarded economic turnover and growth and imposed “genuine human hardship, but that public resistance would have set in, perhaps after some decades, and that a correction would and could have taken place, partly assisted by the fact that other national systems would not have been as seriously affected. There would have been lost growth, degraded societal resilience to exogenous shock, a considerable loss of comparative national standing, but the mistaken efforts to deliver Net Zero through renewable energy, because this is all about renewables, would be a perturbation, substantial but a perturbation only, in a longer term national and global trend.

Now, however, the U.K. and Europe are faced with a compounded problem of how deliver the Net Zero target in a post-COVID-19 economy “that has been deliberately tipped into a state of deep contraction, surrounded by other national systems all similarly, though not quite equally, affected. And all this will happen against a background of highly significant increases in geopolitical tension that will at least impede trade, and threaten much worse. The context in which we are now talking about Net Zero is not one of growth and globalisation, but one of contraction and deglobalisation.”

Trying to reach net zero will make an already bad situation worse, and preventing a much needed economic recovery.