Align Carbon Emission Goals With the Economy: Tony Blair Institute

A former World Bank economist said the economic consequences and constraints of net zero have been ‘ignored.’
Align Carbon Emission Goals With the Economy: Tony Blair Institute
Undated image of former Prime Minister Sir Tony Blair. (Victoria Jones/PA)
Owen Evans

Carbon-emission-reduction goals need to be aligned with economic ones, according to a report by the Tony Blair’s think tank.

Released on Thursday, the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change (TBI) “Reimagining the UK’s Net-Zero Strategy” said that the country needs to deliver decarbonisation without “sacrificing broader social and economic goals.”

The wide-ranging report by the former Labour leader and prime minister warned that asking individuals and businesses to change their way of life against their will “may cause public backlash.”


The report suggested that the responsibility for plans to meet the carbon budgets from the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero (DESNZ) should be moved to the Treasury to better align carbon-emission-reduction considerations with economic ones.

It added that the move should be combined with a comprehensive review of how the Treasury considers climate change in economic and fiscal decisions.

The UK has signed into law a policy to achieve net zero by 2050, with the Conservative government setting out a strategy called “Build Back Greener” to decarbonise all sectors of the UK economy.

“It is good to see that this report recognises the need to balance decarbonisation against economic considerations,” Harry Wilkinson head of policy at Net Zero Watch told The Epoch Times by email.

“The innovative suggestion to move responsibility for carbon budgets to the Treasury has great merit, and would almost certainly reduce the influence of environmentalist civil servants at DESNZ,” he added.

Very Distortionary

Gordon Hughes, a former professor of Economics at Edinburgh and former senior adviser on energy and environmental policy at the World Bank until 2001, told The Epoch Times that climate policy lacks any “economic context or any economic analysis.”

Hughes was the co-author of one of the first international analyses of climate change and has criticised the massive scale of expenditures required to implement net zero policies.

“The point that they’re making is ‘don’t pretend that zero is anything other than very costly and potentially very distortionary in terms of the economy,’” he said.

“Therefore, the choices that need to be made should not be made by a department and a group of civil servants who have no responsibility for the wider impacts of the policies,” he added

He said that it is very clear net zero policies, whether influenced by the Climate Change Committee partly or the Department for Net Zero policies, are “remarkably lacking any economic context or any economic analysis.”

“They simply ignore the economic consequences and indeed constraints on how to go about achieving the objective,” he added.

Carbon Taxes

The report said that the “purest way to shape markets in favour of clean technologies is by implementing carbon taxes” a measure that imposes a tax charge on businesses for each tonne of carbon dioxide (CO2) emitted.

Mr. Hughes said that banning petrol-powered cars, enforcing the use of heat pumps and combined with carbon tax is “incredibly inefficient.”

“It’s both costly and achieved almost nothing at all,” he said.

“You are simultaneously distorting all kinds of markets in one way or another. So essentially you do one or the other, but not both,” he added.

He said the policy of the Department of Net Zero, is essentially “if it’s got carbon, regulate it.”

“It’s the same mentality after the Second World War when the government couldn’t think of anything to do but ration everything,” he added.

“All it does, especially for carbon, is that it essentially drives it overseas [...] and just simply ensures that we lose out because China or India or Vietnam or whatever, who do all of the things that emit carbon,” he said.

The Epoch Times contacted the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero (DESNZ) and Climate Change Committee for comment.

Owen Evans is a UK-based journalist covering a wide range of national stories, with a particular interest in civil liberties and free speech.