A court has told climate policy chiefs to show why they think reaching net-zero carbon emissions will cost only 1 percent of GDP.
To be hit by 2050, the target is the centerpiece of Boris Johnson’s (pictured) presidency at the UN climate change conference in Glasgow in November.
But critics point out that other countries have put a much higher cost on the same ambitious goal.
The 1.3 percent figure was published by the Committee on Climate Change in 2019, thereafter being enshrined in law.
Since then the panel has refused repeated requests for access to the spreadsheets behind the calculation. However, the Information Tribunal has now ruled that the data must be released.
Judge Sophie Buckley said: ‘There is an extremely strong public interest in enabling scrutiny of the data, models, and calculations which underpin the CCC’s conclusion that the net-zero target could be met at an annual resource cost of up to 1-2 percent of GDP.
‘Any errors in the calculations that led to the CCC’s conclusions, which, in turn, led to the legislative change, have the potential to have a very significant impact on the lives and finances of large numbers of people, on the spending of large sums of public money, and on the policies of the UK Government over the next 30 years.’
According to the CCC, the UK’s economic output will be around £4.6 trillion in 2050, putting the 1.3 percent cost at £50 billion.
The tribunal case was brought by Andrew Montford, deputy director of the Global Warming Policy Forum, founded by former chancellor Lord Lawson.
Mr. Montford filed a freedom of information request for the spreadsheets and when this was refused appealed to Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham.
The CCC has said releasing the spreadsheets would be too time-consuming and ‘cause confusion, and distract public debate’. It also said that some parts of the analysis had been written over, instead of being preserved on its computer systems.
Ministers have repeatedly claimed the cost will be modest, citing the CCC’s report.
Lord Deben, chairman of the committee, said it was ‘recognized universally as the most seriously presented, costed effort’.
Lord Lawson said: ‘We must put this potentially ruinous commitment on hold until there has been full disclosure and thorough scrutiny. If it turns out that the estimated cost is far too low, then the Government must think again.’
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