‘Embarrassingly wrong’ Tufton Street Net Zero report gets extensive coverage in right-wing press

The claims contained in the report were fact checked by a number of climate academics and journalists who explained why they were wrong.


A report from a Tufton Street think tank riddled with inaccuracies and omissions formed the basis of a number of alarmist articles in the right-wing press about the costs of net zero.

The Civitas report which was authored by management consultant Ewen Stewart, claimed that achieving net zero emissions will cost the UK £4.5 trillion, or £6,000 per household per year, by 2050.

The misleading report was then picked up by the Times, Daily Express, Daily Mail and the Spectator. It was also shared by leading climate science denial groups, including Net Zero Watch, the campaign arm of the Global Warming Policy Foundation.

However, the claims contained in the report were fact checked by a number of climate academics and journalists who explained why the claims were wrong.

Simon Evans posted a thread on X, formerly Twitter, highlighting how the figures produced by Civitas were ‘embarrassingly wrong figures’. Evans highlighted how the report failed to appreciate the potential fall in costs for renewable energies as technologies improve while it pretended fossil-based tech is free. The Civitas report also ignores the savings incurred as a result of buying less fossil fuels and also inaccurately claimed that the development of electric vehicles could cost 114,000 jobs, yet quoted a study that said the electric car market could support 246,000 jobs by 2040.

DeSmog also reports: “The Civitas report confuses the electrical measurement units MW (megawatt) and MWh (megawatt-hour), according to Evans, therefore massively overestimating the cost of building new onshore wind turbines. The report suggests that new onshore wind turbines will cost £1.3 million in capital expenditure per MWh when, in reality, the cost is only a fraction of that amount, at £50-70 per MWh.

“Civitas estimates that the total capital expenditure on onshore wind turbines will come to £810 billion. Even using the false MWh costs, this £810 billion figure is a miscalculation, according to Barnaby Wharton of Renewable UK.”

In response to its claims being fact checked, Civitas issued an update on its website saying: “There has been criticism on social media of two paragraphs on page 47 of this report, where capacity and output are confused. These paragraphs will be amended and updated. The author is happy to acknowledge this and correct the report… The fact remains that we are facing a huge bill for net zero that is many times more than official estimates”.

It shows how misinformed the backlash against net zero is, with Prime Minister Rishi Sunak earlier this month U-turning on a number of his climate pledges in a bid to appeal to Tory voters.

He received condemnation not only from with his own party but also the likes of Al Gore, who said he found Sunak’s actions shocking and really disappointing.

This is just another example of how misleading research from Tufton Street think tanks acts to support the government’s agenda.

Basit Mahmood is editor of Left Foot Forward

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