Government ordered to release Net Zero cost calculations

  • Date: 21/01/21
  • Press Release, Global Warming Policy Forum (GWPF)

London, 21 January: The government faces a major embarrassment after the Information Commissioner ordered the Treasury to release an email containing its official estimate of the cost of decarbonising the economy.

In June 2019, some weeks before Parliament adopted the 2050 Net Zero target as law, the then chancellor Philip Hammond wrote to Prime Minister Theresa May, warning that her plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050 was likely to cost the UK more than £1 trillion.

In his letter, the chancellor wrote that the costs meant that less funding would be available for schools, the police and hospitals, pointing out that Net Zero would render some industries “economically uncompetitive.” 

A Freedom of Information (FOI) request for the underlying cost calculations of the estimate was refused by the Treasury, arguing that these were “internal communications.” Remarkably, the cost estimate was contained in the body of a single email.

However, the Information Commissioner has now ruled that the public interest was not given sufficient weight in the Treasury’s decision and has ordered the cost calculation’s release [1].

Welcoming the decision, Andrew Montford, deputy director of the Global Warming Policy Forum said:

This is a major embarrassment for the Treasury. It appears that it cobbled together a few numbers on the back of an envelope, and simply emailed them off to the Prime Minister without a blush. After Parliament’s decision to adopt the Net Zero target without any meaningful scrutiny, and without consideration of the economic and engineering implications, it is becoming clear that the whole project is misgovernance on a historic scale.”

[1] The Commissioner’s Decision Notice ref IC-46878-R8K0, will be published on the ICO website in due course.

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