Rt Hon Lord Lilley

    Lord Lilley:

    My Lords, I congratulate the right reverend Prelate on securing this debate and apologise that, through my incompetence, I am speaking the gap—although, sadly, because of events in Downing Street the whole debate is likely to slip not through a gap but into a black hole.

    The committee on which the right reverend Prelate and I served called for and received evidence about the lifestyle changes necessary to meet net zero. The sixth carbon budget from the CCC provided the answer:

    “Around 10% of the emissions saving in our Balanced Pathway in 2035 comes from … Particularly … an accelerated shift in diets away from meat and dairy products, reductions in waste, slower growth in flights and reductions in travel demand”— in short, lifestyle changes. The other 90% comes from industry and households adopting new technologies which are intended to enable us to maintain our lifestyles.

    The 10% saving from lifestyle changes was far lower than expected and a disappointment to those who wanted to make us adopt more frugal lifestyles, so the committee decided—quite consciously—to omit the 10% figure and, after the report had been drafted, asked officials to find a larger, headline-grabbing figure. They provided two figures, both of which the committee adopted. The first was that 63% of the required savings rely on

    “the involvement of the public in some form.”

    Apparently, this includes savings from industry deploying carbon capture and storage; I am not sure what public involvement is required in that, but it is certainly not a lifestyle change.

    The second, less outrageous, figure was that 32% of savings rely on

    “decisions by individuals and households”.

    This was rounded up in the committee’s press release, which claimed that

    “a third of emission savings … must come from people changing their behaviours.”

    That is doubly disingenuous, first since the bulk of the savings comes not from individuals’ decisions but from removing their right to decide to buy fossil-fuelled cars and boilers in future. Secondly, if electric cars and heat pumps work as their advocates claim, they will not require lifestyle changes. We will be able to drive, not cycle or walk, and heat our homes as at present rather than having to adapt to lower temperatures. Yet the bulk of the report claims that behaviour change will involve more active and frugal lifestyles, which will be good for our bodies and souls.

    I respect and like my colleagues on the committee, most notably our brilliant chairman, but the committee’s brazen economy with the truth was sadly distressing. Presumably, it was designed to shield the public from inconvenient facts that might undermine their willingness to go along with the net-zero agenda. The Climate Change Committee showed that we could meet net zero with pretty minimal changes of lifestyle, but some people are so eager to manage our lives that they ignored that advice and advocate re-enacting the hugely intrusive policies of the pandemic, which were mercifully temporary, on what must be a permanent basis. I regret that conclusion.