The Tories are doomed if they betray Thatcher and retreat from net zero – The Telegraph

Sunak and Truss must stop bashing renewables and acknowledge the Green Lady’s prescient warnings on nature
The surest way for the Tories to lose power for a generation is to resile from green commitments and flirt with climate nihilism, in body language if not yet in explicit terms.
At best it is a recipe for economic decline, at worst a suicidal reflex that relegates Britain to the margins of the greatest bonanza of wealth creation and technological progress of the next three decades.
It further imperils union with Scotland, which hosts a royal share of Europe’s offshore wind potential and is betting on green energy for its salvation.
It throws away the UK’s foremost diplomatic achievement of the last 15 years, and plays to foes eager to misconstrue Brexit as a variant of reactionary Trumpism.
Coming as the UK still holds the presidency of Cop26, it casts British pledges in Glasgow as cynical posturing and undermines a groundbreaking accord that did not win as much praise as it deserved – chiefly because the press corps did not understand the way it mobilised $130 trillion of Big Money behind the green push. Instead of being the first major country to enshrine net zero into law, we would become a devalued backwater slithering into irrelevance.
What are we to make of green-bashing by Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak at the hustings? Is this unseemly Dutch auction just pantomime, to be forgotten once the campaign is over? Perhaps. But I wonder whether they realise how much damage they are already doing to the Tory brand with facile one-liners, even to the point of trashing solar power.
Data from National Grid shows that solar generated 7.3pc of total UK electricity in July. As I write, it is 22pc. This is displacing liquefied natural gas imported at nosebleed prices above $50 mmBtu from the US and Qatar. It is helping to mitigate the worst energy crisis since the Second World War.
“Our fields shouldn’t be full of solar panels, and I will change the rules,” said Ms Truss, to hearty applause, at least from one segment of her Tory audience, the clips now going viral on social media in a public relations debacle.
For most Britons under the age of 50, such political signalling is more than irritating. It suggests an ideological chasm between the Conservative Party and the ascendant cohort of voters on the critical issue of our time. 
It is odd for Tory contenders to go down this road because polls suggest that the party base is not in fact the stock caricature of octogenarian shire Tories unwilling to face change. 
The latest polling from UK Onward shows that 51pc of committed Conservative voters wish to stay the course on net zero, against 34pc who wish to scrap it. The cost of living shock has not shifted opinion. Most blame it on Putin’s war and global forces.
The detail ought to be a red alarm for Conservative Central Office. Some 24pc of Conservative voters would abstain or switch to rivals if the party reneges on net zero. Former minister Lord Goldsmith said he would vote Labour. Others would go for the Liberal Democrats, as they did in the Tory seat of Yeoville. 
Two-thirds of undecided voters would have nothing to do with such a Conservative Party. This way lies an electoral bloodbath, the mirror image of Jeremy Corbyn’s wipe-out in 2019, and possibly a fundamental realignment of British politics ending in Tory extinction.
Rishi Sunak talked a good game at Cop26. He pledged to “rewire the entire global financial system for net zero”, aware that the City of London could become the global epicentre of green finance, much as it dominates currencies and derivatives.
He knows that the UK is already a global player in green tech. He knows that offshore wind is the best levelling-up investment yet discovered, a lifeline to the long-neglected towns of the East Coast, as well as generating ever-cheaper electricity – down to £37.35 MWh in the latest auction.
Goldman Sachs, the voice of Big Money and Mr Sunak’s alma mater, has just published its latest Carbonomics report on what the global energy system will look like over the next 20 years. It makes a sobering read for refuseniks. The old order will be swept away at a torrid pace and the next super-billionaires will be in green hydrogen, electrolysis, energy storage, smart meters, charge networks for electric vehicles, insulation and so on.
Goldman thinks overall energy costs per capita in Europe and the UK will fall 36pc below pre-Ukraine averages by 2050. The International Monetary Fund and the International Energy Agency says the energy bill as a share of GDP will halve from 4pc to 2pc by mid-century under fast-track green plans. It is a gain, not a cost.
Personally, I support North Sea drilling on the grounds that it is good for national security, good for the trade balance, and good for the climate – since well-regulated UK gas has lower emissions of CO2 and methane. But the Goldman report makes clear that gas and oil demand will go into steep decline from the mid-2020s onwards. Be careful jumping on the wrong bandwagon.  
Rishi Sunak understands “carbonomics”. He has shown courage in sticking to his guns (sort of) on austerity – even if I disagree with the policy – so why stoop to obscurantist nonsense on net zero instead of proclaiming the economic possibilities of green tech?
He talks of his “unshakeable faith in the future” and of the moral duty not to hand down our debts to our children. He might usefully apply this principle to the planet. How much would he gain in national and global credibility if he confronted closet-denialists head on and vowed to defeat them?
The Burkean conservative code is cross-generational duty, the Contract of Eternal Society, “a partnership not only between those who are living, but between those who are living, those who are dead, and those who are to be born”. It entails a moral obligation to pass on the world we inherited unharmed.
It was the code of Margaret Thatcher, who invoked our collective responsibility as “stewards of the earth”. Both Tory candidates claim her mantle, but forget her scientific rigour and her prescient warnings on nature. 
It is worth remembering what the Green Lady actually said at the United Nations in 1989 when she assumed world leadership in fighting planetary malpractice, before it was fashionable. “It is life itself – human life, the innumerable species of our planet – that we wantonly destroy,” she said.
“It is mankind and his activities which are changing the environment of our planet in damaging and dangerous ways. We are seeing a vast increase in the amount of carbon dioxide reaching the atmosphere. We are seeing the destruction on a vast scale of tropical forests which are uniquely able to remove carbon dioxide from the air,” she said.
She insisted that economic growth is the solution, not the problem, but a “growth which does not plunder the planet today and leave our children to deal with the consequences tomorrow”.
She warned implicitly that if free-market conservatives abdicate responsibility, the statist Left and eco-millenarians will hijack the debate and impose their deranged notions. “We must resist the simplistic tendency to blame modern multinational industry for the damage. Far from being the villains, it is on them that we rely to do the research and find the solutions,” she said.
It was Burkean conservatism at its best. A Tory party that turns its back on Burke and Thatcher does not deserve to govern, and nor will it for long. 
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