Young People Should Pay for Green Agenda, Say House of Lords Peers

The economic burden of Boris Johnson’s ‘Build Back Better’ green push towards a net-zero economy should be borne by younger generations as older Britons will not benefit from the schemes, a House of Lords committee has suggested.

A report from the Industry and Regulators Committee in the upper house of the British parliament claimed that it will cost the government some £321 billion to reach the goal of transitioning the British economy to net-zero carbon emissions by the year 2050. This figure is hotly contested, however, with a recent report from the House of Commons stating that the government itself has “no reliable” estimate of the costs for government and indeed consumers of the green agenda.

The Lords committee said that they were not persuaded that the government has enough of a detailed policy plan to meet the commitments laid out, stating that there is a “large gap between the ambitious targets and the extensive investment required from businesses and individuals.”

“We have been told that there is substantial UK and international private capital waiting to fund new technologies, but clarity is needed if we are to take advantage of it,” the report said.

In order to pay for the massive overhaul of the economy the chairman of the committee, Lord Hollick, said: “The amount that can realistically be raised via surcharges on energy bills is not enough.

“Bills are regressive as the poor pay more of their income on energy costs. It is also unfair to the current generation, as we are asking current billpayers to cover the huge costs of something that is designed to mainly benefit future generations.”

The House of Lords peer suggested, therefore, that the government should look to incur more debt through public borrowing to pay for the “long-term infrastructure costs” and pass on the costs to future generations.

The committee went on to ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak to rethink his “opposition to the use of government borrowing, due to its suitability for this type of investment financing, and because future generations will be the main beneficiaries of net-zero investment”.

This passing of the buck to the young would broadly line up with the generational views on climate change, with those over the age of 70 being less likely to be concerned about the issue than their younger counterparts.

Interestingly, the average age of a member of the House of Lords currently stands at 71 years old.

However, in terms of being able to bear the brunt of the spending, older generations are significantly wealthier than their successors, with those aged between 60-64 having nine times as much wealth as their 30-34-year-old counterparts.

It is unclear, however, how willing the Conservative Party-led government will be to increase the debt, which has been a major focus in the wake of massive public spending during the Chinese coronavirus crisis, with the debt jump to over £2.2 trillion or 103.7 per cent of GDP.

In order to cover such costs, the government has introduced a swath of tax hikes, resulting in the highest tax burden for over 70 years.

Boris Johnson’s government has also been unwilling to use new Brexit powers to cut taxes on energy bills — often directed towards funding green schemes — despite the spiralling cost of energy in the country.

Follow Kurt Zindulka on Twitter here @KurtZindulka

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