Doomed Planet

Woe to be in England

The cost-of-living crisis in the United Kingdom (UK) has pushed households into financial hardship and the looming prospect of poverty. According to a survey conducted in February 2024 by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), a near majority of households reported an increase in their cost of living compared to the previous month.[1] This increase, evidenced by high levels of ongoing inflation, has been confirmed by Statista, a German online statistics organisation, which notes that, “As of March 2024, 46 per cent of households in Great Britain reported that their cost of living had increased in the previous month … Various factors have been driving price rises in Britain, with the inflation rate hitting a high of 11.1 percent in October 2022.”

There are many causes for this economic malaise, evidenced by, amongst other things, a surge in food prices. These include a shortage of workers, which makes performance of essential tasks artificially expensive, the energy tribulations caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and the COVID-19 pandemic’s adverse effect on supply chains.

The UK’s unconditional commitment to achieving net zero emissions by 2050 has worsened the economic stagnation because the transition to ‘renewables’ is expensive. In this context, a Spectator article focusing on the impact of net zero policies, is germane

To claim that net zero has sparked an industrial boom in Britain. you have to be pretty inventive with the figures. … If we are losing out on investment and job creation, that has less to do with the relaxation of one or two net-zero targets. Britain, after all leads the world purely in terms of the reduction in territorial carbon emissions, which have halved since 1990. It has rather more to do with the expense and bureaucracy being imposed on businesses in a desperate attempt to reach overly demanding net-zero targets.[6]

On this view, the UK government’s decision to move to net zero by 2050 and its determination to transition to a decarbonised future have undoubtedly exacerbated the cost-of-living crisis. But this view does not appear to have diminished the government’s appetite for pursuing a policy of decarbonisation. Indeed, the UK has adopted a comprehensive set of policies and commitments to facilitate the achievement of the 2050 target. Specifically, the government’s 2021 Net Zero Strategy outlines a series of measures designed to reduce emissions and meet targets up to the sixth carbon budget, covering the period between 2033 and 2037.[7] The 2023 Net Zero Growth Plan builds on these strategies and focuses on the deployment of technologies for the decarbonisation of homes, power, industry, and transportation.[8]

In addition, the United Nations 2030 Agenda, and its associated sustainable development goals (SDGs) – one of which strongly endorses the government’s climate change narrative – are promoted in the UK as appropriate tools suitable to alleviate poverty, protect the planet, and contribute to worldwide prosperity. However, these goals, implemented, sometimes enthusiastically, by many companies, do not meet with general approval. Its critics lament that the implementation of the 2030 Agenda changes the function of companies from institutions established to maximise shareholder profit and offering services to their consumer clients, to social engineering tools.

In doing so, these companies have effectively become government agents that implement social engineering policies, which may be hostile to the views and aspirations of their shareholders. More damning that these policies have accelerated the cost-of-living crisis in the UK by diverting massive amounts of money to the financing of divisive policies which support only a small minority of the UK population. Using companies as change agents has also effectively obliterated the division between the ‘public’ and ‘private’ spheres of commercial life in the UK.

At present, the rate of inflation stands at 4 per cent, much higher than the expected and manageable 2-3 per cent. The poorest households, which already spend most of their income on essential items such as food and housing, are the hardest hit by the cost-of-living crisis which is, understandably, one of the main concerns of the UK government.[2]

In January 2024, according to the Harmonised Index of Consumer Prices (HICP), the UK’s inflation rate of 4 per cent was higher than that of France, Germany, the Eurozone average, and the United States.[3] The monster of inflation has been exacerbated by the relatively low level of business investment compared to other G7 countries. This shortfall may expose the existence of structural impediments.

Two months later the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) predicted that there would be a slight increase of 0.1 per cent in real household disposable incomes per head in 2024, followed by a higher increase of 1.7 per cent in 2025.[4] However, households in the UK with lower incomes are disproportionally affected by rising prices because they are more susceptible to high food, transport, and energy costs.

The parlous situation confronting low-income households is heightened by the recent decision of the Bank of England to increase interest rates.[5] The cost of borrowing, especially for mortgages, has risen substantially, and approximately 1.6 million households that have fixed-rate mortgages expiring in 2024 will face higher mortgage costs. Moreover, rental prices have also increased in recent years, which could potentially impact household budgets further.

Ultimately, managing the cost of living and protecting the environment need not be mutually exclusive endeavours. However, different crises – especially the cost-of-living crisis – will continue to occur at unexpected moments. The UK government will need to moderate its commitment to net zero emissions and refrain from imposing its divisive social engineering policies on companies if it wants to win the war against inflation and restore a modicum of prosperity to the UK’s population.

To address these challenges, the UK government, adopting targeted anti-inflationary measures, therefore needs to prioritise policies that will encourage business investment, increase the supply of workers, and improve the overall well-being of its population. In taking these steps, the UK might build a more resilient economy that can better withstand future challenges and deliver measurable improvement in the prosperity of its citizens.

Kashan Pirzada is a lecturer of accounting at Birmingham City University. He previously served as an associate professor of accounting at the University Utara Malaysia (UUM) and as an Associate Fellow of the Asian Research Institute for Corporate Governance (ARICG).

Gabriël Moens AM is an Emeritus Professor of Law at the University of Queensland. He also served as Pro Vice Chancellor, Dean and Professor of Law at Murdoch University. He recently published The Unlucky Country, co-authored with Professor Augusto Zimmermann (Locke Press, 2024)


[1] House of Common Library: Rising cost of living in the UK 8 March 2024, available at

[2] Statista, available at:

[3] Harmonised Index of Consumer Prices, available at:

[4] Economic and fiscal outlook – March 2024, available at:

[5] Interest Rates and Monetary Policy, available at:

[6] ‘Net-zero targets have hamstrung British prosperity’, The Spectator, 2 March 2024, available at:

[7]  Department for Energy Security and Net Zero, and Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy, Net Zero Strategy: Build Back Greener, Published19 October 2021, Last updated 5 April 2022, available at:

[8] Department for Energy Security and Net Zero, Powers Up Britain: Net Zero Growth Plan, Updated 4 April 2023, available at:

7 thoughts on “Woe to be in England

  • Ian MacDougall says:

    “The UK government will need to moderate its commitment to net zero emissions and refrain from imposing its divisive social engineering policies on companies if it wants to win the war against inflation and restore a modicum of prosperity to the UK’s population.”
    I respectfully suggest that should be altered to read: “The UK government will need to moderate its commitment to net zero emissions and refrain from imposing its divisive social engineering policies on companies if it wants to win the short-term war against inflation and restore a modicum of prosperity to the UK’s population in the short term..
    There are certain unalterable physical laws which say that the CO2 ‘positively emitted’ into the atmosphere will always be a heat-trapping gas, forever and forever. Amen.
    At least in this universe.

    • ianl says:

      The trollster is waving his arms around again (after promising not to).

      Recently several atmospheric physicists, both with separately achieved Nobels for their work, have again pointed out that the wavelengths of reflected energy that CO2 molecules absorb (and then reflect in all directions) is quite limited. Since sunlight energy as source is consistent within a fairly narrow range, CO2 absorption is already capped, no matter what atmospheric concentration CO2 molecules attain.

      Both these physicists point out, yet again, that the atmospheric concentration of CO2 can double from it’s current state and any resultant temperature change would not be measurable.

      Our trollster, though, seems unlikely to read these peer reviewed articles. Instead we will get arm waving streamed through the Guardian.

      • pgang says:

        Don’t you know that increasing CO2 also makes the sun fatter so that it sweats out more energy ? Soon it will explode, and then what? That’s when we will really need windmills to keep social media working.
        Begone with your superstitious arithmetic. SCIENCE please.

      • Ian MacDougall says:

        In my official capacity as House Trollster, I would note that ‘ianl,’ or whatever his real name is, neglects to cite the names of his eminent Nobel-winning physicists, nor the journals or whatever in which their statements are to be found.
        In my view, being also of a freethinking, liberal, and empiricist persuasion, the atmosphere’s CO2 component absorbs electromagnetic radiation in the frequencies it does, much as water molecules do inside an operating microwave oven. Those energised molecules in turn pass their absorbed energy to molecules of protein, carbohydrates, fats, and oils, and as well, to the ceramic and glass containers.
        BUT MOST IMPORTANTLY, I would suggest that ‘arichards’ pass his/her vital understandings without delay to the 198 scientific organisations worldwide which endorse the AGW hypothesis, including the Royal Society, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and Australia’s own CSIRO. Clearly, the sooner they all stop stumbling around in their present endarkenment, the better.

  • arichards says:

    Some facts for the trollster:- 1] ALL our food comes from the combination of carbon dioxide and water by plants [photosynthesis] to produce carbohydrates and water. 2] ALL the oxygen we breathe comes from the same process. Therefore all life on earth depends on carbon dioxide [‘carbon’] How can a gas that produces all our food and all the oxygen we breathe be bad? We need more CO2, not less!

  • arichards says:

    Sorry – –‘produces carbyhydrates and oxygen.’

  • svfbrain says:

    “Ultimately, managing the cost of living and protecting the environment need not be mutually exclusive endeavours.”
    As long as demonising CO2 emissions is seen, wrongly, as protecting the environment, the impact on cost of living of sky high energy prices will condemn the West to a declining standard of living, which is the Left’s real aim.

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