Net Zero Behaviour Change Mind Games
How the Government plans to use psychological techniques and propaganda to get us to accept the Net Zero dystopia
In an earlier article, I covered the objectives of the Net Zero zealots. This article examines the psychological behaviour change methods being proposed to get us to accept the Net Zero agenda.
They include what are termed downstream measures that amount to a massive propaganda campaign from Government, regulation of advertising and influence on TV drama and news to promote upbeat stories about Net Zero. In other words, the Net Zero agenda is going to be so good for us, we need to be bombarded with state-approved positive messages about it from all angles.
Mid-stream interventions include influencing the physical, social, economic and digital environment to alter what is offered to consumers and change perceptions of what is socially acceptable. 15-minute cities and ULEZ are good examples of these types of measures.
Upstream recommendations are a blatant attempt to get the Government to intervene across vast swathes of the economy to align businesses, markets and institutions with Net Zero. These include a meat tax, making flights more expensive, defaulting us onto renewable energy tariffs and making heat pumps look cheaper than gas-boilers.
Overall, the combination of these policies paints a picture of an overweening, authoritarian state using the excuse of “climate” to interfere in every corner of our lives. They want to control what we watch on TV, the adverts we are allowed to see, where we go on holiday, what we eat, how we heat our homes, the cars we drive, how we move about to socialise, to how we get to the shops and what we are allowed to buy.
However, the HoL committee rejected an invitation to commit to limiting themselves two overseas flights per year. So, these measure will only apply to the little people; if you sit in the House of Lords, you can carry on regardless.
They want to force us to become the kind of authoritarian state that we opposed during the Cold War. We need to call time on this nonsense.
There are a number of bodies recommending that the UK Government about how to use behaviour change to achieve their Net Zero objectives. The leading two are the House of Lords Environment and Climate Change Committee and the Behavioural Insights Team. Both have produced extensive reports recommending using behavioural techniques to achieve Net Zero goals.
But I hear you say, the UK, home to the Mother of Parliaments and a beacon of freedom of democracy around the world would never stoop so low as to use psychological techniques to manipulate its population, would it?
Well, let me introduce you to the ex-Health Minister Matt Hancock who decided it was a good idea to “frighten the pants off” everyone during the Covid pandemic.
My previous article covered the targets that must be hit to achieve Net Zero:
46-60% less energy per person
35-50% less meat
20-25% less agricultural land
Reduced car miles
Expensive foreign travel
Colder, more expensive homes.
This article will highlight the techniques being recommended to Government to persuade us to accept this dystopian nightmare.
For convenience, links to the two main reports referred to in the article are given below:
House of Lords - In Our Hands: Behaviour Change for Climate and Environmental Goals (HoL)
Behavioural Insights Team - How to Build a Net Zero Society (BIT)
Levers of Net Zero Behaviour Change
The BIT report uses a model of upstream, midstream and downstream interventions to achieve their aims. Downstream interventions are communications urging consumers to make the “right choices”. Midstream interventions influence the “physical, social, economic and digital choice environment” to alter what is offered to consumers and change perceptions of what is socially acceptable. By upstream interventions they mean “editing consumer choice environments”. This involves Government intervention to align businesses, markets and institutions with Net Zero.
Overall, they believe 62% of necessary emissions reductions depend upon behaviour, with 53% coming from adoption of new technologies like electric vehicles and 9% on lifestyle changes like eating less meat and dairy as well as less driving and flying. They never quite explain why such oppressive measures are required to cut just 9% of emissions.
Downstream Net Zero Propaganda Machine
The HoL report says “departments from across government should use the full range of policy levers—including regulatory and financial (dis)incentives, the development and adaptation of physical and choice environments, and communication and engagement—to enable changes to the most impactful climate and environmental behaviours”. They also call for the creation of a central team to coordinate behaviour change for climate and environmental goals across departments. This team should promote messages to “shift social norms”. In fact, in its evidence to HoL, the CAST consortium argued that “it is not possible to achieve adequate levels of behaviour change without changes to social norms”. They want to achieve this by replaying the Covid playbook. “During the pandemic, Ofcom applied rules on harmful content in the Broadcasting Code to COVID-19 misinformation, and Carnegie UK suggested that Ofcom could use the same approach in the context of misinformation about climate change and environmental damage”. In other words, they want to regulate the media to promote the net zero narrative and censor dissenting voices as misinformation.
[Update 25 April 2023. The BBC has already started with propaganda pieces like this, exhorting young people to emotionally blackmail their parents. Why do they always have their hair dyed red?]
Both HoL and BIT emphasise the need for the Government to “develop positive messaging which emphasises the co-benefits” of the changes they propose and to pick the right framing. The HoL even calls on the Government to significantly scale up its spending on Net Zero public communications campaigns. In effect, they are calling for the Government to engage in a massive propaganda campaign and ban voices that disagree. If you ever thought you could rely upon Government to provide balanced, objective advice, this should dispel that illusion.
They also want to regulate advertising of products. Both HoL and BIT want the Government to regulate advertising of high-carbon and environmentally damaging products. In fact, BIT suggests that advertising should showcase individual stories that model the social norms they want to create (their Figure 9). BIT also go as far as suggesting restricting or even banning advertising of air travel. They even included the Dutch ban on meat adverts as an example to be followed.
Their recommendations also extend to broadcast content. BIT suggest normalising green choices on advertising, TV drama, news and social media content. In fact, Sky have already taken on this recommendation saying “it's important that storytellers create natural, organic plots which depict the real-world impacts of the climate crisis on character's lives - and showcases actions which we all can take. I feel proud that our show, Temple, has tried to do this by including climate activism as a central storyline in the new series”. If they continue like this, it won’t be long before Twitter has to label all UK media organisations as state affiliated media.
The HoL also want to catch the young early by ensuring the education curriculum is aligned to Net Zero. They said: “The Department for Education’s Sustainability and Climate Change Strategy should be reviewed to ensure every opportunity has been taken through both formal and informal education and communications and the school environment to provide young people with the knowledge and skills to make life and career choices to support environmental and climate goals.”
In other words, the Net Zero agenda is going to be so good for us, we need to be bombarded with positive messages about it from childhood and any dissenting voices should be censored. Excuse me, but when did the UK turn into East Germany?
Midstream Behaviour Change Interventions for Net Zero
Changes to the Physical Environment
Midstream ideas include changing the physical environment. BIT recommends using a “stick” approach to adopting and expanding low-traffic neighbourhoods and low-emission zones as an example of a mid-stream intervention.
The HoL report concurs with many of the recommendations of BIT saying that measures that could dissuade private vehicle use include: changing rules on the use of roads, such as reduced speed limits; school streets; low traffic neighbourhoods and other measures; road pricing; congestion charging; low emission zones; higher parking costs; workplace parking levies and other charges levied for private vehicle use. In other words they want to make our lives miserable by making it difficult and expensive to drive.
This is why we are seeing the attempted implementation of 15-minute cities in places like Oxford. In theory, some of these ideas are quite compelling. Who could object to a place where you can find all of the amenities and services you need within a 15-minute walk? The trouble is that the authorities clearly do not believe their plans will be sufficiently compelling on their own. The Oxford proposals include £70 fines for those who venture outside their designated ghetto more often than they are allowed. Anyway, what is the benefit to air quality if we have all switched to zero-emission electric cars? As part of this same theme, Sadiq Khan is trying to expand the ULEZ zone in London. His plans are going so well that he is being taken to the High Court for judicial review and instead of providing a reasoned case for his plans, Khan has been reduced to demonising ULEZ protestors as Nazi sympathisers.
In his proposed amendment to the HoL report, Peter Lilley pointed out that the “overwhelming majority of fuel consumption is on journeys which are longer than could be undertaken by bike or on foot. So, a switch to ‘active travel’ for local journeys would make negligible savings”. Sadly, his amendment was voted down by all of his colleagues. It is clear the motivation for these measures is more about state control of our lives than it is about climate.
More Taxes for Force Net Zero Behaviour Change
Some examples of the economic changes recommended by BIT include increasing taxes on internal-combustion engine vehicles (ICEVs) and reducing taxes on EVs. They propose this even though sales of new ICEVs are to be banned by 2030. They also want to default energy customers on to (more expensive) renewable tariffs, switch energy levies from electricity to gas and put a stronger price cap on electricity than on gas. They also suggest defaulting airline customers onto (more expensive) fares with carbon offsets.
Net Zero Social Changes
Examples of the social changes being recommended include defaulting “low-carbon” food on aircraft, conferences, weddings and in school canteens. They also want to “normalise” plant-based food by integrating it into restaurant menus and “normal” shopping aisles to increase its “perceived normalcy.”
These recommendations come despite a growing body of evidence that shows plant-based diets are a con. Many of the plant-based foods in even high-end health-food supermarkets have been described as a “wasteland of chemicals and oils where nutritious protein should be”. This is explored further in Jayne Buxton’s book, The Great Plant-Based Con. Even the BMJ admits that cutting out red and processed meat would only reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 3%.
Overall, these midstream changes seem designed to make our lives more difficult and more expensive without any significant savings in emissions.
Editing Upstream Consumer Choice Environment to Achieve Net Zero
The BIT team make many recommendations for upstream changes. They acknowledge that they cannot “curate every conceivable ‘choice environment’ one by one - every supermarket, airline booking website, car dealership, pension dashboard, and so on.” They say that to achieve their objectives, “the underlying rules, norms or incentives through which a given sector operates” must be changed. This is a call for the Government to directly intervene across many sectors of the economy, more akin to the Soviet bloc than a modern western market-based economy.
By way of example, they want to implement (recommendation F1) what they euphemistically call a “levy” on food suppliers dependent upon the carbon intensity per portion. They even explicitly say this should be referred to a “carbon levy on food” rather than a “meat tax” because it sounds more appealing. They also call for smaller portion sizes in restaurants, canteens and supermarkets. They also call for (recommendation C1) an extended carbon tax on clothing, electricals and household goods, including a border tax to make imports more expensive.
The HoL came to similar conclusions saying: “systematic interventions are needed to increase the availability and uptake of food with lower climate and environmental impacts”, including reducing the availability of “non-sustainable” food and introducing subsidies for sustainable food.
We can now see how the combination of upstream and downstream policies work in practice. Expect to see more articles like this that describe sheep as toxic. Part of the way we are being conditioned to accept that meat is going to be removed from our diet.
The BIT report refers to a new Market Mechanism for heat pumps that requires manufacturers to sell a certain proportion of heat pumps for each gas boiler. The outcome of this mechanism is to make heat pumps cheaper and gas boilers more expensive. It clearly has not worked because the Government has failed to give away 60% of its planned £150m subsidy for heat pumps. Just 10,000 were installed in the first year of the scheme against its target of 30,000 annual installations.
The BIT team also call for the Government to directly regulate industry to create a consumer choice environment that is, in their view, better for society. The HoL concurred saying “policies and initiatives will need to use multiple levers that focus on the environment within which behaviour takes place and the affordability and availability of products, services and infrastructure”.
BIT also call for governments, businesses and other institutions to “walk the talk” and lead by example to create a new green society. However, the HoL failed at the first hurdle. They rejected a proposal that the Committee itself should set an example by members pledging to make no more than two overseas flights each in future years.
It seems these draconian changes will only apply to the little people. Just like with Covid, where the policymakers partied the night away as they locked down everyone else. If you sit in the House of Lords, helping set these dystopian policies, you can just carry on regardless.
The combination of these policies paints a picture of an overweening, authoritarian state using the excuse of “climate” to interfere in every corner of our lives. They want to control what we watch on TV, the adverts we are allowed to see, where we go on holiday, what we eat, how we heat our homes, the cars we drive, how we move about to socialise, to how we get to the shops and what we are allowed to buy.
The thing is, if all of these measures were really better for us, then it would be obvious and people would adopt the proposed changes voluntarily. The fact that they feel the need to bombard us with propaganda, perhaps even to the extent of using Ofcom to ban dissenting voices, is an indication of the fundamental weakness of their arguments.
The UK emits about 1% of global greenhouse gases. I can see no case to make such fundamental changes to our lives especially when the big emitters are not following suit. As Kemi Badenoch put it, Net Zero is unilateral economic disarmament. These behaviour-change measures will force us to become the same kind of authoritarian state that we opposed during the Cold War. And remember, all of this Net Zero agenda was pushed through Parliament without a vote and no impact analysis and so has no democratic legitimacy. We must call time on this nonsense before it’s too late.
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