NIGEL Farage is facing heavy criticism for his new Brexit-style campaign to hold a “referendum on net zero”.

The former Ukip leader has launched a group, initially dubbed “Britain Means Business” but seemingly quickly changed to “Power Not Poverty”, that aims to fire up British coal mines and start drilling for shale gas in the UK.

Critics of the new group say it would only make the UK more reliant on oil at a time when the Russian invasion of Ukraine has prompted calls for the UK to be more energy independent - and move towards a green economy.

The politician announced the campaign in a Daily Mail column, saying: “Net Zero is net stupid.

READ MORE: Ask why Nigel Farage and some Tory MPs might back fossil fuels

“By taking Britain down its ruinous path, the political class in Westminster has made a decision on behalf of the rest of us without any public debate being held, saddling taxpayers with a debt that few politicians are brave enough to quantify publicly and even fewer economists are clever enough to forecast accurately.

“It is a scandal of epic proportions and it must be challenged.”

He then sought to draw parallels between Brexit and climate policy saying “the same high-minded principles that pertained to Britain’s membership of the EU apply to Net Zero”.

He added: “The time has come for a public debate and plebiscite on this act of appalling self-harm.

“If we are not careful, the only zero will be the amount in people’s bank accounts as we send our jobs and money overseas.”

The National: Ukip leader Nigel Farage during his party's referendum Brexit Battle Bus tour in Kingston, London

Nigel Farage is attempting to take on the fight against climate change in the same way he fought against the EU

He then said it was not fair that “under net zero the elderly will die colder, poorer and sooner".

He continued: “It is not fair that the young will be burdened with higher costs, fewer jobs and less money.”

The announcement was met with furious backlash, with many pointing out that the plan may be counter to the goal of weaning the UK off Russian oil and gas.

One person wrote: “The curious thing about Nigel Farage is even when something has nothing to do with Brexit his campaigns always seem to tally with Russia's interests.

“Here in midst of war, where Russia's only trump card is its oil, Farage launches a campaign to step up our consumption of oil.”

Visiting professor at Strathclyde University Dmitry Grozoubinski said: “I see Nigel Farage has taken a break from advocating a surrender to Putin so he can focus on advocating a surrender to climate change.”

And Marina Purkiss said: “The man who campaigned for a Brexit. That decimated industries. That crippled businesses. That sent your cost of living soaring is going to tell you we must ditch Net Zero because he cares about the cost to British people. Don’t fall for it again UK.”

Hugh Grant replied: “Russian warship – go f*** yourself.”

Meanwhile, journalist Otto English replied: “You can demand kipper sandwiches for klingons as far as I care. You have no constituency beyond your mega odd messagegram work.”

READ MORE: Fury as Nigel Farage blames ‘EU and Nato’ for Russian invasion of Ukraine

In his article, Farage suggested a move away from a net zero economy would mean the UK is less reliant on imports of oil and gas from countries such as Russia. But critics have said the move would be disastrous for the environment and would only increase dependence on Russia.

And scientists have warned of dire consequences for the planet and millions of people if Co2 continues to be pumped into the atmosphere.

Green MP Caroline Lucas said: “Two of biggest global threats? Russian aggression & #ClimateEmergency two of biggest ways forward? Rapidly reduce dependence on petrostates & fossil fuels one daft Farage campaign? *Increase* dependence on petrostates & fossil fuels.”

Extinction Rebellion UK replied to Farage's announcement, saying: “Four pages of gaslighting propaganda planted by #FossilFuel funded lobbyists attacking #netzero in [the] Daily Mail today. [The] Conservative manifesto has a commitment to Net Zero - or are you saying people didn't know what they're voting for Nigel?”

And Open Democracy editor-in-chief said: “Striking that Farage has chosen now but go public with what would be a huge a boon for one V Putin…”