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Rishi Sunak waters down climate commitments to avoid public ‘backlash’

20 Sep 2023 3 minute read
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak. Photo Justin Tallis/PA Wire

ishi Sunak insisted he was acting to avoid a public “backlash” by watering down efforts to tackle the climate crisis in an announcement that is facing fierce criticism from green-minded Tories, environmentalists and industry figures.

In a speech from Downing Street, the Prime Minister said on Wednesday he would put back a ban on new fossil fuel cars by five years in a major U-turn among a raft of measures.

And he confirmed that households would “never” be forced to “rip-out their existing boiler and replace it with a heat pump”.

Mr Sunak insisted the UK was already ahead of allies in reducing emissions and could not impose “unacceptable costs” on British families.

“The risk here to those of us who care about reaching net zero, as I do, is simple: if we continue down this path we risk losing the consent of the British people,” he said.

“And the resulting backlash would not just be against specific policies but against the wider mission itself meaning we might never achieve our goal.

“That’s why we have to do things differently.”

Legally binding goal

Mr Sunak insisted he was standing by the legally binding goal of hitting net zero by 2050 despite making changes including:

– Delaying the ban on new cars and vans running solely on petrol and diesel from 2030 to 2035

– Weakening the plan to phase out gas boilers from 2035 so households that will struggle the most to switch to heat pumps will not have to make the switch

– Putting back the ban on boilers relying on heating oil in off-grid homes from 2026 to 2035

– Scrapping policies to force landlords to upgrade the energy efficiency of their properties.

Mr Sunak detailed the plans to the public after putting them to Cabinet ministers in a hastily arranged call in response to a leak of his net-zero plans.

Speaking from his press briefing room in front of a podium brandishing the Tory conference slogan of “long-term decisions for a brighter future”, he claimed previous governments – both Tory and Labour – had sought to get to net zero “simply by wishing it”.

“No-one in Westminster politics has yet had the courage to look people in the eye and explain what’s really involved. That’s wrong, and it changes now,” Mr Sunak said.

“It cannot be right for Westminster to impose such significant costs on working people, especially those who are already struggling to make ends meet and to interfere so much in people’s way of life without a properly informed national debate.”


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Jeff
Jeff
5 months ago

It was an awful presser. He tried to make it sound like another government messed it up and he is riding to the recuse of the common person. Deliberately trying to avoid saying it was him as chancellor and his government and his previous PM’s etc. His party. They have messed it up since Cameron. General Election must be coming sooner perhaps and they know they are onto a hiding.

Y Cymro
Y Cymro
5 months ago

Hypocrite Rishy Sunak as chancellor played Russian roulette with our lives during Covid is now as PM doing the same with his climate commitment as the planet teeters over the edge of an abyss to no return. The voting public can be fooled but mother nature not so. And unlike most who live in areas susceptible to climate change they cannot up sticks like he can being a multimillionaire by pulling out his American green card to do a moonlit flit with his entitled tax dodging non dom wife to California. I can’t wait for the next general election, As… Read more »

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
5 months ago
Reply to  Y Cymro

He is both the snake and the charmer… One by-election seals our fate, one general election will seal his fate, I’m a believer in Karma too and with his record is it wise to travel by helicopter ? They are notorious for bumping off millionaires,… I see Dowden took a 158 seat RAF troop carrier for him and his bag carrier to New York, another Truss that boy, get it while you can… NHS supplier bungs Sunak £5 million out of the £175 million he screws out of the NHS… Urine takers the lot of them… A waiter in an… Read more »

Last edited 5 months ago by Mab Meirion
saveenergy
saveenergy
5 months ago
Reply to  Y Cymro

“the planet teeters over the edge of an abyss to no return” Stop being silly; you watch too much Hollywood tripe !! The planet is fine, 0ver the last 4.5 billion yrs the planet has withstood … bombardment by cosmic rays, meteor asteroids & comet strikes, earthquakes, volcanoes, plate tectonics, continental drifts, solar flares, sunspots, magnetic storms, snowball earth, the magnetic reversal of the poles,, worldwide floods, tidal waves, worldwide fires, erosion, recurring ice ages, it has survived all that … And life is flourishing !! The climate is fine, UK is a ‘Marine Temperate Climate’ similar to when our… Read more »

Jeff
Jeff
5 months ago
Reply to  saveenergy

Yeah, the planet as an inanimate object has. Life however has had a bumpy ride and apart from at least 3 mass extinction events, managed to cling on but the massive time scales helped. Only one species has managed to trash the planet in 200 years. Given time the planet will recover after we wipe ourselves out. This is the massive cost, in orders of magnitude greater than net zero that is not being addressed. Happening now.

saveenergy
saveenergy
5 months ago
Reply to  Jeff

So do you really believe “the planet teeters over the edge of an abyss to no return” ???

Jeff
Jeff
5 months ago
Reply to  saveenergy

Planet will survive. Life will survive, that which we fail to destroy. It survives in the long run without us. The human bit, well, we can continue to remove ourselves or try to make it better and correct the mess and improve chance of more life surviving, including humans.
The evidence piles higher every day now. It is no longer might happen, it’s going on now.

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
5 months ago

I still prefer Gandhi Ji…

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