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Sunak set to backtrack on net-zero commitments

20 Sep 2023 3 minute read
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak. Photo Owen Humphreys/PA Wire

Rishi Sunak is poised to announce the watering down of climate change commitments despite a backlash from industry and the prospect of a damaging rift in the Tory party.

The Prime Minister will deliver a speech in Downing Street on Wednesday afternoon setting out a “proportionate” approach to cutting emissions.

He held a hastily arranged call with Cabinet ministers on Wednesday morning after speculation about his net-zero plans emerged on Tuesday night.

A speech had been due to take place later this week but the leak to the BBC about the plans appears to have persuaded Downing Street to bring the announcement forward.

Measures being considered include weakening the plan to phase out gas boilers from 2035 and delaying the ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars – currently due in 2030 – by five years, the BBC reported.

In a statement, Mr Sunak said his plans would not be derailed by a “leak”, claiming politicians “of all stripes have not been honest about costs and trade-offs” associated with net zero.

He accused previous Tory governments of taking “the easy way out, saying we can have it all”.

Home Secretary Suella Braverman, a key figure on the Conservative right, backed the Prime Minister for making “difficult decisions” on net zero and putting “household costs first”.

“We’re not going to save the planet by bankrupting the British people,” she told Times Radio.

Alarm

But the potential policy shift also alarmed the car industry, which has invested on the basis of a 2030 shift away from petrol and diesel.

Ford UK chairwoman Lisa Brankin said: “Our business needs three things from the UK Government: ambition, commitment and consistency.

“A relaxation of 2030 would undermine all three.”

The erupting business backlash may have forced Mr Sunak to announce the plans sooner than he intended as he faced criticism for disrupting the certainty needed for firms to invest in Britain.

Chris Norbury, the chief executive of the E.ON energy firm, said the move would be a “mis-step on many levels” as he hit out at the “false argument” that green policies can only come at a cost, arguing they deliver affordable energy while boosting jobs.

“From a business perspective, companies wanting to invest in the UK need long-term certainty to create the jobs and economic prosperity the country needs,” he said.

“Equally, in our homes and communities we risk condemning people to many more years of living in cold and draughty homes that are expensive to heat, in cities clogged with dirty air from fossil fuels, missing out on the economic regeneration this ambition brings.”


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Jeff
Jeff
5 months ago

Who owns our government. Tufton St writ large on this.
Last few years have had terrible climate change in real time now.

Peter Cuthbert
Peter Cuthbert
5 months ago
Reply to  Jeff

This is the Government that closed down the Feed In Tarriff because it was so successful. They claimed that they were helping “Hard Working Families” but their own figues showed that the abolition saved 50p per household per year. Of course at the same time it killed the developing PV industry which is only just beginning to recover now. They do not seem to realise that avoiding expense now will lead to the need for greater expenditure later if we are to have any hope of keeping Global Warming in check. Interesting to note that they are being driven by… Read more »

Jeff
Jeff
5 months ago
Reply to  Peter Cuthbert

I just listened to his presser. It was awful rambling filled in with “we are doing great”. They don’t do the cost of doing nothing, which is far higher.

Rhys
Rhys
5 months ago

Short-term political gains, short-changing the population in the long-run, shortening the lives of those living and those yet to be born.

Diolch o galon.

Fi yn unig
Fi yn unig
5 months ago

Sunak, in attempting to grab a few votes from the effum brigade, is now spooking the motor industry and I dare say big business in general. This will hopefully drive the final big nail into the Tories’ electoral coffin. Meanwhile, Cruella chips in with this line. ‘We’re not going to save the planet by bankrupting the British people’. Staggering! Who ARE the British people? Are they the ones being bankrupted by Trussonomics and facing repossession of their homes? Those whose lives are in ruins as a direct result of ongoing and relentless Tory corruption and not as a result of… Read more »

Silenced!
Silenced!
5 months ago

Sunak talks progress but EVERYTHING he has done so far is regressive.
Roll back refugee rights
Roll back immigrant rights
Roll back LGBT+ rights
Roll back women’s rights
Roll back the Human Rights act
Roll back employment rights
Roll back the country’s largest inforastructure project so he has bribe money for the GE (which WILL backfire. There’s about 200,000 jobs reliant on HS2.)
Roll back Green targets.

Roll back Rishi. The Benjamin Button of politics, going though time in the opposite direction to everyone else

Silenced!
Silenced!
5 months ago
Reply to  Silenced!

Oh and rolled back investment in building new schools and repairing old ones. THAT came home to roost VERY quickly eh?

Gareth
Gareth
5 months ago

Schools have, for about 15 years, been teaching about saving the planet. Those schoolchildren are now today’s young voters, and the Tory party is wondering how and why the young dont vote for them. Out of touch with society, the Tories, seem to think this will be attractive to the voters, just like ART Davies here , and the 20mph farce. It’s just an attempt to get the ” popular” vote.

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
4 months ago

Tommy Cooper impersonations…Have you seen my rope trick…

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