- Rishi Sunak Considers Weakening Key Green Commitments
- Proposed Changes in Green Policy
- Criticism and Political Implications of the Policy Shift
In a major policy shift, Rishi Sunak is contemplating weakening some of the government’s most important green policies.
According to multiple sources, this could involve delaying a prohibition on the sale of new petrol and diesel vehicles and phasing out gas boilers.
In the coming days, the prime minister will deliver a speech outlining the upcoming adjustments.
In response to rumours, he said the government would reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 in a “more proportional manner.”
The objective of net zero is for the United Kingdom to remove from the atmosphere the same amount of greenhouse gas emissions, such as carbon dioxide, that it emits.
“For too many years, politicians in governments of all stripes have been dishonest about costs and trade-offs,” said the prime minister. Instead, they have taken the simple route by claiming that we can have everything.
This realism does not imply forsaking our ambitions or commitments. Not!
“I am proud of Britain’s global leadership on climate change.”
He said the UK would honour its climate obligations.
“No leak will prevent me from explaining to the nation how and why we must change,” he said.
Mr. Sunak added that he would deliver a speech later in the week “to outline an important long-term decision we must make so that our nation becomes the place I know we all want it to be for our children.”
If he moves forward with the plan, it will represent a significant shift in the Conservative Party’s approach to net-zero policy and establish a distinct dividing line between the Conservatives and the Labour Party.
According to multiple sources with knowledge of Downing Street’s thinking, Mr. Sunak will use the speech to laud the United Kingdom as a global leader on net zero.
However, he would also contend that the United Kingdom has gone above and beyond in its efforts to combat climate change, while other nations need to do more.
The speech may involve seven major policy changes or commitments, however its details are still debated.
First, the government would extend the 2030 ban on new petrol and diesel automobiles until 2035. Since 2020, the 2030 date has been government policy.
Second, by advocating 80% gas boiler phaseout by 2035, the government would undercut the goal.
Third, it would be communicated to householders and landlords that there will be no new energy efficiency regulations for homes. Ministers were contemplating fining landowners who fail to upgrade their properties to a specified level of energy efficiency.
Fourth, off-grid oil boilers will wait until 2035 to be phased out at 80%.
British citizens will also be informed that there will be no flight-discouragement levies, diet-changing restrictions, or carpooling programmes.
Mr. Sunak is likely to reject what he considers to be burdensome recycling programs.
The government proposed giving residents “seven bins”—six for recycling and one for general refuse—according to sources.
Jonathan Reynolds, the shadow business secretary for Labour, called it “an absolute farce” with “late-night policy statements from the Downing Street bunker, as always driven by the absolute chaos within the Conservative Party, with a weak Conservative prime minister, Rishi Sunak.”
He wouldn’t say if Labour would reintroduce scrapped targets.
“We are emphatically rejecting this completely futile, superficial, and short-sighted approach to politics,” he said.
This is not a good way to make long-term decisions that need big investments and threaten many jobs.
Former chairman of the UK government’s net zero review, Conservative MP Chris Skidmore, stated that watering down green policies would “cost the UK jobs, inward investment, and future economic growth that could have been ours by committing to the industries of the future.”
“Rishi Sunak still has time to reconsider and not make the greatest error of his premiership, thereby condemning the United Kingdom to miss out on what could be the decade’s greatest opportunity to deliver growth, jobs, and future prosperity,” he stated.
Conservative peer Lord Zac Goldsmith, who resigned as a minister earlier this year in response to Mr. Sunak’s “apathy” regarding climate change, stated that the prime minister was “dismantling” the UK’s credibility on environmental issues.
“The UK turned its back on the globe and future generations during his brief prime ministership. “A moment of humiliation,” he said.
Caroline Lucas, a member of the Green Party, described any retreat of net zero as “economically illiterate, historically inaccurate, and environmentally foolish.”
Conservative MP Craig Mackinlay, net zero scrutiny group chairman, said Mr. Sunak was “pleased to see some pragmatism”.
The postponement of net-zero-emissions targets “will remove greenwashing measures from clearly unattainable deadlines”
David Jones, a former Conservative minister, stated that modifying green policies was “inevitable and sensible” and that continuing with the 2030 prohibition on new petrol and diesel vehicles would “severely harm the British automobile industry.”
The King will be on a State Visit to France on Thursday, where he will convene a Climate Mobilisation Forum.
The event brings together experts in climate finance and seeks to assist developing nations in implementing measures to reduce emissions.
Foreign Secretary James Cleverly will accompany the King.