Rishi Sunak, the UK’s prime minister, is risking a potential controversy within the Tory party as he indicates plans to weaken the government’s net zero commitments. In an upcoming speech, Sunak will announce a significant shift in the party’s approach to green policy, aiming to achieve net zero in a more “proportionate way.” According to leaked documents seen by the BBC, potential changes may include a delay in the ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars and a weakening of the plan to phase out gas boilers by 2035.
Confirming the reports, Sunak stated that the government remains committed to net zero by 2050 but wants to pursue a more balanced approach. However, some Tory MPs are considering submitting letters of no confidence in the prime minister if he proceeds with the proposed changes. Critics accuse Sunak of lacking interest in climate policies and prioritizing short-term political needs over the long-term interests of the country.
The success of the Tory party in the recent Uxbridge and South Ruislip by-election, which campaigned against the expansion of the ultra-low-emission zone, has led to calls for Sunak to water down or abandon the net zero pledges. While Sunak has repeatedly claimed his commitment to carbon emissions reduction, actions such as granting new oil and gas licenses for the North Sea have drawn criticism.
Opponents of the potential changes argue that they would result in the loss of jobs, inward investment, and hinder future economic growth. They also warn that abandoning green policies would lead to higher energy costs for households and increased dependence on volatile fossil fuel prices. Advocates for climate action criticize the government for reneging on promises, creating a culture war, and failing to address the climate crisis effectively.
Greenpeace UK’s policy director emphasizes that rowing back on climate policies would keep the UK reliant on fossil fuels and exploitation by energy companies. Backpedaling on energy efficiency measures would also disproportionately impact lower-income households. The government maintains that it remains committed to net zero but will prioritize pragmatic solutions and avoid passing on costs to families.
– The BBC: [add source]
– Green New Deal Rising: [add source]
– Greenpeace UK: [add source]
– Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit: [add source]