Ban on sale of new petrol and diesel cars could be delayed by five years as Rishi Sunak ‘prepares to water down Net Zero pledges’ with PM shifting to ‘pragmatic’ approach to climate action
Rishi Sunak is reportedly poised to water down some of the Government’s key Net Zero pledges.
The Prime Minister is expected to use a speech this week to set out a change of approach on climate action.
There could also be a weakening of the promise to phase out the installation of new gas boilers by 2035.
It was reported tonight that the Government could instead state it wants only 80 per cent of new gas boilers to be phased out by that year.
Rishi Sunak is expected to use a speech this week to set out a change of approach on climate action
There could also be a weakening of the promise to phase out the installation of new gas boilers by 2035
The BBC said Whitehall documents suggested there were seven policy changes being considered by Mr Sunak – although the PM will not ditch the Government’s overall commitment to the UK meeting Net Zero carbon emissions by 2050.
The PM has repeatedly spoken of pursuing a ‘pragmatic’ approach to climate action in the wake of the Uxbridge and South Ruislip by-election.
The Tories enjoyed a surprise victory in July’s contest largely thanks to a local backlash against the expansion of London’s Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ).
Following the by-election win, Mr Sunak pledged to ‘scrutinise’ green policies and their impact on Britons’ household budgets during the cost-of-living crisis.
He has also ordered a review of Low Traffic Neighbourhoods (LTNs) as part of an effort to show car drivers he is ‘on their side’.
Under the 2050 Net Zero objective – signed into law by Theresa May when she was PM – the UK is legally obliged to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 100 per cent from 1990 levels over the next 27 years.
In an expected speech later this week, the PM will reportedly argue that Britain has over-delivered on climate action and say other countries need to do more to pull their weight.
Any watering down of the Government’s climate pledges will draw a dividing line with Labour ahead of the general election.
It will also please those Tory MPs who have expressed fears about the impact of Net Zero commitments as Britons struggle with high energy and other household bills.
Yesterday, former PM Liz Truss called for a delay to implementing Net Zero pledges such as the ban on new petrol and diesel vehicles from 2030.
‘Other environmental regulations which are hiking the cost of living, like enforcing the replacement of gas and oil boilers, should also be abandoned,’ she said.
Some Conservative backbenchers have even recently been demanding a referendum on the overall 2050 Net Zero pledge.
But any move by Mr Sunak to weaken climate action will anger other parts of the Tory party, including the ‘One Nation’ group of MPs.
It is reported the PM could push back the 2030 ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars by five years to 2035
They have previously voiced fears the Conservatives’ chances of winning over younger voters will be damaged by any watering down of Net Zero pledges.
Commenting on tonight’s reports, Chris Skidmore, a Conservative former energy minister, warned the PM could be making the ‘greatest mistake of his premiership’.
‘If this is true, the decision will cost the UK jobs, inward investment, and future economic growth that could have been ours by committing to the industries of the future,’ he said.
‘It will potentially destabilise thousands of jobs and see investment go elsewhere.
‘And ultimately the people who will pay the price for this will be householders whose bills will remain higher as a result of inefficient fossil fuels and being dependent on volatile international fossil fuel prices.
‘Rishi Sunak still has time to think again and not make the greatest mistake of his premiership, condemning the UK to missing out on what can be the opportunity of the decade to deliver growth, jobs and future prosperity.’
A Government spokesperson said: ‘The Government remains completely committed to its Net Zero commitments, with the UK having cut emissions faster than any other G7 country.
‘Our approach will always be pragmatic and ensure costs are not passed onto hard-working families. We will not comment on speculation.’