Rishi Sunak denies ‘watering down’ net zero commitments


Prime minister Rishi Sunak has just announced a U-turn on net zero policies.

He has denied “watering down” on net zero commitments and is confident the country will be able to reach its target by 2050. Sustainability Beat’s Ria Kakkad and Scarlett Sherriff bring you the latest.

Overview of Sunak’s key announcements:

  • Delaying the 2030 ban on the sales of new petrol and diesel cars back to 2035.
  • An ease on heat pump transition.
  • No new energy efficiency regulations on homes.
  • No new taxes to discourage flying
  • No government policies to change people’s diets
  • No measures to encourage carpooling.
  • Lifted ban on onshore wind and decided to raise more funds for Sizewell C

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Sunak delays diesel and petrol car ban to 2035

In his statement, Sunak announces an ease on the transition to electric vehicles. Consumers will still be able to buy diesel and petrol cars until 2035.

It should be you the consumer that makes that choice [to EVs], not the government that forces you to do it,” Sunak stated.

After 2035, the prime minister confirmed diesel and petrol cars will be able to be bought second-hand.

Sunak is confident, however, “by 2030 the vast majority of cars will be electric vehicles, because the cost is improving, the range is improving, the chargers are improving.”

“We’ll give people far more time to replace their boilers with heat pumps,” says Sunak

Sunak also confirmed an ease on heat pumps.

“We will never force anyone to rip out their existing boiler and replace it with a heat pump,” he said. “You’ll only have to make the switch when you’re replacing your boiler anyway and even then not until 2035.”

An exception will be made for some households to keep bills low.

Also, the boiler upgrade scheme will be increased by 50% to £7,500, with “no strings attached,” he said.

Seven recycling bins, flying taxes and carpooling ‘scrapped’

Sunak also announced “worrying proposals” regarding seven recycling bins, carpooling and flight tax have all been “scrapped.”

“The proposal to make you change your diet and harm British farmers by taxing meat, or to create new taxes to discourage flying or going on holiday,” added Sunak. “I’ve scrapped those too.”

“And nor will we ban new oil and gas in the North Sea, which would simply leave us reliant on expensive imported energy from foreign dictators like Putin.”

Latest reaction

A ‘giant con trick’

Greenpeace UK executive director Will McCallum said the speech is “a giant con trick played on the country by a prime minister who has run out of ideas.”

“Sunak isn’t offering working people honesty or a brighter future – he’s putting his oil and gas cronies first once again. Only serious investment now in peoples’ homes, health and jobs can help people in the short-term while safeguarding our children’s future, and today Sunak has shown he simply doesn’t care enough to try,” he continued.

“Forward-looking businesses have made it clear that they need stability and a clear direction of travel, yet what they’re getting is endless flip-flopping from this government that will put off investors and cost jobs. Instead of sabotaging the economy and the UK’s global reputation, ministers should take bold action to fix our energy-wasting homes, unblock affordable renewables and make public transport cheaper and better for everyone.

“These are all popular policies that will lower our energy bills, clean up toxic air pollution, create jobs – not to mention cutting planet-heating emissions. Sunak’s attempt to split the country and claw back a few votes may well end up splitting his own party and losing him votes instead,” McCallum added.

An ‘abdication of leadership that motorists will pay the price for’

New AutoMotive CEO Ben Nelmes said: “Pushing the ban on buying petrol and diesel cars back to 2035 is an abdication of leadership that motorists will pay the price for. It sets us back in the global race to develop green industries – a huge own goal by the UK.”

“It’s also a hammer blow to the UK’s leadership on climate change. Despite what the prime minister has claimed, it will be harder to meet our legally binding emissions targets.”

“He is right to say that electric car prices are dropping and charging infrastructure is improving – but this is thanks to the industry investing billions of pounds working towards the 2030 target. Pushing the date back will raise costs for motorists by deterring future investment in the UK EV industry and supply chain,” he added.

“It will restrict job creation, weaken energy security and lead to higher energy bills for longer for everyone. It removes a key pillar of the current government industrial policy of green growth, reversing the work of the last decade.”


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