London [UK], September 21 (ANI): The United Kingdom will delay a series of key climate targets to ease the burden on working people, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said on Wednesday.
Sunak told reporters that he will push back a ban on selling new petrol and diesel cars from 2030 to 2035, dramatically slow down plans to phase out gas boilers, and reject calls to regulate efficiency for homeowners, CNN reported.
The Prime Minister reiterated plans to expand oil and gas developments in Britain’s North Sea and drill for the fossil fuels that environmental groups condemned. He also announced that the ban on onshore wind will be lifted.
“We’re changing the way we reach Net Zero by 2050 to ease the burden on working people. Our new approach will be pragmatic, proportionate and realistic,” Rishi Sunak posted on X (formerly Twitter) along with a video message.
Stating that the UK is already “far ahead” of every other major country in terms of achieving Net Zero, Sunak said that if the UK continues on this path, it might lose the “consent” of people.
Sunak called it a “pragmatic, proportionate and realistic” approach towards meeting the commitment of reaching Net Zero by 2050.
“We’re absolutely committed to reaching net zero by 2050. But, no one in Westminster politics to look people in the eye and explains what this really involves. That’s wrong and it changes now…So today, we are changing our approach to meeting net zero to ease the burden on working people,” he said in the video address.
A major policy relief announced by Sunak is the easing of the transition to electric vehicles, allowing people to buy new petrol-diesel cars and vans until 2035.
The citizens have also been given more time to replace existing boilers and they have to make a switch only when they are replacing their boiler. Also, families that are hit hardest by cost need not make the switch ever at all, Sunak said.
Sunak further said that the UK government will “stay out” of people’s lives. He has said that all ideas like the government deciding what to eat, keeping seven different bins in the house, creating new taxes to discourage flying or taking holidays, and restriction on the number of passengers in the car, will go now.
“We will never impose these unnecessary and heavy-handed measures on you the British people. And we will still meet our international commitments to hit Net Zero by 2050,” Sunak added.
Notably, Sunak’s announcement marks a sharp turn away from a long-standing political consensus on the climate, just two years after the United Kingdom hosted the crucial COP26 climate conference in Glasgow, and seriously undermines efforts to portray Britain as a leader in the fight against the climate crisis, as per CNN.
Boris Johnson, whose premiership included the COP26 and embraced the net zero pledge, had earlier shot back in a rare public attack on his former chancellor-turned-political rival. “Business must have certainty about our net zero commitments,” Johnson said in a statement, calling on Sunak to give firms “confidence that the government is still committed to Net Zero and can see the way ahead.”
“We cannot afford to falter now or in any way lose our ambition for this country,” CNN quoted Johnson as saying.
Britain is legally required to have reached net zero – meaning the country would remove from the atmosphere at least as much planet-warming pollution as it emits – by 2050.
Surveys in th UK show that the climate crisis is increasingly high on the list of British voters’ concerns, and the opposition Labour party has sought to attack Sunak on what they describe as a “withdrawal from Britain’s former position as a global leader,” CNN reported.
“Rolling back on key climate commitments as the world is being battered by extreme flooding and wildfires would be morally indefensible,” CNN quoted Mike Childs, Friends of the Earth’s head of policy, as saying in a statement.
The announcement has also drawn criticism from British businesses.
Lisa Brankin, the chair of Ford UK, said in a statement that the automobile giant “needs three things from the UK Government: ambition, commitment and consistency. A relaxation of 2030 would undermine all three.”
Ed Matthew, Campaigns Director for independent climate change think tank E3G, said the moves would drive up household bills and “damage the UK’s ability to compete with other countries on clean technology.”
“Just as the US, China and the EU are racing ahead on green growth, Rishi Sunak appears ready to surrender,” he said. “The economic damage to the UK could be catastrophic.” (ANI)
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