Sunak Changes British Climate Goals
The British government plans to weaken its climate targets. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said on Tuesday that the country should continue to become carbon neutral by 2050. However, this should be done in a “better, more proportionate way”.
Explaining the watering down of climate targets, Sunak said politicians from all camps were “not honest about the costs and trade-offs”. He will put our country’s “long-term interests above the short-term political needs of the moment.”
In particular, the ban on the sale of new diesel and gasoline vehicles should be postponed by five years to 2035. According to British media reports, Sunak also plans to change the planned phase-out of gas heating from 2035.
The British Car Manufacturer Association SMMT was concerned. The state and industry have invested billions in e-mobility. Association boss Mike Hawes told the BBC that a postponement of the ban could lead to drivers delaying the switch to electric cars.
There is also strong criticism of Sunak’s announcement within the ruling Conservative Party – which could potentially lead to a split in the Tories. Several members of his party threatened to withdraw their confidence in the head of government if he pushed ahead with his plans.
Tory MP and former energy secretary Chris Skidmore warned that Sunak was making “the biggest mistake of his time in office”. Sunak’s former environmental adviser Zac Goldsmith spoke of a “moment of shame”. “His short term as prime minister will be remembered as the moment the UK turned its back on the world and future generations,” he told the BBC.
Ed Miliband, the opposition Labour Party’s energy MP, spoke of a “complete farce of a Tory government that literally doesn’t know what it’s doing day in and day out.”
Home Secretary Suella Braverman, known as a conservative hardliner, stood behind her prime minister: “We will not save the planet by driving the British into bankruptcy,” Braverman told Times Radio. Conservative media also welcomed Sunak’s plans. “Finally! Common sense,” wrote the Daily Mail.
Observers assume that Sunak wants to catch up with voters before the next general election. In polls, the opposition Labour Party is ahead of the Conservatives, and it currently looks like there will be a change of government.