Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s recent overhaul of key green policies has sparked a backlash from experts, green groups and even his own advisors. Chris Stark, chief executive of the Climate Change Committee, called the PM’s claim that the government is on course to meet its emissions target for 2030 “wishful thinking”.
Key changes include a five year delay in the ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars to 2035, weakening the plan to phase out new gas boilers, and delaying a ban on off-grid oil boilers. Sunak claims these changes are to remove “unacceptable costs on hard-pressed British families”.
But speaking to the Big Issue, Doyne Farmer called the PM’s announcement a “cynical political ploy”. Farmer was co-author on a study which found the transition to net zero will save the global economy an estimated $12 trillion. He continued, “The policies that were in place were a great opportunity to make a step forward economically and most importantly fight climate change at the same time”.
“We’ll be dealing with pollution for longer, thanks to petrol and diesel cars being around for longer. Electric cars are also likely to remain the preserve of the wealthy for longer, as manufacturers have less incentive to hasten the switch. It means we don’t drive the costs down as quickly, and one of the issues with electric vehicles is justice.”
As a signatory to the Paris Agreement, the UK is legally required to have reduced its greenhouse gas emissions by 100% from 1990 levels by 2050. Weakening green measures now can only make this harder to achieve.