UK Set to Reverse Course on Policies Intended to Achieve Net Zero Emissions by 2050
On Wednesday, it appeared as though the UK might abandon its plans to achieve net zero emissions by 2050. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak was anticipated to soften some of the government's environmental promises.
The decision was made in response to mounting financial concerns around the possible expense of the government's goals to reach net zero carbon emissions by the middle of the century.
A general election is anticipated for the next year, and Sunak's Conservative Party is trailing the Labour opposition in the polls due to the rising cost of living, which has driven up the price of food and housing.
The premier, according to stories in the British media, wants to delay the 2030 deadline for banning the sale of new petrol and diesel vehicles and scale back plans to phase out gas boilers starting in 2035.
While the administration was committed to the net zero aim, he added in a statement late Tuesday that it will endeavour to reach it "better, more proportionately."
There may be a divide in Sunak's party as a result of the opposition parliamentarians', environmental activists', and some Conservative MPs' outrage over the government's anticipated net zero rethink.
Environmentalists were outraged when Sunak authorised hundreds of additional oil and gas licences in the North Sea off the east coast of Britain in July.
Al Gore, the former US vice-president, has described the decision by the UK prime minister, Rishi Sunak, to water down key climate policies as “shocking and disappointing” and “not what the world needs from the United Kingdom”.
Former COP26 president Alok Sharma (also a Conservative lawmaker), cautioned that "for any party to resile from this agenda will not help economically or electorally."
Chris Skidmore, a former energy minister for the Conservative Party who recently oversaw a government assessment of net zero, stated that Sunak "still has time to think again and not make the greatest mistake of his premiership."
According to reports, some MPs may even start drafting letters of disapproval should Sunak proceed with the plan. Caroline Lucas, a member of parliament for the Green Party, stated that "this decision would be economically illiterate, historically inaccurate, and environmentally bone-headed."
Criticism also came from industry, with Mike Hawes, chief executive of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, saying the UK should be a "leader in zero emission mobility" but "clear, consistent" messaging is required from the government for consumers to want to switch to electric vehicles.
On the other hand, PM Sunak in a statement said: "There will be resistance – and we will meet it. Because I am determined to change our country and build a better future for our children. Nothing less is acceptable."