Mr. Sunak rolled back various policy proposals, including extending the deadline to install heat pumps and announced a raft of affordability measures.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has pledged to “face up to resistance” and “change the way our politics work” as he set out new plans to ease the path to Net Zero in 2050, extending the date for a new-sale ban on petrol and diesel-powered vehicles to 2035.
Addressing the media in Downing Street today, he said that many people believe “that we make too little, that we spend too much,” and committed to being “honest when the facts change, even if it’s awkward.”
He announced an extension of the timeline for banning the sale of new fossil fuel cars, with petrol and diesel vehicles still available for purchase until 2035.
Furthermore, he noted that even after this deadline, second-hand sales of such vehicles would still be permitted.
This decision aligns the UK with EU countries like Germany, France, Spain, and Italy, as well as some U.S. states, such as California, New York, and Massachusetts.
‘Consent’ Vital to National Conversation
Responding to a question from GB news, Mr. Sunak doubled down on not entertaining a ‘referendum’ on Net Zero but said that “consent” of the British public was vital to the national conversation. He added that Net Zero needs to be achieved with the least impact to families.
Considering the need to make heat pumps more affordable for families, Mr. Sunak acknowledged the current high costs of technology. He pointed out that for a family in a terraced house in Darlington, the upfront cost could exceed £10,000, potentially causing support for such transitions to collapse.
To alleviate this burden, the prime minister announced extended transition timelines, indicating that households would only need to switch to heat pumps when changing their boilers and not until 2035.
He also announced a plan to exempt certain households and a 50 percent increase in the boiler upgrade scheme to £7,500, with no repayment requirements.
Responding to further questions from the media, the prime minister added that he believed the “broad majority of people” in the UK are “prepared to sacrifice” for Net Zero in a “proportionate” way.
While recognising the “importance” of practical measures to achieve net-zero emissions, he stated that previous governments had primarily relied on wishes rather than concrete actions.
Highlighting proposed measures, such as compulsory taxes on flying, meat consumption, and the requirement to sort rubbish into numerous bins, he expressed concerns about their feasibility. He told those present that he had “scrapped” all such proposals.
He argued that significant policy changes should not be imposed on citizens’ lives without a thorough and transparent discussion within Westminster.
Mr. Sunak also criticised the divisive nature of politics, emphasising the need for a more honest and transparent debate on critical issues. He acknowledged that politicians often tell people what they want to hear rather than what they need to hear.
Sunak to ‘Change the Way’ Politics Works
Expressing his commitment to making decisions based on long-term benefits, Mr. Sunak expressed willingness to “change the way our politics work,” even if it comes at a political cost.
Calling for a more realistic and pragmatic approach to achieving net-zero emissions by 2050, he committed to focusing on consent, honesty, and pragmatism rather than ideological positions.
Mr. Sunak also emphasised the importance of innovation, job creation, and protecting nature in the transition to a greener future.
He stated his determination to build the country with a change in transparency, saying: “I am determined to change our country and build a better future for our children.”
The prime minister reiterated the importance of strengthening the UK’s auto industry to reduce reliance on heavily subsidised imports from countries like China.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan criticised the decision to “weaken” climate change commitments, suggesting that it may have been influenced by the party’s victory in the Uxbridge and South Ruislip by-election.
He told BBC Radio 4’s World At One program that it “beggars belief” that long-term economic and energy plans could be based on the outcome of a single by-election, emphasising the impracticality of such an approach.
Speaking from New York during the U.N. Climate Summit, Mr. Khan argued that the government’s U-turn lacked economic and climate “urgency