London: Sunak scales back climate targets

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has announced a watering down of the UK’s climate targets. The ban on sales of new diesel and petrol vehicles is to be pushed back by five years to 2035 and the phasing out of gas heating will also be postponed. Sunak cited the excessive costs of environmental measures for citizens as the reason for his move. Pragmatic or backward-looking?

The Times (GB) /

Correcting previous rash decisions

Unlike his predecessors, Sunak is demonstrating a sense of pragmatism with this change of direction, says The Times:

“It was Boris Johnson, playing as statesman as the United Kingdom prepared to host the Cop26 climate summit, who rushed forward by a decade the ban on new petrol and diesel vehicles. It was Theresa May, in the final weeks of her premiership, who led the desultory 90 minutes of parliamentary debate that waved a legally binding 2050 net zero target onto the statute book. Both decisions were symptomatic of a political culture that has persistently failed to reckon with the true costs of a policy that will fundamentally reshape the Britain’s economic landscape.”

Financial Times (GB) /

Key role model function surrendered

Rishi Sunak is on the wrong track with this U-turn, the Financial Times criticises:

“Britain had shown leadership as the first major economy to enshrine a 2050 net zero target in law. Surrendering the moral high ground gives cover to other big economies to slow their efforts and makes it harder to persuade developing markets to do what is needed. Backtracking is bad, too, for Britain’s economy and competitiveness. It will exacerbate the general uncertainty and lack of trust in the government to stick to its commitments that have led to business investment flatlining since 2016.”