Chester Zoo raises “deep concern” over Rishi Sunak’s easing of green policies
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has confirmed a shift in the UK government’s approach to achieving Net Zero by 2050.
The news that some of the UK government’s key green commitments are being watered down has prompted Chester Zoo, along with over 400 other organisations, to pen a letter to the Prime Minister.
They expressed deep concerns about the potential “severe consequences for our planet”.
The revised strategy focuses on “reducing costs for British families, while still meeting international commitments.”
Prime Minister Sunak emphasised the importance of public support for net zero plans. He cautioned that without it, the entire agenda could be at risk.
He stressed, “We’ll now have a more pragmatic, proportionate, and realistic approach that eases burdens on families. All while focusing on the new green industries of the future. In a democracy, that’s the only realistic path to Net Zero.”
Key changes in the revised plans include:
- Vehicle Emissions: The ban on selling new petrol and diesel cars will be delayed by five years. This ensures all new car sales are zero emission by 2035.
- Heating: The ban on installing specific heating systems in off-gas-grid homes will start in 2035, a delay from the 2026 target. This decision takes into account homeowners who might face high costs in upgrading their homes quickly.
- Energy Efficiency: Instead of imposing regulations, the government will encourage landlords to improve the energy efficiency of their properties.
- Boiler Upgrade Grant: This will increase by 50% to £7,500, helping households transition to low-carbon alternatives.
- Policy Revisions: Plans that could interfere with daily life, such as car-sharing rules or dietary restrictions, will be discarded.
On Tuesday evening, details of Sunak’s ‘net-zero’ plans began to emerge in the media, with the BBC reporting on them.
Before this announcement, over 400 organisations, including Chester Zoo, wrote a letter to Sunak. They expressed concern over the dilution of net zero policies.
We’re facing climate and nature emergencies.
Today’s news that @RishiSunak is planning to water down some of the government’s key green commitments will have severe consequences for our planet.
We’ve joined more than 400 organisations in writing to the PM to express our deep…
— Chester Zoo (@chesterzoo) September 20, 2023
The letter states: “We are deeply concerned by media reports suggesting you might weaken net zero policies related to home insulation, promoting clean heat, and the uptake of electric vehicles.
“The business community has invested significantly in the net zero transition. It has emphasised that maintaining long-term net zero policies is essential for business confidence and investment.
“Weakening these policies could harm the UK’s reputation as a prime location for green investment, reducing British competitiveness.
“We are already losing investment to the US and EU. Retreating would worsen the situation.
“The Office for Budget Responsibility recently highlighted the economic benefits of swift action on net zero, and the fiscal risks associated with delays.
“Supporting clean technologies like electric vehicles and efficient, low carbon heating will reduce living costs. Relying on petrol cars and gas boilers increases them. Delaying the development of clean tech means relying on unpredictable fossil fuel markets for longer, risking jobs.
“It’s also costly for the public, which spent £40 billion last winter subsidising household energy bills. We strongly advise against weakening any net zero policies.
“If you do, we believe it would be a historic error, harming the UK economy.
“It would also diminish the UK’s global climate leadership. With the recent flooding in Libya and forest fires in Greece, now is not the time for delay. Now is the time for action.”
Rocio Concha, Which? Director of Policy and Advocacy, commented: “Reducing the government’s green targets could deter the business investment needed to address climate change.
“Which? research shows most consumers are worried about climate change and acknowledge their role in reducing their impact. We welcome the increased grants for heat pumps, but they must be paired with solid targets to give businesses investment confidence.
“Consumers need ongoing business investment in new low carbon products and services. This ensures the transition is affordable and straightforward. It includes the continued development of electric vehicles, improving the EV charging infrastructure, and increasing the production of clean heating systems. Training new installers for these systems and insulation measures is also vital.”
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