2030 petrol car ban may be delayed as Sunak waters down net zero pledges

The petrol car ban is expected to be delayed under plans to water down key net zero policies being drawn up by Rishi Sunak.

On Tuesday night, the Prime Minister insisted he was still committed to the 2050 net zero target but said he would meet it in a “better, more proportionate way”, admitting that the Government has “not been honest about costs and trade-offs” of green policies.

In a major speech this week, he is expected to announce that he is pushing back the ban on sales of new petrol and diesel cars from 2030 to 2035.

A planned ban on oil boilers may be delayed from 2026 to 2035, with a requirement that only 80 per cent are replaced by that date.

Similarly, instead of banning the installation of gas boilers after 2035, Mr Sunak is expected to say that the same proportion can be phased out by then.

Plans to fine landlords for failing to upgrade their properties to a certain level of energy efficiency could be scrapped.

The controversial plans were welcomed by Tory MPs, which would mark a clear dividing line between the party and Labour, calling them “great news and a victory for common sense”.

On Tuesday night, Mr Sunak said he understood that the public was “frustrated with politics and want real change”, adding: “This realism doesn’t mean losing our ambition or abandoning our commitments – far from it.

“I am proud that Britain is leading the world on climate change. We are committed to net zero by 2050 and the agreements we have made internationally – but doing so in a better, more proportionate way.

“For too many years politicians in governments of all stripes have not been honest about costs and trade-offs. Instead, they have taken the easy way out, saying we can have it all.”

In his speech, the Prime Minister is expected to reiterate that the UK is still committed to the target but say that other countries need to bear more of the burden of dealing with climate change.

On Tuesday night, he said: “Our politics must again put the long-term interests of our country before the short-term political needs of the moment.

“No leak will stop me beginning the process of telling the country how and why we need to change. As a first step, I’ll be giving a speech this week to set out an important long-term decision we need to make so our country becomes the place I know we all want it to be for our children.”

Alterations to policies concerning cars, boilers and landlords are among seven changes being considered by Mr Sunak.

He is expected to say that there will be no policies to change people’s diets or to encourage carpooling, and no new taxes to discourage flying. He is also likely to rule out burdensome recycling schemes, including a proposal for seven bins, with six separate recycling bins plus one for general waste.

It comes three weeks after the Prime Minister installed Claire Coutinho as the Energy, Security and Net Zero Secretary, an appointment that many Tories suggested was a sign that he was considering a change of policy.

In the past Ms Coutinho has stood up for the thousands of people, mostly in rural communities, who use off-grid oil boilers. At the time, a senior government source said that while she agreed to push forward on net zero plans with Mr Sunak, she believed households should be protected from “massive” financial costs.

The timing of the policy shift is eye-catching, because major announcements are usually saved until the Tory party conference at the start of October, but it is believed to be part of a strategy to distance the Conservatives from Labour amid dire polling and with two by-elections looming.

Peter O’Brien, Chief Marketing Officer of www.GoZeroCharge.com, commented on the news: “The sudden news that Rishi Sunak is considering delaying the ban on the production of new petrol and diesel cars by five years to 2035, among other significant changes to existing net zero policies, comes as a disappointing surprise.

“The nature of the ‘announcement’ – a late-night leak after parliament has closed for the conference recess – raises more questions than it provides answers. The immediate backlash from senior figures in the Conservative Party is very telling and the move is possibly the most significant political decision of 2023.

“Given the proximity to the next general election, one has to question if the anti-business policy u-turn is just a poorly planned pre-election challenge to Labour. Sunak claims he’s putting the UK’s long-term interests before his own short-term political needs, but is it believable?

“The fuel of the future is electricity – an opinion fortified by the world’s leading automotive manufacturers, which have worked tirelessly to manoeuvre towards electric vehicles. We’re embarking on a transformative shift away from conventional petrol stations towards a cleaner, sustainable future. Car parks with EV charging are becoming fuelling stations of tomorrow.

“The drastic reduction in carbon emissions by banning the production of petrol and diesel cars in 2030 supports a greener and more sustainable transportation ecosystem and supports consumers, who have been hit hard by the cost-of-living crisis and unprecedented petrol prices in recent years. On the contrary, Sunak’s drastic change of course appears aimed at supporting oil companies as long as possible.”

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