The 'premier' Rishi Sunak has received harsh criticism from across the political and business spectrum for his reversal in action on climate change and the renunciation of much of the measures to achieve the goal of "zero emissions", promoted in his day by Boris Johnson.

Sunak convened an emergency cabinet on Wednesday to communicate the decision to his ministers, who were sharply divided ahead of his plans. The 'premier' will announce this week that he will rescind the ban on the sale of diesel and gasoline vehicles initially announced for 2030 (postponed until 2035), as well as the replacement of gas heaters by heat pumps.

The news has had a strong impact on the international community to coincide with the Climate Ambition Summit in New York, from which Sunak decided to symbolically leave. The reversal of zero emissions policies has been criticized by the Labour opposition and by broad sectors of the Conservative Party as an express renunciation of the role of global leadership in the face of climate change assumed at COP27 in Glasgow.

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Sunak gives the first "reversal" of Brexit and returns to the EU's Horizon program

  • Editor: CARLOS FRESNEDA (Correspondent)London

Sunak gives the first "reversal" of Brexit and returns to the EU's Horizon program


Scientists conclude Europe's heatwave is 'almost impossible' without climate change


Scientists conclude Europe's heatwave is 'almost impossible' without climate change

"We remain committed to our goals, but we are going to do it in a better and more proportionate way," Sunak said Tuesday night, in a terse message in which he criticized politicians (in veiled mention of Johnson) for "not having been honest about the costs and compensations" of the ecological transition. "

"This realism does not mean that we lose our ambition or that we give up our commitments," Sunak stressed. "The UK is leading the world on climate change, we remain committed to net zero by 2050 and we will respect international agreements."

The announcement has, however, a clearly "national" and calculatedly political purpose: to appeal in the 2024 elections to the vote of discontent over the crisis of the cost of living, attributable by conservative media to the "green agenda".

The tabloid The Daily Mail, which has been campaigning for months for the delay in the ban on the sale of combustion cars in 2030, was the first to celebrate the news as "a sign of common sense" before the objective of "zero emissions" sponsored by more than a hundred countries and that had marked the agenda of the climate change in the last two years.

Sunak is not going to save the planet by bankrupting the British

The ultraconservative and controversial Home Secretary, Suella Braverman, publicly defended the decision of the 'premier': "Sunak is not going to save the planet by bankrupting the British." Former Conservative minister Simon Clarke accused Sunak of "breaking the consensus on zero emissions", and former Energy Secretary Chris Skidmore warned that the measures announced by Sunak "will ultimately have a negative impact on job creation, investment and economic growth".

The automotive industry reacted negatively to the announcement, ensuring that it can seriously interfere with plans to convert to the electric car. "Our businesses need three things from the British government: ambition, commitment and consistency," said Lisa Brankin, president of Ford UK.

Emma Pinchbeck, chief executive of Energy UK, sharply criticised Sunak's energy policy swings since he came to power almost a year ago and expressed surprise at the announcement: "Hours earlier we had been in a meeting with members of the government and they assured us that zero emissions remain the top priority... And all of a sudden we stumbled upon this."

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, one of the most critical voices against the lack of climate ambition of the 'premier': "The absence of Sunal at the New York summit speaks for itself. The British government has been very slow, has given very little support to local governments and has decided to turn climate into a 'weapon' of the culture war."

Khan recalled the recent battle against the extension of the Ultra Low Emission Zone (Ulez) to the entire metropolitan area of London, boycotted from the highest levels of government. The Labour mayor recently presented an alarming climate scenario with temperatures up to 45 degrees "for the foreseeable future" (the city first exceeded 40 degrees last year).

"This is not the time to delay action when we are all going to have to adapt to rising temperatures," Khan said. "We need large investments, among other things to install air conditioning on all metro lines, in residences and in schools. We also have to adapt to the high risks of flooding. We can't stop and smell the coffee."

  • Environment
  • Rishi Sunak
  • United Kingdom
  • Climate change