Sunak blasts critics after backlash over green rethink

The Prime Minister insisted he is “absolutely not slowing down” efforts to combat climate change after delaying bans on new petrol cars and boilers to 2035.

Mr Sunak challenged Labour to set out its defence for imposing punishing targets earlier than is necessary. He said: “For those who disagree with me – and there are plenty of people as we can see over the last day or two – they should explain to the country why they think it’s right that ordinary families should have to fork out five, 10, £15,000 to make the transition earlier than necessary.”

Mr Sunak dismissed claims by former environment minister Lord Goldsmith that he was “pretending to halt frightening proposals that do not exist”, including the possibility of taxes on meat and compulsory car sharing. The PM said: “I reject that entirely. These are things that have been raised by credible people about ways to meet our net zero obligations.”

READ MORE: Rishi Sunak made the right decision to pull back on Net Zero targets

During a visit to an Writtle University College in Essex, he said the changes were “particularly important for our rural and farming communities who were facing huge costs and are the backbone of our economies”. He added: “We are absolutely not slowing down efforts to combat climate change. I am very proud of our country’s leadership.”

Some 92% of the 3,000 Express readers who voted in our online poll said they backed his decision.

Mr Sunak dismissed a backlash from the car industry, after Ford warned that delaying the ban on new petrol and diesel vehicles would “undermine” its needs for “ambition, commitment, and consistency” from the Government.

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He said the reforms were not about politics, saying he wanted to “change the direction of our country” meaning he had to be “willing to change politics”. Ed Miliband, shadow energy security secretary, said he relished the opportunity to go “toe-to-toe” with the Tories on net zero during the election.

Labour said the watering down of green pledges would cost the public more in the long term and accused the Prime Minister of “selling out” the opportunity for a jobs boom.

But Conservative Party Chairman Greg Hands said: “How do the critics, the opposition and the naysayers justify lumping these costs on to people who simply can’t afford it?”

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