I’ll tackle climate change – but I will NOT punish Sun readers to get to Net Zero

HARD-PRESSED families shouldn’t have to pay an unaffordable price to reach net zero.

That’s my guiding principle when it comes to tackling climate change.

Britain's Prime Minister Rishi Sunak delivers a speech during a press conference on the net zero target, at the Downing Street Briefing Room, in central London, on September 20, 2023. The UK looked set to backtrack on policies aimed at achieving net zero emissions by 2050 with Prime Minister Rishi Sunak expected to water down some of the government's green commitments. The move comes amid growing concern over the potential financial cost of the government's policies to achieve net zero carbon emissions by mid-century. JUSTIN TALLIS/Pool via REUTERS
Rishi Sunak explains how his guiding principle when it comes to tackling climate change is to make sure hard-pressed families don’t pay an unaffordable price

It was the message of The Sun’s brilliant Give Us A Brake campaign this summer.

And it’s why this week I am not going ahead with plans that would punish motorists and working people.

Instead I’m taking a long-term decision to meet our commitment in a better way.

Like Sun readers, I care deeply about climate change and hitting net zero.

I’m proud that we lead the world in cutting carbon emissions — driving them down almost 50 per cent since 1990, compared to just 22 per cent for France, no change for the US, and an increase for China of 300 per cent.

Britain is more than doing its bit and I am determined that we will continue to lead the way.

We will meet our net zero targets and live up to the promises we made in Paris and Glasgow.

But when our share of global emissions is less than one per cent, how can it be right that British ­citizens are being forced to sacrifice even more than others?

We need to change the debate. For too long governments have not been open and honest enough with the public.

They have taken the easy way out by setting goals without telling people how to meet them. I want to change that and I will.

The plans made on your behalf force you to take steps that will massively change your lives.

A ban on sales of new petrol and diesel cars by 2030.

A ban on buying new boilers even if your home will never be suitable for a heat pump.

Mandatory home upgrades in just two years’ time, hitting property owners in the pocket, and likely renters too.

And it doesn’t stop there. People have also talked about new taxes on eating meat, new taxes on flying, compulsory car sharing if you drive to work, and a diktat to sort your rubbish into seven different bins — a world where the government interferes with what you eat, how you travel, who you travel with and how you live your life.

I don’t remember anyone voting for that.

So we are not watering down our commitment on net zero — in fact, we’re doubling down.

But we’re going to do it in an honest, fair and sensible way — a way that eases the burden on households and carries the consent of the British people.

From today, consumers will be able to buy new petrol and diesel cars and vans until 2035, extending the deadline by five years.

(FILES) In this file photo taken on November 20, 2017 A motorist uses a pump as they re-fuel their car with unleaded petrol at a filling station in central London. - British inflation has rocketed to its highest level for more than 10 years on broad-based price gains, data showed on December 15, 2021, on the eve of a Bank of England interest rate decision. The annual inflation rate surged to 5.1 percent in November after October's 4.2 percent, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said in a statement. (Photo by Daniel LEAL / AFP) (Photo by DANIEL LEAL/AFP via Getty Images)
Consumers will be able to buy new petrol and diesel cars and vans until 2035, extending the deadline by five years
AFP via Getty

By 2030 the vast majority of cars sold will probably be because it’s becoming cheaper and the charging infrastructure is growing.

But at least, for now, it should be you ­— consumers — who make the choice.

This is the same approach as Germany, France, Spain, Italy, Australia, Canada, Sweden and US states like California and New York, which all have a 2035 deadline.

We are also bringing in a fairer approach to decarbonising how we heat our homes.

As things stand, a family living in a terraced house would have to pay around £10,000 to switch to a heat pump.

That is unacceptable at any time, let alone when people are struggling with the cost of living.

So I’ve decided that we will never force households to rip out their existing boiler.

They will only need to install a heat pump if they are replacing their boiler anyway, and even then only from 2035.

We will increase cash grants from £5,000 to £7,500 to support people who want to make the change now.

And we will exempt a fifth of all households where making this change simply isn’t practical or affordable.

We will also scrap energy efficiency rules that would have cost a family living in a semi-detached house around £8,000.

We will continue to subsidise ­programmes to help families improve their energy efficiency and reduce bills, but we will never force anyone to do so.

Technician repairing combi Gas Boiler
The Government will continue to subsidise programmes to help families improve energy efficiency and reduce bills, but will never force anyone to do so

And all those other proposals on meat taxes, new flying taxes, compulsory ­carpools, seven different bins in every home?

All scrapped. They will not ­happen on my watch.

Instead of imposing ever greater ­burdens on the British people, we will embrace the opportunity to make the country a green industrial giant with the boost to jobs and growth that it will bring.

We’re already home to the four largest offshore wind farms in the world and now we’re building the biggest one yet, at Dogger Bank in the North East.

We’re lifting the ban on onshore wind, investing in carbon capture and storage, and building new nuclear power stations for the first time since the 1990s.

At the same time, we will continue to support new oil and gas in the North Sea so we’re less reliant on imported energy from foreign dictators like Vladimir Putin.

We are also investing in the UK’s genius for science and , supporting our leading scientists and engineers at our top universities to develop the new technologies that can help the world.

This is how we will beat climate change and hit net zero.

Not by denying it or abandoning our commitments.

Not by imposing terrible burdens with no regard to the costs on people’s lives.

But by inventing solutions, seizing opportunities and building the better future we all want to see.

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