Rishi Sunak’s watering down of green pledges for boilers and motor vehicles risks undermining investment confidence in the UK, industry bosses have warned the prime minister today.
Chris Hewett, chief executive of trade association Solar Energy UK, argued this was “evidence of a leader who is out of touch with the needs of UK plc, as well as energy consumers.”
“Across the world, businesses in US, China, EU, India and beyond are in a global race to lead in the energy transition to renewables, electric vehicles and decarbonised heat, all of which will cut the cost of living for ordinary people. If Rishi Sunak really wants to put the brakes on the UK’s position in this race, it is an economic misjudgement of historic proportions,” he said.
The warning comes after leading car manufacturers Ford UK and BMW urged the government to give clarity on the proposed move to delay a ban on petrol and diesel vehicles, by 2030.
Suella Braverman however stood by the PM in media rounds this morning, saying “we are not going to save the planet by bankrupting the country”.
Dan McGrail, chief executive of trade association Renewable UK, which represents the wind and tidal power industries, feared that further policy tinkering would scare away investors wanting a predictable financial climate for projects.
“I have spent the day with ministers talking about how important long term stability in policy is for investor confidence. And now this? U-turn on net zero will undermine investment in our economy and reduce opportunities for our children – it’s their jobs being gambled,” he wrote on social media platform X – formerly known as Twitter – last night.
Emma Pinchbeck, head of Energy UK, which represents the wider domestic industry, argued that Sunak’s climb-down on climate commitments was “not a great look for UK PLC.”
“Let us hope this is just the headline,” she wrote on X.
Sunak is expected to confirm delays to the phase out of fossil fuel powered cars and boilers, despite both policies being confirmed in the UK’s drive to reach net zero over the next three decades.
This includes extending the date for banning new sales of petrol and diesel cars from 2030 to 2035, and softening plans to replaces oil and gas boilers with heat pumps, according to the BBC.
Sunak appeared to confirm media reports in a statement yesterday night, where he said the UK needed to reach its net zero target in a “better, more proportionate” way.
Jess Ralston, head of energy at the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit, said on X: “If what is being reported is true then this is a complete Tory meltdown on climate Desperate act for votes, jeopardising green investment and jobs. Going slow on electric vehicles, insulation and heat pumps means we need more gas.”
Adam Bell, head of policy at Stonehaven and ex-head of energy at BEIS, suggested it would be difficult to water down climate pledges with upcoming carbon budgets providing “very little wriggle room” and with net zero being signed into law.
He said: “Unless there’s some magic technology waiting in the wings, this is straight to judicial review.”