Rishi Sunak slammed for ‘reckless political gimmick’ amid plans to roll back on Tory green policies

Rishi Sunak

Prime minister Rishi Sunak has been slammed over plans to weaken some key climate change policies, despite remaining “committed” to reaching net zero by 2050. 

On Wednesday (20 September) it was reported the Conservatives are set to water down a number of green pledges, such as delaying the 2030 ban of sales of new petrol and diesel cars and phasing out gas boilers. 

The major policy shift is expected to be announced in a speech this week, as the Tories seek to create a dividing line with Labour ahead of the next general election. 

Home secretary Suella Braverman was quick to defend the prime minister’s backpedalling on climate commitments, telling Times Radio she “commends” the decision: “We’re not going to save the planet by bankrupting the British people.”

However, many were not pleased with Sunak’s move, with Green Party co-leader Carla Denyer calling it a “reckless political gimmick”. 

“This is nothing short of economic and environmental vandalism that will mean higher energy bills, fewer jobs and lost investment all while weakening the UK’s climate action even further,” she said in a statement shared with PinkNews.

You may like to watch

“Households are already paying way more than they should be doing to heat their homes because of the last time the Conservatives decided to ‘cut the green crap’, while businesses are crying out for more certainty from the government over the green transition which so clearly needs to happen.

She continued: “The UK is already not doing enough to reach its climate commitments. Watering them down further, instead of ramping them up, will make it even harder to achieve these and further damage the UK’s climate credentials around the world.

“This reckless political gimmick will mean higher energy bills, colder homes, fewer jobs, more dirty air and more climate chaos. Meanwhile, Labour is not saying it will restore anything the Conservatives undo if they are elected at the next election.”

“Once again, this shows why it is so important to elect a group of Green MPs to hold whoever is in government to account and fight for better protections for both people and planet,” the Green co-leader added. 

Carla Denyer, co-leader of the Green Party (Ian Forsyth/Getty Images)

Similarly, the Scottish Greens described Sunak’s move as an “extremely destructive and cynical” one which would “do real damage and pour more fuel on the global fire”.

The party’s environment spokesperson, Mark Ruskell MSP, said: “The UK is already lagging far behind where it needs to on climate action and the Prime Minister’s reckless proposals would make that far worse.

“The Tories have made clear that they see our environment as just another theatre for their disgraceful culture war. From curbing low emission zones to approving a new coal mine and granting 100 new oil and gas exploration licences, these are not the actions of a man or a Party that could care less about our climate.”

Ruskell went on to say that the government’s move shows the “level of contempt the Tories have for future generations and will make the Prime Minister a laughing stock”.

He continued: “Make no mistake, if the Prime Minister goes ahead with this it will have a dramatic and profound impact on what we here in Scotland are trying to do to tackle the climate crisis and deliver the green change that is so badly doing.

“This isn’t an accident. They know what they are doing and they know what the consequences will be. They cannot be trusted with our climate for a moment longer. If they continue with their disastrous climate wrecking agenda then it will fuel an environmental and humanitarian crisis.

“They will have blood on their hands.”

Darren Jones, Labour’s shadow chief secretary to the treasury, called the retreat from green commitments a “risk for the British economy and British business”. 

“These targets are important so that British businesses know how to invest in their workforce and their factories,” Jones told BBC Breakfast. 

Some criticism has even come from within the Tories themselves. 

Taking to social media, COP26 president and Conservative MP Alok Sharalokma said the UK “has been a leader on climate action” but “we cannot rest on our laurels”. 

“For any party to resile from this agenda will not help economically or electorally,” he added.