London, Sep 20 (EFE).- British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced Wednesday a “new approach” in UK policies against the climate crisis, which includes reducing or delaying some of its targets for reducing CO2 emissions in the coming years.
The government will delay by five years, until 2035, the ban on the sale of new gas- and diesel-only cars, offer “much more time” to switch from gas heaters in homes, and scrap plans to boost car-sharing and recycling, among other measures.
“We can take a more pragmatic, proportionate, and realistic approach to meeting net zero emissions), which will ease the burdens on working people,” Sunak said in a speech from Downing Street, his official residence in London.
The prime minister announced that he would not veto new oil and gas exploration in the North Sea – “something that would simply make us dependent on expensive energy imported from foreign dictators like Putin,” he said – and ruled out any tax to discourage air travel.
A plan to force landlords to renovate their properties to meet specific energy criteria, scheduled to come into force in 2028, has also been shelved.
His government will not take steps to change the “diet” of citizens, nor will it “harm British farmers by putting taxes on meat,” said Sunak, who became head of government in October 2022 after the disastrous defeat of Liz Truss and faces a general election, expected next year, in which the Labor Party is the favorite.
“The debate about how we are going to achieve net zero has introduced many worrying proposals, and today I want to confirm that, under this Government, they will never happen,” said the Prime Minister, who stressed at the same time that he has no intention of abandoning the commitment to move towards zero emissions by 2050.
“I am adamant that we will deliver on our international agreements, including the key pledges made in Paris and Glasgow to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius,” stressed Sunak, who insisted that the UK remains a “global leader” on environmental targets.
The British leader affirmed that his country had been the fastest to reduce its emissions in the G7, with a decrease of “almost 50% since 1990”, while “France (has reduced) 22%, the US has not changed, and China has increased (emissions) by 300%”.
“How can that be right, that British citizens have to sacrifice more than others?” asked Sunak, who warned that “if we continue down this path, we risk losing the consent of the British people.”
His measures have already provoked the rejection of automakers such as Ford, which has warned that delaying the veto on combustion engines by five years could “undermine” the investments already made to prepare the way for 2030.
Automakers like the Stellantis Group, owner of Opel, Peugeot, and Fiat, among other brands, and Jaguar Land Rover, have called for “clarity” and “certainty” on environmental regulation. EFE