Shropshire Star

Philip Dunne MP welcomes Rishi Sunak's 'measured response' amid net zero backlash

The Prime Minister's reversal of some of the Government's net zero plans has been described as a "measured response" by a Shropshire MP but businesses and organisations have expressed "deep concerns".

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Prime Minister Rishi Sunak delivers a speech on the plans for net-zero commitments in the briefing room at 10 Downing Street on Wednesday (Justin Tallis/PA Wire).

On Wednesday, Rishi Sunak announced that the Government is to push back the ban on sales of new petrol and diesel cars to 2035 instead of 2030.

He has also relaxed the 2035 phaseout target for the installation of new gas boilers, but has increased grants for boiler upgrades.

Ludlow MP, Philip Dunne, who also chairs the Commons' Environment Audit Select Committee, said the announcement by Mr Sunak was a "measured response."

Speaking to Sky News after the PM's speech, he said: "This is a measured response to try and deal with the real problems posed.

"My committee recognised that the cost of energy efficiency measures were essentially unaffordable, and this is trying to put more funding available to help people upgrade their boilers and is very welcome."

However, not everybody is convinced. Chester Zoo was among 400 signatories to a letter to the PM "expressing concern" over the "weakening" of the Government's Net Zero policies.

Taking to Twitter to explain the objection, Chester Zoo said: "Today’s news that Rishi Sunak is planning to water down some of the Government’s key green commitments will have severe consequences for our planet.

"We’ve joined more than 400 organisations in writing to the PM to express our deep concerns."

The letter, which is signed by a range of UK businesses and organisations, says the business community has "already made substantial investments in net zero".

It continued: "We urge you not to weaken any net zero policies. If you do so, we believe this would be a historic mistake of your premiership, which could do lasting damage to the UK economy."

Environmental groups have also criticised the move by the PM.

Chris Crean, campaigner for Friends of the Earth West Midlands, said Rishi Sunak was being "environmentally reckless and economically inept".

He added: “Building a green economy is the best way to tackle the cost of living crisis, boost energy security and strengthen the economy. Weakening these green policies will simply undermine business confidence and put British jobs at risk.

“The Government is already being taken to court over its weak and feeble climate action plan, which we say is unlawful. If this current package is weakened further, and in a way that’s not transparent about delivery risks, then further legal challenges are inevitable.

“With the world in the midst of a climate crisis we need bold political leadership – not another Prime Minister posturing to a narrow section of his own party for perceived short-term electoral gains. The consequences won’t just fall on people in the UK – they will reverberate globally.”