Rishi Sunak defends U.K. climate policy U-turn amid international criticism

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is facing criticism after announcing a delay in key UK climate policies, arguing the changes offset the “unacceptable cost” of net-zero commitments.

Policy changes: Sunak’s presented changes include deferring the ban on new gas and diesel cars to 2035 instead of 2030, and delaying the phasing out of gas boilers to 2035.
* Sunak asserts these changes are to be “pragmatic” and spare the British public the cost of net-zero commitments.

The expert’s take: Government’s own climate adviser suggests that meeting the 2050 net-zero target with these changes is “wishful thinking.”
* On investment, the government’s Climate Change Committee estimates that reaching net-zero by 2050 demands an extra $61 billion investment yearly by 2030.
* However, once the savings from reduced use of fossil fuels come into play, the transition to net zero will cost less than 1% of GDP over the next 30 years, anticipates the committee.

Global response: Sunak’s policy adjustments have prompted criticism domestically and internationally.
* Former U.S. Vice President Al Gore labelled the changes as “shocking and disappointing”, warning it is “not what the world needs from the United Kingdom.”
* Former Conservative minister Alok Sharma suggested this approach might influence others to renege on climate policies.
* Within the UK, car manufacturers, energy industry representatives, and climate activists have also rebuked the changes.

Climate impacts: As Sunak’s alterations come amidst escalating extreme weather due to climate change, scientists warn of its continued intensification.
* UK’s record temperature of 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) in July 2022, was labelled as “basically impossible” without climate change by World Weather Attribution network.
* During the New York climate summit, London Mayor Sadiq Khan warned of possible 45-degree Celsius (113 degrees Fahrenheit) days in the city’s future.

View original article on NPR

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