The Prime Minister’s new approach to Net Zero
I fully support the Prime Minister’s energy and Net Zero reforms.
The UK is a world-leader in reducing emissions. Indeed, we have cut emissions by 48% since 1990 - more than any other major country. We were the first country to set a legal target of reaching Net Zero by 2050, and, following the new measures announced this week, we remain on track to deliver this pledge.
However, we have to be honest. Climate change is a global phenomenon, not merely a national one. In the UK we only account for 1% of global emissions, and in other countries emissions are rising much faster than ours are falling.
There is simply no point in rushing to heap huge financial burdens on the British people if it will make little or no difference to global climate change.
It is therefore right that there is an honest discussion about how this target is achieved, and that the prior impositions placed on families across the country are reviewed.
The new policies include:
- Deadline on ban of selling new petrol and diesel cars extended to 2035.
The transition to electric vehicles is being eased given ongoing inflationary pressures for households, as well as to allow more time to prepare for this change. This means that it will still be possible to buy new petrol and diesel cars and vans until 2035; and even after that still buy and sell second-hand.
The new 2035 phase-out matches other major European countries, such as France, Germany and Spain and is still in advance of countries with either a 2040 date or those with no date at all.
- Deadline to install heat pumps extended to 2035.
The upfront cost of replacing gas boilers with heat pumps could mean a five-figure bill.
This is simply unrealistic for many, so switching to these newer pumps will only occur when buying a new boiler, and even then only from 2035.
In order to help support this process, an exemption has been granted to households which would be hit hardest. Instead of banning household appliances before people can afford the alternative, the Boiler Upgrade Scheme which offers cash grants to replace boilers will be increased to £7,500.
- Upcoming property energy efficiency requirements scrapped.
Under previous plans, some properties would have had to undergo expensive upgrades costing thousands of pounds in just two years’ time.
That would have meant household bills rising or rent payments likely going up.
These requirements have now been scrapped. No household will be forced into making such changes, but the Government will continue to subsidise energy efficiency to help the transition through policies such as the Great British Insulation Scheme.
A suite of related measures also mean that we will embrace the power of the free market to deliver energy improvements and reduce emissions.
The Government’s new approach to reaching Net Zero means:
- Lifting the ban on onshore wind
- New carbon capture & storage
- Funding for Sizewell C
- New small modular nuclear reactors
- Speeding up energy security projects
I also particularly welcome the Prime Minister’s decision to rule out proposals more reminiscent of dystopian rule than parliamentary democracy:
- Expensive insulation upgrades
- Taxes on eating meat
- Sorting rubbish into 7 bins
- Compulsory car sharing for work colleagues
- New taxes to discourage flying
The Prime Minister has correctly assessed that if we attempt to reach the 2050 target without recognising burdens and financial costs that related policies would place on households, then support for net zero will be imperilled.
The consent to govern for such a target would simply be lost.
Not only would this risk all the progress that has thus far been made to reduce emissions and develop future technologies, but it would risk the environment for future generations.
These reforms put into clear perspective that the UK must not constrict itself for what is ultimately a global problem that must be collectively addressed – and that other countries must do more to decarbonise.
The largest polluters of greenhouse gas emissions are China at 27%, the USA at 11%, India at 7%, and Russia at 4%.
By comparison, the UK’s emissions have now fallen to below 1%.
We have also reduced emissions faster than any other major economy. The rest of the G7 countries have reached -8%, but the UK has reached -48%.
This week’s announcements are a more pragmatic, proportionate and realistic approach which place the very real concerns of many families across the country at the forefront of the Government’s approach.