Rishi Sunak delays petrol car ban in major shift on green policies – BBC

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Watch: UK easing transition to electric vehicles – Sunak
Rishi Sunak has delayed a ban on new petrol and diesel cars in a major change to the government's approach to achieving net zero by 2050.
The prime minister announced exemptions and delays to several key green policies, alongside a 50% increase in cash incentives to replace gas boilers.
The government could not impose "unacceptable costs" linked to reducing emissions on British families, he said.
It's prompted fierce criticism from the opposition and some industry bosses.
Mr Sunak also faced attacks from his own party, but many Conservative MPs came out in favour of the new direction, alongside some in the car industry.
The changes come as Mr Sunak seeks to create dividing lines with opposition parties ahead of a general election, expected next year.
Framing the changes as "pragmatic and proportionate", the prime minister has unpicked several of Boris Johnson's key policies, many of them launched when Mr Sunak was serving as chancellor.
In a speech from Downing Street on Wednesday, Mr Sunak said moving too fast on green policies "risks losing the consent of the British people".
Among the key changes announced were:
Mr Sunak ran the changes past a hastily organised cabinet meeting on Wednesday morning, after proposals were revealed by the BBC.
Responding to the statement, Labour unequivocally committed itself to keeping the 2030 ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars.
Shadow environment secretary Steve Reed said without the ban the UK would miss its target to hit net zero – this is the point at which a country is no longer adding to the overall amount of harmful greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.
Mr Reed said the prime minster had "sold out the biggest economic opportunity of the 21st Century" for Britain "to lead the world in transition to well-paid secured new jobs of the green economy".
Scottish First Minister Humza Yousaf told the BBC the move was "utterly unforgiveable" and "very firmly takes the UK out of the global consensus".
Speaking from a UN summit on climate action, which Mr Sunak had declined to attend, Mr Yousaf said: "The same day the whole world is gathered to talk about what more we can do, we have a UK prime minister rolling back on [the UK's] commitments."
The BBC's Chris Mason says Mr Sunak and his advisers will hope that beyond the criticism, many voters might quietly conclude he is onto something and being reasonable.
Mr Sunak's proposals are dividing his party, Parliament, and many in the country, but the PM will be looking at Labour's lead in the opinion polls and concluding he has no choice but to gamble.
And the political choices outlined in his speech preview more announcements later this autumn, as Mr Sunak promised he would set out "a series of long term decisions".
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Watch: Rishi Sunak's shift on green policies – what he said then and now
Billions of pounds has already been invested across multiple industries, including car makers and energy firms, in preparation of the previous deadlines.
Korean carmaker Kia, which has plans to launch nine new electric vehicles over the next few years, said the announcement was disappointing as it "alters complex supply chain negotiations and product planning, whilst potentially contributing to consumer and industry confusion".
The chief executive of energy company E.On, Chris Norbury, said it was a "misstep on many levels", adding that it was a "false argument" to suggest green policies can only come at a cost.
"We risk condemning people to many more years of living in cold and draughty homes that are expensive to heat, in cities clogged with dirty air from fossil fuels, missing out on the economic regeneration this ambition brings," Mr Norbury said.
Jaguar Land Rover, which announced hundreds of new jobs in the West Midlands a few days ago, welcomed the change, calling it "pragmatic" and adding that it brings the UK in line with other nations.
"Pragmatic" was also how Toyota described the changes.
Elsewhere, Mr Sunak also suggested he would be "scrapping" a range of proposals which had been "thrown up" by the debate, including hiking up air fares to discourage foreign holidays and taxes on meat consumption. Neither of these had been government policy.
Mr Sunak argued that without transparency and "honest debate" on the impact of green policies there would be a "backlash" against net zero.
But Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey accused Mr Sunak of being "selfish" and said the changes "epitomise his weakness".
"The prime minister's legacy will be the hobbling of our country's future economy as he ran scared from the right wing of his own party," he said.
The UK was now "at the back of the queue as the rest of the world races to embrace the industries of tomorrow", Sir Ed added.
Speaking to the BBC from the UN's Climate Action Summit, Sir Alok Sharma, a former Conservative minister who chaired the COP26 climate summit, said the response from international colleagues at the event had been one of "consternation".
"My concern is whether people now look to us and say, 'Well, if the UK is starting to row back on some of these policies, maybe we should do the same'," he said.
Also speaking from the summit, former US vice president and climate campaigner Al Gore said the announcement marked a "turn back in the wrong direction".
"At times in the past, the UK has been one of the impressive leaders on climate. And so for those who have come to expect that from the UK, it's a particular disappointment," he told the BBC.
Chris Stark, chief executive of the UK's independent Climate Change Committee, said the changes would make it harder for the government to meet legally binding climate goals.
Speaking to Radio 4's Today programme on Thursday, Mr Stark added that the committee had already advised the government in June that it "didn't look like we were on track" to meet 2030 emissions targets, before these changes were announced.
However, the shift in policy has gained support from some within Mr Sunak's party.
Former cabinet minister Jacob Rees-Mogg backed the changes, telling the BBC: "The problem with net zero and having regulations coming in so quickly was that it was a scheme of the elite on the backs of the least well off."
Mr Sunak is instead "going with the grain of the nation and moving for 'intelligent net zero' by 2050 but not putting in costly bans in the next few years."
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