The Prime Minister’s announcement that he has decided to ease back on some of the government’s climate change targets has been greeted with dismay by pretty much everyone who understands just how bad things already are.
Speaking at a lectern somewhat misleadingly labelled “Long-term decisions for a brighter future” Rishi Sunak’s new approach to achieving Net Zero includes delaying the transition from gas boilers to heat pumps, as well as the phasing out of petrol and diesel vehicles. He also announced plans to scrap a range of other policies that were designed to help meet Net Zero targets, such as the obligation for homeowners and landlords to meet energy efficiency targets on home insulation.
All this is in spite of the government’s own advisory body, the Climate Change Committee, having emphatically stated (again) that existing government policies are already totally insufficient to achieve Net Zero by 2050. And in spite of a year when the reality of climate change surely became undeniable, with the relentless breaking of weather records both here in the UK and across the world. Tragically several people were killed in the recent second autumn storm to hit the UK, and farmland flooding will result in significant crop losses and lead to shortages of some foods – and naturally an increase in prices. As I write this the Met Office are warning of yet another storm about to hit the UK, with very strong winds and a risk of further flooding because the heavy rain will fall on ground that is already saturated from the previous storms.
We simply cannot afford to slow our efforts to wean ourselves off fossil fuels. Unless the government’s change of course is rapidly reversed there will be ever worsening consequences. Kicking the can down the road may make you popular with some voters, but in the long run it will inevitably cost us all a lot more, in lost lives as well as money.
There are, however, glimmers of hope in the growing number of young people becoming active in environmental protests, and in reports that UK citizens over the age of 70 (a key cohort of Tory voters) are increasingly concerned about the environment.
- Ken Huggins,
North Dorset Green Party