The United Kingdom backtracked on its climate commitments: it postponed its ban on gasoline and diesel cars until 2035

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British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak (Justin Tallis/Reuters)

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced on Wednesday the Postponement of several flagship UK climate policy measuresa decision criticized as electoralist and disapproved in economic circles.

“I am confident we can take a more pragmatic, proportionate and realistic approach to achieving carbon neutrality, which eases the burden on workers,” Rishi Sunak said at a hastily arranged press conference after his intentions were leaked to the public. media.

The main announcement affects the veto the new cars that run on gasoline and dieselwhich will now be banned for sale in 2035 and not 2030.

With this measure, the United Kingdom is “aligning its approach” with the schedule planned in the European Union or in other countries, Sunak said, in the face of criticism from the automotive sector.

Climate activists protest in London (REUTERS/Susannah Ireland)
Climate activists protest in London (REUTERS/Susannah Ireland)

He also announced the relaxation of the conditions for the phasing out gas boilers from 2035 and the abandonment of a measure on energy efficiency of homes which provided for strong restrictions for owners. In addition, it will eliminate plans to boost the car sharing and recyclingamong other measures.

The climate ambitions of the United Kingdom, which aims to be carbon neutral by 2050, were affected by the purchasing power crisis affecting the British and by the possible electoral repercussions for the Conservative party.

The Government will not take steps to change the “diet” of citizens nor “harm British farmers by putting taxes on meat”said Sunak, who took over as head of Government in October 2022, after the disaster of Liz Truss, and faces a general election, expected next year, in which the Labor Party is the favorite.

Protesters carry a banner during a global protest to end fossil fuels in London (REUTERS/Susannah Ireland)
Protesters carry a banner during a global protest to end fossil fuels in London (REUTERS/Susannah Ireland)

“The debate about how we are going to achieve net zero (in emissions) has introduced a series of worrying proposalsand today I want to confirm that, under this Government, they will never happen,” declared the prime minister, who stressed at the same time that he has no intention of abandoning the commitment to move towards zero emissions in 2050.

“I am adamant that we will deliver on our international agreements, including the key promises made in Paris and Glasgow to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius,” Sunak stressed, insisting that the United Kingdom remains a “global leader” in regarding environmental objectives.

In July, Sunak already caused a stir by promising hundreds of new licenses for the exploration and exploitation of hydrocarbons in the North Sea. This Wednesday the prime minister stressed that he will not veto new oil and gas prospecting in the North Sea: "Something that would simply make us dependent on expensive energy imported from foreign dictators like Putin," he noted, and ruled out any tax to discourage air travel.

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak visits Land Rover for an announcement about a new battery factory for electric cars (Christopher Furlong/REUTERS)
British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak visits Land Rover for an announcement about a new battery factory for electric cars (Christopher Furlong/REUTERS)

And in June the independent body responsible for advising Downing Street on its climate policies deplored the “worrying slowness” of the transition in the country, particularly in achieving legally binding 2030 targets.

“We cannot afford to weaken now or lose our ambition for this country in any way,” said former Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who set a 2030 target for the end of petrol and diesel cars.

For its part, the Association of Automobile Manufacturers and Sellers (SMMT) denounced the “confusion” and “uncertainty” that generates this decision, and the NGO Greenpeace said that “under the Conservative government, the United Kingdom has gone from being a leader to being a laggard on climate change.”

(With information from AFP and EFE)

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