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UK to Take “Pragmatic” Approach to Net Zero Carbon Emissions Target, PM Sunak Announces

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The UK government has announced a shift in its approach to achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak stated on Wednesday that the country would pursue a “pragmatic” strategy instead of adhering to rigid policies. This change in direction includes an easing of energy efficiency targets for rental properties and a backtrack on plans to replace gas boilers with heat pumps in homeowners’ properties.

Sunak stressed his belief in the reality of climate change and the UK’s ability to achieve net zero. However, he criticized the previous approach, stating that politicians often prioritize short-term gains and tell the public what they want to hear rather than engaging in an honest conversation about the challenges. Sunak argued that it is not enough to simply announce targets and expect them to be achieved without proper planning and implementation.

The prime minister justified the decision to soften targets by highlighting the UK’s success in reducing greenhouse gas emissions at a faster rate than any other G7 nation. He suggested that this achievement provides the country with some leeway to reassess its goals.

However, this change in approach has faced strong opposition from various quarters. Opposition lawmakers, environmental campaigners, the car industry, and some Conservative MPs expressed their displeasure, potentially creating a rift within Sunak’s party. In July, the prime minister’s approval of new oil and gas licenses in the North Sea drew criticism from environmentalists.

Prominent figures who support the net zero agenda, such as former prime minister Boris Johnson and COP26 president Alok Sharma, warned against faltering in the country’s ambition. Johnson emphasized the need to maintain momentum and not compromise on the net zero goal, while Sharma argued that any deviation from the agenda would not be beneficial economically or politically. Reports even suggested that some MPs might be preparing letters of no confidence in protest.

Criticism of the government’s decision also came from industry representatives. Green Party MP Caroline Lucas described the move as economically illiterate, historically inaccurate, and environmentally bone-headed. Ed Miliband, Labour’s spokesman for energy, called it a “complete farce” from a government that lacks direction. Mike Hawes, chief executive of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, emphasized the importance of clear and consistent messaging from the government to encourage consumers to switch to electric vehicles. He warned that confusion and uncertainty would hinder progress in adopting zero-emission mobility.

The government’s decision to adopt a more flexible approach to achieving net zero carbon emissions has sparked a heated debate and raised concerns about the country’s commitment to combating climate change. As opposition and criticism mount, it remains to be seen how the government will navigate this contentious issue and maintain its climate goals while addressing the concerns raised by various stakeholders.

More detail via UrduPoint here… ( Image via UrduPoint )

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