Rishi Sunak postpones the ban on gasoline cars in a major shift in green policies

Rishi Sunak has delayed a ban on new petrol and diesel cars, 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, along with a 50% increase in cash incentives to replace gas boilers. The government could not impose "unacceptable costs" linked to reducing emissions on British families, Sunak said.

There has been criticism of the changes from Labour, business leaders, and within Sunak's own party. Many Conservative MPs have come out in favor of Sunak's new direction, alongside some in the car industry. The changes come as 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 which were launched when Sunak was serving as chancellor. The political choices outlined in his speech preview more announcements later this autumn, as Sunak promised he would set out "a series of long-term decisions."

In a speech from Downing Street on Wednesday, Sunak said moving too fast on green policies "risks losing the consent of the British people". Key changes announced were a five-year delay in the ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars, a nine-year delay in the ban on new fossil fuel heating for off-gas-grid homes to 2035, raising the Boiler Upgrade Grant by 50% to £7,500 to help households who want to replace their gas boilers, the ban on the sale of new gas boilers in 2035 remains, but the government will introduce a new exemption for poorer households, and scrapping the requirement on landlords to ensure all rental properties had a Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) of grade C or higher from 2025.

Labour unequivocally committed itself to keeping the 2030 ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars. With the ban, the UK will miss its target for a fully carbon free economy by 2050, shadow environment secretary Steve Reed said. Sunak also announced he would be "scrapping" a range of proposals that had been "thrown up" by the debate, including hiking up air fares to discourage foreign holidays and taxes on meat consumption.


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