Environmental Audit Committee writes to PM on net zero announcements
2 October 2023
Today the Environmental Audit Committee publishes a letter sent from the Chair of the Committee, Rt Hon Philip Dunne MP, to the Prime Minister, Rt Hon Rishi Sunak MP, raising questions arising from the Prime Minister’s recent announcement on net zero measures.
The Committee raised concern about the “presentation of the debate over net zero measures as a binary choice between those who oppose net zero policies on the grounds of excessive costs, excessive burdens or rejection of the evidence of climate change, and those who demand change at a pace which is impractical or unaffordable”.
The Committee lamented that the speech was made the day after the House of Commons rose for the conference recess, instead of leaving “time for a statement to be made to the House”.
The letter highlights that a number of the policy proposals recently “scrapped” by the Prime Minister were not yet established Government policy, and asked whether they were under active consideration by Ministers for implementation.
The Committee calls for a revised Carbon Budget Delivery Plan in light of the changes to Government policy and the Prime Minister’s assertion that international and domestic decarbonisation commitments can still be met.
The letter also requests information on the impact of the delay to the proposed ban on new petrol and diesel cars and how this relates to the mandate for manufacturers to increase sales of EV vehicles to 80% by 2030. It has raised similar questions about the impact of delay to the proposed ban on the installation of oil and LPG boilers and new coal heating, and how this relates to the mandate for boiler manufacturers to increase sales of heat pumps by 2030 and the welcome increased Boiler Upgrade Scheme grant to £7,500. The committee also expressed concern about recent dissolution of the Energy Efficiency Taskforce.
Chair of the Environmental Audit Committee, Rt Hon Philip Dunne MP, said:
“The transition to net zero is one of the greatest challenges facing the UK. The decision to delay some targets, such as the ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars, is disappointing, but reflects the Government’s assessment of the scale of the mammoth task ahead.
“In last week’s announcements the Prime Minister sought to reaffirm his administration’s firm commitment to reaching net zero, while delaying certain important measures and relaxing others. It concerns the Committee that these announcements were not accompanied with a clear plan setting out how the UK’s decarbonisation commitments are now to be met, and the Committee today calls for a revised Carbon Budget Delivery Plan to be produced urgently.
“There is a high degree of consensus – in Parliament and amongst the public – on the need to reduce emissions in the face of the threat of climate change. While pragmatic implementation is vital, pace must be maintained.
“In today’s letter the Committee calls on the Prime Minister to avoid falling into the trap of presenting net zero as an all-or-nothing, binary choice. The environment and the economy are not in opposition to one another. On the contrary, green policies are a key part of sustainable growth.
“We echo the Prime Minister’s call for transparency in politics. Last week’s raft of policy announcements could have provided a great opportunity for the Government to have these policy changes debated by Parliament before the recess. Parliamentary scrutiny is one of the cornerstones of our democracy, and good scrutiny makes for good government.
“I look forward to the Prime Minister, in the spirit of openness and transparency he advocated in his speech, providing further detail on these policies to my colleagues on the committee, and to facilitating constructive parliamentary scrutiny of the Government’s net zero strategy.”
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