“Nobody voted for Net Zero,” according to one of Rishi Sunak’s Tory cronies on ‘X’:
No one voted for Net Zero, and it's the height of disingenuous to pretend they did.
— LaoCaiLarry 🇹🇭🇬🇧 (@LaoCaiLarry1) September 20, 2023
It’s a lie, of course. Policies to tackle climate change and bring the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions down to nothing were in both the Labour and Conservative manifestos for the 2019 general election, so 75.7 per cent of those who voted – more than 24 million people – voted for Net Zero.
On page 2 of the Tory manifesto, then-prime minister Boris Johnson stated: “I guarantee… reaching Net Zero by 2050 with investment in clean energy solutions and green infrastructure to reduce carbon emissions and pollution.”
The actual policies themselves were as follows:
“We will invest in nature, helping us to reach our Net Zero target with a £640 million new Nature for Climate fund. Building on our support for creating a Great Northumberland Forest, we will reach an additional 75,000 acres of trees a year by the end of the next Parliament, as well as restoring our peatland” (page 45 – marked as page 43).
“Oil and gas sector deal: The oil and gas industry employs almost 300,000 people, of whom four in 10 work in Scotland. We believe that the North Sea oil and gas industry has a long future ahead and know the sector has a key role to play as we move to a Net Zero economy. We will support this transition in the next Parliament with a transformational sector deal” (page 48 – not marked but would have been marked as page 46).
“We will lead the global fight against climate change by delivering on our world-leading target of Net Zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, as advised by the independent Committee on Climate Change. We have doubled International Climate Finance. And we will use our position hosting the UN Climate Change Summit in Glasgow in 2020 to ask our global partners to match our ambition” (page 57 – marked as page 55).
That’s the lot – four wishy-washy promises that don’t actually mean a lot.
So, now Rishy (-washy?) Sunak has announced that he is halting a series of Net Zero policies, he is rightly being pilloried for ending things that didn’t exist in the first place.
Check out the context note on Sunak’s own ‘X’ post about his changes:
We will never impose unnecessary and heavy-handed measures on you, the British people.
We will still meet our international commitments and hit Net Zero by 2050. pic.twitter.com/XjXQzGVaCN
— Rishi Sunak (@RishiSunak) September 20, 2023
Depending on which version of the above you see, it may refer to the Tory government’s own Net Zero strategy, that was published in 2021, nearly two years after the general election, comes to 368 pages, and doesn’t mention any of the measures Sunak reckons he’s scrapping.
Alternatively, it may point out that “Taxes on meat and flying had already been repeatedly ruled out by the Government. There is no proposal to require people to have seven bins, or for ‘compulsory’ car sharing. The announced changes on insulation only stand to benefit private landlords.”
The BBC’s Nick Robinson – himself a Conservative, let’s remember – absolutely hammered Sunak as a liar in an interview on the BBC’s Today programme:
"There is nothing to be scrapped.. You're making a series of claims that aren't true."
Nick Robinson calls out Rishi Sunak.
Sunak ends saying, "I don't think its right to chase the short term headlines, just assert some goal for the future without a clear plan to deliver it… pic.twitter.com/AxfLKG7Sbw
— Farrukh (@implausibleblog) September 21, 2023
Sunak’s parting shot, about being “honest” about the way to get to Net Zero, rings hollow in the context of what had gone before.
So let us be clear: the Conservatives did have a series of policies for the UK to reach Net Zero and the electorate did vote for them – but none of those policies were part of the package that he scrapped yesterday (September 20, 2023).
Coupled to all this is a ridiculous claim – exemplified in the words of Priti Patel, below – that the government does not dictate whether UK citizens support polluters or not:
Priti Patel, "I think heat pumps are like a misselling scandal.. It's not for gov to dictate what type of heating you have in your house.. I'm a great believer in Global Britain, Britain post Brexit, innovation technology, we're there." pic.twitter.com/yxmYRT6pbb
— Farrukh (@implausibleblog) September 20, 2023
Look at your energy bill. In return for the payments you make, you receive energy that comes from a number of different sources, including some that are highly polluting. For example: coal, nuclear, gas.
On a separate but related subject, look at the amount of plastic packaging you buy in your everyday grocery shopping, much of which is unnecessary and can end up polluting the environment.
These things happen because the government allows it. Indeed, among Sunak’s measures yesterday was a plan to continue allowing the sale of polluting petrol- and diesel-powered cars for an extra five years, until 2035. Who knows what some future prime minister will do then? Extend it to 2040?
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