The UK government has come under fire for proposing a delay in meeting its own climate targets as part of a broader push to promote an “anti-green” drive. The move has been described by leading environmental groups as a “disastrous backsliding” and an indictment of the government’s commitment to combat the climate crisis.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak has proposed delaying the UK’s net-zero emissions targets from 2032 to 2040. This move has been characterized as a blatant attempt to steer clear of the full implications of the Paris Climate Agreement, which the UK ratified in 2016 and subsequently committed to. The government has also hinted at scrapping its green energy subsidies, further damning its commitments to reduce emissions.
Sunak’s stance has been widely criticized by green groups and politicians alike. Environmentalists argue that the government is acting in an irresponsible manner, and that it will cost taxpayers dearly in terms of both money and potential carbon emissions if the targets are postponed or scrapped completely. Moreover, they point out that the decision could come back to haunt the UK in the future in the form of punitive environmental regulations or trade sanctions.
The shadow energy and climate change secretary, Ed Miliband, also slammed the government for its decision to delay its climate targets, accusing them of ignoring the scientific evidence on the matter and the serious consequences of inaction. He argued that the move showed that the government is unwilling to invest properly in green infrastructure, and that instead they are focusing their resources on short-term economic measures.
The destinations of the climate targets are now in the hands of the government, and it remains to be seen what course of action they will take. However, it is clear that a significant amount of pressure is being applied to the UK government by both environmental groups and politicians to ensure that they stick to their commitments and adhere to both the Paris Climate Agreement and their own carbon reduction policies.