UK Prime Minister delays ban on petrol cars

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UK Prime Minister delays ban on petrol cars

Rishi Sunak has delayed a ban on new petrol and diesel cars in 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, alongside a 50% increase in cash incentives to replace gas boilers.

The government could not impose “unacceptable costs” linked to reducing emissions on British families, he said.

Mr Sunak denied he was “watering down” the government’s net zero commitments.

There has been criticism of the changes from Labour, business leaders and from within Mr Sunak’s own party. But many Conservative MPs have come out in favour Mr Sunak’s new direction, alongside some in the car industry.

The changes come as Mr 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 them launched when Mr Sunak was serving as chancellor.

And the political choices outlined in his speech preview more announcements later this autumn, as Mr Sunak promised he would set out “a series of long term decisions”.

In a speech from Downing Street on Wednesday, Mr Sunak said moving too fast on green policies “risks losing the consent of the British people”.

Among the key changes announced were:

-A five-year delay in the ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars, meaning a requirement for all new cars to be “zero emission” will not come into force until 2035
-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 new exemption for poorer households
-Scrapping the requirement on landlords to ensure all rental properties had a Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) of grade C or higher, from 2025.

The announcement was brought forward after plans to change the proposals were revealed by the BBC.

Mr Sunak ran the changes past a hastily-organised Cabinet meeting on Wednesday morning.

Responding to the statement, Labour unequivocally committed itself to keeping the 2030 ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars.

Without the ban the UK will miss its target “for a fully carbon free economy by 2050”, shadow environment secretary Steve Reed said.

Mr Reed said the prime minster had “sold out the biggest economic opportunity of the 21st Century” for Britain “to lead the world in transition to well-paid secured new jobs of the green economy”.