DAILY MAIL COMMENT: Rishi's bold move to ease pain of net zero

DAILY MAIL COMMENT: Rishi’s bold move to ease the pain of net zero

Let’s be clear from the start. The world needs to change to counter global warming.

If we are to leave a cleaner, greener planet for our children and grandchildren, we must tread more lightly on it.

Millions not only share this ambition, but are positively up for the challenge – from meticulously recycling and using energy-saving lightbulbs to throwing their weight behind the Mail’s pioneering campaign against plastic bags.

So the mission to decarbonise Britain and place climate change at the heart of the nation’s agenda is a noble one.

But it has become glaringly obvious that the breakneck speed with which successive governments have pursued net-zero emissions will prove ruinously expensive.

We congratulate Rishi Sunak for injecting a badly needed dose of common sense into the climate change programme

And who will inevitably be clobbered by the costs and inconveniences of these draconian targets? Ordinary citizens and businesses already groaning under a heavy tax burden and the cost of living.

By proceeding too hastily, the rollout will also have grave implications for our economy, our security and our way of life.

So we congratulate Rishi Sunak for injecting a badly needed dose of common sense into the climate change programme.

Doing so, he shattered the cosy consensus, which has let an out-of-touch Westminster elite think it can bully a compliant public into footing a mind-blowing climate bill.

This was a brave move. For years, anyone who dared to question the green orthodoxy has been howled down as a climate denier.

While remaining committed to achieving net zero by 2050, the PM has vowed to take a more ‘pragmatic, proportionate and realistic’ approach to ending fossil fuel use.

By delaying the ban on buying new petrol and diesel cars to 2035, he will make life easier for the millions who rely on vehicles but can’t afford pricey electric cars and vans. This is also a stunning victory for our Rethink The Petrol Car Ban campaign.

Mr Sunak also deserves plaudits for slowing down the mandatory replacement of gas boilers, with eye-wateringly expensive heat pumps that won’t warm homes so well.

He recognises that piling ‘unacceptable costs’ onto families will wreck support for tackling global warming. Predictably, though, this bout of ‘green realism’ triggered a fit of the vapours among his enemies.

This motley assortment of eco-zealots, the liberal Left and posh Tory rebels – egged on, of course, by the BBC – are invariably comfortably enough off to be able to swallow such costs. But for hard-working and practical-minded voters, including many in the Red Wall, Mr Sunak’s rethink will make life less tough, less cold and less poor.

Rishi Sunak deserves plaudits for slowing down the mandatory replacement of gas boilers

Many rightly consider it preposterous for Britain to impose punitive restrictions when we produce less than 1 per cent of the world’s carbon emissions, while great polluters such as China continue to belch out poisons.

There are huge opportunities we can seize in the transition to going green. We should aim to be world-beaters in innovation and creating well-paid net-zero jobs. That could power the levelling-up agenda.

It would also ease any potential reliance for strategic goods on hostile nations, as would exploiting our North Sea oil and gas and building more nuclear power stations to provide energy security.

By dialling down the green agenda, the PM has drawn a dividing line with Labour – vital with a general election looming.

The Government now has a sensible net-zero policy: Taking action, of course, but accepting the planet will not be saved by bankrupting Britain.

By contrast, Sir Keir Starmer has vowed to reverse Mr Sunak’s changes if in power to avoid upsetting his activists and main financial donor and Just Stop Oil backer, Dale Vince – whatever the hardship to the public.

That’s the difference between the two parties. Labour’s leader is looking out for his own interests. Mr Sunak is taking tough decisions to benefit the whole nation.

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