Sunak’s environmental U-turn is helping him achieve net zero approval

Rishi Sunak
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Anyone paying attention to the climate in 2023 has likely come to the same conclusion as myself – namely that it’s fucked. Whether it be devastating floods, record-breaking forest fires, or the cataclysmic loss of sea ice, things aren’t just bad; they’re obviously bad – so obvious that you’d have to be a complete clown to suggest that now is the time to do less to fight climate change.

As the saying goes, cometh the hour, cometh the clown:

Net nowhere

As the London School of Economics (LSE) reported:

In his speech, Sunak quoted the Climate Change Committee in saying “you don’t reach net zero simply by wishing it.” It is welcome that the Prime Minister reiterated numerous times that the Government remains committed to net zero, but the presence of a target on its own amounts to wishful thinking in the absence of a credible policy programme to deliver it.

To be fair to Sunak, neither he nor his predecessor’s have ever had a ‘credible policy’ on anything. LSE went on to highlight some pretty big flaws in Sunak’s latest political panic:

It was almost ironic that, in building his argument, Sunak made the comparison with offshore wind for which “costs have fallen by 70% more than we projected in 2016.” The costs of offshore wind did not fall as a result of the Government taking a step back and delaying action; they fell because the Government stepped in to provide long-term revenue certainty to industry – in particular through its flagship Contracts for Difference scheme – which drove large-scale technological deployment and innovation.

Even before yesterday’s weakening of various net zero policies, there were serious concerns about the UK’s ability to deliver on its 2050 target. With the costs of inaction vastly outweighing the price of action, any divergence from its pathway to net zero would be an economic as much as an environmental failure for the UK.

This should be time for the UK to double down on net zero policy, not delay.

It’s unclear who Sunak expected to win over with his screeching U-turn, besides maybe the handful of weirdoes on Twitter who still don’t believe in climate change. While this might seem like an odd minority to appease, bare in mind that many of them are lucratively employed columnists in the UK media. The move certainly hasn’t landed well with the public:

The move isn’t going down well with businesses either:

Actually – that last point requires a clarification: Sunak’s move isn’t going down well with some businesses. The ones which will profit from his policies are obviously going to be very happy, and guess who’ll profit from that?

Fantasy politics

Sunak still has some net zero ambitions – namely his dedication towards telling net zero truth. This was most obvious in the taxes and policies that he seems to have invented and then scrapped. As reported by the Independent:

Rishi Sunak is under mounting pressure over his commitment to combat the climate crisis after claiming to have “scrapped” government measures that appear to have never existed.

Rowing back on key net zero policies, the PM highlighted a series of “worrying proposals” – including the possibility of taxes on meat and households required to own seven bins – that he claimed he was axing.

But statements from two government departments contradict Mr Sunak’s claims. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) said it was “never the case” seven bins would be needed, while the business department said two years ago it had “no plans” to introduce a meat levy.

Some were left flabbergasted by Sunak’s dishonesty:

Others were less than flabbergasted by his dishonesty (I’m not sure if there’s a specific word for that – maybe ‘undergasted’ or ‘flabber-unperturbed’):

Other people just had fun with it:


As part of his plan to be “pragmatic, proportionate, and realistic”, Sunak has scrapped something called the ‘energy efficiency taskforce’:

I’m not sure if Sunak consulted a thesaurus before making his plans, but ‘efficiency’ is essentially a synonym of every word in “pragmatic, proportionate, and realistic”. Maybe he doesn’t have a dictionary either, and he’s under the impression that ‘pragmatic’ means ‘lose millions of pounds of heat to poor insulation for the benefit of predatory utility companies‘?

The worst is yet to come

It should have been obvious that the Tories weren’t planning to scale back flying or meat eating because those are things we’d actually be doing if we were serious about averting cataclysmic climate change. Sunak’s U-turn makes it obvious that the Tories don’t plan on protecting the planet for the future of your family. However, that was already the case – and it’s the case for the Labour opposition too.

While I’d rather not end this piece on a pessimistic note, it’s either that or I treat you like an idiot – something you already get enough of from politicians.

Featured image via Flickr – Ministry of Housing (cropped to 770 x 403)

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