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:
We're changing the way we reach Net Zero by 2050 to ease the burden on working people.
Our new approach will be pragmatic, proportionate and realistic.
Here’s how 👇 pic.twitter.com/RIY35Gia4Q
— Rishi Sunak (@RishiSunak) September 20, 2023
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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:
Rishi Sunak's popularity plunges to a new low in the wake of his grossly dishonest & criminally irresponsible speech trashing action on the #ClimateEmergency.#7BinsSunakhttps://t.co/lCxQQpqos7 pic.twitter.com/JICGUEmy4a
— Tom Scott 🇺🇦 (@Tom___Scott) September 23, 2023
Desperate Sunak seems to be making idiotic policy announcements every other day. Like he’s frantically presenting shit prizes out of a Tory tombola and insisting we should be impressed. Meanwhile the country remains broken and none of his panicky nonsense will fix any of it.
— sarah murphy (@13sarahmurphy) September 24, 2023
The move isn’t going down well with businesses either:
Former Siemens UK CEO Juergen Maier is, to say the least, livid about net zero changes:
"It’s just chaos, isn’t it? It beggars belief… I'm honestly angry.
"Everybody [industry] is now sitting and wobbling and wondering. And I tell you what, they won't be investing in the UK"
— Richard Partington (@RJPartington) September 20, 2023
"It takes a very special combination of incompetence and cynicism to manage to unite the car industry and the Greens against you"
— BBC Politics (@BBCPolitics) September 24, 2023
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?
A reminder that Rishi Sunak's family's business Infosys boasts of its partnership with "two of the top five integrated oil and gas companies, three of the top four oilfield services providers, and five of the top 10 upstream enterprises across the oil and gas landscape.” pic.twitter.com/HMqUO577hR
— Adam Bienkov (@AdamBienkov) September 20, 2023
Sunak's family's firm Infosys also signed a deal reported to be worth $1.5billion with BP earlier this year. pic.twitter.com/qxFDSQDfdV
— Adam Bienkov (@AdamBienkov) September 20, 2023
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.
Rishi Sunak lies
Eating meat tax doesn't exist
New flying tax doesn't exist
Compulsory car sharing doesn't exist
Mandatory insulation upgrade doesn't exist
Mind you, a recycling bin each for
Dozy, Nasty, Sweary, Dodgy, Greedy, Shouty & Bully
at GE is a grand idea 👍🏼 https://t.co/LXcvrXsqvo
— Carol Vorderman (@carolvorders) September 21, 2023
Some were left flabbergasted by Sunak’s dishonesty:
I’m still a little taken aback by the Sunak stunt yesterday. I mean, he’s not even good at lying, because *everyone* saw through it. Everyone. I mean, seven bins? The mythical meat tax?
— Prof Paul Bernal (@PaulbernalUK) September 21, 2023
Dale Vince, "Some of things were just made up. Where's the meat tax, the flight tax? None of that exists. Rishi Sunak today is like the wizard of Oz. He's sat behind this big curtain, and he's trying to dazzle everybody with smoke and mirrors." @DaleVince pic.twitter.com/uhvAL68QgU
— Farrukh (@implausibleblog) September 20, 2023
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’):
Why is everyone surprised that Sunak scrapped policies that didn’t exist. He was a banker, they create money from thin air, it’s business as usual.
— Mr Ethical (@nw_nicholas) September 21, 2023
When people talk about the Conservative Party being allowed to play on easy mode, this is what it means. A front page splash praising Rishi Sunak for scrapping a 'meat tax' that existed only inside their own head. pic.twitter.com/yqNPePyxOA
— Adam Bienkov (@AdamBienkov) September 21, 2023
Other people just had fun with it:
That was Sunak and the Seven Bins. Next up, Meat Tax with their new platter, Desperate Measures, but first, the news. pic.twitter.com/V8z1DjMvDt
— Jez 🤍💙💛💙🤍 jez_in_cymru on Threads (@madmidweeker) September 20, 2023
As part of his plan to be “pragmatic, proportionate, and realistic”, Sunak has scrapped something called the ‘energy efficiency taskforce’:
“A taskforce to speed up home insulation and boiler upgrades has been disbanded”
— Mike Galsworthy (@mikegalsworthy) September 24, 2023
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‘?
Rishi Sunak scraps home energy efficiency taskforce
No surprises here
Tories – the party which cares for nothing apart from personal gain and b***er the rest of the UK
VOTERS are just there to be fibbed to every now and again until the next time 😡 https://t.co/5wmXd3xdOk
— Carol Vorderman (@carolvorders) September 23, 2023
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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