Written by Anthony Constantini
What’s happening: British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak recently announced that he would be altering the United Kingdom’s climate goals, going against the climate change lobby, citing the costs imposed on ordinary citizens.
- Catch up: Under Sunak’s predecessors, Theresa May and Boris Johnson, the U.K. had announced a goal of net zero carbon emissions by 2050. Sunak is not altering that goal but is changing the path the U.K. is taking to get there.
- What is Sunak changing? He announced that gas-powered cars would be banned in 2035 instead of 2030, an easing of gas boiler bans in homes, and the ruling out of new climate-based taxes on meat and air travel. Fully banning gas vehicles by 2035 is still highly controversial, though the pushback is a start.
Why it matters for Britain: With just over a year before elections, Sunak is likely hoping to draw a contrast between his climate “pragmatism” and Labour’s excessive climate policies that will further strain the cost of living.
Why it matters for the world: The U.K. is one of the first major economies to significantly push back on climate plans. The European Union and California (plus other states) have already banned the sale of new gas-powered cars by 2035; the EU Commission requested a report that included recommendations for a tax on red meat; and France will soon increase taxes on flights in order to pay for trains.
What’s next? Pushback against climate policies is starting to simmer in Europe. If Sunak is successful in turning around his political fortunes on the backs of climate rollbacks, it may inspire other conservative and centrist parties around the world to do the same.