Last month, I wrote a blog post detailing the Government’s pragmatic approach to address climate change, considering what people can reasonably afford. I wrote:
“We must recognise that we have a choice. We can either reduce our emissions and tackle climate change in a pragmatic and proportionate way, or we can follow Labour and give in to climate extremists who wish to reduce our living standards, overthrow capitalism, and who ignore the very climate science they claim to represent.”
You can read the full post here: https://www.stevebaker.info/2023/08/a-rational-and-pragmatic-approach-to-tackling-climate-change/.
I believe that reducing our carbon emissions is a noble endeavour. The Government remains committed to Net Zero by 2050, as well as the various agreements the UK has made internationally.
Despite the reaction from some to the Prime Minister’s recent announcements on our Net Zero policies, the UK has not only significantly cut our emissions but is a world leader in this area. The UK has already cut carbon emissions by nearly 50% since 1990, faster than any other G7 country, compared to 41 per cent in Germany, 23 per cent in France, and no change at all in the United States.
Any individual who claims that the United Kingdom is refusing to act to address climate change need only review these statistics. In truth, the United Kingdom is over-delivering on our commitments.
As the Prime Minister rightly argued on Wednesday, Net Zero can only ever be achieved with broad public support. Politicians must be honest about the tangible impact proposed reforms will have on household budgets and living standards, particularly at a time where many are struggling with the cost of living. We cannot reach Net Zero by impoverishing families.
I have long argued for a more pragmatic approach to delivering Net Zero, which considers what people in Wycombe and across the country can reasonably afford. I have previously written for Conservative Home on this issue: https://conservativehome.com/2022/02/23/steve-baker-wanted-a-politically-and-economically-viable-path-to-low-emissions/
As the Prime Minister noted on Wednesday, imposing costs of up to £15,000 on some families – without proper debate or democratic consent – cannot be the way to deliver Net Zero.
The Government has instead set forward a broad range of pragmatic reforms which will give people more freedom, save households money, and set us on a proportionate and realistic path to Net Zero.
First, the Government has announced a more consumer friendly transition to electric vehicles. New petrol and diesel cars and vans will now be available for purchase until 2035, instead of 2030. Additionally, even after 2035, these vehicles will still be available for purchase second-hand.
Second, the Government confirmed that no one will be forced to replace their boiler with a heat pump. Instead, the swap will only occur when existing boilers need replacing, and even then, not until 2035.
Third, the Government have reaffirmed their support for new oil and gas exploration in the North Sea. Energy independence is vital, and the ability to produce oil and gas domestically means we will no longer have to depend on foreign dictators for our energy.
Fourth, the Government have committed funds and support to infrastructure projects and homeowners that will contribute to achieving Net Zero. During his speech, the Prime Minister confirmed that Boiler Upgrade Scheme grants will be increased to £7,500 for consumers who wish to switch to heat pumps now. Similarly, the Sizewell C nuclear power station and small modular nuclear reactors will be funded and supported, grid infrastructure development will be accelerated with planning reforms, and the ban on onshore wind will be lifted.
Finally, the Prime Minister announced that the Government will not go ahead with recently proposed policies which would impose significant lifestyle changes on families around the country by government diktat. That means no forced carpooling, no new taxes on flying, no new taxes on meat or dairy, and no requirement for households to maintain and properly administer seven different household bins.
Given the impact these policies would have on our way of life, it is concerning that the Labour Party has not ruled them out. Similarly, it is worrying that Sir Keir Starmer and the Labour Party have immediately promised to reverse many of these recent announcements, like reinstating the 2030 ban on new petrol and diesel cars.
The Labour Party must be honest about the significant costs these policies would force on hardworking individuals and families, and explain why they will still introduce them, even when it is clear they are not necessary to reach our climate goals.
Ultimately, we must look at the Labour Party’s links to Just Stop Oil and Extinction Rebellion to conclude the actions they would take if they were in Government.
I am proud to serve in a government which has looked at these policies as well as their consequences in detail, and has committed to reaching Net Zero in a way that is properly debated, proportionate, and realistic.
For more information about the Government’s new approach to Net Zero: https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/what-the-pms-new-approach-to-net-zero-means-for-you