Echo commentary on Sunak’s change to the government’s net zero policy

If we just carry on like this, without worrying about electric cars or new boilers or even reducing the number of frivolous flights we take, everything will be fine, the planet will be saved…

With climate change posing the greatest threat to us – in fact, it threatens our children and grandchildren far more than it threatens ourselves – we can only hope that Mr Sunak is right.

His speech was one of his best and most convincing performances to date and many of his arguments were well made, particularly for people in off-grid homes who feared being forced to install inadequate heating systems and feared that the government would offer them a realistic subsidy People who want to change their heat source. If only there was more targeted persuasion from the government.

Instead, it sounded as if Mr Sunak no longer wanted the UK to be a world leader in tackling climate change and was therefore lowering our most ambitious targets so that we were – ironically – in line with Europe.

But this sends dangerous messages to both people and companies. First, it shows people thinking about their next car that they don’t have to weigh the electric option; Secondly, it tells businesses – including those on Teesside – that they don’t need to push hard to fulfill their ambitions and in doing so advance the technologies that we can then sell to the rest of the world.

But the worst message is that we can somehow make profits without pain, that we can change the fate of the planet without changing our lifestyles, that with a wave of a magic wand we can achieve our goals on everything from recycling to emissions, without causing any inconvenience. Most people will realize that this kind of magic is just a trick.

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