Weekly poll: Is Rishi Sunak’s climate backpedalling good or disastrous for UK business?

In this week's poll we're asking for your views on the UK PM's decision to row back on net-zero pledges including the plan to phase out new fossil fuel vehicle sales by 2030


This poll is now closed. It received 515 votes, with 62 per cent voting in opposition to Sunak's roll-back on a series of low carbon pledges, and 38 per cent voting in support of his new plans.

Another week, another rowing back on climate pledges by the UK government. Whilst just last month Rishi Sunak announced an expansion of North Sea oil and gas drilling, the PM has now announced a further watering down of the UK’s net zero commitments, according to a widely reported government leak.

Announced during a major speech on Wednesday 20th September proposals to include a delay on the ban of the sale of new petrol and diesel cars (which is currently slated for 2030), a watering down of plans to phase out gas boilers, and the abandonment of new energy efficiency targets for private rented homes.

Sunak has claimed that his plans represent a pragmatic response that will help the economy without denting the UK’s 2050 net zero plans. However, the details have been widely slammed across the business and scientific communities as naive, politically motivated decisions that will damage the UK and surrender what could be a leading position at the forefront of the global green economy.

In a particularly strongly worded attack, Prof Dave Reay, executive director at Edinburgh University’s Climate Change Institute said: “It's not pragmatic, it's pathetic. This rolling back on emissions cuts for short-term political gain will undermine the transition to net zero and with it the future opportunities, prosperity and safety of the entire country.”

Meanwhile, Stephen Phipson, Chief Executive of Make UK described the latest announcement as a "huge setback" for manufacturers who require stability and confidence in order to invest. "Many companies will have spent time and money planning on the basis of firm targets and we now run the risk of falling behind our international counterparts as a home for green technologies if we persist in frequently altering policies that impact businesses directly," he said. "This will hit SME businesses in the automotive supply chain particularly hard."

The proposals have gone down particularly badly with the automotive sector, already widely committed to a phase out of new fossil fuel vehicles. Car giant Ford has warned that any relaxation of a target described by the government just months ago as “immovable” will undermine these plans.

Mike Hawes, chief executive of motor industry body SMMT said: “Britain can – and should – be a leader in zero emission mobility both as a manufacturer and market…..To make this a reality, however, consumers must want to make the switch, which requires from government a clear, consistent message…that gives confidence rather than anxiety. Confusion and uncertainty will only hold them back.”

In this week’s poll we’re asking for your views on this roll-back. Do you agree with the PM and think that the softening of climate commitments will benefit the UK without derailing its net zero ambitions, or do the moves represent an irrational retrograde step that we will live to regret? As always, as well as casting your vote, do also expand on your views in the comments box below the line.