Rishi Sunak wants to avoid 'hassling' families with net zero goals as petrol and diesel car ban thrown in to doubt

24 July 2023, 22:10 | Updated: 24 July 2023, 22:12

The Prime Minister has casted doubt on one of his net zero goals.
The Prime Minister has casted doubt on one of his net zero goals. Picture: Alamy/Getty

By Jenny Medlicott

The Prime Minister has casted doubt on whether the ban of petrol and diesel vehicles by 2030 will go ahead as he says he doesn't want to create 'unnecessary hassle' for people.

Speaking on Monday Rishi Sunak declined to confirm that the ban on petrol and diesel vehicles would take effect as originally planned.

On Monday, both Mr Sunak and Downing Street suggested their priority was to protect households from further financial pressures, even if this meant reassessing efforts to achieve “net zero”.

Mr Sunak said: “We’re going to make progress towards net zero but we’re going to do that in a proportionate and pragmatic way that doesn’t unnecessarily give people more hassle and more costs in their lives – that’s not what I’m interested in and prepared to do.”

However the government has insisted its pledge to reach net zero by 2050 still “remains”.

Mr Sunak continued: “Of course net zero is important to me. So yes, we’re going to keep making progress towards our net zero ambitions and we’re also going to strengthen our energy security.

“I think the events over the last year or two have demonstrated the importance of investing more in home-grown energy, whether that’s more nuclear or offshore wind. I think that’s what people want to see and that’s what I’m going to deliver.”

When asked to directly confirm whether the 2030 ban on petrol and vehicles would go ahead, a spokesman for the Prime Minister said pragmatism was his priority.

“That remains our commitment,” the spokesman said. “I think as you heard from the Prime Minister this morning, what we want to do is ensure that this approach is proportionate and pragmatic and doesn’t unfairly impact the public.”

Read more: Conservatives urge Rishi Sunak to scrap 2030 ban on petrol car sales after Ulez blamed for Labour by-election loss

Read more: Rishi Sunak says drop in inflation rate shows government's 'plan is working'

The Prime Minister was evasive on his commitment to the 2030 ban.
The Prime Minister was evasive on his commitment to the 2030 ban. Picture: Alamy

The government’s previous commitment to banning the instillation of new gas boilers for new homes in 2025, and all homes in 2035, has also been thrown into question following the discussion.

“That remains our commitment. But it’s obviously right that we consider how technology evolves over time as we progress towards 2035,” the spokesman added.

It comes after Mr Sunak has faced pressure from Tory backbenchers to delay or drop net zero goals for 2050 following the Tories’ narrow win in the Uxbridge by-election, believed to be driven by opposition to Said Khan’s ULEZ expansion.

Sir Jacob Rees-Mogg is among those who believe dropping "expensive" net zero policies may be a "real opportunity" for the Tories.

The planned ban on petrol and diesel cars by 2030 would only affect the sale of new cars - not second hand purchases or hybrid vehicles.

A spokesperson for Downing Street said of the plans: “2030 remains our commitment, of course it’s right to listen to consumers and businesses so our path to net zero is proportionate and pragmatic.”

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