5 Worrying Ways Rishi Sunak Has Been Lax On UK Climate Pledges

Meanwhile, July 3 was the hottest day ever recorded globally.
PM Rishi Sunak seems to be pulling back from key climate pledges.
PM Rishi Sunak seems to be pulling back from key climate pledges.
via Associated Press

Rishi Sunak has repeatedly caused concern over his commitment to the UK’s climate pledges – and in the meantime, the world is just getting hotter and hotter.

The prime minister has been repeatedly criticised for not prioritising the UK’s green policies, both recently and before he got into No.10.

When he was chancellor, cuts meant a scheme to insulate UK homes was dropped; the night before the UN climate summit in 2021, he announced plans to halve taxes on domestic flights; and he reduced the UK foreign aid budget from 0.7% to 0.5%.

Meanwhile, more heatwaves have been forecast for this summer and the world just had its hottest day ever on record on Monday (July 3).

And here’s why the PM has been under fire over the UK’s green pledges since getting into office.

1. Plans to drop flagship £11.6 billion

The Guardian reported seeing a leaked briefing note to ministers explaining how the UK was dropping its pledge to meet the global $100 billion (£78.9 billion) a year commitment to developing countries affected by climate change.

The meme reportedly read: “Our commitment to double our international climate finance to £11.6 billion was made in 2019, when we were still at 0.[% of GDP spent on international aid] and pre-Covid.”

it suggests it would be difficult to meet the current deadline because of other demands, like sending aid to Ukraine.

However, tForeign Office later told the newspaper that these claims were “false” and the government would stick to its spending pledge.

2. Minister Zac Goldsmith quit and attacked Sunak on climate

The former foreign office minister lashed out at the PM’s “apathy” towards the environment and said this would “shred” the UK’s international reputation last week.

He said the prime minister has “withdrawn our leadership on climate and nature”, adding: “The problem is not that the government is hostile to the environment, it is that you, our prime minister, are simply uninterested.”

In response, Sunak said: “The UK has played a leadership role globally and we will continue to do so.”

3. Climate advisers warn the UK has missed most of its climate targets

The independent Climate Change Committee said last week that government was not on track to meet its net zero targets by 2050, as progress is “worryingly slow”, and it was no longer a world leader on climate.

The CCC continued: “It is critical that the UK re-establishes its climate leadership with a clearer strategy to develop Net Zero industries and technologies in the UK and capture the economic benefits of Net Zero, with actions that create demand-pull for the critical technologies that will shape the UK’s progress over the next decade.”

4. The government signed off on new oil and gas in North Sea

The government is thinking about granting more than 100 new licences to drill, including in an oil field called Rosebank. This has the potential to produce 500 million barrels of oil.

Sunak hinted in May that it would be “economically illiterate” not to invest in UK oil and gas because we’ll be reliant on fossil fuels for “the next few decades”.

Meanwhile, UN has warned that fossil fuel extraction goes against attempts to mitigate the climate crisis.

The government also approved a new coal mine in Cumbria in December last year – the UK’s first new coal mine in 30 years.

5. Sunak almost didn’t go to COP27

At the very start of his time in office, Sunak almost didn’t go to the climate summit in Egypt – as he was supposedly pre-occupied with the domestic economy – and stopped keen environmentalist King Charles from attending.

It was only when COP27 hosts in Egypt voiced their “disappointment”, along with COP26 president Alok Sharma and other influential figures (like Boris Johnson), that Sunak U-turned.


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