Council slams PM’s changes to net zero plans

Image above: Rishi Sunak a Wednesday’s press conference in Downing Street

Hounslow Council “perplexed and deeply disappointed” by Rishi Sunak’s “abandonment of key pledges”

Hounslow Council has said it is “perplexed and deeply disappointed” in Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s proposals to abandon key pledges to reduce the UK’s carbon emissions to zero by 2050.

In a press conference on Wednesday (21 September), the Prime Minister announced a flurry of U-turns on climate targets – pushing back the ban on purchasing new petrol cars from 2030 to 2035 and delaying the target of eliminating gas boilers.

The move was condemned by industry figures, including the chair of Ford UK, as well as some senior Conservative figures including Boris Johnson and the former environment minister Zac Goldsmith.

The Prime Minister has struggled to provide an explanation for claims he had scrapped measures critics said had never seriously been mooted, such as an tax on meat, compulsory car sharing and forcing households to use seven recycling bins.

Councillor Shantanu Rajawat, Leader of Hounslow Council and Councillor Katherine Dunne, Deputy Leader of the Council and Cabinet Member for Climate, Environment and Transport, have issued a joint statement in response to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s net zero announcement.

Images above: Leader of Hounslow Council Cllr Shantanu Rajawat, Deputy Leader Cllr Katherine Dunne

“Climate catastrophe is an immediate and ever-growing threat”

Cllr Rajawat and Cllr Dunne’s statement in full says:

“The climate crisis is the single largest threat to our natural environment and societies, with severe consequences already on display in London, and across the globe. As such, delivering a cleaner, greener, more sustainable borough will always be a top priority for Hounslow Council.

“This week’s announcement from the Government, which sets out plans to back track and weaken the UK’s net zero ambitions, has left us perplexed and deeply disappointed.

“As a local authority, we recognise that the climate catastrophe is an immediate and ever-growing threat and that’s why within our own power, we’re striving to deliver bold plans to achieve net zero carbon in Hounslow by 2030.

“However, we cannot tackle the climate crisis alone. To make a real impact, it must involve action at a national level, underpinned by an ambitious delivery of projects and funding. We must move projects at pace if we are to reduce carbon emissions at the scale required and we need the funding to back these plans.

“Taking little or no action impacts those on lower incomes the most, and with cost-of-living challenges growing, we must act now to support our residents and communities in the future. We can start by creating energy efficient homes, a cleaner environment, and new opportunities with green jobs, training, and skills.

“We have called on Government on numerous occasions to take more incisive action, and each day the call becomes more urgent. Each year we have new, and devastating examples of the climate emergency worldwide, whether they be extreme heat and wildfires, floods, or droughts. These events should be serving as a stark reminder that governments should be accelerating climate action, and categorically should not be extending timelines, relaxing deadlines, and cutting down on resource.

“Many local authorities across the capital are working tirelessly to meet London-wide net zero by 2030 targets, and it is saddening to see a change in gear by the Government to accelerate away from zero carbon, and not towards it.

“The delaying of the impending 2030 ban on sales of new petrol and diesel vehicles and relaxing the migration from gas boilers to lower-carbon alternatives are just two examples from the latest announcement that demonstrate a clear commitment to watering down the UK’s net zero policies.

“Stuttering over our nation’s commitment to a more sustainable national and global system will have a longer-term detrimental impact on the UK economy, and ultimately will jeopardise worldwide investment into green technologies.

“Hounslow Council is committed to action; we must be doers, not delayers. We strongly urge the Prime Minister to reconsider his latest plans to backtrack on the UK’s climate pledges. The health of our planet, and of all future generations is at stake.”