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UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak meets workers during a visit to Land Rover last year. Alamy Stock Photo
car industry

Taoiseach says Rishi Sunak rolling back on climate measures is 'bad economic policy' for UK

Varadkar says car industry can’t have uncertain targets and moving goalposts.

TAOISEACH LEO VARADKAR has said UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s move to water down environmental commitments is “disappointing” and “bad economic policy”.

Measures being considered include weakening the plan to phase out gas boilers from 2035 and delaying the ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars – currently due for 2030 – by five years.

Speaking to reporters at the Irish Centre in New York, Varadkar said the change in policy by the UK was “disappointing”.

Efforts in climate action need to be stepped up not rolled back on, he said.

“I think what was most interesting in some ways about the reaction to the decision by the British government to relax some of their targets was actually the reaction of industry.

“The motor industry, for example, which is changing, which is phasing out the internal combustion engine, which is going electric, they were actually surprised to hear that the deadline was being stretched out, because that affects their business plans.

“And when we’re saying to industry that we need system change, we need renewable energy instead of fossil fuel energy, we need electric vehicles and hydrogen vehicles instead of diesel or petrol vehicles, they need to know that there won’t be shifting targets and shifting goalposts,” said the Taoiseach.

Industry need certainty so they can make the right investment decisions, he said. 

“I think that’s why the decision that was made by the British government isn’t just bad in climate terms. It’s actually not good economic policy either,” said Varadkar. 

The Taoiseach’s comments come after Former US vice president and climate change activist Al Gore commented on Sunak’s changes, stating:

 “I think it is unfortunate that he would do that.

“And I think the people of the United Kingdom largely agree that it is the wrong decision.

“But that is for people of the United Kingdom to address. I certainly disagree with him.”


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