LONDON – British politicians think they know what the people want this weekend – less of “the greens.”
Conservative and Labor politicians have been reassuring voters they want to scrap bold policies designed to tackle climate change and pollution after the ailing Conservatives won a surprise victory in a by-election outside London against ultra-low emission zones (ULEZ), a green tax on luxury cars.
Allies of Labor’s London Mayor Sadiq Khan, who is the architect of ULEZ, he explained it clearly is in the listening process after last week’s election results. City Hall is expected to look for new ways to reduce the financial impact of the plan. It comes after Labor Party leader Keir Starmer on Friday urged Khan to “consider” expanding the ULEZ in Uxbridge, Boris Johnson’s former election seat.
Meanwhile, former Conservative Cabinet minister Michael Gove, a former environment secretary who was once seen as one of the Conservatives’ greenest fighters. told the Sunday Telegraph they want to relax current plans to introduce lower energy efficiency standards for homeowners by 2028.
“My strong opinion is that we are asking too quickly.” We want to improve energy efficiency, but at the moment, when landlords are faced with a lot of things, I think we need to reduce the way people rent, especially because many are facing a lot of money to do well,” Gove told the paper.
Mr Gove was a former secretary to Prime Minister Theresa May when the government introduced legislation to end the UK’s contribution to climate change by 2050.
In an interview with the Financial Times, meanwhile, Energy Secretary Grant Shapps he said Permits for North Sea oil and natural gas must be issued to all oil and gas facilities, as long as they meet the zero requirements.
This is not the first time that Conservative ministers have fallen back on green promises in the run-up to an election.
In 2013, Prime Minister David Cameron he says ordered utilities to remove “green foods” from electricity bills in an effort to lower the cost of electricity. Cameron made the environment a major election issue in 2010 when he called on people to “vote blue, go green.”
The UK government has also come under pressure from the Conservatives over Prime Minister Johnson’s promise to ban the sale of new petrol and diesel cars in the UK by 2030.
Asked whether the government should withdraw its commitment, Mr Lee Rowley, a junior minister in Gove’s home department, told GB News: “I am doing it in a practical way. We have a target. Let’s all go and try to do everything we can to get there.”
But when asked about his driving style, Rowley said he has a diesel car, bought in 2008, that he drives “until it stops working.”
Calling for more pressure on the zero-emissions debate, Rowley said he hoped people would switch to electric cars, but those with existing cars would have to hold on to them for a long time because of the energy used to produce them.