Priti Patel tells Rishi Sunak: ‘Pause drive to net zero, the public are not ready’

The former home secretary piled fresh pressure on the government to water down or scrap environmental policies

Archie Mitchell
Sunday 30 July 2023 20:23 BST
Former home secretary Priti Patel said we ‘need to pause’ the race to net zero
Former home secretary Priti Patel said we ‘need to pause’ the race to net zero (PA)

Dame Priti Patel has called on ministers to pause Britain’s net-zero targets, warning voters were being “left behind” in the pursuit of green policies.

The former home secretary added to pressure on the government over environmental policies, which critics fear will drive up costs for households already struggling with spiralling inflation.

She said there is a “corrosive culture” of chasing time-limited targets and said “the public are not ready” for the energy transition.

Dame Priti told GB News: “We need to pause all this activity. 2030 is not that far away, in a click of fingers 2050 will be upon us. The public are not ready for this.

“And importantly, we cannot just have the state, the government, central government just sort of saying across, again, institutions, local councils, county councils, these are the targets that you have to meet when we don’t have the technology.

“We’re not ready. Now, if we want a sensible conversation about climate and the impact of climate change, recognising there are problems is one thing, absolutely.

“But making sure that we have the tools and the ability that doesn’t impose costs and taxes on ordinary people, this is a space that we have to be wary of.”

She added: “All of this is about mission creep, how these policies are just being rolled out. Boundaries are being pushed more and more.”

Her comments come after the Conservatives’ narrow victory in the Uxbridge and Ruislip by-election earlier this month, which saw the Tory candidate tap into local concerns about the expansion of London’s ultra-low-emission zone (Ulez).

That success has seen some Tory MPs on the right of the party urge Mr Sunak to engage in a rethink on net zero, amid hopes of attacking Labour’s green ambitions.

But the intervention also comes after a shock warning on climate from UN secretary general Antonio Guterres, who said: “The era of global warming has ended; the era of global boiling has arrived.”

And, writing in The Guardian, Labour’s shadow climate change secretary Ed Miliband said the cost of living crisis can only be beaten by tackling the climate crisis.

The ex-Labour leader said: “Putin’s strangulation of international fossil fuel markets has sent energy bills soaring, plunged countries like ours into the deepest cost of living crisis in memory and stoked inflation to further pile the pain on to families and businesses.

“The fact that a managed transition away from fossil fuels is also crucial to tackling the climate crisis means we can cut costs for families while also taking the urgent action we need to drive to net zero.”

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