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Brits May Ditch Net Zero Policies As Increased Prices Burn Consumers

The U.K. government may pivot away from its embrace of green energy and climate goals as prices continue to rise for British consumers, according to The Telegraph.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has suggested that the country’s aim to ban new gas-powered vehicles by the end of the decade may not come to fruition, saying Monday that green energy initiatives must be “proportionate and pragmatic” so as to not unduly impact the lives of citizens, according to The Telegraph. Sunak did not directly confirm his government’s commitment to the policy when asked directly.

“We’re going to make progress towards net zero, but we’re going to do that in a proportionate and pragmatic way that doesn’t unnecessarily give people more hassle and more costs in their lives,” Sunak said, according to Financial Times. Just under 50% of British adults are using less fuel around their homes because of increased energy prices, according to the Office for National Statistics.

Sunak’s Monday remarks followed news over the weekend that several Tories under Sunak have urged him to roll back other green policies, such as the plan to phase out new gas boilers by 2035, according to The Telegraph.

Energy prices in the U.K. have spiked considerably in the wake of the Russia-Ukraine war, with the May 2023 price of energy goods having risen by more than 8% from May 2022, according to data from the Office for National Statistics. Overall, consumer prices are currently running nearly 8% higher than they were last year, according to the BBC.

“Of course net zero is important to me,” Sunak said when pressed for details, according to The Telegraph. “So yes, we’re going to keep making progress towards our net zero ambitions and we’re also going to strengthen our energy security.”

Former Prime Minister Boris Johnson, also a member of the Tory party, initially announced the gas-powered car phase out in November 2020, according to The Telegraph. The remarks from Sunak followed a relative over-performance by the Tories in smaller elections last week.

Representatives for the U.K. government did not respond immediately to a request for comment.

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