Rishi Sunak Affirms Resistance to ‘Hair Shirt’ Policies on Net Zero Pledge

Rishi Sunak tells G20: UK will resist ‘hair shirt’ policies on net zero pledge (msn.com)

Amid an escalating internal dispute within the Conservative Party regarding its commitment to combatting the climate crisis, Rishi Sunak, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, has stated that he will resist policies seen as overly restrictive in the pursuit of the UK’s net-zero emissions pledge.

Rishi Sunak Affirms Resistance to ‘Hair Shirt’ Policies on Net Zero Pledge

Tensions have been brewing throughout the summer among Conservative party members regarding green policies, with some calling for reconsideration of measures like phasing out gas boilers and banning the sale of new petrol and diesel cars by 2030. The Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, has also voiced support for maximizing oil and gas reserves.

Speaking at the G20 summit in India, Sunak indicated his desire to minimize the impact of net-zero policies on consumers. He stressed the importance of presenting net-zero efforts as beneficial for job creation and avoiding a narrative that implies sacrificing comforts and increasing bills. Sunak asserted, “The net zero story for me shouldn’t be a hair shirt story of giving everything up and your bills going up. That’s not the vision of net zero that I think is the right one for the UK.”

The Conservative Party’s stance on policies aimed at achieving its net-zero goal by 2050 has become increasingly contentious. While some right-wing members of the party have advocated for rolling back green commitments that could be unpopular with voters, the liberal wing emphasizes the importance of maintaining green credentials to avoid alienating younger voters.

Rishi Sunak Affirms Resistance to ‘Hair Shirt’ Policies on Net Zero Pledge

At a gathering of the liberal Tory Reform Group, senior figures urged Sunak to uphold the party’s net-zero commitments. Damian Green, former de facto deputy prime minister and chair of the One Nation group of Tory MPs, argued that abandoning these commitments would be both poor policy and a political mistake. He highlighted the promise made in the party’s 2019 manifesto and urged the Conservative government to keep its commitments, aligning with public expectations.

Green also urged Sunak not to shift the party to the right on immigration, amid concerns that the prime minister might consider leaving the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) if his plan to send asylum seekers to Rwanda faces legal challenges. A potential dispute over the ECHR is anticipated at the upcoming Conservative annual conference in Manchester.

Despite the internal disputes and the party’s rightward shift under Liz Truss, Green expressed optimism that moderate voices within the Conservative government would prevail on green policies and immigration issues, emphasizing the need for pragmatic approaches and a focus on real-world impact over political posturing.

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