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England postpones combustion engine phase-out: "Don't save the planet by driving the British into bankruptcy"

2023-09-21T10:19:01.928Z

Highlights: British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak wants to postpone the phase-out of combustion engines in the UK by five years. Sunak also wants to put the brakes on the conversion from gas and oil heating systems to heat pumps. "How can it be okay that British citizens are now being told that they have to sacrifice more than others?" asked the British Prime Minister.Critics warned that the move would jeopardize investments already made by the economy in the transition to e-mobility. The issue is likely to play a major role at the Conservative party conference in Manchester in early October.



Status: 21/09/2023, 12:05 p.m.

By: Lisa Mayerhofer

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British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak wants to postpone the phase-out of combustion engines in the UK by five years. In his country, he triggered fierce debates and disputes in his own party.

London – British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has surprisingly softened Britain's climate targets – and provoked controversial reactions from politics, business and civil society. As he confirmed on Wednesday evening during a speech in London's Downing Street, the end of new cars with combustion engines is to be postponed from 2030 to 2035. Sunak also wants to put the brakes on the conversion from gas and oil heating systems to heat pumps.

Sunak said the UK is "far ahead of any other country in the world" in its transformation to a green economy. But if we proceed too quickly, the risk of losing the support of the British people increases. "How can it be okay that British citizens are now being told that they have to sacrifice more than others?" asked the British Prime Minister.

"I stand by the side of motorists," said British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak. © Aaron Chown/PA Wire/dpa

Criticism of easing of combustion engine phase-out: "We can't afford to give in now"

Critics warned, however, that the move would jeopardize investments already made by the economy in the transition to e-mobility. Automaker Ford accused Sunak of disregarding the needs of the industry. "Our industry needs three things from the UK government: ambition, commitment and consistency," the company said in a statement. A relaxation of the combustion engine phase-out would undermine all three.

Ex-Prime Minister and Sunak's party colleague Boris Johnson criticized that companies must have certainty about the country's climate neutrality goals. "We can't afford to give in now," Johnson said, according to a statement. Johnson had prescribed ambitious climate targets for his country, which are now gradually being terminated by his successors.

The issue is likely to play a major role at the Conservative party conference in Manchester in early October. These are divided, but some of his party colleagues also support Sunak. Home Secretary Suella Braverman said on Wednesday that "we will not save the planet by bankrupting the British".

Climate targets softened: Kick-off for a very long election campaign?

Sunak also denied that the move was mainly a reaction to his party's poor poll ratings, which is expected to face a general election next year. But the suspicion is that he hopes that the measure will primarily win votes.

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In the victory of Sunak's Tories in the by-election to Johnson's former London constituency in July, the opposition to the extension of the ULEZ environmental zone by London Labour Mayor Sadiq Khan was considered decisive. Sky News reporter Beth Rigby also described Sunak's speech as "the start of a very long election campaign".

The energy policy spokesman for the opposition Labour Party, which is leading by Sunak's Conservatives in the polls, announced that Labour would stick to the previous date for phasing out combustion engines in the event of an election victory in the parliamentary elections expected next year.

Comparison of combustion engine phase-out in Great Britain and the EU

However, a flash poll by the opinion research institute YouGov showed that Sunak has a majority of the population on his side by postponing the phase-out of combustion engines. According to the survey, 50 percent of Britons said they supported the measure, while only 34 percent were in favor of maintaining the previous targets. 3201 adults in the UK were surveyed.

By way of comparison, in the EU, to which the UK no longer belongs since Brexit, no new passenger cars fuelled with fossil diesel or petrol will be allowed to be newly registered from 2035. There will be an exception for e-fuels. So with the loosening, Sunak is on the same schedule as the EU.

With material from dpa

Source: merkur

All news articles on 2023-09-21

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