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Will Tories scrap boiler ban in new Net Zero review?


RISHI SUNAK is conducting an ‘audit’ of the Government’s Net Zero green strategy after his advisers warned that the cost burden on families is hitting the Conservative Party’s chances at the next Election.

Downing Street insists that the Government remains committed to its target of reducing the UK’s net emissions of greenhouse gases by 100 per cent – relative to 1990 levels – by 2050. But the Prime Minister has been told he has enough ‘wriggle room’ to water this down because the UK is doing better than countries such as Germany, the US and Canada at lowering emissions. Controversial policies, such as phasing out petrol cars by 2030 and replacing boilers with heat pumps, are unpopular with voters struggling with the cost of living crisis.

And while a review has ruled out relaxing the ban on petrol cars over fears it may scare off foreign investors in the necessary battery technology, other policies such as the boiler ban are being looked at. The ‘audit’ follows the Conservatives’ unexpected win in the Uxbridge and South Ruislip by-election in July, which Tory advisers attributed to Labour’s expansion of ULEZ in London, penalising drivers of older cars.

Mr Sunak has hinted he will mitigate the impact of Net Zero for families while keeping green voters onside. He says he wants to hit the target ‘in a proportionate and pragmatic way that doesn’t unnecessarily give people more

‘Policy is unpopular at the time of cost of living crisis’

hassle and costs’ and without forcing people to wear ‘hairshirts’.

Under the Net Zero strategy, 600,000 heat pumps – at a cost of up to £45,000 each – would be installed every year until 2028 to replace gas boilers. The scheme also pledges that all electricity would be generated from clean sources by 2035 and that carbon capture will remove between 20 and 30million tons of CO2 a year by 2030. Any dilution of the strategy will be watched closely by Boris Johnson, who made it a central plank of his premiership.

Craig Mackinlay, chairman of the Net Zero Scrutiny Group of Tory MPs, said of the audit: ‘I expect there will be little of substance. The Net Zero strategy has already hit the road. In a capitalist economy, it is unwise to try to rig the market with compulsory sales targets in this way.’

Last month, Mr Sunak appointed his long-term ally Claire Coutinho as Net Zero Secretary and tasked her with trying to heal divisions in the party over the policy. Some Tory MPs say ‘absolute zealotry’ is disadvantaging the UK economically.

The environment is also likely to be a ‘wedge’ issue at the Election, with the Tories keen to portray Sir Keir Starmer as in the pocket of Extinction Rebellion.

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