Ed Miliband has responded to Rishi Sunak’s decision to delay policies designed to cut carbon emissions by describing him as a “man without a plan”.
In an interview with the Today program, the shadow net zero and climate change secretary, said: “Rishi Sunak is a man without a plan and this government is a government without a plan”.
He added: “More dither and more delay will turn investment away from Britain, drive up bills, and we will lose good jobs”.
It comes after the Prime Minister yesterday announced the ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars will be moved back five years to 2035 and that the transition to heat pumps has also been delayed.
Mr Sunak justified the changes by saying that it will help reduce the costs people face as the UK moves to net zero. In response, Mr Miliband said: “By having the 2030 phase-out date for new petrol diesel cars compared to 2035, we will save money for consumers, not cost them.”
He continued: “By 2030, the upfront cost of electric cars will be less than a petrol and diesel car and the lifetime cost is already less. So at the very first hurdle, the prime minister has done something which will load more costs onto the British people”.
Mr Miliband also confirmed that a Labour government would not force people who are “off-grid,” those who are not connected to the gas system and often have oil-heated boilers, to buy new boilers and heat pumps. The shadow secretary said: “We are not going to stick to the Torys’ failed targets”.
Environmental policy now marks a clear dividing line between Labour and the Conservatives in the lead-up to the next general election.
One of Keir Starmer’s “five missions for government” if Labour win the next general election is to “Make Britain a clean energy superpower”. Plans include getting a zero-carbon electricity system by quadrupling offshore wind and tripling solar power by 2030.
Contrary to the Conservative arguments that some of these more ambitious environmental policies are “unnecessary and heavy-handed measures,” Labour argues they are necessary to avert climate change and that the creation of their proposed new public body, GB Energy, would boost jobs and investment within the country.
The Conservatives hope that watering down environmental pledges will bring potential electoral benefits. The policy change comes after their by-election victory in Uxbridge and South Ruislip was in part credited to their opposition to the expansion of the Ultra Low Emission Zone in London. A poll for GB News also found 50% oppose and 34% support the 2030 ban on petrol car sales.