The King’s Speech was light on serious policy to address rising living costs or the crisis in our public services, but heavy on policy gimmicks.
It brought further confirmation that the Government is now in full retreat from Net Zero.
The announcement of a new North Sea annual oil and gas licensing bill changes little in practice, simply reiterating the Tories’ unsustainable commitment to more fossil fuel drilling.
This is another giveaway to an industry that has already been treated to huge Government subsidies over the last decade and inordinate profits off the back of rising household energy bills in the last couple of years.
Contra the Tory 2019 manifesto promise to deliver “the most ambitious environmental programme of any country on earth”, Rishi Sunak has embarked upon a bonfire of Net Zero measures.
This is a man who hasn’t even won an internal Tory Party election, let alone a national election.
In recent weeks, we’ve seen the Government make a song and dance about dropping policies for more energy-efficient rented homes, the phase-out of diesel and petrol cars, and a range of other made-up measures which never actually existed (not least, the seven deadly bins).
The UK was the first major economy to set a net-zero emissions target. At this rate, we will be the last to reach it.
These policies aren’t a serious attempt to reduce costs for the average household either.
Rather they are a boon to big oil and landlords, which exemplifies the short-termism and false economy of the Tories’ approach over the last decade.
The consequences of this are all around us – from crumbling schools and hospitals to rising poverty, soaring housing costs and of course, skyrocketing energy bills.
David Cameron’s notorious decision to “cut the green cap” saw plans for more energy efficient homes scrapped, an end to wind and solar subsidies, a de facto ban on onshore wind, and total failure on home insulation.
Recent research from Carbon Brief estimates the cost of this to UK households was an additional £2.5billion last year.
The Tories try to frame it as a choice between protecting the environment and protecting the economy.
The reality is that their failure to safeguard the environment also risks our long-term financial stability too.
In this context, state-led action to insulate draughty buildings, transition to renewable energy, and improve public transport is more vital than ever.
Instead of pandering to big polluters, let’s work to improve quality of life for ordinary people.
Instead of reneging on climate commitments and rewarding polluters, let’s have a green transition premised on the principles that polluters must pay and the costs must be borne by the broadest shoulders.
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