Climate change is a substantial long-term challenge and a global one. It’s one we must meet for the health of our planet and future generations. That’s why I firmly believe that we must achieve net zero by 2050. But I am not a believer that this can be achieved by punishing the poorest or hitting pensioners in the pocket unfairly.
Some say that climate change is a myth and that we should not bother with net zero because it’s all nonsense and the costs are too high. Others say we must achieve net zero even faster without consideration or concern for those paying the price. I’m afraid I have to disagree with both extremes.
Delivering net zero is a long-term project that needs long-term buy-in. This is a journey we must all go on together. That’s why we must achieve net zero in a way that is fair and affordable for everyone and one that works and is achievable too.
Slowing the transition to electric cars until 2035 is part of that. Families have more time to transition, and there must be enough electric chargers across the land.
The same goes for scrapping gas boilers, as this would be a considerable cost burden on hard-pressed families and older people. A heat pump for a terraced house can cost about £10,000, which is too much for most families to afford.
A range of other measures have been taken to protect families during the cost of living crisis. This includes saying a clear “no” to those who argue that we should do things like tax meat, have new taxes on flying or that carpooling should become compulsory.
We will still achieve net zero on time in 2050. But we will do it affordably, realistically and sensibly. It’s important to remember that UK greenhouse gas emissions are now about half compared to 1990.
We’ve done better than any other major economy. By contrast, the USA has made no reduction at all – while China has tripled emissions. What we do need to do is get on with increasing energy-secure renewable power generation. It takes decades to build a zero-carbon nuclear power station. Ironically, many who claim to support net-zero most strongly are often the most ardently opposed. It’s another reason we need to reform the planning system so that zealots can’t hold us all to ransom.
We need to defeat climate change. We are on track to deliver net zero by 2050. Yet other countries are doing little or nothing. It’s important we focus on making sure every country around the globe does its bit. Climate change is a global problem and needs a global solution. We need to keep on track to deliver net zero ourselves – and press other countries to follow our global lead and do so too.