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Updated Sep 20, 2023, 9:06am EDT
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UK set to water down climate commitments

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U.K. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is reportedly considering weakening key climate policies designed to achieve the country’s 2050 net zero goal, to the dismay of analysts and industry leaders. The policy U-turn could include delaying a ban on the sales of new petrol and diesel cars by five years and watering down plans for phasing out gas boilers, the BBC reported. Sunak said the government was committed to achieve the 2050 goal, but in a ”more proportionate way.”

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The news has created a rift within Sunak’s Conservative Party, with a number of lawmakers opposed to the plans. Others have raised concerns that climate change, which has long been a mostly bipartisan issue in the U.K., could become a political football at the next election. The government’s climate advisers recently warned progress on meeting national climate targets had stalled.1

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Climate Change Committee, 2023 Progress Report to Parliament

The revelations make for awkward timing for Sunak, who decided to shun the U.N. General Assembly, where leaders are gathered today to accelerate climate action. The U.K. notably didn’t sign a statement from an alliance of progressive nations on climate change, to which it is a member, which called for a climate “course correction” in line with science.2 “U.K. climate leadership is crumbling around us,” Helen Clarkson, CEO of the Climate Group, which organized New York Climate Week, told The Guardian.3

The U.K. is not alone in rowing back on climate policy. Mexico’s climate plans have gone backwards in recent years, prioritizing fossil fuels and dismantling climate policies.4 Last year, Mexico’s government removed a target to peak emissions in 2026 in an updated plan to the U.N. and is the only G20 country without a net zero pledge.5

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