Prime Minister Sunak defends the UK’s climate record

Author: Alistair Smout

LONDON, Aug 2 (Reuters) – British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak defended his government’s environmental policy on Wednesday after campaigners criticized it, saying its record on reducing greenhouse gas emissions was better than that of other major countries.

Britain adopted a target of achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050 under former Prime Minister Theresa May and rapidly increased its renewable energy capacity in earlier years.

However, progress in onshore and offshore wind has been hampered by a number of regulatory changes, prompting some developers to warn that investing in the UK will be difficult without better incentives.

In December, the government also approved the creation of the first new deep-sea coal mine in decades, and on Monday Sunak said his government would award hundreds more licenses for oil and gas production in the North Sea.

Asked on LBC radio whether he was a “dangerous radical” for wanting to increase fossil fuel production, Sunak defended Britain’s climate record.

He said the UK had been the fastest to decarbonise of all the major G7 economies. To support its claim, the government cited data from national inventories submitted to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

“We shouldn’t listen to any lectures from anyone about our album. Our album is fantastic. She’s better than everyone else,” Sunak said during questions to LBC listeners.

Sunak has said he is committed to the UK achieving its net zero emissions target by 2050 and wants to leave a better environment and climate for his children.

But he added that even when the UK reaches net zero, a quarter of its energy will still come from fossil fuels, which should be sourced domestically.

“If I have to source this energy from the other side of the world and ship it here, that will involve three or four times the carbon emissions,” he said.

“The right and sensible thing is to use the energy we have at home as we move to net zero, which we intend to do, but it is part of it.” (Reporting by Alistair Smout, editing by Angus MacSwan)